Why Can’t I Wear My Dog’s Flea and Tick Collars?

Why Can’t I Wear My Dog’s Flea and Tick Collars?


[♪ INTRO] Fleas and ticks have been a nuisance since
time immemorial. Fleas can make you all itchy, and ticks, they
can carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, which can cause fevers and a rash even if
it’s quickly treated. Especially if you like spending time outdoors,
it can be hard to avoid these parasites. And it doesn’t help that the animals we keep
as pets make good hosts to these bloodsuckers. The good news is, there are some tick and
flea repellants available for humans. But then again, they just aren’t as convenient or long-lasting as the medicines you give your dog or cat. So some days, it seems like life would be
easier if you could just slap on your animal’s tick or flea collar and hike into the woods worry-free. But you definitely shouldn’t.
Here’s why. Flea and tick collars work by slowly releasing
chemicals like deltamethrin or pyriproxifen. They dissolve in the natural oils of a pet’s
fur and can repel and/or kill pests. Many do this by preventing their targets from
growing or by totally shutting down their nervous systems. This is the same method used by those topical
gels you might put on your dog’s back once a month, and it’s generally pretty effective. But there are reasons you should never use these things on yourself. When you apply this kind of treatment to your pet, the medicine is absorbed into the animal’s oil glands, and then is slowly released into their
fur from there. This means the toxins will never be present in large quantities, so they don’t pose a significant danger. But if you try to wear one of those collars
or slather on some gel? For one, they can seriously irritate your
skin and cause feelings of tingling or burning. But also, unlike dogs and cats, you sweat
basically everywhere. And for flea collars, that’s a big deal, because that sweat can cause a bunch of chemicals to come out of the collar at once. So not only would you be absorbing a bunch
of neurotoxins, but you’d also be using up a huge portion of the treatment in one go. Which means that you’d have much less protection against those parasites! Of course, pets have other pest-repellant
options, too, like oral medications, which work roughly the same way. But you really
shouldn’t try those, either. That’s because these medicines can also
contain neurotoxins. Pets can usually handle small doses of them,
though, and they’re helpful because the treatments can last a while once the chemicals are secreted into their fur. Humans are another story. For one, it’s not clear if an oral pesticide
like this would even work for us. But even if it did, we don’t have fur and bathe a
lot more, so those chemicals wouldn’t stick around for long. So even though flea and tick treatments for
pets are convenient and long-lasting, they’re not worth trying on ourselves. If you want to fight off those parasites, you’re better off sticking with treatments made for humans, like permethrin. Although it is a nerve agent, it’s considered
safe as long as you don’t ingest it. Normally, it’s just applied to clothes. It might not last as long as a collar, and
it might not be as powerful as what your dog takes, but it will keep you safe. And that’s
what matters. Oh, and as a small note, there’s a reason
dogs and cats have different flea and tick medications. Dog treatments are strong enough
to be dangerous for cats, so make sure your animals are only getting the treatments aimed at them, too. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow! We couldn’t make the show without our patrons on Patreon, and we couldn’t have made this
episode without one specific patron: Oscar the Poodle, who asked this question. If you want to learn how to support SciShow or want to submit a science question of your
own, you can go to patreon.com/scishow. [♪ OUTRO]

100 Replies to “Why Can’t I Wear My Dog’s Flea and Tick Collars?”

  1. I ACTUALLY considered this several years ago when I had several ticks on me per day. Lol. Didn't. Dogs won't regret it 20 years on with cancer or something

  2. I had Lyme disease for 2-3 weeks after I pointed out a fist sized discoloration on the back of my knee before my parents finally bothered to take me to the doctor. By then the red mark had grown to softball size. I didn’t present with a fever or basically anything other than the mark, but the blood test was positive for Lyme disease

  3. Science Fact: Tick will drown to death if they are exposed underwater for 8 hours.

    Me, an intellectual: Took a bath for 8 hours

  4. Obviously you know nothing about desert storm. The soldiers asked for flea collars and used them daily. Non died or got sick from them. Sorry dude

  5. You know what’s good? Peppermint and eucalyptus essential oil! Screw all these neurotoxins! Even for pets! Don’t use essential oils on your cat though as they can kill it. Cats lack the enzyme responsible for getting rid of the essential oil. Diatomaceous earth has been recommended for cats. Just blow it through their fur with a baby powder bottle. Quite poisoning yourselves and your pets! Grow a brain! If it’s toxic for you, a rather large mammal, especially considering how big your pet is in comparison, it’s toxic to them. Why do you think they act weird after you put it on and keep trying to get it off? I had a “bug bracelet” marketed for repelling bugs in the woods for humans. My son just opened it up and set it on the shelf and just the smell made us all sick for days.

  6. People in the service used to wear them in their belt loops in remote outpost….. wonder what else we did is going to kill us slowly.

  7. In the military we would just soak our uniforms with Permethrin and it lasts through about 50 washings, that worked great as a bug repellent.

  8. I have a science question but I'm broke.
    Why does a wet sponge work better than a dry sponge? I tried to mop up a spill using a sponge that had dried thoroughly, and it barely worked at all, mostly just pushing the spill around. I ran it under the tap, squeezed it out, and tried again, and it worked immediately. Why on earth would a dry sponge not work?

  9. also you shouldn't give dogs those back gel ones right after they've had a bath! my mom slightly poisoned our dog the first time she gave him those drops because there were no warnings about that 🙁

  10. Word to wise Permethrin will straight up kill a cat but not a dog. It is actually used as a treatment for fleas and ticks on dogs. It is also available for use by people as topical lotion for people. I work in the woods and the stuff is a life saver. Beats DEET any day.

  11. Although I agree that humans should not wear flea and tick collars, you have a few facts incorrect in the video. 1-dog collars are not more potent than cat collars. Cats are susceptible to pyrethroids and this is why some dog collars are not used on cats. Otherwise, cat collars are usually made with a higher concentration of the same actives due to their grooming habits. 2-collars will NOT release faster on humans due to us sweating. Take a look at basic release rate equations, the release rate is governed by concentrations, temperatures, areas, and affinities. 3-some, but not all, actives are released out of the sibatious glands of the animal. Most common movement of actives across the skin is due to simple diffusion. ChemE specializing in control release.

  12. Dont use flea collars on pets! My vet told me pets can neurologically be harmed by the neurotoxins existing within the collars! And flea collars are highly ineffective for cats! Recently I witnessed the truth behind my objections to flea collars! Its safer and more effective to use flea gels which u position just behind the ears where animals cant lick the meds off! Me thinks they should ban all pet flea collars! This video is erroneous industry propaganda!

  13. I never understood how commercial pet flea meds are dangerous to people but "safe" for animals… Who have a much faster metabolism than humans, and are stuck wearing the poison, knowing it is soaking into them! Then we wonder why they are getting sick and dieing.. use organic flea control people, it works and it won't kill your pet! Speaking of kill, for the love of the gods, do NOT use Hartz brand anything, their topicals and all their medicine, and anything your pet consumes has been proven to kill or at the very least almost kill your pet.

  14. i,ve yet to see a single repellant that works on Ticks, Getting sick and tired of plucking those F****S of my mom on a daily basis,Guess i need to start studying genetics and microbiology and make a Super virus that is airborne and kills ticks in most painful ways ever

  15. Every vet I've ever talked to has said that flea collars don't really do anything. If they don't work on dogs and cats it's understandable they'd do jack for humans, too.

  16. I'm from the midwest and we have tons of ticks. I swear by permethrin treated clothes, I've never found a tick latched onto me whenever I wear treated clothes as long as they are re-treated every 5-6 washes. I have found them crawling, but never latched on, permethrin screws up a tick's nervous system so they can't bite you and ultimately kills the tick. I buy concentrated permethrin and follow the directions to create a 0.5% solution, much cheaper than pre-mixed products and same effectiveness.

  17. 2019: Why can't I wear my dog's flea collar?????
    2018: Why do batteries taste sour????
    2017: DON'T EAT THE WATERMELON SNOW!!!!!

  18. I find questions like these VERY worrying…. and In my opinion the only correct answer is: Because that product is made for a DOG, you are a HUMAN. If you are still too stubborn to understand that smarter people have thought about it longer than you, then you should just try it out and accept any ''I told you so'''s that come your way afterward….

    Ofcourse my heart goes out to all those poor pets with dumb human owners…. Also for those owners if you are unsure what you have in your house currently: Dogs go ''Bark'', cats go ''Miauw'' and If you had a human baby and somehow missed the giant belly of yourself or your spouse they go ''Whaaa!'' untill about 3 years of age, and then they start learning more normal human sounds….

  19. We DET or what ever wrist bands or bracelets that can linked together to make a collar, so technically speaking you're wrong. Their are bracelets being sold. So, are you saying they don't work and I should be sueing the companies that make the wrist bands? So, if you're wrong then they could come after you.

  20. I just used a flea collar in my vacuum cleaner to kill potential eggs in our carpet. Picked up a rescue a couple weeks ago she's had frontline and samparica but I'm still finding live fleas on her and she's miserable 🙁

  21. This isn't reddit anwcers. We come to scishow to learn why. We want the science, the shape of moliqules, how that effects it's interactions, etc.

  22. Don't like cats or dogs, basically because they kill to much wildlife, and their owners are in a state of denial about the harm they do, not my dog, my cat would never do that.

  23. Simply put, it is poisonous, but it is safe on dogs because if they get sick you wouldn't know it's because of the poison.

  24. in Desert Storm, many of us wore a chunk of flea&tick collar laced into our boot laces.. I've always wondered if they actually did any good…

  25. This really doesn't sell me on the idea of letting my dog wear a flea collar.
    Oh it's just a mild nerve toxin that is slowly absorbed Into your dog, but it's it's not safe for people. No big deal.

  26. I was out hiking so long one summer when I got home I took a shower and washed my hair with my dogs flea shampoo. Guess that was a no no.

  27. They didn’t tell me to stop using flea shampoo on myself when I get a panic attack from that fun parasite phobia, so we good here

  28. (this story has a happy ending, don't worry) i once stupidly put a flea collar meant for small dogs on my cat because i thought since it was meant for small dogs, it would be fine. i was smart enough to keep a close eye on my cat, and within 30-60 minutes i noticed that she started displaying symptoms like a runny nose. i took it off her immediately, and her runny nose went back to normal within a couple hours. so, lesson learned. i had no idea they contain neurotoxins…

  29. I can think of a few humans who could use the Cone of Shame (most of 'em are in the White House).🐕

    ALSO: how did a 🐩 ask a Patreon question?

  30. This seams like a public health and safety video for people in the US along of the lines "Hey, don't eat laundry detergent or microwave your cat to dry it."

  31. Thank you so much for adding that last bit about not giving dog flea and tick prevention to cats. I’ve seen far too many cats with uncontrollable tremors and high fevers. A lot of people don’t read packaging and the ignorance is easily understandable. Very good video.

  32. If we were going to take any flea/tick killer for dogs, an oral would make perfect sense. Those neurotoxins in the isoxazoline class drugs you're referencing aren't safe for anything or anybody, and I doubt they're any less safe for us than they already aren't for them (FDA seizure warning in September 2018, my rottie has epilepsy from one of these medications). Also, it doesn't matter than we bathe more, the chemicals are secreted at a constant rate. Once washed off, it will continue to be replaced until all of the chemical is gone from the body.

  33. Watch out for "deet" in flea collars – it's outlawed in some countries because it isn't very effective for repelling fleas and is relatively poisonous for your pets.

  34. I have a friend with Lyme disease, there are days where she can barely get out of bed. Lyme is certainly not a joke and given our rural community, everyone is on high alert after the “first thaw” leading up to the “first frost”.

  35. If you read the ingredients what flea medications for dogs and cats you'll find the ingredients are exactly the same but they charge more for the cat medication

  36. Working in a vet clinic. I cannot stress enough how important it is not to mix up your flea and tick treatments between cats and dogs. There are even some treatments you cannot use on your dog, if you also have a cat.

    Just… be mindful, two-legs.

  37. thanks for letting us know that flea and tick dog-oral medications shouldn't be given to cats. I'm afraid most people wouldn't bother to look into such things before giving their cats such things.

  38. When we were preparing to go into Iraq in 2003 for some reason soldiers got it in their mind (despite being told otherwise) that using flea and tick collars was a good idea for repelling bugs so they wrote home to have friends and family send them in care packages. I cannot tell you number of guys I knew who ended up with skin irritation/rashes or worse from this stupidity.

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