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. Why are people wearing tick and flea collars in the first place?!?!?! THERE IS A REASON THEY ARE MADE FOR PETS NOT FOR PEOPLE TO WEAR

  2. Working in a rural ER one time I had an old farmer ask about using the topical drops he used on his dogs neck every 3 months, on himself! I told him I had no idea, but was sure it was not a good idea. He said "well I've been using it for the past 4 months, and I think i'm OK." when I asked him if he had any tick bites during this time he said "not a one!" Not sure if he continued to use the product, but I wouldn't doubt it!

  3. Hahahahaha! When we were in the field in the service we would put flea collar on the outside of our boots when we blouses our trousers. They worked but other items on the market now that you treat your clothes.

  4. I would discourage people from putting flea collars on dogs or cats.
    They are saturated with chemicals and are irritating to the skin.
    I used one once on my cat and noticed it was causing a rash on her neck. Poor thing couldn’t tell me. Good thing I checked.
    I took it off her immediately.

  5. It's also important that you watch out for the weigh limitations… there are different doses for smaller and larger dogs! The wrong medicine can easily kill a dog

  6. What about dipping the flea collar in nivea cream and using a bit of that when you go hiking?
    Or making a flea-collar extract, perfume…

  7. I know someone who accidentally killed their cat by applying their dogs topical flea treatment on the cat. She applied it at night, woke up in the morning and found the cat dead under the sofa. Very sad. Never use the dogs treatment on a cat and vice versa.

  8. I tested this hiking with Boy Scouts, take a couple of dryer sheets tear in half, tuck a piece in each sock, one in each pocket, rub another around your sleeves, or collar, and waist band. If you wear a hat a piece in the hat band. I got zero seed tickets when some of the boys got covered. Gold bond cream helped loosen and remove them and eased the itch.

  9. Thank you for making your last point about why you can't use the same products on dogs and cats. A lot of people disregard the packaging and cause harm to their cats

  10. Can you name this video correctly? "You can wear your dog's flea collar, but here's why you shouldn't ". you're scientists, so be correct

  11. In personal experience, cat flea collars worn on my ankles was the only thing that killed the sand fleas i got during an archaeological dig. Dont touch them with your hands or wear them for too long, obviously… but troops sent to desert environments wear them all the time. I wonder if they’re getting any side-effects 🤔

  12. I believe it is the opposite of your last comment. It's the cats treatment that could be harmful to dogs. You can safely put a dogs treatment on a cat but not a cats treatment on a dog.

  13. How about put some in the laundry?

    Mix it with some essential oils and spray on the parts of clothes that are close but not too close.

    The crotch of the trousers.. When you have underwear under it.

    have a Tshirt and above it a long-sleeve shirt be sprayed with it at the kee points.

    Why won't that work?

  14. Ticks need to be eradicated. They are true parasites, IE nothing eats them in enough quantity to be a viable food source continuously vs other plentiful options and they are surprisingly damaging with the diseases they carry and they offer nothing good to any host.

    I get mosquitoes and many other creatures are actually apart of an ecosystem that we care about and has impact to us, but ticks are not. Don't think fleas are either.

  15. Flea collars are worn by troops in the sandbox to reduce the annoyance of sand fleas. They are commonly worn around the ankles.

  16. The flee collar for walking with your master in the wood. The electric one when not obedient.
    Yes mistress, I lie at your feet as requested.

  17. The same goes for those insecticide eartags for cattle, people have tried using those for "self" pest control, just not attached to their ears like these tags are applied to cattle. Many have gotten bad chemical burns from using these tags.

  18. In theory there are multiple poisons that humans can build up a high level resistance to then just regularly consume that should keep basically any parasite off and out of your body, you would have to research which ones work against the various parasites and then see which ones humans can build up immunities to.

  19. Frankly I don't see how any pet owner can be okay with exposing their pet to neurotoxins. Dogs rarely get fleas. When they do they can be eliminated with a flea comb.

  20. Glucosamine for pets vs glucosamine for humans?

    Don't give pets fish oil made for humans, a lot of brands use rosemary as a preservative, rosemary can mess with a pets liver.

  21. That's why I shower in the morning with deltamethrin and evening shower with pyriproxifen. It keeps everything away, including other humans.

  22. Ivermectin is a medication for internal parasites in humans, but also is in many ingested treatments for a variety of mammals. It is generally safe for all mammals, as it acts on arthropod mitochondria. The best use found so far is to be rid of bedbugs without having to trash everything one owns. Yes, they have to bite a person to be poisoned, but then they, and all their eggs, die. It works best along with heat treatments of ~125°F for surfaces/clothes, and takes about two months for full relief, but the cost savings compared to other methods is well worth it.

  23. This is not a very big problem at all. Is there anybody who wants to buy a supplement who makes furs grow on humans? just call me

  24. What if the collar gets wet on a dog? Does it not cause the chemicals to rapidly release, while human sweat does?

  25. In this episode, we say that oral flea medication gets secreted into animals’ fur, but it actually stays in the skin. Still, not recommended for humans!

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