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Can you put a cat collar on a dog? (Including Flea Collars)

Can you put a cat collar on a dog? (Including Flea Collars)

Collar shopping can be a frustrating experience. Finding a collar for my rat terrier proved to be more challenging than I expected. Most of the collars on the store shelves were for medium and large dogs. 

Finding a cute collar that fit her seemed to be too much to ask for. Then I eyed the cat collars. They were adorable, and more importantly, the perfect size. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if they would be safe for my dog. 

Can you put a cat collar on a dog?

The short answer is you can, but you shouldn’t. It turns out that there are some key differences between cat and dog collars that make it unwise to use a kitty collar on your pooch. 

Collar Usage

One reason why you shouldn’t use a cat collar for your dog are that they are designed for different purposes. A cat collar is for identification, or simply a fashion statement. It lets others know that the cat is owned. 

Most owners also add a tag with their contact information to the cat’s collar. If the cat happens to get lost, it can then be returned to them. If your cat objects to the use of a “dog tag”, you can purchase a personalized collar with your information printed directly onto the collar. 

Dog collars, on the other hand, serve a different purpose. Of course, they are also used to show ownership and provide contact information. After all, dogs can also get lost. In the event that happens, you want it to be easy for someone to return your precious pooch. 

However, a dog collar is also designed to be used with a leash. This keeps your dog nearby and safe when you are out and about. Many areas require dogs to be on a leash when outdoors or in public spaces. It also keeps them from getting lost or darting out into traffic. 

Because cat collars are not designed to be used with a leash, they are unsafe to use in the same way you would use a dog collar. 

ID Collars

The exception to the rule is if you are using the collar only as an ID collar. If you don’t plan on using the collar with a leash, a cat collar can be used on a dog. This allows you to put an Id tag on the collar.

However, it must be used strictly as an Id collar or for fashion purposes. It should never be used to restrain your dog. For most owners, there’s little point in this type of collar. Even if you don’t leash your dog often, nearly all dog owners leash their dog at least occasionally. 

Some owners prefer to use a harness with a leash. This can be more comfortable for your dog. It also reduces the risk of tracheal collapse and back pain, which can be caused by your dog pulling at a collar. However, it does require more strength when walking your dog if they begin pulling against you. 

If you want to use a harness when leashing your dog, but don’t want them to wear it all the time, a cat collar can be suitable for daily wear. It provides a collar with identification. When you need to leash your dog, simply put their harness on. 

What are the differences between dog and cat collars?

There are a few major differences between dog and cat collars. These differences make cat collars inappropriate to use on a dog under most circumstances. 

Buckle Concerns

Cats are notorious for getting into small spaces. They are curious and agile. If they can fit in an area, they are bound to explore it. Some even enjoy slipping through the bars of railings, to their owner’s dismay. 

This puts the cat at risk when wearing a collar. If the collar gets caught, it can choke the cat. If the owner doesn’t see them, this can quickly become a fatal accident. 

To prevent this from happening, cat collars are designed to release under pressure. It’s the same basic design as the lanyards often worn by humans, and for a similar reason. If it gets caught on something, it will break away instead of choking the wearer. 

This design works great for cats, and is a feature you should look for in any cat collar. However, it’s disastrous for dogs. Imagine that your dog is on a leash, going for their daily walk. They spot another dog and pull on the leash, wanting to run after it. 

If they are wearing a cat collar, it will break away under this pressure. You’ll have to chase your dog down, and hope they don’t get injured in the process. If they were wearing a dog collar, they would be safely confined to your side. 

Size Matters 

Cats are around the same size as small breed dogs. This is why it’s tempting to use a cat collar in place of a dog collar. However, the size of the collar isn’t just about the length of the collar. The width matters as well. 

Because cat collars are not designed to be used with a leash, they are often narrow. This makes it comfortable for the cat. Dog collars, on the other hand, are designed to distribute pressure. 

A collar that is too narrow can be uncomfortable, or even dangerous for your dog. Dog collars are designed with proportions in mind. Generally speaking, larger dogs need a wider collar. A small dog collar is narrower than a large dog collar.  Small dogs do well with a collar 5/8 to 1 inch wide. Cat collars, on the other hand, are usually 3/8 of an inch wide, which is too narrow for a dog. 

Elastic Collars

Some cat owners opt for elastic collars rather than those with a breakaway buckle. The elastic band serves a similar purpose. When pressure is put on the collar, the elastic stretches. The cat can then slip the collar off. 

Of course, the same problem also applies. You don’t want your dog’s collar to come off, so an elastic collar isn’t suitable for them. 

Can you put a cat flea collar on a dog?

We know that cat collars shouldn’t be used on dogs, but what about flea collars? Does it matter if it’s for a cat or a dog? 

Physiological Differences Between Cats and Dogs

Cats and dogs are different animals. What is safe for a cat isn’t necessarily safe for a dog, and vice versa. Generally speaking, cats are more sensitive to chemicals than dogs. Putting a dog collar on a cat can make your cat sick, or even be fatal. 

Putting a cat flea collar on your dog is less risky than putting a dog collar on a cat. However, it’s still not recommended. The chemicals in the collar are designed for cats, and not for dogs. 

Are Flea Collars Safe? 

Unfortunately, flea collars may be unsafe. The Seresto flea and tick collar was released in 2012. Since then, there have been nearly 1,700 reports of pet deaths due to the collars. 

To make matters worse, there have been nearly 1,000 human injuries due to the use of the collars. There have been a total of 75,000 reports of harm attributed to the collars as of 2020. 

Another collar, containing the chemical tetrachlorvinphos has also came under fire. It’s sold under the Hartz brand. A lawsuit against the EPA is currently pending for failure to pull the collar from the market. However, the Seresto collar has over 30 times as many incident reports compared to the Hartz collar, which came on the market in 1992. 

Both the cat and dog flea collars from Seresto contain the same two active ingredients. These are imidacloprid (10%) and flumethrin (4.5%). Those speaking out against the use of the collars say the EPAs refusal to acknowledge the risks associated with them bordering on criminal. 

There are other flea control options on the market that are believed to be much safer for pets and humans alike. 

Flea Collar Alternatives

Some topical flea treatments contain the same ingredients found in the Seresto collar, and should be avoided. Frontline Plus contains fipronil and (S)-methoprene, which are believed to be safe. 

Oral medications can also be used for flea control. These must be prescribed by your veterinarian. If you are concerned about you or someone in your household coming into contact with the flea medication, oral medications prevent this issue. This makes them great for homes with small children, pregnant women, or cats who are sensitive to some insecticides used in dog medications. 

It’s important to note that all flea and tick treatments carry a risk of side effects. 

Natural Flea and Tick Repellant

Some owners choose to use a natural flea and tick repellant due to safety concerns. There are a few natural methods that can repel and even kill fleas and ticks. 

Vinegar is a natural flea repellant that kills fleas on contact. Simply mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and spray on your dog’s coat. Repeat this every two weeks to prevent fleas. 

You can also mix this mixture with your dog’s shampoo when giving them a bath to kill any fleas. In addition to fighting fleas, vinegar can help condition your dog’s coat. 

Lemon juice and salt are another diy remedy for flea control. You’ll need 4 slices of fresh lemon, 1 tablespoon salt, and 6 cups of water.

Heat the water until boiling. Then, add the salt and fresh lemon. Boil for two minutes and then remove from the heat.

The mixture needs to steep for 24 hours. You can then apply it to your dog. It can be used after a bath, or applied daily. 

Essential oils are another natural way to repel fleas. Peppermint, cedar, rosemary, citronella, and lavender all repel fleas. Before using essential oils, it’s best to speak to your vet. Some essential oils are harmful to cats, so you’ll need to check with your vet if you have cats in the home as well.