Natural Flea and Tick Solutions for Pets
Consumer demand for natural flea and tick control products is on the upswing, as pet owners increasingly seek to avoid chemical ingredients found in traditional flea and tick control products, according to pet specialty retailers and manufacturers.
“Pet parents are seeking safe, effective solutions,” said James Brandly, associate trade-marketing manager for TropiClean Pet Products, a Wentzville, Mo.-based manufacturer that includes among its portfolio a line of products designed to help treat and prevent pest infestations with natural ingredients such as cedarwood and peppermint oils. “Over the past seven years, the purchase of natural, chemical-free flea and tick solutions among dog-owning households has increased by 300 percent, according to the American Pet Products Association.”
Michael Stoeckle, president and CEO of Ark Naturals Co. in Tampa, Fla., has also seen consumers move toward more natural solutions for flea and tick control.
“Consumer appetite for all-natural flea and tick products is very strong,” said Stoeckle, whose company manufactures anti-pest products that include ingredients such as cloves and peppermint. “They really want products that are safe and effective for their pets. Botanical-based flea and tick products seem to be the go-to right now.”
Stoeckle added that pet owners want transparency in their ingredients, and are checking the ingredient lists of the products they are considering for purchase.
Mike Palmer, owner of Premier Pet Supply in Beverly Hills, Mich., is experiencing the trend firsthand, as customers at his store look for alternatives to traditional flea and tick control products that work just as well.
“Customers are particularly drawn to the topical treatments because they are quick, easy and effective,” he said. “Diatomaceous earth [a natural, powdery substance that is lethal to bugs] is also popular as it is chemical free and can be used on most animals.”
On the Market
Manufacturers are answering the call for natural flea and tick control solutions by offering a number of products in the category.
TropiClean Pet Products recently released TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Dog and Cat Collars and TropiClean Natural Spot-On Treatments, according to James Brandly, associate trade-marketing manager for the Wentzville, Mo.-based company.
“Both products provide safe solutions to protect and defend against fleas, ticks and mosquitoes,” he said. “Our laboratory-tested, water-resistant collar and spot-on treatment are full-body repellents that effectively protect your furry friend.”
He added that the collar releases the active ingredients continuously once secured on the pet.
“The initial high release rate acts like a spot-on by delivering active ingredients over the pet’s body to protect the pet,” Brandly said.
Pura Naturals Pet developed its natural flea and tick shampoo in response to customer demand and uses a combination of oils to defeat fleas and ticks.
“Fleas breathe through gills on the sides of their bodies and are very sensitive to aromatic oils,” said Beth Sommers, president of the Ardsley, N.Y.-based company.
“The aromatic oils are very irritating to them. The shampoo strips the waxy coating that fleas are known to have, and when the flea tries to escape from the scent of the oils, they drown in the shampoo.”
The shampoo contains certified organic oils, is free from parabens and sulfates, and is made in the USA.
“We will be adding new SKUs to our popular natural flea and tick category for 2019,” said Julie Creed, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing.
At Ark Naturals Co. in Tampa, Fla., the Neem Protect line of natural flea and tick products includes the Neem Protect spray and the Neem Protect shampoo. Both products are designed to help soothe skin that has been irritated by insect bites. The active ingredients of neem have been shown to contain compounds with wound-healing properties, according to Ark Naturals officials.
Front and Center
Calling attention to the benefits of natural flea and tick control products is key to driving sales when displaying this category at the retail level, according to both manufacturers and retailers.
“Depending on what part of the country you are in, fleas and ticks can be a seasonal issue or an ongoing problem,” said Michael Stoeckle, president and CEO of Ark Naturals Co. in Tampa, Fla. “We really like to see retailers have a devoted rack in their stores during peak season for fleas and ticks. In the more moderate environments, we recommend a section of all products merchandised by brand or delivery system. Once consumers get comfortable with a particular way to fight the problem with their pet, they gravitate to that delivery system.”
Julie Creed, vice president of sales and marketing for Pura Naturals Pet in Ardsley, N.Y., recommends taking advantage of storefront windows to promote natural flea and tick control products.
“If a retailer has storefront windows, they can create a display and have category product posters for added visibility to showcase their natural flea and tick products,” she said. “In-store, they can feature their natural offerings on prominent endcaps with key signage, and also create specialty outposts to further their product promotion.”
At Green Dog Pet Supply in Portland, Ore., natural flea and tick control products are included in the store’s supplement section, according to co-owner Christine Mallar.
“We create displays on a table a few times a year when fleas are plentiful,” she said. “We have flea repellents, flea and tick removal devices, flea shampoos, immune support and nutrition tips—because a healthy immune system and an excellent diet are critical to making pets less susceptible to infestation.”
Need to Know
Because natural flea and tick solutions are a somewhat newer take on the way to control these parasites, educating customers about how to use the products and why they work is crucial, according to experts.
“While we hesitate to directly use scare tactics, we do attempt to educate pet parents about the potentially toxic risks of flea and tick pharmaceuticals,” said Norm Shrout, co-owner of Long Leash On Life in Albuquerque, N.M. “We also highlight how truly effective natural flea and tick protection can be, if used properly.”
Shrout added that the specifics of the region where his store is located helps determine the recommendations he provides to his customers.
“New Mexico is somewhat of a transient state of residence, which means people are always moving in or moving out of the area,” he said. “It is easy to pick up fleas and ticks during travel or moving activities. This emphasizes the point that each region of the country has different-sized populations of pets, different disease risks and, consequently, different risks associated with fleas and ticks. Decisions on prevention should always factor all the risks.”
At Green Dog Pet Supply in Portland, Ore., customer education is extremely important, according to co-owner Christine Mallar, who likes to give customers a “big picture” answer for why they might want to choose natural products in the flea and tick control category.
“There are a lot of challenges pets face in this modern world to try and stay healthy and live longer,” she said. “For example, about 50 percent of dogs these days have some sort of encounter with cancer, and allergies and other chronic issues seem to really be on the rise, as they are with humans. Making improvements in an animal’s diet can do wonderful things for making their skin and coat healthier and their immune system stronger, which can translate to better resistance to parasites such as fleas. We also feel that avoiding regular applications of chemical products, which have the potential for more serious side effects, is a useful way to support health.”