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Halting the Invasion: Controlling Fleas and Ticks

The best ways to practice pet control on the home front


Help keep pests off your customers' pets and furniture with home flea and tick treatments.


With more than 65 percent of the country owning at least one cat or dog, most people understand the dangers that ticks and fleas pose to a pet and its surroundings. In fact, most pet owners have experienced some sort of infestation at least once. 

That’s why retailers must help customers understand the importance of practicing savvy flea and tick management—still, not enough understand the opportunities for pests in the home on carpets, furniture or in walls.

Integrated pest management is important in combating fleas and ticks, said Paris Revoir, DVM, pet specialty national training manager for Bayer HealthCare Animal Health in Shawnee, Kan.

“It’s important to treat not only the pet, but also the home,” he said. “The bulk of people don’t understand what’s needed for home prevention.”

For that reason, Bayer offers its Advantage Household Spot and Crevice spray and its Carpet & Upholstery Spot spray.

“The category itself does not rapidly grow, and sales have been somewhat flat, and Bayer is trying to grow the category by offering tools to train store associates better,” Dr. Revoir said. “I go around the country and I teach flea biology; a female flea can leave up to 50 eggs a day and 2,000 in a lifetime. They don’t like light, so the pupae fall off into cracks and crevices, and that’s the stage [at which] they become very resilient.”

The biggest buzz in the industry concerns natural products, as more consumers become more educated about the potential dangers of chemical pesticides, said Kevin Metz, senior brand manager for Dallas-based Vet’s Best, a brand of The Bramton Co.

“In 2014, most retail chains we worked with were seeing double-digit growth in natural flea and tick products while being flat to slightly down on traditional EPA-registered, pesticide-based options,” he said. “We believe this is driven by an overall macrotrend toward more natural, holistic products.”

Kenneth Oh, general manager, pet care division, at W.F. Young Inc. in East Longmeadow, Mass., said the company’s Absorbine brand UltraShield EX Insecticide & Repellent carpet and surface spray for dogs is a natural solution for dealing with fleas and ticks on carpets, furniture and beds.

The company recently commissioned an independent university study to prove the repellency of its UltraShield Green Natural Flea and Tick Control is strong, as a way to prove to retailers that the products do indeed live up to their billing as being safe for the home and pet, Oh said. 

Zodiac, a brand of Wellmark International in Schaumburg, Ill., offers several products for flea and tick premise control, including a fogger and carpet powder. The company’s website Q&A page stresses the importance of paying attention to closets, storage places and other areas where ticks can hide under or behind objects. Also, because ticks climb vertically, it’s important to treat the sides and backs of upholstered furniture, according to the company. 

What’s New?
Vet’s Best just added several new products to its existing line of natural flea and tick solutions, each made with natural extracts such as peppermint oil and clove.

The brand’s Flea & Tick Wipes can be applied virtually anywhere in the home, including on counters, furniture and floors; its Flea & Tick Home & Go Spray is a 360-degree spray that protects bedding and furniture by killing fleas, eggs and ticks; and its 3-Piece Total Protection Kit offers everything needed for solving flea and tick problems in the home and on the pet, Metz said. 

Laura Clark, owner of Wylie Wagg, which has stores in Virginia and Washington, D.C., said Vet’s Best sprays are popular sellers in her stores for those wanting to use homeopathic preventives and treatments.

Marketing Matters
Margie Seidewand, co-owner of Pet World in Rochester, N.Y., said that although the problem has always been there, she’s noticed a more proactive approach to fighting fleas and ticks earlier in the cycle over the past two years.

“I’ve definitely seen more of a growing concern, most likely because of the extreme temperatures,” she said. “Here in Rochester, the products sell strong from April all the way to December, and we refresh our signs and display pamphlets from the manufacturers for the different seasons.”

Starla Carter, manager of Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland, Wash., recommends both Advantage and Zodiac brand flea and tick products for the home.

“We tend to recommend the foggers or flea bombs because we have found them to be very effective,” she said. “We talk with the customers about what to do, because most don’t really know how to use them properly.”

At certain times of the year, the store offers promotional coupons provided by the manufacturers to assist in the purchasing of the products, Carter added.

The key to selling flea and tick products for the home is highlighting the importance of a comprehensive approach, said Metz of Vet’s Best.  

“The key to a successful resolution of a flea or tick issue is tackling the challenge everywhere it surfaces, including on the pet, in the home and even in the yard,” he said. “We call this comprehensive approach ‘Total Pest Protection.’ Our research shows many consumers focus exclusively on addressing unwanted pests on their pet, but this often leads to re-infestation from elsewhere in their environment, which can be frustrating to the pet and the pet parent.”

It’s important that customers understand the benefits of each flea and tick product, and that using a chemical-based product might be necessary depending on the needs of the customer, said Wylie Wagg’s Clark. 

“Sales of flea and tick products are helped greatly by product placement near the registers,” she said. “Customers sometimes forget that they are running low, and the visual reminder at the time of checkout is helpful. During the height of flea and tick season, we also create displays centered around flea and tick products, and include educational information with those displays.”

Bayer research shows that consumers often gather information in-store, which is why triggering customers to think about flea and tick products throughout the store can be helpful, said Jeriel Chua, senior brand manager for Bayer HealthCare Animal Health. 

“Providing brand information and educating customers about Bayer products also empowers them to make informed purchase decisions,” Chua said. “That’s why we provide a variety of display and POP options for retailers.”

Higher Learning
It’s important that store associates educate pet owners so they know exactly what to do around the home concerning fleas and ticks, said Bayer’s Revoir.

“The eggs fall off the pet, the pet runs around the house and jumps on couches, and the eggs fall off and hatch into larva within a few weeks,” he said. “They can go into furniture, tables, couches, crevices, along baseboards, etc., so to get where they’re at in the home, a typical pet owner needs to be counseled by a store associate.”

W.F. Young has a large social media platform that both consumers and retailers can turn to when they need information.

“In today’s Internet-driven society, driving consumer traffic through digital media is becoming more and more important,” Oh said. “That’s why we invest significant resources in this space, and not only attempt to educate the consumer, but also give them a reason to complete the purchase at their local retailer through sale incentives and other means.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Pet Product News

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