Setting Up the Flea Market

Groomers can help customers protect themselves from the threat of fleas and ticks by providing an assortment of products that address pet owners many concerns.

When it comes to the topic of fleas and ticks, pet parents have a bundle of concerns and complaints. Some are fed up with messy products that they find hard to administer. Others are more concerned about how eco-friendly the products are and the possible side effects of some ingredients used in common flea and tick treatments. No matter what the concern is, however, most of these pet parents will look to pet care providers, including groomers, for the right solutions to their problems.

Among the chief concerns of most pet owners is finding a product that works. Since flea infestations, in particular, can be tricky to squash, many want assurances that all their bases will be covered. That means most customers may need to use a combination of products to tackle the problem from multiple angles.

“When dealing with fleas, it is important to be aggressive,” says Matt McKee, sales associate for Davis Manufacturing, which offers a wide array of flea and tick products.  “Just giving a pet a flea bath every week or two is not going to eliminate the threat of an infestation. Fleas need to be attacked every way possible, and it is vital to use traditional methods such as sprays and shampoos to kill live fleas and follow-up with a spot-on to break the life cycle and kill the eggs.”

Breaking that life cycle is particularly important for consumers who have experienced infestation, as they tend to be anxious about future flare-ups, says Kevin Jones, Central Garden & Pet’s brand manager for Bio Spot.

“The average female flea lays up to several hundred eggs over the course of just a few days—and these eggs can remain dormant for weeks before they emerge as adults,” he says, adding that one problem is that many flea and tick products kill only the adult fleas, so making sure that customers are armed with formulas that kill eggs and larvae is key.

While effectiveness may rank high among consumer concerns about products in this category, a growing number of pet parents rate product safety as just as important. Many are looking for environmentally safe options, or they merely want to steer clear of chemical ingredients that could be harmful to their pets.

This demand is being met with products such as Davis’ line of all-natural, insecticide-free shampoos, dips, lotions and ointments, and Thomas Laboratories’ D/Earth topical insecticide, which contains all-natural diatomaceous earth to kill insects without the use of chemicals.

“Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with the chemical footprint and potential harmful side effects that traditional, chemical-based flea and tick products may present when used frequently,” says Steve Thomas, owner of Thomas Labs.
“Consumers are increasingly drawn to non-chemical-based pest control due to the need for increased application—both frequency of application and the need to cover a wider area, and the desire to keep their pets and family safe and free of harmful chemicals.”

The application process itself can be confounding for many pet owners, leading some manufacturers to address the issue with new innovations to the category. Bio Spot’s patented Smart Shield Applicator for the Bio Spot Defense Flea & Tick Spot On is a delivery system designed to keep the topical formula off the user’s hands and make it easier to part the pet’s fur to get the down to its skin.

While some manufacturers have been busy devising ways to make flea-infestation prevention and treatment more convenient, others have focused on another important facet of the category—tick removal. “Dog owners fear the day they find a tick, and they know that they need to remove it immediately,” says Beth Eimbinder, vice president of sales for Tick-SR.

Tick-SR, launched this past fall, is a non-toxic tick-removal product, designed to make the unpleasant task of removing a tick safe and easy for both the pet owner and the pet. It can be purchased in a bottle or in pre-moistened wipes, both of which make tick removal easy by dissolving the glue-like substance that keeps ticks attached to skin. 

Although many grooming salons may not have shelf space for every flea-and-tick product on the market today, manufacturers suggest offering an assortment that addresses a wide array of concerns and scenarios.

“Next to proper nutrition, killing and controlling pest and insects, and keeping pets free of bugs is perhaps the most important issue to pet product consumers,” Thomas says.

“Offering alternative flea and tick products to work alongside traditional products is a good approach to introducing consumers to new products and their applications.”


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