Dog and cat owners want choices when it comes to their pets’ flea and tick control, but they need pet specialty
retailers to help them weigh the options.
By LINdsey Getz
When it comes to fleas and ticks, pet owners are serious about protecting their animals from these potentially dangerous pests. But many are also concerned about the safety of the products they are using. Pet specialty retailers should
be prepared to answer questions and provide customers with a comprehensive suite
of product selections, from shampoos and sprays to spot-ons, collars, combs and more.
Bethany Lontz, store manager of The Blue Dog Pet Shop in Lemoyne, Pa., said that
the store’s customers could almost be split right down the middle when it comes to those
that want all-natural flea and tick control products and those that don’t. That makes
“We have both all-natural and not-all-natural products to choose from,” Lontz said.
“Most pet parents already have their minds made up before they even come into the
store about their feelings toward the natural or not-natural debate. It’s mostly a matter
of giving them choices that coincide with what they already believe is best.”
While there’s a split in preference now, Lontz said that there was a time when natural
products were not really on anyone’s radar. Now she has plenty of customers who come
in requesting them specifically.
Jan Hopper, owner of Living Pawsitively in Lafayette Township, N. J., said that more
pet owners are educating themselves and lean toward natural products.
“Just like they’re more interested in knowing what’s in their pets’ food, they’re more
interested in learning about the products they use on their pets,” Hopper said. “There
are lots of pet parents that simply don’t want products with chemicals.”
A shift in pet owner age might even influence product popularity, according to in-
“The increase in younger pet owners especially is driving a desire to only purchase
products for pets that live up to the standards people have for products for themselves,”
said Stephanie Boone, CEO of Austin, Texas-based Wondercide Natural Products. “That
means they’re doing a lot more research, and we’re proud to offer safe, natural and
effective products that live up to their high standards.”
But there are still plenty of pet owners who prefer traditional flea and tick control
products. Janet Monaco, owner of Pet Pros in Rockledge, Fla., said that in her climate,
ticks never die, and pet owners take the threat very seriously.
“Effectiveness is No. 1 for our customers,” she said. “Since we don’t get enough of
a freeze here in Florida to kill off these pests, it’s a year-round concern, and pet parents
want a product that works.”
“Pet parents just want the best
for their pets. It can often be
challenging to know what that is
when it’s a category with varying
opinions. But both sides are just
trying to do what’s best for their
pet, which is protect them from
dangerous fleas and ticks with the
product that is best for them.”
—Bethany Lontz of
The Blue Dog Pet Shop
are Pet owners PrePared?
many pet owners might not be as
knowledgeable about fleas and ticks or as
prepared for an infestation as they think.
• 33% of dog and cat owners do not give their pets
regular flea/tick medication
• 48% don’t bring their pets to a veterinarian for
routine exams against these parasites
• 27% falsely believe that fleas and ticks are only
active in the spring and summer months
• 25% falsely believe that ticks can only be found in
heavily wooded areas
Source: The Harris Poll on behalf of Merck Animal Health, conducted between
April 3-5, 2018, among 1,376 U.S. adults who own a dog and/or cat