Spring Into Action

Retailers should prepare for the onslaught of customer questions and requests concerning the treatment of various seasonal issues, from allergies to fleas.


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Spring is here, and summer is just around the corner, ushering in the season of allergies and fleas. Retailers, therefore, should be ready to help customers by providing solutions to the skin and coat care issues that are so common this time of year.

Dogs are more likely to exhibit sensitivity to allergens by itching rather than sneezing, and of course, fleas are a major source of itching, as is spring shedding. Licking, chewing and scratching to alleviate itchiness can also lead to secondary skin problems such as hot spots and infections. This spring and summer, as always, customers will count on groomers and retailers to help with skin conditions. The veterinarian is busy, intimidating and expensive—it is easier to ask a knowledgeable pet retailer for assistance.

Of course, retailers and groomers need to be careful not to step out of their role as caretakers and salespeople, and cross the boundary into dispensing medical advice and diagnosing conditions for pets without a license. However, pet store and salon employees can make product recommendations, when appropriate, and it is reasonable that someone who sees or hears about problems and solutions for dozens of itchy dogs every week would have some useful feedback for pet owners.

Many veterinarians recommend frequent bathing—sometimes as often as once a week—with a mild shampoo or one that replenishes moisture, as a good way to alleviate itchiness. Bathing can be especially useful for dogs suffering from contact allergies, as it helps remove many allergens from the coat. Clean skin also makes an unlikely breeding ground for some of the more common secondary issues linked to itching and poor coat and skin, such as yeast, bacterial or fungal problems.

AdVet’s line of Hygienics products focuses on fostering good hygiene, which, in turn, impacts a dog’s overall health. The company’s line is made in the USA with natural ingredients, and it is paraben, soap and alcohol free. The shampoo and conditioner are made with tea tree, which is a natural anti-fungal and antiseptic that deep cleans while promoting healing. The Aloe Vera Waterless Shampoo Spray contains an aloe vera and arnica-extract base, with added vitamin E.

“Arnica is a homeopathic remedy, an anti-inflammatory, a pain reliever and also promotes healing,” says Casey McGuirt, chief educator at AdVet. “The aloe serves as an antibacterial and disinfectant.”

Convenience is also a key selling point for many products. People want easy. Shampoo and conditioner may have beneficial effects, but not every dog owner—especially one who owns a breed with long or thick hair—is in a position to bathe their dog themselves. AdVet’s waterless shampoo is used between baths or grooming, but many people end up using it on a daily basis because of the homeopathic properties. “Most people are purchasing it for its convenience,” adds McGuirt. “It is great for muscle aches, joint pain, arthritis, hot spots, skin irritations, bug bites, etc.” 

Zen Dog Holistic Healing Formulas are also easy and convenient to use. Made with catalyst-converted water and quality essential oils, the company’s Tranquility shampoo soothes with lavender. The Skin Repair Spray offers rapid relief to dogs suffering from environmental allergies, and helps to soothe and repair damaged skin. Skin Repair Gel contains aloe and vitamin E for concentrated healing, targeting specific areas such as hot spots, and Gentle Ear Gel can soothe painful ears.

As a groomer and retailer, Susan Gregory, owner and creator of Zen Dog Holistic Healing Formulas, is familiar with customers asking for help in solving itching problems. “I tell them to try the shampoo or spray, and see if it alleviates the itching, even if it’s just for a while. If it’s an external problem, it will help. If not, it might be in order to discuss nutrition or other causes with their veterinarian. It’s a helpful way to eliminate various causes.”

Deborah Brown, vice president of advertising and marketing for Pet King Brands, says retailers are often helpful in raising consumer awareness of effective products that address many common conditions. “Most pet owners who have pets with skin and coat conditions have chronic conditions—meaning the pet is plagued with repeat issues,” she says. “Skin conditions are very common among dogs and cats who suffer from allergies. The problem with allergies is they can’t be cured, but the complications of the allergies, such as hot spots or infections, must be managed.

“It is the employee who can recommend the best product to help with the symptoms the pet owner describes,” she adds.

Pet King Brand’s Zymox product line is designed to manage such symptoms. While the company’s convenient Zymox Topical Spray and Topical Cream are stand-alone products that target not only hot spots but also ringworm and other skin infections, the Zymox Dermatology line offers a host of other solutions. The products’ safe, patented LP3 Enzyme system works with the pet’s biochemistry to naturally destroy bacteria, fungus and many viruses. Using Zymox’s Enzymatic Shampoo, Rinse, Spray or Cream, and Ear Cleanser together can alleviate many of the toughest skin problems.

Another manufacturer that has made it as convenient as possible to treat animals’ skin problems is DERMagic. The company’s Skin Rescue Lotion and Hot Spot Salve, which are made in the USA with all-natural and organic ingredients, can help pet parents prevent issues from becoming more serious.

“There’s no quick fix to serious skin problems,” says Dr. Adelia Ritchie, founder of the company. However, for rashes, bites, puncture wounds, moist eczema (hot spots) and early symptoms of yeast, DERMagic products are effective and do not contain harsh chemicals, antibiotics or steroids.

A recent launch by Vets Plus, Inc., is the Smart Fido USA and Smart Kitty USA line, which offers pet owners another convenient way to help pets with coat or skin issues. “We focus on making high-quality supplements that are convenient,” says Dale Metz, director of the companion animal business unit at Vets Plus, Inc. “Giving treats is a way we show our love for our pets, and pilling is often a negative experience for pet and parent. With convenient soft chews or functional treats—we can create a positive interaction for giving supplements. Pet specialty shoppers want science and quality in the products they choose for their pets. Smart Fido USA and Smart Kitty USA products are formulated to meet these expectations with a solid basis in science and a list of high-quality ingredients that doesn’t include soy, gluten, or artificial colors and flavors.”

The Skin and Coat soft chew supplements contain lecithin, flaxseed meal, fish meal, biotin and vitamin E in their skin supporting ingredients. The company is also working on plans to introduce a fish oil supplement and an oatmeal shampoo.

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