Natural Pest Solutions
Manufacturers in the natural flea and tick solutions category are prioritizing alternatives to chemical ingredients.
While spring affords opportunities to play outside under extended hours of daylight, it also signals the beginning of flea and tick season. With this in mind, pet parents are gearing up to fight off parasitic threats, and they are increasingly turning to natural options, rather than harsh chemicals, as their weapons of choice. As a result, manufacturers in the natural flea-and-tick-solutions category are prioritizing the use of alternatives to chemical ingredients in their products, allowing pet parents to rest easy when choosing parasite protection for their four-legged friends.
Recognizing the increasing inclusion of pets as family members, manufacturers realize that pet parents are making purchases for their animals using the same decision-making process that influences the shopping they do for themselves. Consumers’ conscientiousness is an important consideration for LifePet Organic president and CEO Dwight Holcomb.
“It’s amazing, because the consumer who goes to Whole Foods and looks for products for pets is looking for the same certifications as his or her own products,” he says. “I thought the biggest buyers would be natural stores, but it’s small mom and pops that are not exclusively organic. They want to offer an organic selection and have a loyal customer base that is demanding organic products.”
Also meeting this consumer demand, Mad About Organics emphasizes safety first when developing products with natural ingredients. While many flea and tick treatments include warnings regarding use on young puppies and also advise women who are pregnant to avoid working with the products, pet parents who use Mad About Organics can be confident about the non-toxic formulas.
“Everything is human grade,” according to co-owners, Ben and Elana Hoerter, and Sue Smith. “We are one of the few companies that a pregnant mom can use our products without putting on gloves. We are trying to build the safest product line on the market.”
It is this trend toward non-toxic, non-chemical-based solutions that many manufacturers are following. When searching for products that will maintain a dog or cat’s well-being by combating fleas and ticks, many pet parents believe that different—at times more severe—health conditions might be caused through the use of harsh chemical-based formulas, leading them to choose natural options.
The New Naturals
Using ingredients such as herbs has become common practice in the natural flea and tick treatment sector, as many of these products are found to either reduce a parasite’s attraction to pets or naturally eradicate the insects. Though many manufacturers have discovered the exceptional anti-parasite properties of ingredients such as cinnamon, food-grade diatomaceous earth, and essential lavender, clove and cedar oils, they continue to look for new ingredients to incorporate into their natural products.
A pioneer in the natural flea and tick category, Natural Chemistry knows that this growing segment has a lot of room for growth, says Jeff Fowler, national sales manager, pet and home products, for the brand’s parent company Muntech.
“We are excited to offer a new natural squeeze-on product for the 2016 season, and the product was introduced at the Global Pet Expo,” he says. “Natural Chemistry will offer a small, medium and large dog package to prevent flea and tick infestation for up to one month. The product will contain natural cinnamon, mint and lemongrass oils and can be used on dogs of any age.”
Manufacturers are also creating new products from existing items within their flea and tick prevention lines. Although they might not be reinventing the wheel, these companies are taking the best features of natural products—from oral supplements to dental care—and introducing fresh solutions that have foundations in older, effective formulas. For example, according to PetzLife Products president Andrew Groth, the company is improving upon the human-grade, organic Tickz product, which is sprinkled on food and works internally to address tick issues.
“We have been very excited about our early results on a new flea and tick treat line that we have been testing,” says Groth. “We have been able to implement our Tickz formula into a tasty treat form and look to launch this by the end of 2016.”
Rather than using one chemical-based product to treat fleas and ticks, Groth reveals that certain separate, natural treatments work best when used together. By combining non-toxic natural treatments, such as the company’s Tickz tick repellent and Complete Coat—a mosquito and flea repellent spray that kills the insects—pet parents can ensure that their animals are well guarded from parasites while preventing exposure to the potentially harmful chemicals used in certain traditional products.
Mad About Organics has taken this concept a step further by incorporating pest-prevention benefits into products that are seemingly unrelated to the category. During development of the company’s Plaque Remover, the addition of other ingredients created a teeth-cleaning product that aids in alleviating multiple pet issues.
“[It] also has fennel and flax meal which are good for the intestinal track,” say the Hoerters and Smith. “We use a pumpkin powder, which regulates digestion, a small amount of brewers yeast and garlic powder, which is a natural flea defense.”
Taking Pet Health Personally
Maintaining a healthy environment that nurtures growth and wellbeing for all family members is important to pet parents. While consumers can conduct research and read labels to find non-toxic products, potential problems associated with using chemical-based solutions becomes most apparent when observing daily interaction between humans and pets. It was this connection to family that led Holcomb to develop natural pet-care products.
“The thing that sent me over the edge was we had two beautiful puppies,” he says. “Our daughter would pick up the Shih Tzu and rub her face in his fur after we did spot on treatments. I would watch her and think, ‘She is putting her eyes near that toxic spot-on treatment.”
Believing a more natural, yet effective, alternative treatment was possible, Holcomb became dedicated to creating non-chemical pet-care products, including EcoShield Organic Flea & Tick Spray that contains pepper lactate, FDA food-grade cedar oil and water.
Other manufacturers of flea and tick solutions have also found inspiration for change within their own lives. They made the leap to become an entrepreneurial manufacturer of these products after wanting to find a less abrasive, natural method for pet parasite protection. After developing a formula to address issues with their own pets, the owners of Mad About Organics discovered they could help other families while pursuing a natural pet-care business venture, reveals Ben Hoerter.
“My wife has a master’s degree in animal science from Oregon State, and her mother was an oncology nurse,” he says. “We developed a spray for a pregnant mare, and I wanted something that stuck to the dogs a bit more than the first product. We developed a more oil-based product with a stronger scent—using nature against nature—through organic essential oils.”
As the natural flea and tick prevention sector of the market grows, manufacturers will continue developing innovative methods to use nature’s purest ingredients. While manufacturer innovation is key when shifting from traditional, chemical-based solutions to the most natural elements, retailers that are interested in selling natural solutions can certainly apply traditional, tried-and-true sales methods.
“It is important for suppliers such as Natural Chemistry to provide education and information [to retailers] on a consistent basis especially during the peak season,” says Fowler. “Retailers should offer a full line of products for the home, yard and direct-on-pet products to help satisfy the needs of each customer while maximizing sales revenue through the register.”