As a result of great nutrition, grooming, lifestyle products and state-of-the-art medical care, dogs are living longer than ever before. Currently, more than half the dog population in the U.S. is considered senior (7 years of age or older).
The array of products that cater to these dogs gives pet retailers an opportunity to establish themselves as a go-to wellness center for senior dogs.
Solvit Pet Products, headquartered in Texas, has long been in the forefront of senior pet care, producing home and vehicle accessories as well as special body and rear leg lift harnesses that aid an older dog’s mobility both in and outside the home.
“There is no question that people are pandering to their dogs and purchasing such accessories, but also they are buying out of need,” said Patrick Hoffman, president of the company. “Accessories such as stairs and ramps facilitate convalescence after a surgical procedure and also offer general extended independent mobility for older pets. Stairs are the more popular of these two options, and pet owners often purchase more than one set so they can position them alongside the bed as well as their dog’s favorite seat in the living room.
“Many people initially purchase a rear lift when their dog first has issues standing up and then consider the full body design as an overall better option for their dog,” he said, adding that the Deluxe Telescoping ramp is the company’s most popular senior dog travel accessory.
Making Life Comfy
Many veterinarians and veterinary orthopedic specialists are recommending memory foam beds for pets recovering from surgery as well as for the overall comfort of senior pets.
“Our Petlinks TheraMax is a great bed for a senior dog,” said Wonjung Song, the company’s director of innovation and product development. “It’s filled with reclaimed human-grade memory foam that would otherwise end up in landfills. It features a patented channel liner for even foam distribution that conforms to body contours and supports joints and pressure points without losing its shape. It also has the convenience of a machine washable cover for odor control and any accidents.”
A lot of science and research went into the design of Worldwise’s newest goDog RhinoPlay toy line.
“The patented durable yet non-toxic soft foam material called PopFoamNT used in the goDog RhinoPlay toys is ideal for senior dogs with aging teeth and gums,” said Neil Werde, managing director of canine toys and accessories. “Also, blue and yellow are the colors on the color spectrum that dogs can see the best. That is why we selected these colors for this toy range, so that older dogs will still be able to locate their toys even if their vision is challenged.”
The Pet Therapeutics line from Enchanted Home Pet features four therapy pads offering pets therapeutic relief for conditions such as post-operative inflammation as well as general support for aching joints and aiding improved blood circulation. There is the TheraCool gel cooling pad, the TheraWarm self-warming pad, the Orthopedic Foam Comfort pad, and the company’s top seller, the Magnetic Powered Relief Pad. They are available in standard crate and flat dog bed sizes.
“The legendary properties of magnets have been studied for centuries as a natural way to help ease chronic pain and discomfort,” said Fred Silber, company founder and president. “Our magnetic mat is engineered with 180 magnets that are strategically placed to help relieve all-over discomfort. In addition, it’s padded with memory foam for comfort and support.”
According to John Sandiford, CEO of Gen7Pets, the company’s Monaco stroller accommodates pets up to 60 pounds. The Regal Plus pet stroller is the most lightweight in the company’s line, weighing only 11 pounds.
“Pet owners purchase strollers for a number of reasons, including as an aid for older dogs who enjoy going places but can’t walk long distances,” Sandiford said. “Strollers are also great for older owners who may have difficulty walking a dog on a leash, too. Our strollers all have safety tethers and zipped canopies, which enable pet owners to take their pets to places that restrict access to pets that are not contained.”
Ken Wilks is director of marketing and sales for W.F. Young, Inc., whose pet division manufactures the Missing Link line of supplements. He says older dogs can no longer absorb and metabolize vital nutrients as efficiently as they did when they were younger.
“This can lead to diet-related health problems,” he explained. “Some of the signs of poor nutrition in a senior dog can include listlessness reducing mobility, itchy skin and a dull coat. At The Missing Link, we believe that the raw, unprocessed trace nutrients that come from superfoods and are added to the food bowl are more easily absorbed by the body than from a cooked daily pet ration.
“While any of The Missing Link superfood supplement formulas can be beneficial to senior dogs, we’ve created a Senior Formula that specifically addresses their needs,” he continued. “We put an extra level of nutrients in the formula to help with less efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients, and also added green lipped mussels in this product to naturally support joint health. We guarantee that pet parents will notice improved attitude and energy levels in three days, improved mobility in seven days and will see improvements in skin and coat health within 30 days.”
The company offers a 30-day trial sample so pet owners can gauge for themselves how their pet can benefit by adding supplements to their diet.
The Ark Naturals Grey Muzzle products are designed specifically to target issues facing aging dogs. The products are in the form of soft chew treats. Brain’s Best Friend supports cognitive issues associated with aging such as disorientation, recognition, memory and learned behaviors. There are treats to promote heart health and joint issues for both big and small breeds, while the Grey Muzzle No Shampoo! Shampoo is a waterless formula for older dogs that have difficulty standing and find the grooming process tedious and stressful.
Food for Thought
With regard to the latest innovation in senior dog foods, a recent article on VetVine, an online educational resource, addressed the issue of the classification of life stages in dogs and the differentiation of an adult dog from a senior or a geriatric dog. These age categories have been considered arbitrary over the years and linked to various pet/human age analogy charts.
However, because the lifespan of dogs can be associated with breed type—toy breeds typically live longer than giant breed dogs—it’s been suggested that the classification of life stage should be associated with the weight of the dog and not its age.