November 30, 2016

Dogs live longer than ever before. With the addition of productive innovations, the senior dog category is expanding as more dogs reach their golden years. In fact, dog owners are beginning to expect to have the products they need to help their best friends live a long, healthy life.

“People are becoming more pro-active about seeking solutions for the issues that impact quality of life for their senior dogs,” said Dr. Julie Buzby, founder of Dr. Buzby’s Innovations, LLC. “Of course, we know dogs, like people, are going to slow down as they age. However, the mindset is shifting from ‘We expect this and there’s nothing we can do about it’ to ‘What can we do to support, protect and preserve mobility and wellness during the aging process?’”

Mobility Support
The biggest demand for senior support falls in the mobility category. Joint supplements have always been a growth market, and consumers are now looking for products to help their dogs in addition to those supplements.

The GingerLead Dog Support and Rehabilitation Harness, for example, is a support-style leash that allows dogs with limited mobility the chance to get exercise while being safely supported by their owner.

“As an integrative veterinarian, I feel good about using a multimodal approach to successfully manage pain and mobility in my senior patients,” Dr. Buzby said. “But I was constantly frustrated by the issue of slipping. A dog who struggles on hardwood, tile or laminate floors is experiencing a biomechanical problem. Acupuncture, herbs, pain medications, etc., cannot stop dogs from slipping.”

Her company launched ToeGrips, nonslip nail grips that fit onto dogs’ toenails to restore traction on slippery floors.

“They are a biomechanics solution to the biomechanical problem,” she said. “As dogs regain mobility and stability, they also regain confidence, which has a huge impact on quality of life.”

Value of Exercise
Senior dogs also benefit from mobility support because they continue to require exercise—though modified—throughout their life for optimal health. StarWalk is an activity monitor that serves well for senior dogs.

“It’s important that senior dogs get some level of exercise throughout the day, depending on their breed and age,” explained Pete Fischer at StarWalk. “The StarWalk is an easy way to encourage pet owners to monitor their senior dog’s daily activity and set overall goals for them, plus set important vet and medication reminders and more. Our customers say that it’s a great, user-friendly device that keeps them connected to and constantly aware of their pets’ overall activity on a daily basis.”

Healthy Digestion
Another category for senior dogs that is booming involves health and wellness. Everything from dental products to supplements to live-stage-appropriate dog food are in high demand. Herbsmith manufactures a probiotic, Microflora Plus for Digestion, which is a complete combination of probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, and herbs that support proper digestion and bowel health.

According to Lisa Senafe, founder of Bentley’s Pet Stuff, a series of 19 stores and growing across the Midwest, it all starts with healthy digestion.

“Start with a good diet first,” she said. “Gut health is a niche market. Until there’s a problem, people aren’t aware of probiotics. Sometimes seniors are lacking the enzymes to help process the food and pull the nutrients out more. Probiotics keep the guy and the immune system healthy.”

Senafe also recommends supplements for additional support, and those from Ark Naturals are among her favorites.

Other Concerns
Beyond overall health, comfort is a topic that is of interest to senior dog owners. Larry Wright, president of The Green Pet Shop, offers several solutions.

“Just as with humans today, knowledge, healthier lifestyles, and enhanced medical care have all helped in extending the lives of our pets,” he said. “There is more of an emphasis on exercise, healthier ingredients in foods and treats, and creative products that solve problems and keep pets healthy and comfortable, thus reducing stress. Many of our products help in this manner.”

Wright outlined three options for owners concerned about their senior dogs.

“Our patented Cool Pet Pad keeps pets cool and comfortable without the need for refrigeration, adding water or electricity,” he said. “This helps prevent overheating, calms pain from achy joints and arthritis, cools sore muscles and helps relax your senior pet by keeping them cool and comfortable. Our Achy Paws Warming Mat uses bamboo/charcoal technology, which helps with circulation. Increased circulation keeps our pets healthier for longer and the warmth from the pad helps soothe them. Our new CBD Pet Care Lotion calms and soothes. With its patented transdermal delivery system, it is more quickly and completely absorbed into the bloodstream.”

Incontinence and accidents can often happen with senior pets, so a smart display aimed at aging dogs includes healthy, safe cleanup solutions. ECOS for Pets! Stain and Odor Remover is effective against all types of pet messes without using ammonia, bleach or other dangerous chemicals. Enzymes safely remove stains and odor without leaving any toxic residue behind. A pet-safe and senior-friendly product, the brand does not include petroleum-based surfactants, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrances, preventing the chance of those ingredients causing respiratory problems or skin irritations.

Senafe suggested one way of guiding customers to find the right products for their senior pets. In her store, she said employees try to draw parallels to help customers choose the most appropriate products.

“We always try to humanize for our customers, how we feel and how we handle aging,” she said. “It helps connect the dots between their own health.”

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