Advances in medicine have allowed humans to live for longer than ever before, and their canine counterparts are no different. Veterinary care and dietary sciences now keep our furry friends around into their golden years, but with that fortune comes new responsibilities.
“One consequence of this is that pets, along with their owners and veterinarians, are faced with a whole new set of age-related conditions,” according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association. “In recent years, there has been extensive research on the problems facing older pets and how their owners and veterinarians can best handle their special needs.”
At the same time, manufacturers and retailers are doing their parts to help owners offer targeted and specially designed care to their senior dogs. Food, toys and accessories are just a few of the categories in which senior dogs’ needs get special attention.
Feeding for Function
Perhaps the foundation of a healthy life, a pet’s diet is essential to their ability to enjoy their senior years. Manufacturers have released specially designed diets for senior dogs, as well as supplements to address issues that may arise in specific bodily functions. Of course, the amount of food each dog requires depends on activity level and environment in addition to age.
Redbarn Pet Products’ Grain-Free rolled dog food is free from common canine allergens, artificial preservatives, colors and flavors. Each roll contains more than 50-percent fresh protein and goes through a less severe cooking process (low temperature pasteurization) than used for traditional kibble. Each roll offers enhanced digestibility and is formulated for sensitive pets.
“For consumers with sensitive pets looking for a grain-free diet option, Redbarn Premium Grain-Free Rolled Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Dog Food Nutrient profiles for all life stages,” said Rashell Cooper, marketing directing for Redbarn. “Just slice and cube the food, and it is ready to serve.”
Petcurean’s GO! Fit + Free Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey and Trout recipe is available to help any dog with weight management and is particularly suitable for senior dogs. The company’s NOW Fresh Grain Free food is also produced in special small and large breed formulas for senior dogs. The line supports hip and joint health, fat burning for vision and heart function, weight management and digestion.
Evanger’s USA Senior Dog Food is also formulated to aid in weight management. Older, overweight dogs might require tailored or reduced feeding amounts. Evanger’s meets the nutritional standards set by AAFCO and is certified Kosher for Passover by the Chicago Rabbinical Council.
For pet owners seeking supplemental chews and treats for their senior dogs, manufacturers have answered the call.
Zuke’s Enhance Functional Chews are new this year, and have gotten a particularly warm welcome to the market from pet owners with older dogs. The formula helps support and maintain dogs’ proper body function so they can continue living healthy, active lives. They are available in several varieties, including Calming, Digestion, Endurance, Fresh Breath, Mobility and Shiny Coat. According to the company, the chews were formulated with the help of a PhD herbalist and research findings from the latest scientific data.
“Whether its chamomile and L-theanine for calming, or turmeric and MSM for healthy hips and joints, each form’s primary functional ingredients are listed on the front of each package,” said a press release for the new products. “Crafted in the USA with the earth’s best ingredients in small batches, these grain-free tender chews are high palatable. Every variety is available in peanut butter and chicken recipes.”
Zuke’s also offers an easy-to-use product for pet owners with older dogs (or dogs of any age) experiencing hip issues. Zuke’s Hip Action contains glucosamine, chondroitin, whole food antioxidants and eggshell membrane. The dog treat, extra-palatable due to its moisture, has vitamins and minerals to support nutrient absorption. It’s made in the USA, is free of common allergens (wheat, corn and soy) and provides a convenient option for dog owners, eliminating pills, liquids or powders.
Zuke’s Hip Action treats are available in roasted chicken, roasted beef, and peanut butter flavors. They are safe to eat in large quantities because of their natural ingredient list.
Gray Muzzle is an entire line of products by Ark Naturals dedicated to older dogs. Their Brain’s Best Friend bite size soft chews combat cognitive issues that come with aging. The Old Dogs! Happy Joints! soft chew aids in seniors’ mobility, flexibility, and discomfort. Lastly, Heart Healthy! Wags Plenty! soft chews help support heart function, muscles, rhythm, blood pressure and circulation.
Bubba Rose Biscuit Co. makes treats that can be used as a food topper or snack for senior dogs with sensitive or no teeth. The treats are crafted from organic flour and free of wheat, corn, soy and gluten. Available in bacon, cheese, peanut butter, chicken, beef, pizza, turkey and salmon flavors, Bubba Rose Bark biscuits allow dogs of any age to enjoy a tasty snack.
For improved joint health and functions, retailers can point to Arthramine and Arthramine Max from International Veterinary Sciences (IVS). These canine supplements help to build and repair cartilage and connective tissue, increasing dogs’ mobility and desire to play while protecting them from further cartilage breakdown.
Perhaps just as important as what’s in a dog’s food is how the food is served. Some bowls or feeders fail to take into account the strain that older dogs might experience while feeding. At best, they may do nothing to alleviate these potentially painful issues; at worst, they exacerbate them.
Platinum Pets’ raised diners are constructed from hand-forged wrought iron that is finished in black powder coating, allowing it to complement any one of the company’s range of brightly colored Wide-Rimmed bowls.
“Our designers followed veterinary recommendations and built the diners at various heights to create the healthiest dining experience for dogs,” said Kate Jones, president of Platinum Pets. “Our diners alleviate neck, back, hip and spine pain, promote esophageal health and aid the digestive system—perfect for dogs in their adult through senior years.”
Pets’ ability and motivation to play and exercise often changes as they become older. Consulting veterinarians is a great way for pet owners to be sure they’re keeping their pets’ physical activity at a level that is most beneficial to their health. Such is especially recommended when elderly dogs are adopted, as it is difficult for these new pet owners to have access to the dog’s medical history.
According to Dr. Becky Sweeney, a contributor to the archive of veterinarian-approved articles at PetPlace.com, exercise plays an important role in the overall health of dogs, even in their senior years.
“First of all, exercise helps maintain a healthy body weight,” Dr. Sweeney wrote. “Being overweight may lead to a number of health problems. It places excess stress on your pet’s heart. When the heart doesn’t function properly, other organs may suffer, including the brain, lungs, liver and kidneys.”
Joint dysfunction is a problem all too familiar for many pet owners with elderly canines.
“Osteoarthritis is degeneration of joints,” she continued. “This problem may develop during a pet’s geriatric years, causing pain and discomfort. Excess weight on these joints can speed up the disease. Believe it or not, moderate exercise can help delay the continued degeneration of joints that are affected with osteoarthritis.”
Playtime can also keep pets in good mental shape. According to Dr. Sweeney, nutrients such as glucose and oxygen are kept at optimum levels in the brain when a dog receives an appropriate amount of exercise. This keeps the brain healthy and able to function properly.
Planet Dog’s Old Soul Line is designed for senior dogs and their unique needs.
“We developed a special formula, using our signature Orbee-Tuff [material], to address the issues dogs experience as they grow older and wiser: reduced vision and snout strength, weakened jaw muscles, and brittle teeth,” said a product release statement from Planet Dog.
The Old Soul ball features high contrast colors, making it easy for older dogs to spot. Extra mint flavoring makes the toy easier to sniff out, and the material is given extra pliability to offer a satisfying chew that is easy on gums. The company’s bone and ball toys come in small, medium and large.
Plush toys with no stuffing make good gifts for older dogs, and squeakers help enhance play for those dogs with diminished eyesight.
Warriorz by ZippyPaws is a new line of extra-tough plush toys with strong border webbing and Z-Stich technology. Their plush softness make them easy on dogs’ teeth, while the reinforced material gives them the ability to last through long periods of chewing. Each Warriorz contains two large Blaster Squeakers.
Additionally, goDog toys from Worldwise, Inc., has Chew Guard Technology to last against tough play. The company offers a one-time replacement guarantee. The toys are available in over 100 colorful characters, including dragons, dinosaurs and monkeys, and range in size from extra-small to extra-large. They are appropriate for dogs of all ages.
For older dogs visiting the local park or who frequently interact with other canines and humans, owners might be interested in products that express their pets’ temperament from afar.
RC Pet’s Bark Notes is a unique product that helps dog guardians communicate their dogs’ key personality traits from a safe distance. The line of boldly colored collar and leash labels help owners quickly and effectively communicate with other handlers with eight clearly printed messages available for purchase: Adopt Me, Friendly, Training, Working, Caution, No Dogs, Do Not Feed and Do Not Pet.
Bark Notes are made with neoprene backing, allowing the product to slide over collars or leashes and remain durable.
Bridging the gap between play and nap areas is P.L.A.Y.’s Pet Teepee, constructed of 100 percent natural cotton canvas and pine wood poles. It features a circular front opening and removable interior cushion for comfort. It’s designed for easy set-up, which is always a plus for busy pet owners. The Pet Teepee provides your customers’ pets with a safe space to play, while also adding a design element to their homes.
The company also makes Houndstooth dog beds, designed for dogs of any age that also feature a classic design as to not disrupt the décor of pet owners’ homes.
“This timeless pattern adds polish to any setting and features the perfect amount and density of high-loft PlanetFill filler made from recycled plastic bottles to comfortably support your pet,” a P.L.A.Y. product release said. “Beds are 100 percent machine washable and available in four sizes and colors.”
Following the growing eco-friendly inclination of the pet market, the Petlinks Deluxe Dreamer Bed from Worldwise, Inc., is made with eco-friendly memory foam for a luxury comfort. With a machine washable cover, the bed is made from reclaimed human-grade memory foam and reclaimed “cluster foam” (shredded standard foam) for a bed that is healthy for not only pets, but also for the home and the environment.
Some products, designed for dogs of any age, have available accessories that make them ideal for senior dogs. The Sleepypod mobile pet bed, for example, has an optional Warmer Kit that is particularly popular with owners of senior dogs. The portability of the bed makes it a great product for customers whose dogs take frequent visits to the veterinarian in their old age.
The Sleepypod mobile pet bed is multifunctional, able to transition from a pet bed to a carrier and even a crash-tested car seat, according to the company. The carrier helps alleviate stress when traveling to any destination, since the dog is already familiar with the pet bed and is accustomed to sleeping in it. The Warmer Kit can be used at home and on the road, providing extra comfort to dogs of all ages, but particularly to those in their senior years. The bed is available in seven colors.
For frequent flyers who want to take their pet with them on trips, Sleepypod produces the Sleepypod Air, a carrier that can be used for in-cabin air travel, as a car seat and as a portable pet bed. It folds for easy storage, has a trolley pocket to attach telescopic luggage handles and pockets for storing items. The Warming Kit is available for use with the Sleepypod Air as well, and the latter is available in six colors.
As every dog owner has learned over the years, dogs never grow out of the need for a regular hygiene routine. However, doggie baths can be quite the hassle for dogs and their owners. To combat this frustrating issue, retailers can recommend more convenient cleaning options, such as Quick Bath Tushee Wipes, for in-between home baths or appointments with a groomer.
Formulated with effective cleaners that remove bacteria and odors from dogs’ skin, Quick Bath wipes contain vitamins A and E and Aloe Vera, which promotes healthy skin and coat, leaving pets clean and shiny. They are pH neutral and alcohol free.
Ark Naturals’ Gray Muzzle line has a variety of products dedicated to senior dogs. The No Shampoo! Shampoo is a rinseless, waterless foam shampoo that cleans and moisturizes pets’ coats without the standing that is difficult for many older pups during bathtime.
For customers who enjoy the bonding aspects of home grooming, retailers can offer pet owners supplies for effective cleaning. One of the newest products in this category is the Growl Towel.
The inaugural collection from Growl Towels features a range of bright, colorful designs that offer a fresh alternative to old, faded towels and are specifically designed for pets.
These towels are safe and effective in the home and on the go, and can also be used to cover and protect furniture or cover a dog bed. They are created with 100-percent cotton, allowing them to remain cool in the summer while also offering warmth when needed.