45 September 2016 Pet Product News International
BY LINDSEY GETZ
With dogs living longer, the market for senior pet products has grown
substantially. Aging dogs have
a variety of needs, and retailers
must be prepared to help owners
find solutions that work.
“For many reasons, including
the fact that they’re exercised
more and given better health
care, dogs are living longer,”
said Larry Wright, owner of The
Green Pet Shop in Deerfield, Ill.
“As a result, owners are always
looking for products that are go-
ing to help promote their health
and comfort as they age.”
The products that sell best are
those that meet the specific needs
of aging pets. Patti Vincent, owner
of Puppy Love Dog Store in Beau-
mont, Texas, said her customers
are most concerned about joint is-
sues, sensitive stomach concerns,
and teeth health and cleaning.
Because a lot of these areas of con-
cern call for specialty products,
she said the small, independent
retail store is well suited to assist
customers—who often have a lot
of questions and are therefore less
inclined to buy online.
Decreased mobility is a key
concern, said Lorraine Walston,
owner of Woodrow Wear LLC in
San Jose, Calif. While the trend to
put easy-to-clean tile, hardwood
or laminate floors in homes
across America remains popular,
Walston said this type of flooring
is difficult for an older dog to get
traction on and can result in inju-
ries. Products such as shoes and
socks are an adaptable solution.
Patrick Hoffman, owner of
Solvit Products in Arlington,
Texas, said he has seen increased
sales of his company’s CareLift
Lifting Harness, which provides
a gentle lift for dogs with mobil-
ity issues. With mobility being
such a big concern as dogs age,
from point A to point B or up and
down without causing undue
stress on the joints are helpful,
including pet ramps and stairs.
Not only assistance products,
Live Long and Prosper
but also the popularity of medi-
cation and supplementation has
grown as dogs have gotten old-
er. Janet Monaco, owner of Pet
Pros in Rockledge, Fla., said she
is getting more questions about
supplements than ever before.
Customers want to know what
kind of supplement support
might help with their senior
dog’s health issues.
As dogs are living longer, their needs are growing, as is the number of
products designed to help them enjoy the good life in their golden years.
Pet owners have a close bond with their dogs and seek to pamper them in their senior years.
The changing needs of dogs as they age is something that often requires customer
education, particularly as dog owners might not recognize the changes they need
to make to their pet’s lifestyle. The early signs of aging often come on gradually
and, as a result, are easy to miss, said Chris Bessent, DVM, CEO of Herbsmith Inc. in
Hartland, Wis. She suggested that retailers become well educated on the early signs
of aging, which include grayness to the eyes and muzzle, stiffness in movement and
lack of endurance.
Susan Weiss, CEO of Ark Naturals in Naples, Fla., said that for many, the senior category is still relatively new. Dogs simply weren’t living as long in the past. As a result, she
said it’s important that store owners listen to their customers’ needs when it comes to
their aging pet. The senior product category is a learning experience for everyone, and
retailers have a responsibility to stay educated in order to best assist their customers,
Because the needs of an aging pet can be a lot for customers to take in, Sarah
Ercolani, president of Fun Time Dog Shop in Dexter, Mich., said that retailers should
accept that owners might need to process everything before they actually make a
purchase. When customers are being educated on their senior dog’s needs, it often can
feel like information overload, she said.
“Recognize that sometimes a customer needs to think about the options you have
offered and come back once they have thought it out or after their dog has reached a
point where it’s obvious they have a special need,” Ercolani said.
Ercolani said she finds a combination of talking and signage to be the best education tools for senior dogs’ needs.
“Customers do ‘get it’ once you properly explain how a product is useful,” she said.
“But it helps to combine talking with creative signage by your senior dog products.”
Gray Muzzle, an Ark Naturals
company, recently released
ToothPaste For Seniors. It is
a softer formulation of Ark
Naturals’ No. 1-selling product, which can be too hard
for senior pets, said Susan
Weiss, CEO of Ark Naturals in
Herbsmith Inc. has three
new products to support
healthy aging in senior
pets including Senior Dog
Wisdom Cognitive Support
Soft Chews, Nutrients, which is a vitamin, mineral and antioxidant supplement, and
Sound Dog Viscosity, a supplement for joint and muscle support, said Chris Bessent,
DVM, CEO of the Hartland, Wis., company.
The Green Pet Shop in Deerfield, Ill., recently introduced CBD Pet Care Calming
& Soothing Lotion for Dogs & Cats. It contains cannabidiol, which is intended to help
with anxiety and calm joint pain, said Larry Wright, owner. The product contains a
transdermal gel that is rubbed into the veiny part of the ear.
When it comes to promoting products
for senior dogs, signage that shows
the benefits can go a long way, said
Lorraine Walston, owner of Woodrow
Wear LLC in San Jose, Calif. Walston
suggests using before and after
photos of senior dogs that highlight
the mobility, confidence and ability
dogs can gain once they are using a
product designed to aid with senior
Chris Bessent, DVM, CEO of Herbsmith Inc. in Hartland, Wis., agreed
that signage is important. Close-up
photographs of aging pets are striking
and might cause the customer to
pause, she said.
“I would use a lot of beautiful
images to connect with the customer
and create a space within the store
that is centered on the older pet,” Dr.
Having a section of the store
dedicated to senior pets can be useful
as a one-stop shop for a dog’s aging
needs. Sarah Ercolani, president of
Fun Time Dog Shop in Dexter, Mich.,
said she has been working to create
a senior dog section at her store. She
said that even if customers don’t have
an immediate need, it’s something
they will be dealing with down the
road, and it never hurts to start selling
the idea early.
WHAT ARE THE GREATEST NEEDS OF AGING DOGS?
“With an aging population of pets,
we are seeing a great demand for
geriatric care, including the development of special diets and supplements to support vibrant aging. From
cognitive support to joint health,
there are so many ways we can help
our older pets live the quality of life
to match the quantity of years.”
—CHRIS BESSENT, DVM, CEO of
Herbsmith Inc. in Hartland, Wis.