Great Gifts for Your Senior!
Dr. Debra Primovic and Dr. Karin Szust
It is estimated that over half of all pets in the US are "seniors". As pets get older, they like us, have special needs. The pet industry has nicely designed several products to meet those needs. Let's look at some now! Ramps. Pet ramps are useful for pets with arthritis, degenerative muscle changes, hip dysplasia or other disorders that cause difficulty in the pets ability to get up and down stairs or on and off high objects. Ramps are most commonly used to help pets get up and down stairs that allow them to go outside, to get in and out of the car and on and off of the bed. To use a ramp, make sure it is firmly seated on both ends. There should be a securing or anti-slip mechanism on both ends. You don't want your pet going up or down the ramp when it slips off one end! The ramp should be sturdy and able to hold your pet's weight. For outdoor ramps, the surface should be slip-proof to allow the best traction possible in wet weather. Our favorite products in this category are: Piece ramp with cubes for indoor use by www.Puppystairs.com. For outdoor use, the telescope dog ramp by www.dogramp.com, "Pet Ramp" by www.handiramp.com.
Anti-slip Carpets, Rugs or Rug Pads. Many pets with orthopedic or muscular conditions have difficulty rising or getting their feet "under' them as they get up. This is especially true on tile, linoleum and hard wood floors. Place a carpet or rug in the areas where they like to lie. Make sure the carpet or rug has an anti-slip backing to give the most stability and support to your pet. If you have area rugs already down, add a anti-slip pad under to make sure the rug does not move or bunch. Pads are available in a variety of sizes and are beneficial for your safety as well. These products can be found in a variety of stores including WalMart and Lowes or www.addarug.com.
Elevated Feeding Bowls. Some pets have difficulty bending over a low feeding or water bowl as they age. Elevated bowls can help. It is also easier to keep the floor clean and dry under the bowls. There are a variety of styles, sizes and heights. Make sure the one you chose is at a comfortable level for your pet to stand with his head at a slightly neutral to downward angle. Our favorite products in this category include: Healthy Care Dog Feeder by Pet Zone and the Stainless Steel Double Diners for Tall Breeds.
Orthopedic Pet Beds. There are a variety of orthopedic beds available for pets that range from soft lambs wool, water beds, heated beds or large soft cotton styles. Make sure you choose the right size and place it in an area that allows your pet to have secure footing getting into and out of the bed. Ideally, the cover should be washable. The stuffing should be soft, durable and maintain its shape after repeated use. Or favorite products in this category are: Truly Orthopedic Memory Foam Dog Beds by www.bigdogbeds.com and the Flexi-Mat Thermo Napper Pet Bed.
Diapers. There are several companies that make a diaper-type pants to go on pets that are incontinent. It is important to choose the right fit and to change the pant frequently so the moisture does not lie against the pet's delicate skin. Our favorite products in this category are: Doggie diaper by www.lodinet.com/pppants and Doggie Jam diapers by www.doggiedee.com.
Automated Drinking Fountains. Some pets don't drink as much as they should. This is especially common in cats. Some conditions encourage increased water consumption such as kidney disease or feline urinary diseases. Automated drinking fountains encourage some pets to drink more. If you pet likes to drink out of a faucet, then most likely they will love an automated drinking fountain. It is very important to remember to change the water often as the water can become slimy and moldy. The parts should come apart easily, be easy to clean and ideally dishwasher safe. It should also be easy to fill and relatively noiseless. Our favorite products in this category are: Drinkwell Pet Fountain and the Pioneer Pet Stainless Steel Foutains.
Harnesses. Instead of collars for pets with neck problems, harnesses are often recommended. It places less pressure on the neck and spreads the tension over the chest muscles and back. Harnesses are also the most stable devise to secure your pet as they can often slip out of a collar. There are a variety of styles and fabrics. Fabrics that are soft but highly visible or reflective are favored. Measure your dog carefully to get the right fit. Our favorite product in this category is: Dog Control Harness by www.petmate.com.
Carts. Some pets can become paralyzed in the rear legs secondary to trauma, intervertebral disc disease or cancer. Canine carts are essentially a wheel chair that allows the pet to walk using its front legs to propel the real wheels of the cart. Some pets use these for years and have a great life. It is important to measure your pet carefully and get the right fit. You may want to discuss the test recommendations with your veterinarian. It needs to be comfortable for your pet and neither too loose nor too tight. Carts that are too loose allow the pet to slide out and fixtures that are too tight are uncomfortable and can cause chaffing of the skin. The wheels need to be stable. Before you decide on the exact cart for your pet, ask what the wheel distance is to make sure it works with the width your hallways, walkways and ramps. Our favorite product in this category is: K9-carts by www.k9carts.com.