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old dog, new gifts: the best products for senior pets

  • Jules
  • Posted by Jules Benson on
    Chief Veterinary Medical Officer of Petplan

The holidays are just around the corner, and its certainly not the first for your senior pet. But what do you get the pet that has given you everything? 

Your senior pet has received his fair share of bones, toys, and treats over the years from Santa Paws, but as he enters his twilight years, consider giving him gifts that will make his senior years more comfortable. Below are some gift ideas to help your old friend feel as young as a puppy:

Joint Supplements

Senior pets often benefit from additional supplements that help ease some of the effects of aging on joints, which "break down", much like parts of a motor, from use over time. Glucosamine and chondroitin are two parts of healthy cartilage that are available in supplement form for joint support. Supplementing your senior pet with glucosamine and chondroitin will help support the cartilage in his joints that have worn down over time, making those cherished early evening walks enjoyable for him well into his later years. Ask your vet about which supplements would be best for your aging pet; specific veterinary formulations can have added benefits over and above the joint support.

Steps/Ramps

In old joints, erosion of cartilage and long-term inflammation can lead to arthritis. In many of our pets, it’s inevitable, I’m afraid. For a pet that has arthritis, movement can be stiff and sometimes painful. They may not be as active as in the past, or as eager to jump up to their favorite resting spot. If your pet still loves to sleep on the bed or ride in the car but has a hard time making the leap, you can give him a lift with stairs or ramps designed to give your senior pet the boost he needs. They won't stop him from hogging the sheets, though. 

Accident Control Aides

Older pets can have a hard time controlling their bladder, leading to messy and unwelcome accidents in the house. If your senior pet is dealing with incontinence, the first thing you should do is take them to the vet to determine the severity of the problem. If your vet believes home control is an option, there are a couple of items that you might want to pack under the tree this year. The first are some "piddle pads" which allow your pet to go to the bathroom close by, rather than outside, when emergency strikes. They are especially handy for lining crates or areas where your pet sleeps in case of an accident. Look for ones that are washable and reusable for the best value. If more complete control is necessary, you can get some diapers for your pet, but they must be changed often to maintain good hygiene. Talk to your veterinarian about the best option for your senior pet's incontinence.

A Soft, Thick, Orthopedic Bed

Your senior pet loves sitting on the floor with the kids, but it may be hard on him. Keep sore, aching joints off cold, hardwood floors this winter with a thick orthopedic bed. Pet beds are available in a number of styles and materials to best suit your individual pet's condition, size, and needs. A bed thick and large enough to support your pet when he lays down should suffice. If he needs extra warmth, consider choosing a bed made of self-warming fabric (usually these contain a foil sheet that reflects your pet’s warmth back to them – very space-age!). If your pet is dealing with incontinence, choose a bed that has a removable, waterproof liner that you can clean whenever an accident occurs.

Senior Pet Food

As pets grow gray and "long in the tooth", their metabolism slows and their teeth wear down, so purchasing your pet a quality senior pet food formulated specifically to meet his nutritional needs is important. No senior dog is the same, so discuss with your vet the best type of food for your pet's specific diet needs and then seek out a food that meets those needs best. Food that is lower in calories and higher in fiber, protein and vitamins should give your less-active senior pet the nutrition he needs to stay strong for years to come.

Of course, if you really want to give your best friend a great gift, consider protecting them with pet insurance from Petplan, which has no upper age limits for enrollment! 

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Chris AshtonCo-Founder and Co-CEO of Petplan Pet Insurance
vet tip of the week

Visit your vet at least once a year to keep your pet protected from preventable diseases.