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Fall Emporium: Giving The Gift Of Health


The spirit of the holidays can help retailers encourage pet owners to improve the quality of their beloved senior pets’ lives.

By Stacy N. Hackett

All animals, no matter what age, deserve to be healthy,” said Michael Melia, vice president of sales and marketing for Designing Health, maker of The Missing Link supplements, in Valencia, Calif.

To this end, the company offers Ultimate Canine Senior Health Formula supplement, formulated to support an older dog’s cognitive brain function and digestive system, and joints, tendons and ligaments.

“This is much more than a gift; it is the gift of health,” Melia said. “When you give this gift of health, this changes the relationship between [an owner and a pet].”

Improving her senior dog’s quality of life—and ultimately contributing to his overall health—was the motivating force Lorraine Walston called upon to develop Power Paws. The traction-control socks allowed her dog, Woodrow, to enjoy his normal freedom of movement and participate in all family activities in his later years, she said.

 FE Senior
Solvit Products.

“With the socks on, he couldn’t be stopped,” said Walston, president of Woodrow Wear LLC in San Jose, Calif. “The product provides traction and mobility. It also protects wounds, protects hardwood from scratches and is a nice fashion accessory, especially for the holidays.”

The company offers Power Paws that are perfect for the holiday season in Halloween, Christmas tree, snowflake, heart, bunny and American flag designs.

Solvit Products in Arlington, Texas, also aims to give senior pets more freedom of movement with its products.

“Solvit offers an assortment of ramps, stairs and lifting aids to improve mobility and access for senior pets,” said Patrick Hoffman, president. “Solvit also offers heavy-duty bicycle trailers and strollers to help senior pets get out and about.”

Happy Pets, Happy Owners
Joanne Flacks, head groomer at Pet Chateau in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, has seen firsthand how specially formulated products can improve the lives of senior pets. Her salon used a sample of a product from Mauro Pet Care Products on an older dog that had lived with a cone for many years because of skin allergies.

“After using this shampoo, she was able to be cone-free for four days straight with no itching,” Flacks said. “Her owners are just thrilled that her life has been dramatically improved.”

As an owner of two senior dogs himself, Norm Shrout understands the value of products designed for senior pets. His store—Long Leash on Life in Albuquerque, N.M.—offers a range of such products, including food, treats, supplements and support harnesses.

“To witness a senior pet improve in mobility over time is both heartwarming and satisfying,” Shrout said. “Part of our mission is to improve the quality of pets’ lives with the hopes that our beloved companions will live as long as possible.”

Trials and Testimonials
Senior pet products seem to sell themselves when owners witness the energy displayed by one of Shrout’s senior dogs.

“When customers see our 14-year-old [Labrador] motoring around our store, they wish to know exactly which products she is taking to stay so spry,” Shrout said.

“Since our dogs have tried most of our senior dog products, testimonials are easy to come by.”

Designing Health offers testimonials on its line of supplements and also will provide retailers with “shelf talkers, brochures and sales sheets that show before and after pictures and … [the results of] feeding trials to better support the sale of our senior formula,” Melia said.

During the holiday season, as well as at other times throughout the year, Long Leash on Life displays groupings of senior products that complement each other. The store also recently began creating educational videos to use on social media, and Shrout plans to expand these videos to include senior products, he said. Employees sometimes provide samples of edible products to ensure the pet will consume the product before a customer purchases it, he added.

Being able to try a product before buying it is a philosophy shared by Woodrow Wear. The company provides retailers with “try-on socks,” a grouping of one of each size of sock the company offers, Walston said.

“With this tool, the store owner can help their client find the right size the first time,” she said. “This sizing tool is invaluable both in terms of getting dogs in the right size and in terms of saving the inventory of the store owner from torn packaging, stretched out socks and messes on the floor.”

Woodrow Wear also offers stores an exchange program.

“We allow our retailers to trade sizes or colors that aren’t selling,” Walston said. “Our motivation is that we already pay for storage; we don’t want our retailers to be storage, too. It just makes good business sense.”

Educating customers about senior pets’ health and providing a range of products to keep older animals healthy also makes good business sense, Shrout said.

“Once a senior-oriented product proves effective, pet parents truly appreciate the fact that it actually works, and they become exclusively brand loyal,” he said. “And why not? Their senior pet has earned the right to live the remainder of its life as comfortably as possible.”


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