Friends For Life

By Peggy Scott

January 18, 2008 7 min read


Products to give aging pets the help they deserve

By Peggy Scott

Copley News Service

Aging can take its toll on a body - even one with four legs. With the passage of time, that leap up onto the couch can become difficult fora once-spry dog or cat.

Because our pets are receiving better health care these days, they are living longer, and as they reach more advanced ages, we are likely to see a bit of arthritis or other senior pet conditions.

It's hard to watch our furry friends slow down as they get a little gray, but the good news is, there are ways we can lend a helping hand to keep them as comfortable and active as possible.

Arnie Costell, founder of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Watson's Senior Pet Products, developed his first item, the Bottoms Up Leash, as a way to help his own aging pet, Watson the dog.

Costell soon found himself being approached by other pet owners who saw the device and wanted one for their own animal companions. The hind-end harnesslike leash gave pets with mobility and strength issues a little boost just where they needed it - and that included their self-esteem.

"People told me I should call it the 'dignity leash' because it gave the dogs back theirs," Costell says. "They can walk around easier and do their business like they used to. It improves their quality of life."

The company's chief operating officer, Tom Bagavane, explains that the popularity of products to help aging pets is a reflection of our interest in our own longevity.

"It's a mirror of our society," Bagavane says. "We are taking great measures to extend and improve our lives, and we are doing the same for our pets. We want them to be around for as long as possible. And large dogs turn senior when they are 6, so there's a lot people can do early to help them later."

Whether assistance is in the form of stairs for aging joints or raised food and water bowls to aid digestion, a little creative adaptation can help a pet's golden years retain their luster and add to the priceless time we get to spend with them. Many pet supply stores carry at least a few mobility aids, or check out the Web for a wide range of products.


The Bottoms Up Leash by Watson's Senior Pet Products enables dogs with back or hind-end mobility problems to live a more normal life by shifting the weight toward the front legs. Wobbly hind legs cause difficulty with walking and other normal doggie business. The nylon leash slips on and off easily, and comes with padded removable neoprene around the legs for comfort. Dogs recovering from surgery or pooches with problems such as hip dysplasia or arthritis can get a little lift when they need it; $34.95. For more information, visit


Cats love to be warm and cozy, and the Heated Cat Cup from Doctors Foster and Smith is the cat's pajamas for snoozing. Measuring 16 inches in diameter and 7 inches high, the fleece-lined cup has a built-in 4-watt heater that keeps the bed at a kitty-pleasing 102 degrees. Plug the 5-foot cord into any regular outlet. If you have a multipet household, be prepared for a turf war; pocket-sized pooches like this, too; $54.99. For more information, visit


Cats are born climbers, and they don't have to stop just because they are getting up there in years. Doctors Foster and Smith's Deluxe Stair-Steps for Cats offer three levels plus an 11-inch tunnel-like hideaway for catnaps. A storage area in the bottom step is a good cubbyhole for treats or toys. The carpet-covered, catnip-treated stairs, available in eight colors, measure 23.5 inches deep, 17 inches wide and 23 inches high. A two-stair version is also available; $79.99 and $169.99. For more information, visit


Many canines who are unable to use their hind legs adapt readily to a support sling or cart. The Web site has a lot of information about the various types and makers of canine assistance devices like carts and doggie wheelchairs. Prices range from $240 to $970.


Older or unsteady dogs can have a devil of time getting their footing on slick surfaces. MyPaws All-Terrain Dog Shoes from Watson's Senior Pet Products not only give traction, they also protect dainty or sensitive paws from hot, cold or otherwise unkind ground surfaces; $39.95 to $50.95 for set of four. For more information, visit


Cats love to observe from a regal perch, and the Kitty Sill by K&H Manufacturing, offered in 6-watt heated and unheated versions, is a comfortable place to keep an eye on the household - and the great outdoors. Measuring 14 inches by 24 inches, the Kitty Sill is covered in faux lambskin and can even hold tubby tabbies - it can support 40 pounds; $43.99 (heated) and $32.99 (unheated). For more information, visit


Senior pets and those with back problems can scale just about any sofa (or other furniture) with a little help from Doggy Steps, available from Telebrands; $59.99 for the fleece-covered original Doggy Steps and $79.99 for the deluxe four-step model. For more information, visit


High-profile SUVs and trucks can be difficult for older dogs to get in and out of. Let your canine pal go along for the ride with a Telescoping Pet Ramp. These carpeted access ramps can hold up to 300 pounds and adjust from 39 to 70 inches (they are 18 inches wide); $99.99. Also available is an extra-wide half ramp (3 inches wider) that adds security for older, arthritic pets; $79.99. For more information, visit


The Ortho Thermo-Bed from Petronics keeps dogs toasty warm and soothes arthritic joints. The bed features two layers of orthopedic foam, and there aren't sides for dogs to have to climb over. Even big dogs can enjoy; $59.95 for the large (27 inches by 37 inches) and $74.95 for the extra large (33 inches by 43 inches). For more information, visit

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