Pet Food Makers Develop Products To Assist Lives Of Elderly Dogs, Cats

Pet food makers develop products to assist lives of elderly dogs, catsPet food manufacturers have expanded their lines of dog and cat foods for older animals to boost their health and eliminate the problem of stinky canines and felines.
The average lifespan for domesticated dogs and cats in Japan is 14 years, nearly double that of 30 years ago for canines. To meet their needs, pet supply makers are responding with products developed especially for senior animals.

Unicharm Corp. began marketing cat foods on Sept. 14 for cats 18 years old (88 in human years) and older under its Gin no Spoon series and Neko Genki series, which will help animals with weakened kidney functions.

The company’s "Jinzo no Kenko Iji-yo 20-sai wo Sugitemo Sukoyakani" (For maintaining kidneys in a healthy state, stay healthy even after 20 years of age) was developed to make the food easier for elderly cats to chew. The size of the fish flakes in the new product is 50 times smaller than those used in conventional cat food, making it easier to swallow. The phosphorus content has also been reduced, which affects the ability of weakened kidneys to eliminate waste material.

According to Unicharm, about 360,000 of the 10 million cats kept as pets in Japan were 18 years old or older in 2014, up about 60 percent from 2011. The figure is estimated to rise to about 440,000 cats in 2017.

Although old age for dogs and cats is normally 7 or 8 years, they have extended lifespans as many are primarily kept indoors, where the risks of accidents and exposure to infectious diseases are limited.

In the 110 billion yen ($915 million) cat food market, foods developed for “super-elderly” cats have recently seen sharp growth, according to Unicharm.

Mars Japan Ltd., which sells pet foods under such brand names as Cesar, has added a new cat food for cats 18 years old or older in its Kal Kan series.

The easy-to-eat gelatinous food contains glucosamine, which strengthens joints and has other health benefits.

Nisshin Pet Food Inc., a subsidiary of Nisshin Seifun Group Inc., also began marketing this month a cat food in pellet form for animals 11 years old and older that is intended to increase the appetites of elderly cats. The product consists of cheese and dried tuna shavings.

“One concern among owners (of old cats) is that they eat less than they used to,” a Nisshin Pet Food official said. “We developed the cat food to encourage cats to eat more.”

Lion Trading Co., an affiliated company of Lion Corp., has come up with a product developed for canines who suffer from the dreaded “doggie breath.” The company offers a canine chewing gum for dogs 7 years old or older who have developed stinky breath due to old age. The gum contains about four times more chlorophyll than found in gums for small dogs.

Food giant Nestle Japan Ltd. markets a cat food for animals 11 years old and older to help reduce the stench of cat feces. The product contains a large amount of natural oligosaccharide, which helps increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the feline's intestines.