As our dogs get older, their nutritional needs alter. Adapting to this is an important part of responsible dog ownership. It is helpful to have a thorough understanding of the way in which the needs of your dog change as their bodies begin to age.
One of the major alterations you may need to make to your dog’s lifestyle is their diet. As they age, dogs are likely to be less active and require lower calorie content and more support for their joints. Wet food tends to be popular as your pet gets older, as this is easier on older teeth and helps ensure that your dog is getting enough to eat, without pain or inconvenience.
We have put together a list of the best senior dog food to help you find the best match for your pet and enable them to live a healthy, active life for longer.
Best Food for Senior Dogs: Top Picks
|Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior||Check on Amazon →|
|Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food||Check on Amazon →|
|Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+||Check on Amazon →|
|Tylee's Human-Grade Beef Recipe||Check on Chewy →|
|Blue Buffalo Homestyle Senior Recipe||Check on Amazon →|
|Iams ProActive Health Mature||Check on Amazon →|
|Instinct Raw Boost Senior Grain-Free||Check on Amazon →|
|Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior||Check on Amazon →|
The Best Senior Dog Foods of 2021
1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior
It is important to make sure that senior dogs are receiving a balanced blend of the necessary vitamins and minerals, and this is offered by Blue Buffalo Life Protection formula for senior. Red meat is at the heart of the recipe, and this is a good source of fat to keep your pet in excellent condition. Fruit and vegetables are also included, as well as whole grains, to ensure the entire meal is balanced and nutritious, without cheap fillers or byproducts.
Protecting joints and bones is essential as your pet ages. This task is supported by the inclusion of glucosamine and chondroitin, which keep the joints supple and active. It reduces pain and inflammation and keeps your dog moving.
Why We Like This Recipe
- Includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are important for keeping the skin healthy and the coat shiny.
- Does not include any cheap fillers, byproducts, corn, wheat, soy, and chicken. This makes it ideal for dogs with allergies or intolerances.
- Includes plenty of antioxidants. These keep your dog’s immune system stronger.
- Lots of quality protein. This is important for healthy muscle maintenance and guarantees an active and strong older dog.
2. Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food
Nutro Ultra is specially formulated to cater to the unique needs of senior dogs. It is a great way to give your pet the vitamins and minerals they need, while still being tasty enough to encourage them to eat.
One of the key features of the recipe is its commitment to an all-natural ingredients list—no artificial colorants, preservatives, and flavor included. This includes a lack of fillers or byproducts.
You can give your dog smaller quantities of food and still feel confident that they have received the required nutritional benefit. The Nutro Ultra Sernior recipe contains no soy, wheat, and corn, making it an excellent choice if your older dog has a sensitive stomach.
Why We Like This Recipe
- Made with high-quality ingredients. This ensures there are ample nutritional benefits.
- Dry. Teeth are tested, kept healthy and in good shape.
- Includes ‘super-foods.’ Chia, kale, and blueberries feature here, for added antioxidants and a real boost to the immune system.
- Fruit and vegetables included, which boosts digestion by easing the process.
3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+
As your dog ages, it becomes tricky for them to tear off and manage large chunks of food. Smaller, bite-sized pieces are easier for them to tackle and enjoy. This is taken into account with Hill’s Science, and the pieces are cut into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Smaller pieces are accessible for your senior dog, who are then more likely to enjoy their food and maintain their health. In addition, the Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ is focused on providing a holistic and nutritious meal, which your dog will love. Steps are taken to support every section of the body, including antioxidants for a stronger immune system.
It’s the perfect balance of all the essentials they need to stay fit and healthy, even as they head into their golden years.
Why We Like This Recipe
- The recipe is specifically formulated for dogs over the age of seven years.
- Vitamin C and T are included. These vitamins boost and protect the immune system, reducing the risk of illnesses.
- Nutritious. The minerals, vitamins, and amino acids included target every part of the body.
- Smaller chunks are bite-sized. This is far easier for older dogs to manage and enjoy, which reduces the risk of food avoidance.
4. Tylee’s Human-Grade Beef Recipe
The general rule is that if you would not skimp on the quality of your own food, why do this for your pet? This recipe by Tylee uses human-grade beef as the main ingredient, and the end result is a mouth-watering taste, which dogs of any age are sure to enjoy. The beef is also a rich protein source and can provide energy for your older dog, as well as a host of nutritional benefits.
Real meat means you know exactly what your dog is consuming, which reassures the pet owners that their furry family members are eating the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals needed. This recipe is also grain-free.
It is a great choice for more sensitive stomach or pooches who suffer from an allergy or intolerance to the generic products.
Why We Like This Recipe
- Omega 3 and 6 are included. This is essential for a healthy, glossy coat and skin.
- Single source protein. So, it’s a good choice for dogs with allergies.
- Easy to defrost. Served quickly for a super convenient feeding method.
- Includes amino acids—to boost overall health.
5. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Senior Recipe
As your dog ages, they may find it slightly harder to stay hydrated, and part of this can come from a reluctance to drink water. Maintaining good levels of hydration is essential for all dogs, but becomes especially important as they get older. The consistency of this canned dog food is a good source of hydration, which doesn’t cause your pet any stress or worry.
In addition to offering extra hydration for your pet, Blue Buffalo Homestyle Senior food is a recipe rich in chondroitin and glucosamine—both important for keeping joints supple, stronger, and pain-free. This is especially important if you find your dog is suffering from osteoarthritis, struggling to get around with as much ease and grace as they used to.
Why We Like This Recipe
- Lean chicken is the main protein source. It’s great for weight management and is also delicious!
- There is no wheat in the recipe. It’s gentle on older stomachs and intolerances.
- It’s a great blend of vitamins and minerals. This boosts the overall health and wellbeing of your dog’s whole body.
- A range of rich antioxidants is included. This strengthens your older pet’s immune system.
6. Iams ProActive Health Mature
There is a focus here on antioxidants and looking at the overall, holistic wellbeing of your dog. All of the ingredients and additions are brought together to create Iams ProActive Health Mature formula specifically designed to target the unique needs of dogs over seven years old.
This includes a focus on the immune system—it’s especially important as your dog ages and becomes more susceptible to infections or illnesses which may be harder to shake off. The dry dog food also targets and reduces the build-up of tartar to keep your dog’s mouth and teeth healthy and strong, even as they get older.
This is reinforced by the crunchiness of the food. Protein is a key ingredient—important for strong muscles—and a special blend of seven nutrients are designed to target the heart, keeping it in the best possible condition.
Why We Like This Recipe
- DHA Gold is included. This helps to keep your dog mentally alert and sharp.
- It’s a good source of fiber—which keeps the digestive system working optimally.
- All-natural ingredients—for a more nutritious meal.
- Beta-Carotene and Vitamin E included. This boosts the whole immune system.
7. Instinct Raw Boost Senior Grain-Free
As well as helping to keep your dog’s body in good condition as they age, it is also important to support them in keeping them active, and their mind sharp. The inclusion of natural DHA in this Instinct Raw Boost Senior food recipe is very useful in this regard. It is often found in best puppy food and is an ingredient which occurs naturally in mother’s milk.
Adding DHA back into the diet of more senior pooches is a great way to keep their brain as healthy as it has ever been, which is fantastic for their quality of life! As an added bonus, this is a product which uses raw nutrition to ensure that your pet is getting the maximum benefit with every single bowl. The raw format means that more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals can be absorbed.
You don’t have to worry if your dog has started to eat smaller portion sizes—they will still be receiving all the benefits they need to stay healthy, even if they eat less.
Why We Like This Recipe
- L-Carnitine helps to burn fat—keeping metabolisms healthy and active.
- Real chicken is used for protein. It’s lean and tasty.
- Boosted nutrition is great for older dogs.
8. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior
One of the primary focuses of this food by Nutro is antioxidants. These are essential for keeping more senior dogs healthy, as they can fight disease and infection. They also keep your dog’s whole system working more efficiently.
Challenges such as memory loss, mobility issues, vision and hearing problems, and food intolerances are more common as your pet ages—and this is a product designed to target all these issues. By viewing the dog as a whole, Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior food aims to keep their overall health and wellbeing high, helping their bodies perform at their very best for longer.
The real chicken ingredient is a major bonus—not only is it delicious, but it is a valuable source of protein, which will help build and maintain strong muscles. This provides extra energy, which can help boost the other systems of the body, and improve your dog’s whole lifestyle!
Why We Like This Recipe
- Includes omega 3 fatty acids ALA and DHA. These are essential for helping with joint, cellular, and brain health.
- Includes fatty omega 6 acids—for a sleek, shiny coat and healthy skin.
- Joint and cartilage are protected by the inclusion of naturally sources chondroitin and glucosamine.
What To Look For In Senior Dog Food
Deciding which is the best dog food for senior is no easy task when there is such a wide variety available. To help you make your decision, there are a number of factors to ask yourself. Your decision will ultimately depend on the nuances of your pet.
Here are some of the main considerations to think about before switching over to senior dog food:
Muscle loss – If your pet is showing signs of muscle loss, you will need to consider food which has a higher level of protein.
Reduced Appetite – As a dog gets older, they tend to have a loss of appetite. If this is something you start noticing in your older dog, it is worth getting a vet to rule out any underlying conditions. If everything is okay on the surface, it is time to focus on food which is higher in fat and protein in general.
This offers more in the way of vitamins and minerals.
Osteoarthritis – This is sadly a common condition as a dog gets older (like its owners). If your dog suffers from osteoarthritis, or even just sore joints, you will need to look for a food higher in chondroitin and glucosamine—both of these are good for cartilage and joints. You can even offer a supplement.
Behavioral changes or memory loss – Both these instances may require a higher level of fish oil (checkout our guide to the best fish oil for dogs) and medium-chain triglycerides.
Kidney conditions – If kidney problems have been diagnosed, you will need reduced levels of phosphorus in your pet’s diet.
Constipation – If your dog suffers from constipation, they will need higher levels of fiber such as green beans or broccoli.
Gastrointestinal upset – When your pet is suffering from diarrhea or other upset stomach conditions, you can use a prebiotic fiber, such as FOS. This can help to normalize the level of bacteria in the gut, and this can be soothing.
Pancreatitis – Chronic pancreatitis is another condition which tends to appear with age. The recommendation is to switch to a low-fat diet to help control this at early onset.
Reduced water consumption – If your dog starts drinking less water than usual, this could be a sign of kidney disease. It can help to switch to food which is higher in moisture. Canned dog foods tend to be a better choice for these dogs.
When Shall I Switch To Senior Dog Food ?
Making the switch to senior dog food is a decision which will largely depend on the age of your pet. It is important to remember, however, that this can vary between breeds and the overall health and wellbeing of your dog.
As a rule, smaller breeds tend to mature more quickly, but they age more slowly once they have reached this level. Toy breeds, such as chihuahuas or terriers, are not considered senior until they reach around 10 or 12 years of age, while a larger dog will reach ‘senior’ status much sooner. A giant breed such as a Great Dane, for example, might be considered a senior dog at just five or six years old.
In general, seven to eight years old is the safe cut off point. This is the point at which their metabolism slows, and lower calorie intake is required. Older dogs struggle to repair their bodies as efficiently as their younger counterparts, and normal bodily functions may become more difficult.
Watch carefully for any of the signs mentioned above or an overall change in the pace of your dog’s day. This is the point at which you may need to make a change to your dog’s food.
Do Older Dogs Need Senior Dog Food ?
Senior food is not just a good marketing gimmick. Senior dog food has a formula designed to address and target the issues so commonly suffered by older dogs. This includes a decline in mental and physical stamina, as well as the body becoming slower and less able to repair any damage.
Normal bodily functions may also be affected, and your dog may become confused or disoriented, sleeping more often, and being less active. In addition, their metabolism tends to slow down and this, combined with a less active lifestyle overall, can lead to significant weight gain. This weight gain puts even more pressure on tired joints, slowing the dog down even more.
Digestion problems may become more prevalent, and nutrients may not be absorbed as effectively. Making sure that your pet’s food is designed to meet these subtle changes is important, and helps to keep the vital systems of your dog’s body running and operating far more efficiently.
Reduced calories can also be beneficial when your dog is slowing down. As they age, most pets will become more prone to snoozing, preferring to sleep during the day than take long and active walks. The change in pace means they will need a lower calorie content to help reduce the risk of them becoming overweight. If not, this could put a strain on the heart, as well as unwanted pressure on the joints and cartilage.
Our elderly dogs suffer greatly under these factors of aging, causing potential devastation when the dog’s health and strength begin to deteriorate.
Older dogs are also prone to poor health, and these conditions can be better managed with a specialized diet. Formulas vary in the combinations of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients used. This information enables you to choose a dog food which offers balance and care for your aging pet.
These choices may include a medicated formula or a vet recommendation, designed to target specific areas – aching joints, excess weight, an ailing heart, and other health factors.
How Shall I Feed My Senior Dog ?
As we have mentioned, a slower lifestyle is often a natural progression of the aging process for your dog. The dog will sleep more and move around less, which means they will need fewer calories to stay healthy. It also means they will probably only require two meals a day from then on—once in the morning, and again in the evening.
It is important to make sure the dog food is accessible—check that the dish is not too deep or too shallow. Also, ensure the dog can easily access the location, without too many steps or putting in a lot of effort. It may be easier for them to eat if the food is in smaller, bite-sized chunks, too. It’s a way in which you can help your senior pet to enjoy their food better.
Dogs tend to prefer a quiet location, and this is particularly important for older dogs, who may prefer a peaceful meal. Make sure the food is undisturbed, away from the prying eyes and sniffling noses of other household pets. Clean water should be available at all times, placed at a good distance away from the food bowl.
Keep a close eye on your dog. A change in appetite could be an indication of a problem and is the best way to monitor your pet’s wellbeing. If the dog is eating less, and there are no underlying conditions, try reducing the portion sizes—dogs are intelligent and will generally let you know if they are hungry!
Listening to your dog’s cues, and changing to nutritious, balanced senior dog food can help to facilitate the aging process. Your dog will be enjoying a good quality of life for as long as you are privileged enough to enjoy it with them.