Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs

by | Aug 18, 2019 | 0 comments

As your dog gets older, you’ll notice that diet requirements change. He may no longer be that interested munching on his favorite dog food when he was younger. Even more, he may not be touching it at all!

You surely are worried about why this is happening to your nine-year dog. Well, you may be thinking something’s wrong with him and you might consult your local vet about what the issue is but most likely, you four-legged friend’s preference and diet are just changing.

Just like humans, dog’s preference in food will adjust over time. Since you want what’s best for your pooch, there are a lot of factors to consider when selecting the best dog food for senior dogs. First, you must know your dog’s health issues and determine what’s the best set of ingredients that will benefit him. Ultimately, you should serve a healthy, well-balanced meal that he will surely eat and love given his old age.

Best Foods for Senior Dogs

Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food
  • Packed with three protein sources: chicken, salmon, and lamb
  • Contains fruits and veggies like chia, kale, blueberries, pumpkin, spinach, carrots, and coconut
  • Superfood for senior dogs
Check Price on Amazon.com
Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe Premium
  • Hypoallergenic, good for dogs with sensitive stomachs
  • Contains fiber-rich veggies and probiotics to aid digestion
  • Helps dogs suffering from loss of appetite
Check Price on Amazon.com
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
  • Helps with problems like osteoarthritis and dysplasia
  • Specially formulated with glucosamine and chondroitin — two essential supplements for aiding joint pain
  • No artificial ingredients
Check Price on Amazon.com
Wellness Complete Health Natural Senior
  • Introduces a perfectly balanced diet for weight management
  • Has a “reduced calorie” formula
  • Satisfies hunger but also helps maintain a healthy weight
Check Price on Amazon.com
AvoDerm Natural Advanced Senior Health
  • Lessens the itching, scratching, and all symptoms of an allergic reaction
  • Grain-free and filled with antioxidants
  • Supports healthy joints, brain activity, and the immune system.
Check Price on Amazon.com

Senior dogs – nutritional needs

When it comes to your senior dog’s diet, you must remember that balance is supreme. Just like you, your dog requires a well-balanced diet consisting of protein, carbohydrates, fat and essential vitamins and minerals.

Generally , every dog food is a combination of these essential nutrients. Nonetheless, it will really make you ask if getting a dog food specially formulated for senior dogs necessary. Should you get one? Or will it be okay to just continue giving your senior dog the same dog food he grew up eating?

The answer is simple: what does your dog specifically need? Of course, his body will require protein, carbohydrates, and fat but it’s now a matter of determining the portion that is appropriate for your senior dog.

Regular puppy and adult dog foods may contain a higher concentration of these nutrients which may have a different effect on a dog of old age. That’s why in essence, it is right to get an age-appropriate food. It’s not a luxury, but rather a necessity to know the best dog food for senior dogs.

Here’s a simple guideline of the things your should take note  when it comes to picking the best dog food for senior dogs based on their nutritional needs:

  • Protein
  • Protein is essential for muscle building and tissue repair. It is a necessary building block for your dog’s bones, skin, blood, coat and nails. Puppy diet requires a huge amount of protein to support faster growth while adult diet needs a slightly lesser amount just enough to achieve a strong, lean muscle. Now as your dog reaches his golden years, protein will even serve a bigger purpose in maintaining his body weight and muscles. Senior dogs may suffer from losing muscles as time goes by due to a decrease in muscle-building activities and you will notice dog food brands aim to resolve this problem by coming up with the best dog food for senior dogs with protein-rich formula.
  • Carbohydrates
  • As your dog ages, you must carefully track his carb intake. Basically, there’s no actual carbohydrate limit set for dogs. But the basis to know if it’s on the ample level is if your dog can easily digest and absorb its nutrients. More so, you must take note if your dog still requires the same amount of carbs as to when he was younger. Remember, carbohydrates is a basic fuel for energy and brain activity. Your senior dog may not be as active as before and once there is an excess on his carb intake, it will pose a problem especially on his weight and digestion. If your senior dog is having issues in digestion, toning down the carb intake is better and introducing fiber-rich dog food will be best. Grainy food should also be reduced as your pooch’s body will find this kind of food hard to digest.
  • Fat
  • We all have a very serious misconception on this thing called fat. We may think that this is downright bad for our health and also to our dog’s health, but fat basically is a great source of energy. Moreover, fat on dogs is very important as it plays a huge role in his overall health, particularly in preventing inflammations from happening and promoting healthy-looking skin and coat. The things that we should only watch out for when it comes to fat is where it is coming from, if it is a necessary kind of fat, and if the amount is on the right level. The best food for senior dogs should definitely have sources of fat that provide a proper balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. As for senior dogs, it is better to determine first their weight and muscle mass in order to know if they require a low-fat diet or a high-fat diet. For senior dogs suffering from heart diseases and obesity, they naturally require a diet low in fat. Whereas senior dogs who are undergoing drastic weight loss and skin allergies, then a higher fat concentration may be required.
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Lastly, vitamins and minerals are also an essential part of your senior dog’s diet. These things help your pooch maintain his active lifestyle and prevent different diseases from entering his body. However, take note that not all vitamins are essential to your dog, more specifically if it’s a senior dog. The vitamins and minerals your dog needs are the ones found in fruits and vegetables like vitamins A, B and E while minerals like calcium, potassium and iron are great for the immune system and bone structure.

These essential nutrients are a top priority when it comes to your senior dogs. Generally , your dog’s health issues that gradually manifest during old age play an important role in determining the best nutritional formula his body requires. Of course, your vet will be of great help in knowing what health issues your dogs will encounter as they grow older but it’s also your responsibility as the pet parent to research the best food for senior dogs.

After all, prevention is better than cure and while some health issues can be inevitable because of old age, it is better if you are equipped with the right knowledge about the best dog food for senior dogs to ensure your dog will enjoy his golden years.

Common health issues in senior dogs

Here’s the five most common problem areas you may encounter if your dog is slowly entering his golden years:

Dental issues – Just like humans, dogs can suffer from dental issues when they reach their senior years. You may think that dental problems are not much of a big deal because it can be easily treated. However, for senior dogs, having a good dental health is of great importance on their overall health and well-being. Gum diseases and tooth loss may cause your older pooch to not properly eat his food resulting into more serious problems.

Orthopedic and joint problems –  Arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, and patellar luxations are a few of the orthopedic issues your senior dog may have. While orthopedic-related problems may be experienced anytime in your dog’s life, most of these issues commonly manifest during a dog’s golden years. More so, arthritis and dysplasia can be caused by different factors involving diet like obesity, calcium deficiency and even malnutrition.

Weight management – When your dog reach a certain age, they theoretically sit in the middle of what I would like to call a “weight seesaw”. This means that most of our four-legged friends are susceptible to be either malnourished or overweight and this highly depends on their diet—obesity is a common thing in senior dogs. According to APOP or Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53% of adult dogs suffer from being either overweight or downright obese. Malnourishment, on the other hand, is something that is most likely to happen if your geriatric dog is no longer getting the right set of nourishment he needs. Malnutrition on senior dogs may be caused by different factors including unbalanced diet, starvation, or simply the loss of interest in eating their usual dog food.

Gastrointestinal – There are a couple of gastrointestinal issues that your senior dog may experience. Constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, flatulence, bloated stomach, and the likes will most likely be experienced by your dog as time goes by. This is mainly because senior dogs normally undergo a gradual decline in healthy digestion and food absorption. Older dogs become more sensitive on what they eat and it will take a longer time to digest food.

Kidney failure – One of the more pressing signs of old age in dogs is the fact that some organs and defense systems may not be functional as they were when they were younger. Kidneys are not an exemption. Basically, kidneys’ main function is to filter toxins and waste that are not good for the body. While most kidney problems are caused by congenital and hereditary conditions, there is a fraction that may be pinned to nutrition and diet. Consequently, your local vet will help you with resolving this problem of your beloved pooch but one important key to maintaining a healthy set of kidneys is a proper and well-balanced diet.

Best Food for Senior Dogs

Health risks for senior dogs are a given. But that doesn’t mean we will just let these risks ruin the fun times we can have with our dogs in their final years. Sure, tending to a geriatric dog is not a simple walk in the park but it is better to give him the right solution to his nutritional needs so that life would be much easier for you and him. Aside from a trip to your local vet for tests and advice, you can do your part by doing proper research.

To help you determine the best dog food for senior dogs, here are our top brand picks and best senior dog food reviews:

Best Overall

Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food

Best senior dog food reviews: Nutro prides itself in making superfood for your puppies. The first one in our best dog food for senior dogs list, Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food is packed with three protein sources in the form of chicken, salmon, and lamb. Aside from a high protein formula, there is a reason why they call this superfood for senior dogs. Fruits and veggies like chia, kale, blueberries, pumpkin, spinach, carrots, and coconut are loaded in every kibble—these are vitamin-rich ingredients that contribute to a well-balanced diet.

Pros: Organic ingredients, high-protein less calorie dog food.

Cons:  None.

Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food

Packed with protein and vitamin-rich ingredients.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey

Best senior dog food review: Another remarkable dog food in our best dog food for senior dogs, Orijen Senior Dry Dog Food is a good mixture of protein, fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich ingredients. This dog food is grain-free and has an impressive list of novelty protein sources like herring, Atlantic mackerel, turkey, wild flounder, and cage-free chicken. These novelty ingredients will less likely cause an allergic reaction or issues in digestion.

Pros: Incorporates novelty ingredients in your dog’s diet, natural ingredients.

Cons: May still trigger skin allergy due to high-protein content.

Orijen Senior Dry Dog Food

Grain-free recipe with loads of novelty protein sources.

Best for digestion

Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe Premium Specialty Senior Dry Dog Food Cage Free Chicken

Best senior dog food review: When it comes to giving your dog a good combination of vitamins, proteins, fiber-rich veggies and probiotics to aid digestion, Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe Premium Specialty Senior Dry Dog Food is one of your best picks. Specially formulated for senior dogs with sensitive stomachs, this dog food is packed with probiotics and good sources of soluble fiber.

If your dog is experiencing loss of appetite, diarrhea, and lethargy then you might want to introduce this kibble to your senior dog.

Pros:  Hypoallergenic, good for dogs with sensitive stomachs

Cons: Will make your dog’s stool a bit dry and hard

Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe Premium

Special formula with probiotichs and fiber for older dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Senior Dry Dog Food

Best senior dog food review: This dog food is the perfect one for you if you are worried about what ingredients are in your dog’s food. This is mainly because aside from claiming that they created a superfood for your dog, Nutro is also behind the “clean ingredients” banner. The product’s all-natural ingredients contain no synthetic flavors, colors, and preservatives.

This is also perfect as a limited-ingredient dog food that caters to dogs with allergies and problems in digestion. Farm-raised chicken, sweet potatoes, and brown rice constitutes this dog food’s well-balanced nutrition.

Pros: Contains natural and non-gmo ingredients.

Cons: Strong fishy smell on the kibbles.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Senior

Limited-ingredient formula for the more sensitive senior dogs troubled by food allergies.

Best for orthopedic and joint issues

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Senior Dry Dog Food

Best senior dog food review: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Senior Dry Dog Food is perfect for dogs who are experiencing orthopedic and joint problems like osteoarthritis and dysplasia. This dog food is specially formulated with glucosamine and chondroitin—two essential supplements for aiding joint pain. Having a careful blend of proteins, vitamins and antioxidants, this dog food will support your dog’s overall nutritional needs.

Pros: Grain-free, no artificial ingredients, great for joint support.

Cons: Some dogs will find it hard to transition, may cause drooling and vomiting for the first few meals.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

Formula with glucosamine and chondroitin to support your aging dog's joints.

Merrick 12 LB Dry Dog Food. Senior Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Formula. 12 LB. Bag

Best senior dog food review: If your dog is suffering from joint pains because of problems in diet and for taking too much fatty and calorie-laden foods, then you might want to introduce Merrick’s all-natural dog food for senior dogs.

This formula provides your old pooch with the right amount of protein and carbohydrates that will not trigger any digestive sensitivities and joint pains. This dog food is also packed with Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat.

Pros: Grain-free, gluten-free, perfect for picky eaters.

Cons: Expensive.

Merrick Senior Formula

The right amount of protein and carbohydrates that will keep your furry senior healthy and happy.

Best for weight management

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food, Chicken & Barley

Best senior dog food review: You may find it cute that your dog is stout and looks very healthy but let’s face it, he may be experiencing issues with his weight. If your dog is gaining weight, and it doesn’t seem to stop even though the food intake practically remains the same, he may be suffering from obesity.

When it comes to introducing a perfectly balanced diet for weight management, Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food is your go-to dog food. It has a “reduced calorie” formula, and it provides a balanced diet that helps satisfy hunger but also maintain a healthy weight.

Pros: Has an appetizing smell that dogs love.

Cons: More expensive than its counterparts.

Wellness Complete Health Natural Senior

Great option for those looking to manage their dog's weight to help them stay healthy and active.

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult 7+ for Senior Dogs, Small Bites, Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe

Best senior dog food review: While it’s common for geriatric dogs to suffer from obesity, it is also typical for dogs of old age to experience malnutrition and weight loss. The reason for this is multifarious but usually, senior dogs are more lethargic and may be disinterested in eating hard-to-process foods.

Given this, you need to introduce an appetizing dog food that promotes weight gain and support muscle growth. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult 7+ for Senior Dogs is just the right one for your old pooch that doesn’t seem to gain weight and seemingly doesn’t have the energy to move around. It’s formulated with the right amount of protein and great-tasting ingredients that makes your dog active and eager to finish his bowl of food again.

Pros: Smaller kibble, easy to chew and swallow, appetizing.

Cons: Not grain-free.

Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ for Senior Dogs

Appetizing dog food that promotes weight gain and support muscle growth, perfect for dogs with appetite problems.

Best for Allergies

AvoDerm Natural Advanced Senior Health Dry Dog Food, Grain Free, Lamb Recipe

Best senior dog food reviews: To lessen the itching, scratching, and all symptoms of an allergic reaction, you might want to opt for AvoDerm Natural Advanced Senior Health Dry Dog Food. This brand is grain-free and filled with antioxidants that promotes healthy digestion and eliminates allergic reactions. Aside from these aforementioned benefits, it also has properties that support healthy joints, brain activity, and immune system.

Pros: Grain-free, introduces a healthier source of fat.

Cons: Large and hard kibble.

AvoDerm Natural Advanced Senior Health

Grain-free and full of antioxidants to aid digestion and eliminate any potential allergic reactions.

Halo Grain Free Natural Dry Dog Food, Senior Turkey, Turkey Liver & Duck Recipe

Best senior dog food review: When it comes to having grain-free and limited ingredient recipe, Halo Grain Free Natural Dry Dog Food is probably one of the best. Consists of turkey, turkey liver, and duck, the formula is ensured not to have any artificial and factory-farmed protein ingredients.

This dog food is also highly digestible and will not give your dogs any skin and digestive issues. It is also one of the few dog food brands that has a money back guarantee. It makes sure that the quality your dog gets is the best.

Pros: Made out of whole meat,natural and non-gmo products, limited ingredient dog food.

Cons: Expensive.

Halo Grain Free Natural Senior

No artificial and factory-farmed protein ingredients to protect your dog from allergies.

Best for Dental Issues

Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Senior Wet Dog Food, Chicken 12.5-Oz Can

Best senior dog food review: If your senior dog finds it hard to chew hard and dry kibbles, you may want to switch to a wet, easy-to-swallow dog food like Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Senior Wet Dog Food. This variety is made with appetizing, protein-rich and deboned chicken along with natural garden vegetables that your geriatric dogs will definitely love.

The recipe isn’t too overwhelming for dogs suffering from gum issues and digestive problems. It also prevents constipation as the ingredients are easy to digest and absorb.

Pros: Wheat-free, best for picky-eaters.

Cons: Expensive.

Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Senior Wet Dog Food

Appetizing and nourishing recipe. Not too overwhelming for dogs with gum and teeth issues.

Purina Pro Plan Senior Gravy Wet Dog Food; FOCUS Morsels in Gravy Beef & Rice Entree – 13 oz. Can

Best senior dog food reviews: Perfect for breeds of any size, Purina Pro Plan Senior Gravy Wet Dog Food is a savory and easy to eat dog food. Made with real beef and distributed as large, easy to chew morsels in gravy, your senior dog won’t find it hard to not finish this dog food in one sitting. It is packed with the right portions of protein, carbohydrates and fat for a well-balanced diet and it has Omega-6 fatty acids that promote healthy skin and coat.

Pros: Has a savory recipe that even old dogs love.

Cons: Expensive, may cause a watery stool.

Purina Pro Plan Senior Gravy

Large and easy to chew morsels soaked in gravy that will make eating much easier for senior dogs with dental issues.

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Greg Holmes
Greg Holmes resides in Portland, OR with his wife and two daughters, as well as three Havanese dogs. Being an AKC-certified CGC Evaluator and a certified dog trainer, taking care of dogs has been a big part of his life ever since he was young. His love for dogs started when his father took him to the state dog shelter to find his first puppy, which he named Einstein because the dog presented with a very unruly coat when he saw it for the first time. From this experience, he has become a very strong advocate of "adopt don't shop" for aspiring pet parents.

Greg joined the Pupped.com team because he believes that every dog, regardless of breed or age, deserves critical attention and the best dog-related products in the market because man's best friend only deserves, well, the best. Being an active member of the American Kennel Club, he aims to provide up-to-date information to his readers and present factual data about the products available in the market.