Looking after your dog as they enter old age can be difficult.
As their nutritional requirements shift, arthritis and a loss in cognitive performance become increasingly prevalent.
While you can accept that your senior dog’s needs should be recognized, there are no known miracle cures.
Taking care of your senior dog means looking out for their dietary requirements yet there is so much to consider.
Knowing what your senior dog enjoys eating is different from fulfilling their nutritional needs.
However, nutrient levels vary so much that you may find yourself buying several wet and dry dog foods just to see what works.
That could be expensive and take a lot of time to work out.
Just one of those foods could upset their delicate digestive system.
Finding the best dog food for your senior dogs can be a case of trial and error though knowing what to look out for certainly helps.
Ideally, your senior dog’s weight management and lean muscle mass are the main aspects to consider.
Their peak health can come from a protein-rich diet so treat them well and keep them in good care with the best dog food.
Best Wet Dog Food for Senior Dogs
Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Senior Wet Dog Food
Your senior dog may be used to the noise of a can of dog food being opened.
That familiarity can be useful, especially with a canned food that has only the best ingredients.
In Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Senior Wet Dog Food, real chicken is used as the main ingredient.
Other wholesome ingredients include carrots, brown rice, and chicken liver.
Perhaps more importantly, there are no artificial flavors, no preservatives, and no by-product meals.
Supplements are also added for specific benefits, which we liked in our testing.
Glucosamine for mobility, antioxidants to aid their immune system, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for a healthy coat.
Whether as their main meal, a treat, or mixed in with their dry food, this is a wet dog food created with care.
This paté style wet dog food features high-quality protein from real chicken to support healthy muscle maintenance. BLUE Homestyle Recipe senior dog food makes a delicious treat, adds interest mixed into their favorite dry foods or can be fed as a meal on its own. All BLUE canned dog foods are made with the finest natural ingredients and enhanced with vitamins and minerals. BLUE wet dog food contains NO chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, NO corn, wheat (a common thickening agent used by other brands) or soy, and NO artificial flavors or preservatives.
- Real Chicken – The recipe uses actual chicken as a first ingredient to help muscle maintenance
- Wholesome Ingredients – As well as no poultry by-products being used, there is also no corn, soy, or wheat included
- Three-Way Feeding – The pate style wet dog food can be a treat, a meal itself, or encourage your senior dog to eat their preferred dry foods
- Added Supplements – The recipe includes glucosamine, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids to keep your dog in good health
- Lack of Variety – Only available in the single Chicken Dinner flavor
Best Premium Dry Dog Food for Senior Dogs
Orijen Senior Dry Dog Food
If you really want to treat your senior dog well, there is Orijen Senior Dry Dog Food.
Their formula goes all the way back to considering the evolutionary nutritional needs of dogs.
That includes fresh and raw Wholeprey animal parts that are nutrient-dense.
For poultry, there is chicken and turkey, flounder, whole mackerel, and herring for fish.
Then add in turkey giblets and chicken fiver for organs as part of their biologically appropriate nutrition, which we enjoyed in our experience of this product.
These fresh or raw sources of protein are sourced locally and refrigerated for the most natural form and enhanced nourishment.
In total, the recipe includes 85% quality poultry and fish ingredients.
Such a rich, developed formula does come at a cost yet that extra protein should be appreciated.
Using fresh and raw animal ingredients, including meat, organs, cartilage, and bone, ORIJEN is the Biologically Appropriate, grain-free diet that dogs have evolved to eat. ORIJEN Senior dog food delivers a diet rich and varied in fresh, whole animal ingredients from free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs
- Biologically Appropriate – Nutrient-Dense Wholeprey animal parts including meat, organs, and cartilage are used which supports a senior dog’s evolved diet
- Rich Formula – The recipe includes 85% of quality poultry and fish ingredients
- Fresh Or Raw Protein – Refrigeration is used to preserve fresh ingredients and their nutrients
- Regional, Local Ingredients – With less time in transportation, ingredients are delivered fresh in their most natural form for maximum nourishment
- Price Tag – For such a developed formula, you will have to splurge to buy a bag
Best Dog Food For Maintaining Healthy Joints
Wellness Natural Pet Food Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food
One of the main concerns for senior dogs is the onset of joint problems and specifically arthritis.
This is why it can be important to look out for chondroitin and glucosamine in the list of ingredients for your senior dog’s food.
Both are included in Wellness Natural Pet Food Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food which makes it ideal for maintaining healthy joints.
In every kilogram of food, you can count on 800 mg of glucosamine and 700 mg of chondroitin which is a considerable amount.
Alongside those two vital ingredients are wholesome grains, vitamin A, calcium, fiber, and probiotics.
Such an essential formula for senior dogs can help protect the cartilage in the joints, which we liked in our testing.
Ideal for dogs over 7 years old, this nutritionally-dense crunchy kibble is crafted with ingredients such as chicken and barley for whole body health. MADE IN USA. Created by nutritionists, veterinarians and animal lovers, our recipes provide an ideal balance of nature's finest ingredients, carefully selected to nourish and sustain your dog's wellbeing.
- Wholesome Grains – Barley, Oatmeal, and Ground Brown Rice are included alongside Chicken for a balanced meal
- Glucosamine And Chondroitin – Essential ingredients to maintain strong, healthy joints in your senior dog
- Vitamin A And Calcium – Both supplements have been proven to help keep eyes and teeth healthy
- Fiber And Probiotics – Digestive health is taken care of with fiber and probiotics included
- Only For Big Dogs – There are no formulas available for small dogs
Best Dog Food For Larger Dogs
Hill’s Diet Science Large Breed Dry Dog Food
If you have a larger breed senior dog then you should be looking for a dog food that is tailored for their size.
Hill’s Diet Science Large Breed Dry Dog Food is one of the most renowned for big dogs and comes recommended by veterinarians.
Their formula is designed for larger breeds and includes digestible ingredients to keep your senior dog on the move.
This was a feature we really liked in our testing of this product.
With improved kibble shapes and a formula that is rich in minerals, you can look out for your senior dog’s increased needs.
Not only will you be supporting their heart, kidneys, and bladder but helping shelter homeless pets too.
With every purchase, you will be supporting The Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love program which is another reason to consider the dog food.
Made in the USA with global ingredients you can trust. Supports your grown dog's joint health with natural sources of glucosamine & chondroitin. Uses a balanced set of minerals to promote heart and kidney health in large dogs. Nourishes your big dog's skin and supports a shiny coat with omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E.
- Digestible Ingredients – The ingredients are selected to be easily digestible and help your senior dog’s energy levels
- Mineral-Rich – A mineral-rich formula supports a healthy heart, kidneys, and bladder in larger dogs
- Veterinarian Recommended – US veterinarians have recommended Hill’s as a brand you can trust
- Supporting Shelter Pets – Every purchase helps shelter pets find new homes via the Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love program
- Lack of Alternative Flavors – Only Chicken Meal and Chicken and Brown Rice flavors are available
Best Dog Food For Overweight Senior Dogs
Nutro Natural Choice Senior Dog Dry Food
Overweight senior dogs require a more tailored diet, both for weight management and to ensure they get the right nutrients.
Your senior dog may be less active yet still requires a dog food with a well-balanced mix.
Calcium for their joints, antioxidants for their immune system, and fiber to aid their digestion.
With chicken or lamb used as a protein source, that the formula comes in at only 319 calories per cup may be surprising.
The lack of GMOs, as well as corn, soy protein, and wheat also looks out for your senior dog, which we liked in our testing.
For an overweight senior dog, there are few better dog foods.
Made for senior dogs ages 7 and older; real chicken is the ingredient. Helps support strong bones and joints with calcium. Supports your senior dog's aging immune system with essential antioxidants and provides natural fiber for healthy digestion.
- Meat As The Main Ingredient – Either chicken or lamb is combined with brown rice and used as the main ingredient as a protein source
- Non-GMO Ingredients – No corn, soy protein, wheat, or GMOs are included in the recipe
- Designed For Healthy Digestion – Both fiber and antioxidants are featured to help your senior dog’s digestion
- Improves Fur – The formula promotes healthy fur and skin
- Poor Packaging – There are reports that the packaging is lackluster and can rip easily
What To Look For In Dog Food For Senior Dogs
Choosing the best dog food for senior dogs means considering their direct needs.
Joint health becomes more important for a senior dog so glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can help.
Both supplements have been found to be well tolerated in senior dogs, especially for the treatment of arthritis and canine spinal degeneration.
Their immune system should also be looked after and antioxidants can have a positive impact on potential heart disease and a possible decline in cognitive performance too.
As dogs get older, their digestive systems become increasingly sensitive.
Avoid low-grade protein sources like poultry by-products as these can cause stomach upsets and are generally considered a poor and inferior nutrition source.
Other ingredients that can prove troublesome for senior and sensitive dogs include corn, wheat, gluten, and soybeans.
For senior dogs, an increase in protein should be expected.
That’s largely why the dog food that is tailored for them includes up to 50% more protein than traditional adult formulas.
While regular adult dog food can contain a meager amount of protein, even as little as 18%, senior dogs need more.
That is why a lot of senior dog food has upwards of 27% protein content.
Maintaining muscle mass is important for an aging dog as they tend to lose muscle unless it is replaced.
Without that muscle mass, some senior dogs can suffer mobility loss and need assistance simply to walk.
With a dog food that contains a high amount of meat-based protein, there is a concern that your senior dog can develop liver or kidney problems.
With regular blood tests and checkups, these issues should make themselves known.
If they do, then a low-protein diet may be in order.
Muscle mass is not always that easy to tell and further medical issues can also necessitate a reduced protein diet so check with your veterinarian before changing their food.
It may be an idea to opt for a senior dog food that combines lower calorie content with high protein.
That balance can promote lean muscle mass and a decent, manageable body weight.
There are certain supplements that are crucial in keeping your senior dog in good physical shape.
Two of the ones you are most likely to find are glucosamine and chondroitin as both can help aid the effects of osteoarthritis.
Omega-3 fatty acids also help with that particular condition as well as maintain good cognitive performance.
Try to show some restraint in the amount of omega-3 fatty acids you include though.
Check the bag so that the amount of Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) sits between 700 and 1500 mg.
Start with a lower amount then slowly build up unless your senior dog suffers from diarrhea or vomiting, at which point you should cut back down again.
Artificial Colors, Flavors, And Preservatives/GMO-free
A key sign of a decent senior dog food is if they stress that they are GMO-free.
That means that no genetically modified organisms are included in the food as these can indicate a general lack of quality and food standards.
The dog food should also ideally be without artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
Keeping the dog food as close to natural as possible should come without the addition of corn, wheat, and soy protein.
Dry Food Vs Wet Food
While your senior dog may prefer either dry or wet food, you may be wondering if you should change it up.
Regardless of the format, both dry and wet food have nutritional standards that must be met.
The nutritional content may be similar yet dry food may be recommended for their dental health benefits.
Canned wet food may be better simply because your senior dog seems more excited to eat it.
Certainly, as dogs suffer from dental disease in their mature years they may find canned food easier to chew.
With less active dogs, you should expect fewer calories.
That might depend on just how senior your dog is.
You can occasionally tell when dogs reach maturity that they are likely to be overweight due to a less active lifestyle.
As their joints begin to cause problems, it can become noticeable just how slow and difficult their movement is.
That issue is only going to worsen if they continue to put on weight.
While they still require a range of nutrients and protein, a decline in activity means that the formulas usually come with fewer calories to avoid excessive weight gain.
You can also try to manage this by reducing their portion size in order to lower their calorie intake.
Even that method can be difficult to manage unless you calculate their daily food and ration it out accordingly.
As the dogs become even more senior they can become underweight.
There is a tendency that senior dogs can struggle to keep their weight on.
There can also be several underlying issues so this may also be a reason to check with your veterinarian.
It could be a digestive issue or even a dental problem which could mean switching to dry food with smaller kibble.
Persisting with the same dog food may mean their weight continues to decrease.
At this point you should consider upping their calorie content and it is wise to check the bag as that one aspect can vary significantly amongst dog food.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Know When Your Dog Has Become A Senior Dog?
In an ideal world, your dog would maintain his playfulness and activity levels into old age.
While you may notice a few gray hairs, you may soon notice how slow they become as arthritis sets in.
If you have several dogs around the same age, you may spot that your larger dogs age quicker than small dogs.
That should certainly be the case if they are over 100 pounds in weight.
While a small dog can reach 20 years, a larger dog can hit maturity from five to six years old.
If you wanted a number, small dogs are typically considered as senior or mature once they reach seven years old.
There are certain factors that can help delay the aging process which includes regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Aging is inevitable and notable signs that your dog is becoming senior include a loss of appetite, gray hair, and a lack of energy.
If your dog suffers from incontinence, gains weight, or sleeps more, that may be further evidence that they are entering their senior years.
There could also be indications of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome or Alzheimer’s from a decline in cognitive function.
Fear of loud noises, increased whining, and hearing issues are each a sign of old age.
Should You Add Water To Dry Dog Food For Senior Dogs?
The addition of water usually depends on the state of your senior dog’s teeth.
Should they already struggle to chew their dry food due to missing teeth or prevalent dental problems then water can help.
Either add a small amount of water to their dry food or see if they enjoy the switch to canned wet food.
Hydration is also an issue in a dog’s mature years so this is another way to ensure they get their daily recommended amount of water.
You could also try adding a low sodium broth to their dry food to make a gravy that your dog may find more palatable.