As your faithful friend ages, you will inevitably start to see some signs that mean you may need to re-think his diet. He may still be thinking – and acting – like he is a pup, but he’s getting a little slower chasing that stick on the beach or his middle-aged tummy is wider than it used to be. And while those tell-tale signs of grey around his eyes and muzzle tell you he is heading into his silver years, it doesn’t mean they can’t still be happy, fun-filled and healthy.
Regular exercise, check-ups with the vet and lots of love will all help to keep your precious pooch young at heart as will the right food in his dog bowl. Feeding your older dog an optimum diet to ensure he all gets the nutrition he needs, will help to keep that spring in his step. We take a look at the best senior dog foods currently on the market to help you make the right changes when it comes to keeping your pooch young at heart and sprightly.
The Best Senior Dog Food
High quality chicken protein and whole grains are the mainstay of this tasty kibble for older dogs which will get their taste-buds standing up and taking notice. Ideally formulated for the senior pooch you get a host of healthy goodies added to the mix, designed to help keep him energetic and active, while supporting his immune system.
As one of our best senior dog foods, get a premium, single source protein, boosted by brown rice, flaxseed, blueberries and selected vegetables. This combination gives a decent boost of the nutrients he needs to keep his joints supple and moving like a younger pup. And as a dog food for older dogs, it is not over-packed with calories, so a good choice if you are looking to manage your pooch’s weight. A well-priced, top quality dry dog food for senior dogs that matches taste with targeted nutritional support, Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is our review’s easy Best Choice.
Quality chicken protein and wholefoods
Glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
L-Carnitine for muscle condition
Fortified with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
- BrandBlue Buffalo
- Weight 30 pounds
If your old dog is getting a little lethargic and needs an energy boost, this easy to digest dry senior dog food from Hill’s Science is a powerhouse of nutrients to help him regain his zip. Using chicken as its protein base for building strong muscles, this dog food for older dogs is a carefully balanced recipe of quality wholefood carbs, fruits and vegetables to provide your furry friend with the healthy nutrition he needs.
Blended to support his energy levels, you also get minerals and omegas heart and kidney health as well as vitamins to boost his skin and coat, all without overloading your dog with unnecessary calories. And there are no artificial nasties or colors in this contender for best dog food for senior dogs, just natural flavors and all-round goodness to keep him satisfied and sprightly.
Chicken protein for lean muscle
Omega 6 and Vit E for skin and coat
Balanced minerals for heart and kidney health
No artificial colors or flavors
- BrandHill’s Science Diet
- Weight33 pound
With no fillers or bulking agents, Purina One SmartBlend for dogs aged 7+ is enhanced with botanical oils to nourish and support your older pooch’s physical and mental sharpness and wellbeing. High quality protein from chicken makes this dry dog food for older dogs delicious and easy on the digestion, while a satisfying crunch in the kibble helps to keep his teeth and gums in tip-top condition.
Fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, this is a heart and muscle-friendly recipe, that also includes glucosamine for healthy joints, so he can keep playing around as if he was still a pup. This dog food for senior dogs does contain wholegrains and gluten so may not be right for pets with more serious allergies but as an all-round tasty meal, this is a well-balanced dog food to help keep your dog happy, healthy and active.
Energy formula for dogs 7+
Easy to digest chicken protein
Enhanced with botanical oils
Glucosamine for healthy joints
- BrandPurina ONE
- Weight31 pounds
For a tasty protein combination that will spark up the discerning canine palate, Nutro Ultra offers chicken, lamb and salmon in this delicious senior dog food recipe. Specifically formulated for the senior dog, Nutro Ultra follows its ‘feed clean’ philosophy, using high-quality ingredients from carefully sourced suppliers.
This means there are no GMO ingredients or artificial nasties – just nutritionally dense ingredients to help boost your dog’s health and vitality. Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food has a blend of 15 ‘superfoods’ including coconut, chia, kale and blueberries as well as whole brown rice and flaxseed, designed to support digestion, maintain healthy joints and bones, build lean muscle and keep his coat in tip-top condition. If you are looking for the best food for older dogs that may be a bit picky with their dry food, then Nutro Ultra could be the best temptation.
Trio of proteins – chicken, lamb and salmon
Blend of 15 superfoods
Artificial flavor and preservatives-free
- Weight30 pounds
As an all-round and well-balanced natural dog food for active senior dogs, Wellness Complete is hard to beat. With no wheat, preservatives or by-products, Wellness is also a good senior dog food choice if your dog has a more sensitive tum or is prone to allergies. Wellness use a quality single-source protein of de-boned chicken with tasty vegetables, including peas, carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes for a balanced carb and protein dish.
The whole meal is also nutritionally balanced to provide the right vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, without adding the calories, making it a good choice if you need to satisfy your pet while maintaining his weight. The result is a tasty, dry dog food for older dogs that is easy to digest and is gentle on the stomach, while helping to maintain their muscle, heart, joints and overall condition.
Natural source of glucosamine
Balanced vitamins and minerals
No wheat or artificial ingredients
- BrandWellness Natural Pet Food
- Weight30 pounds
If your elderly dog turns his nose up at dry food or is having trouble eating due to lack of appetite or dental problems, then these great value cans of wet senior dog food could well be the tasty solution. Packed with quality protein from beef and pork liver and boosted with a carefully balanced mix of rice and vegetables, the result is a delicious, stew-like meal that packs a tasty punch.
This senior canned dog food is easy to chew and digest, so perfect for more sensitive dogs or add some kibble for more of a crunch. Hill’s Science Diet Canned Wet Dog Food is also fortified with minerals and vitamins your older dog needs to help boost his energy as well as help protect his kidneys and heart health.
Easy to eat, stew-like wet dog food
Beef and pork protein for lean muscle
Brown rice and selected vegetables
Fortified with vitamins and minerals
- BrandHill’s Science Diet
- Weight9.6 pounds
Grain-free and made from high-quality natural ingredients, Blue Buffalo’s Natural Senior Dry Dog Food is a good option for an allergic or digestive-sensitive older dog. With chicken as the main protein source and balanced with a wide selection of vegetables, flaxseed and wholefood carbs, your pooch will love the natural, meaty taste of this easy to eat senior dog food.
And, as it is formulated for the silver pooch, it has some serious vitamin and minerals added to the mix. Glucosamine and chondroitin will support your fur baby’s joints and bones, while antioxidants and omega fatty acids will reduce inflammation and boost their immune system as well as their coat condition and overall health. And the no-grain formula of what we think is one of the best dog food for senior dogs is kind on their stomachs and will help maintain your elderly dog’s healthy weight.
Whole chicken protein for lean muscles
Grain, corn, soy and by-product free
Omega 3&6 for skin and coat health
Added glucosamine and chondroitin
- BrandBlue Buffalo
- Weight24 pounds
For when your old pup needs a pick-up or something extra to tempt him to eat, then this wet senior dog food from Wellness Complete could well be the tasty treat he needs. The all-natural, easy to chew and digest wet formula is both delicious and kind on his system, adding extra minerals and vitamins to help put a spring back into his step.
Chicken and fish are the core protein source to help build muscle and support his energy levels. It is also a reduced calorie meal with added fiber to keep his weight healthy and his digestion moving as it should. Add in whole grains, fruit and vegetables for a vitamin, antioxidant and mineral hit, and this senior canned dog food gives complete, balanced meal he will tuck into and enjoy.
Chicken and fish protein source
Reduced calorie, wet formula
Added fiber for a healthy digestion
Fortified with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals
- BrandWellness Natural Pet Food
- Weight9.5 pounds
As a half-way between standard and raw dog food, Instinct have come up with a tasty combination of grain-free kibble and freeze-dried raw chicken. The result is a top-quality raw-style dog food for senior dogs that is also enhanced with probiotics, vitamins and omegas. There are no artificial nasties, wheat, corn or soy so it’s gentle for digestive or allergy sensitive dogs too.
Instinct Raw is also packed with health-boosting supplements, including glucosamine and chondroitin for joints, natural DHA for brain and eye health as well as calcium and phosphorous for strong teeth and bones. Instinct Raw Boost senior dog food is a good option for the active pooch. However, if your dog has health issues or has allergies, check with your vet first to make sure raw is the best way to go.
High protein, grain-free kibble
Added freeze-dried raw chicken
No added potato, corn or soy
Glucosamine, chondroitin and calcium
- Weight21 pounds
If your older dog has a sensitive tum or is vulnerable to allergies but you don’t want him to miss out on taste, then Nutro Ultra’s grain-free wet dog food has a delicious pate-like consistency that will help to turn his head. With a trio of protein – chicken, lamb and salmon – this is a tasty recipe that is also easy to eat and digest so also a good choice if his teeth is a problem or you are struggling with a dog that has a poor appetite.
Rich in both nutrients and flavor, there’s also a nice balance of carbs, including carrots, apples, kale and spinach. The result is a wet-blend senior dog food that is packed with the essential vitamins your old pup needs, without any artificial additives or GMO products. In convenient, 3.5-ounce tins, this pate can also be added to a dry kibble for a crunchier mix.
Trio of protein – chicken, lamb and salmon
Grain and GMO-free
Boosted with fruit and vegetables
No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
- Weight6.22 pounds
Grain-free and packed with raw food protein, Orijen Senior Dog food comes in as our review’s Premium Pick. Yes, it’s pricy – around $90 for a 25-pound bag – but the ingredient list shouts nutritional quality. Created to nourish your older dog’s body and help to support lean muscle, this dry senior dog food is 38% protein, from sources that will get your pet’s senior tail wagging.
Free-range chicken and turkey, alongside flounder, Atlantic mackerel and herring, plus cage-free eggs, Orijen packs a powerful protein punch. And with two-thirds of the protein fresh or raw, the nutritional value is high, while carbs are limited. Zero grain, this protein kibble is boosted by vegetables and fruits, such as pumpkin, squash, kelp, kale, rosehips and sunflower seeds. The aim is to supply your dog with a meat-rich diet that is appropriately balanced to specifically nourish and support the older canine.
2/3 raw or fresh meat protein
Chicken, turkey, flounder, mackerel and herring
Carb limited – 15% fruit and vegetables
Grain and tapioca free
- Weight24.9 pounds
For larger older dogs, the IAMS reputation comes good with this tasty and easy to digest kibble senior dog food. Made from ‘farm-raised’ chicken, and packed with wholesome grains, good fats and vegetables, there is a lot for your old pooch to like about Proactive health for mature adult dogs.
It is also packed with older dog health boosters too, including a DHA complex to help promote his mental alertness. There’s also heart-friendly L-Carnitine and fiber for a healthy digestion as well as added vitamins, omegas and minerals. We also like the easy crunch of the kibble, which also helps to reduce teeth plaque. Calorie-measured, this is a good choice for your older large dog when energy, nutrition and weight management are your concerns.
Easily digestible kibble
DHA for brain function
L-carnitine for heart health
Added vitamins and minerals
- Weight29.1 pounds
Sometimes less is more, and this is the approach Candidae has taken to its Grain-free senior dog food. With less than 10 ingredients in each bag of dry dog food, their aim is to create a tasty meal that won’t irritate sensitive tums.
But this doesn’t mean it loses any taste, with a mix of chicken, turkey, sweet potato and bean at the heart of the recipe. Add in vegetables such as peas, potatoes and alfalfa and you have a nicely balanced senior dog food in a crunchy kibble that won’t aggravate your pooch. To support your senior dog’s health and vitality, there’s also added vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and omega fatty acids. And, with no added artificial nasties this is a good meal to feed your dog if skin allergies are a problem. Not the cheapest in our best senior dog food review, but worth the investment if your pup is a sensitive soul.
Wheat, corn and soy-free
Chicken and turkey protein
Added antioxidants and omega oils
Fortified with vitamins and minerals
- Model 1814
- Weight 24 pounds
For smaller, elderly dogs and for older pets who are losing their appetite, Cesar Classics Senior is a good choice. In small tins that avoids any waste, the recipe reads like a restaurant menu, with a mix of slow simmered chicken and rice. This is a calorie-counted wet senior canned dog food that makes eating a more delicious experience, without causing problems if your pooch has dental or chewing issues. And with no grain, as one of the best senior dog foods, it is kinder on a more sensitive tum.
To help your older dog with his energy levels and all-round health and condition, there’s added vitamins and minerals for balanced nutrition, including vitamins A, B, D and E as well as potassium and magnesium. All packed into a conveniently sized and easy to open tin. Ideal for the picky eater or for a dog that finds it troublesome to chew.
Chicken and liver protein source
Easy to eat wet formula
Added brown rice
Fortified with vitamins and minerals
- Weight6.2 pounds
With avocados a great source of omegas, there is actually much more to AvoDerm senior dog food than just a glossy coat. This natural formula specifically for senior dog health boasts a targeted range of benefits to help your old pooch be at his best. With quality lamb and chicken as the core protein source, this grain and wheat-free dry senior dog food recipe packs a powerful, health- boosting punch.
You get natural chondroitin, glucosamine and DHA from natural fish sources for joint, eye and brain function. Then there’s the added avocado for all-round healthy coat and skin condition as well as his immune system. Plus, there’s added antioxidants and vitamins for more energy and bounce. With no nasty artificial preservatives, colors or flavors and a satisfying crunch, AvoDerm is also kind to the digestive system and works well if you are looking to manage your old boy’s weight.
Chicken and lamb protein
Wheat, grain and additive free
Avocado for skin and coat
Added chondroitin, glucosamine and DHA
- Weight24 pounds
Best Senior Dog Foods Guide & FAQ
Things to Look in Dog Food for Older Dogs
He may be still be bouncing around like a spring chicken, but even if the inevitable signs of age have yet to show, your older dog will start to need a few changes to his daily diet. From being a bit more mindful of calories to keep his weight down or a boost in key nutrients to keep that spring in his step, or supplements to maintain his condition and help to alleviate age onset aches and pains, it is important to be aware of what you feed your older dog.
When choosing the best dog food for senior dogs, here are the main things to look out for:
Middle-age spread can also a problem for your pooch and, coupled with perhaps a little less exercise and less activity could lead to obesity. Switching to a lower calorie senior dog food, coupled with portion control can ensure he gets all the nutrients he needs without putting on excess weight. However, if your older dog is starting to lose muscle mass, a diet higher in protein and calories could be helpful so do speak to your vet to make sure your older dog is getting the right level of calorific intake for his body.
Older dogs will ‘burn through’ its protein stores much faster than a younger dog, potentially leading to loss of muscle mass and tone. A good source of quality protein in his diet will supply the essential amino acids he needs to keep his muscles in good shape as he ages as well as boost his immune system. Check the label on the pack or can of senior dog food for the protein source and always opt for specifics – chicken or beef – rather than the vague ‘poultry’ or ‘meat’.
As your dog ages, so does his digestive system, which can get slower. One of the downsides of a sluggish digestive system is constipation which is not pleasant, for you or your pet. Help to keep things moving by ensuring there is sufficient fiber in his diet, ideally a quality source such as psyllium or wheat bran. Probiotics and ‘good fats’ such as Omega 3 can also be beneficial to your older pooch. Just be careful if your dog has a sensitive gut or age-onset allergies and check with your vet if you are in any doubt.
As they age, your furry friend can be susceptible to age-related health conditions, such as arthritis, especially if they are overweight. To help ease their movements and maintain their health and vitality in their silver years, look for senior dog foods that have added supplements. While they are no guarantee, there is no harm in making the most of these extra boosters. Look for anti-inflammatory chondroitin, glucosamine and omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA for joint health, and antioxidants that can help to counter the effects of ageing. However, it is important to remember that if your pooch requires extra supplements for a health condition, follow your vet’s advice and don’t just rely on their senior dog food alone.
Especially if your dog has issues with their kidneys, always check the salt levels in your chosen dog food for older dogs as higher levels are not really advised for senior pets.
The texture of your senior dog food will make a difference to your pet and their individual health and feeding ability needs. Softer textures such as wet and canned dog food is a good choice for older dogs with dental issues. Softer food rather than harder kibble is also a good idea if you dog has lost its appetite and can help him to get back to enjoying his food.
The Ingredients to Avoid Feeding Your Senior Dog
Just like humans, the ageing process sees changes in health and fitness as your pup gets older. Older dogs are also more prone to obesity, allergies, digestive issues and heart problems so the key to supporting his vitality is to feed him more of what he needs and cut out the things he doesn’t. Ingredients to avoid feeding your senior dog include:
- Artificial colors and preservatives
Always try to buy senior dog food that that is as natural and additive free as possible and always read the label to see if there are any artificial nasties hiding away in the recipe. Artificial color has no nutritional value and is there to make the food look good to you, your pooch doesn’t care less what his meal looks like, it’s the taste that matters!
Dogs don’t have a natural sweet tooth, so their food simply doesn’t need sweetening up! Corn syrup is often added to dog food and it can actually be addictive for your dog, as well as adding extra calories he doesn’t need. Added sweeteners can also be detrimental to your dog’s health, especially if he has diabetes.
- Bulking agents
Some dog food for older dogs can be padded out with extra agents that actually have no nutritional value for your pet but are purely there to enhance texture and taste. And one particular ‘bulker’, bone meal can actually be harmful for your older dog as it adds phosphorous to the meal, which can irritate his digestive system. And, with bulking agents, you can never be sure of the quality or source, so avoid.
Allergies and sensitive digestive systems are common problems for senior dogs and some ingredients in their food can make matters worse. Wheat grains and corn are such ingredients which need to be used with caution or avoided altogether.
What About Raw Food?
Increasingly popular, raw food diets aim to provide your dog with a purer, and more natural diet. But such a diet is not necessarily the right choice for an older pet. As he ages his digestive system is not so robust and may not be able to tolerate such a pure diet. He may also have a health condition – such as pancreatitis or cancer – and should not eat raw food.
When it comes to deciding whether raw food it ok for your older dog, chat to your vet as it’s likely you dog will need a more balanced diet, including fiber and good fats – to keep him feeling young. And too much pure protein could be a problem for an older dog.
Best Senior Dog Foods FAQ:
Q: What is considered a senior dog?
A: While it does depend on the breed and weight of your dog, a general rule of thumb is that your dog is in his senior stage when they have reached half their life expectancy. So, a small dog with a life expectancy of 15 – 20 years, he will be a senior from around eight or nine, while for a large breed that can live to around 12, he will be entering his silver years around six or seven. Most vets typically consider a dog as a senior from seven years when it comes to health and wellbeing.
Q: What age should you switch to senior dog food?
A: Although your pooch has reached his half-way mark and is technically now a senior, it doesn’t necessarily mean he needs to be automatically switched to a geriatric diet. His health, energy and overall condition, both physically and mentally, will help you to decide when his diet may need a little extra help. If your older fur baby is showing no signs of slowing down and is enjoying his food, then don’t rush to change. Signs that he may need a little extra fine-tuning in his diet are a dull coat, lethargy, stiffness in his joints, upset tummy and a growing girth. Otherwise, a good time to look at upping his nutrition with a specific dog food for older dogs is around eight or nine.
Q: Can I give my older dog puppy food?
A: The nutritional needs of a puppy are different to a pooch in his twilight years and so you really shouldn’t be feeding the wrong diet. Puppy food is higher in calories and protein to support the pup’s development, and can be harmful to an older dog, especially if they are obese or have kidney problems. Always try to stick with the right food for your dog, at every stage of their life for optimum nutrition and health.
Q: How often should I feed my senior dog?
A: As they age, your canine’s need for food will change, due to a reduction in activity levels and the potential arrival of age-onset health conditions such as obesity, dental issues and digestive problems. Little and often is the best way to feed your senior dog, especially if he is a smaller breed. Unless advised otherwise by your veterinary practitioner, twice a day for large breeds, up to three times a day for smaller pooches, is ideal, and don’t overfill their food bowl.
Our Top Pick
As our top pick, Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food is a quality dry dog food that is nicely balanced to create a tasty kibble that is easy to digest and calorie-maintained to keep your old dog healthy and satisfied. Fortified with the vitamins and minerals he needs for muscle, joint and immune system health, and a quality protein at its source, this is an appetizing way to keep a spring in your old boy’s step.
- 8 Tips for Feeding Your Senior Dog - PetMD
- What ingredients are important in senior dog food? - How Stuff Works