Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs

Discover the best there is for your grey-haired friend and make mealtimes healthy and fun for your aging best friend.

As your dog begins to get up there in age, you might notice some changes to their behavior, especially when it comes to mealtimes. They might leave more food on the table than usual or even ignore it completely. Is there a reason for this?

Do you really need to feed them the absolute best senior dog food around for it to change? Probably not, but it sure doesn’t hurt to do so; let’s dig deeper, shall we?

Things to keep in mind

elderly golden lab

Due to the fact that older dogs have different dietary needs [1] than their younger counterparts, their diet should be thoughtfully researched to ensure their continued optimum health.

As they become more lethargic, they’ll need to eat fewer calories, [2] and some also start to experience weaker teeth that have them avoiding hard kibble. Think, adding a bit of water/liquid to moisten up dry kibble and thus make it easier to chow down.

Related: Best Probiotic for Dogs – Top 5 Picks Reviewed

Senior dog food examined

Whatever the concern may be with your pet, the answer is usually age-appropriate dog food. Listed below are five great recipes with the needs of your senior dog at heart.

Hill’s Science Diet | Active Longevity Senior Dog Food 7+

Hills-Science-Active-Longevity-Senior-Dog-Food

With an eye towards keeping your dog safe and sound from any bacterial threat, senior formulas from Hill’s Science Diet come packed in with extra vitamins to boost the immune system of your pet.

These formulas are fantastic if your dog has trouble digesting [3] concentrated foods since they’re light on calories, protein, and are easy on the stomach. All of this will go a long way towards giving your pet the energy they need to enjoy life as a senior.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Vet recommended
  • Low protein formulas are easy on your dog’s kidneys

Cons

  • Hard to track official sourcing of ingredients

Customer feedback

Owners who needed to switch to a senior formula have seemingly struck gold with Hill’s Science Diet and given this product a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

They report that their dogs have more energy than ever before and have shinier, healthier coats. Their attitudes have also improved since they’re more eager for their daily walks.

Some customers have complained that specific formulas [4] are still too hard on dogs with extremely sensitive stomachs though, so it’s recommended that you get a quick vet check-up before picking up a bag.

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BLUE Wilderness | High Protein Dry Dog Food for Seniors

BLUE-Wilderness-High-Protein-Grain-Free-Senior-Dry-Dog-Food

For allergy prone dogs [5] or owners looking for the peace of mind of a grain-free formula, BLUE Wilderness has you covered.

Their chicken-based recipe is quite high in protein which may or may not be suitable for your pet depending on their need, but it also includes what the company calls “LifeSource.”

These bits are scattered throughout each bag of food to provide a needed boost in nutrients for your pet. Think multivitamins, but for your dog.

Pros

  • Grain-free for allergy prone pets
  • Small pieces of kibble are good for dogs with weaker teeth

Cons

  • A bit expensive

Customer feedback

Most customers adore the effect that BLUE Wilderness had on their dogs and rated the food with 4.3 out of 5 stars. After switching them away from other brands, dogs have stopped excessively scratching and licking themselves due to healthier skin and coats.

The kibble is easy to chew, and the flavor is excellent, so dogs have no issue digging in during mealtimes. There are reports that the formula has changed on more than one occasion, however, so it’s possible that your dog will suddenly refuse to eat successive bags.

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NUTRO MAX | Senior Recipe Dry Dog Food

NUTRO-MAX-Natural-Adult-Dry-Dog-Food

A great option for the bigger breeds is this bag of food from NUTRO MAX. The marble-sized pieces of kibble might be too large and hard for some, but dogs with big appetites will no doubt love the alluring taste and scent of the farm-raised chicken contained within.

One major downside though is that this is the only recipe from this brand designed for seniors. If your dog doesn’t love chicken, then this product probably isn’t for you.

Pros

  • Taste is simple which pleases picky eaters
  • Non-GMO ingredients

Cons

  • Price tends to fluctuate

Customer feedback

The major selling point to this food that most customers comment on is the exceptionally balanced recipe, earning it a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars rating. They love that there’s no abundance of protein or fat, which makes it a great all-around option for most dogs out there.

Even the pickiest of eaters tend to quickly gravitate to a bowl of this food which makes transitions off previous brands a breeze. Unfortunately, dogs with allergies won’t stand to benefit from it since it’s not grain-free, so if you experience side effects like diarrhea, it would be wise to stop feeding your dog this food.

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Wellness Complete Health | Natural Senior Formula Canned

Wellness-Complete-Health-Natural-Wet-Canned-Dog-Food

We’ve looked at some soft kibbles, but for dogs with truly weakened teeth, it might be time to transition them to a wet-only diet. Wellness is a great entry-point into canned food since their products are made in North America with high-quality ingredients.

This formula, in particular, is great since it provides a nice bump in fiber to aid the digestive system of your pet. While this is the only flavor made with seniors in mind, your dog shouldn’t get tired of it unless he or she is used to rotational diets.

Pros

  • High in fiber
  • Buying packs of cans can be expensive

Cons

  • Uses carrageenan [6] as a binder

Customer feedback

For the most part, input on this food by Wellness is quite positive, earning it a 3.8 out of 5 stars rating. While difficult to open since it requires a can opener, it smells appetizing to dogs and helps their digestion as they eat.

This formula is excellent for sensitive dogs that have trouble chewing, but it’s recommended that you give each a can a quick glance before serving it. Some customers have found some bone fragments in the past, which, while rare, does raise some concerns as to the company’s quality control.

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Related: Keep your aging buddy stimulated with some of the best interactive dog toys around.

Orijen | Senior Biologically Appropriate Dry Dog Food

Orijen-Senior-Biologically-Appropriate-Dry-Dog-Food

The premium food from Canada has long been a favorite of those that can afford it, and their offerings have expanded with the introduction of this senior recipe.

Focusing on a whole prey diet that provides balanced nutrition by mimicking what wild dogs would actually eat, Orijen food has long been held to a high standard thanks to steady formulas, consistent sourcing, and few recalls.

Pros

  • Limited ingredient recipes
  • Made with high-quality ingredients sourced from reputable countries
  • High protein levels

Cons

  • Extremely expensive

Customer feedback

This product earned a rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars, and most owners are in awe over the difference their dog experiences when switching to this food. They love that they don’t have to worry about poor quality ingredients or manufacturing processes and enjoy seeing their dogs chow down on tasty food that they adore.

While it is expensive, the high-protein levels and freeze-dried cooking method that preserves nutrients make them quite concentrated which means you can get away with feeding less throughout the day. Ultimately, if you can afford it, this is one of the best foods out there and is well worth your attention and money.

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Final thoughts on feeding old dogs

Old black dog lying down

Dogs change as they age, and helping them in their golden years all starts with nutrition. With age-specific considerations to keep in mind, chances are you’re going to have to pull away from that tried-and-true adult formula that your dog has been eating for almost a decade.

Thankfully, the senior options out there are just as good.

As you can see above, we looked at five great recipes from different brands to give your dog exactly what he or she needs to stay relatively fit and healthy as they enter old age. Whether you’re looking for expensive grain-free bags or cheap wet food, you’ll find it here, so click on what you need and give it a shot.

dognutrition.com-websites-medical-disclaimer

Another must read: Best Pooper Scoopers for Easy Clean Up

Resources

  1. Nutrition and behavior in senior dogs.” X. Manteca. February 2011.
  2. Nutrition for aging cats and dogs and the importance of body condition.” D. P. Laflamme. May 2005.
  3. Rakha, Gamal M H et al. “Prevalence of common canine digestive problems compared with other health problems in teaching veterinary hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cairo University, Egypt” Veterinary world vol. 8,3 (2015): 403-11.
  4. Tobie, Christelle et al. “Assessing Food Preferences in Dogs and Cats: A Review of the Current Methods” Animals: an open access journal from MDPI vol. 5,1 126-37. 18 Mar. 2015, doi:10.3390/ani5010126.
  5. Chan, Sanny K and Donald Y M Leung. “Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges” Allergy, asthma & immunology research vol. 10,2 (2018): 97-105.
  6. A critical review of the toxicological effects of carrageenan and processed eucheuma seaweed on the gastrointestinal tract.” S.M. Cohen. N. Ito. September 2002.

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Written by Gogsi

By fusing a passion for animal health with an extensive background (bachelor's degree, 10+ years) in marketing and finance, Gogsi helps caring pet-owners navigate through false advertising and make financially savvy, informed buying decisions (when it comes to providing exceptional care & daily nutrition to their beloved dogs).

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