Top 10 Best Senior Dog Food
As your dog ages, their food needs may change. Though a dog’s nutritional needs stay fairly consistent through adulthood, mature dogs may need additional sources of protein and nutrients. If you notice changes in your dog’s energy or activity as they grow older, it may be time to reevaluate their food and switch to senior dog food.
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Tweaking your dog’s diet can help them maintain a healthy body weight with strong bones and joints to help keep him or her moving and grooving well into their golden years. With senior dog care, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Here’s what you need to know about choosing the best senior dog food.
The Basics of Canine Nutrition
- Protein is the foundation of a healthy and balanced diet for dogs. In puppies, the amino acids in protein support growth and development. For adult dogs, protein is essential for maintaining lean muscle mass and healthy body weight. Animal proteins like meat, poultry, and fish are best for dogs because they are complete proteins—they contain all 10 essential amino acids.
- Guidelines for the nutritional requirements of dogs have been established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO recommendations state a minimum of 22% protein for canine growth and reproduction (puppies and lactating females) and an 18% minimum for adult dogs. For fat, these numbers are 8% and 5%, respectively.
- It’s important to remember that these are bare minimums—most dogs benefit from higher inclusions of protein in their diet. Fat and calorie requirements vary based on breed, size, and activity level.
- Though meeting your dog’s minimum nutritional requirements is a must, it’s equally important to consider the quality of the ingredients that provide those nutrients. Any high-quality diet for dogs will be rich in animal protein, balanced with healthy fats, and limited in carbohydrate content.
How Do Senior Dogs Differ?
Nutritional guidelines for humans are generally separated into age groups but adult dogs are considered a single category. Though your dog’s basic nutritional requirements don’t change as they get older, they may benefit from some dietary adjustments.
Here are some considerations for a senior dog diet:
- Older dogs tend to be less active. That may necessitate a reduction in daily calorie intake to prevent unhealthy weight gain.
- Protein is just as important for older dogs—you may even need to increase your senior dog’s protein intake to help them maintain lean muscle mass.
- Senior dogs have a higher risk for kidney disease, which may require a diet lower in phosphorus. (Keep in mind that preemptively reducing phosphorus intake may not prevent kidney disease.)
- If your senior dog develops high blood pressure, heart disease, or kidney disease, your veterinarian may recommend a low-sodium diet.
- Older dogs may be more prone to dehydration. Switching to a premium-quality canned food or fresh food can help with hydration and may be easier for your older dog to chew and digest.
Many veterinarians consider a dog a senior once he reaches 7 years old, but it really depends on the breed. Larger dog breeds don’t live as long as smaller breeds, so a Great Dane may become a senior at 5 or 6 years while a Dachshund reaches seniority closer to 10 years.
These are things to keep in mind when deciding if or when to change your dog’s diet, in addition to the advice of your veterinarian.
The 10 Best Senior Dog Foods
Quality nutrition is essential throughout your dog’s life. In seniority, it is the key to smooth digestion, strong immunity, healthy body weight, joint mobility, and more. If you’re concerned about keeping your dog well in their older years, consider switching to a high-quality senior dog food diet.
Here are our top picks for the best senior dog food.
Blue Buffalo Senior Dry Dog Food
Blue Buffalo is not just a company that makes food for senior dogs. They are committed to making healthy food, protecting a dog from harmful grain products, and filling them up with the right number of vitamins and nutrients to balance their weight and keep them healthy. This commitment and reputation are good indicators of the quality your senior dog needs from their food.
Blue Buffalo calls this line of kibble “Life Protection Formula” made for the overall well-being of a dog. They start their formula with real meat, check as chicken. They supplement this with beneficial whole grains, healthy vegetables and fruits and add what they named LifeSource Bits. These bits pack the needed punch in terms of nutrients. It is easier to digest with high-quality protein, add L-Carnitine to maintain a healthy muscle mass and carbs to give your elderly pup the energy to stay active. Supplements also promote healthier skin and joint health, a significant concern for many dog breeds.
- High nutrient content difficult for sensitive stomachs
- More expensive product
- Real meat as the first ingredient
- High-quality protein
- Supports joint health
- No corn or wheat
VICTOR Senior Weight Dry Dog Food – Best Value
VICTOR Purpose Senior Healthy Dog Food is specifically made to support your dog as he moves into his twilight years. It is the best senior dog food for the money since it offers high nutritional value without breaking the bank.
As older dogs begin to be less active, eating the same kind of food can cause them to gain weight faster in some breeds than others. This company recognizes that and formulated dog food meant to aid in the conversion of fat to energy. The process helps senior dogs continue the development of lean muscle instead of adding fat weight. It is also an admirable choice for dogs that already need to lose weight.
The formula is nutrient-dense to support long-term joint health, helpful in dog breeds that struggle with joint dysplasia. The recipe starts with 78% meat protein, followed up by tasty nutrients from vegetables and fruits to promote a hardier human system and aid digestion. All in all, we think this is the best dog food for older dogs for the money
- Contains grains with too many carbs
- Decrease fat weight
- Joint health
- 78% meat protein
Ollie Fresh Dog Food Subscription – Best Overall
As dogs get older, they acquire additional care to maintain excellent health. This can mean more regularly scheduled vet visits, less strenuous physical activity, and a more balanced nutritional intake. Owners of aging dogs can sometimes struggle with finding the best meal replacements and care routines for their dogs. And issues such as incontinence, food sensitivities, and even dementia can be quite difficult to navigate.
However, proper nutrition can help mature dogs get the daily vitamins and minerals they need to age gracefully and maintain their energy levels. This is where Ollie Dog Food can help.
Ollie uses has high-quality ingredients and advanced cooking techniques to provide human-grade dog food that abides by AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control) standards. Their ingredients are carefully sourced, cooked at low temperatures, and then hand-packed to maximize their nutritional value.
They also offer a convenient delivery program, which means that you can keep your dog healthy without having to take a trip to the pet store every week. They also make it easy to cancel or switch up meals to see which ones your dog prefers. And if your dog suffers from digestive issues or requires a restricted diet, Ollie can customize a specialty meal plan for it specifically. The only downside to this food is that meal plans can be expensive, especially with extra shipping costs.
- Expensive meal plans
- Extra costs for shipping
- High-quality ingredients
- Simple recipe customization
- Easy cancellation
- Human-grade food
- Convenient delivery system
- Customized diet recommendations
Nulo Freestyle Senior Dry Dog Food
Nulo believes in its product so much that they claim they can help your dog “get better with age.” They do this by creating an exceptional nutrition plan, not just another bag of dog food. This plan contains the benefits of animal meat, such as trout, to supply the protein needed for continuous muscle development and maintenance important for an old dog’s mobility.
Their formula is not only chock full of meat, but it is also grain-free. The absence of these grains and the addition of probiotic strains make the food easier for senior dogs to digest. It also includes compounds that support the health of the hip and other joints, such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin. They add in L-Carnitine to keep up the metabolism of the fats found in any food to make up for the fact that older dogs are not as active. They even say that their formula is free from controversial chicken and egg proteins.
- Helps support joints
- Chicken and egg-free
- Probiotics to aid digestion
- Calcium and phosphorus for strong bones
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Dry Dog Food
The Nutro Wholesome beneficial dog food starts with the essential basic proteins needed by every dog. Chicken is at the top of this list, followed by chicken meal, barley, whole brown rice, sweet potato, and other ingredients all tailored together in this one food fit for a senior dog. This dry food contains omega-3 as well as omega-6 fatty acids. These help to promote healthy skin and keep your dog’s coat looking and feeling silky soft.
The health of your pup’s immune system is also key in the making of this dish, with vitamin E and other antioxidants added in for support. The recipe is cooked up with entirely non-GMO ingredients and zero chicken by-product meal. The producers make this food in the USA.
- No components to aid digestion
- Non-GMO ingredients
- Healthy omega fatty acids
- Made in the USA
Eukanuba Large Breed Senior Dry Dog Food
This food is exclusively meant for large breed seniors, making it a bit more of a selective field but also providing the needed nutrients specific to large breed, aged dogs. This dry dog food is made with most of the same ingredients shared among many of the other recipes talked about above. It contains lots of high-quality protein, glucosamine, chondroitin, DHA, antioxidants, and carbohydrates, all of which combine to protect many different parts of your pup’s body.
One of the unique aspects of this dog food is it also contains Eukanuba 3D DentaDefense. This compound works to reduce tartar buildup on the teeth and gums of old dogs, protecting them and keeping them healthy for as long as possible.
This balanced food is for dogs that are over seven years in age and that weight in over 55 pounds.
- Contains chicken by-product meal (3rd ingredient)
- Only for large breed seniors
- Contains corn (4th ingredient)
- Contains Eukanuba 3D DentaDefense
- DHA for healthy brain function
Blue Buffalo Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Another great offering from the creators at Blue Buffalo, this dry dog food is said to be part of “nature’s evolutionary diet”. The meaning behind this quote is that the diet of wolves inspired the formula. These creatures are true omnivores with long-lasting life endurance even into their old years. This naturally-inspired formula is grain-free and protein-rich. The needs of your dog become more specific as it gets older. Blue Buffalo aims to meet all these needs with this food.
Just as before, the food contains Lifesource Bits that blend a harmonious mixture of antioxidants, minerals, and essential vitamins. They didn’t only guess at the appropriate combination, either. Instead, they called in holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to figure out how to best support the health of the immune system for senior dogs.
The food contains not only deboned chicken and turkey meal, but also blueberries, carrots, cranberries, and sweet potatoes.
- Contains tapioca starch
- Vet and nutritionist recommended
- Antioxidant enriching
- Healthy complex carbs
Wellness Complete Health Senior Dry Dog Food
A food made from fresh ingredients is best when eaten just as fresh. This idea is one that makes Wellness Complete Health Senior dog food unique. They may cook large batches of their product, but they do it on demand with the freshest ingredients they can find. These ingredients include deboned chicken and barley, both of which provide stellar amounts of protein. They have added glucosamine and chondroitin to keep the hips and other joints of the old pup as mobile as possible for as long as possible.
The recipe that they have put together also has some reasonably unique ingredients compared to its competitors. They include taurine, meant to support a healthy heart in aging dogs. Another example is an extract from the plant Yucca schidigera, which aids in reducing the foul odor in your aging dog’s feces. Green tea extracts have found themselves a place in this recipe as well. They perform an essential job of fighting against free radicals in your dog’s system and preventing cell breakdown.
- Some suspect ingredients
- Lessens feces odor
- Fresh formula
- Green tea extracts
- Taurine to help hearts
Merrick Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog Food
Merrick is another producer that makes their dog food with deboned chicken as the first ingredient and the primary source of protein. One of the next ingredients in this recipe is sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a healthy source of carbohydrates, along with providing other essential vitamins and nutrients. Every bowl of this dry dog food is full of glucosamine and chondroitin, which, as we know, helps maintain healthy hips and joints, along with L-carnitine for a high-functioning metabolism. Merrick’s real selling point with this food is that it comes in small batches right from their kitchen. This connotates freshness and a particular focus on each bag of dog food that comes out of their facilities. The food contains only all-natural grain and is gluten-free. There are no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
- Not a recipe meant to maintain weight
- Made in the USA but not from American ingredients
- Some dogs don’t tolerate well
- No artificial flavors or preservatives
- Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
- Sweet potatoes for carbs
CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Senior Dry Dog Food
We have all heard the guideline for making life easier, keep it simple. The creators of this dog food kept this in mind. The needs of a senior dog are not entirely complex. With a little bit of TLC and some of Canidae’s Grain-Free dog food, a senior dog can expect to live longer and with greater health than before. Canidae has formulated their dog food with just nine wholesome ingredients. These don’t include corn, soy, grain, wheat, or anything artificial and thus harmful for a dog’s system.
Check is the first ingredient in this mix, followed closely by vegetables to give him the nutrients and energy he needs for each day. Probiotics are a part of this mix to help the aged do digest the food more efficiently and absorb everything he needs from it. The additional antioxidants aid immunity and other vitamins keep him feeling young at heart.
- More expensive
- No disclosure on who makes the food
- Contains probiotics
- Simple 9-ingredient recipe
- Contains omega fatty acids
American Journey Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog Food
American Journey is well-known among dog owners who look for the healthiest foods to provide their prized pups. When it comes to their recipe for senior dogs, they don’t disappoint. A lot more adventures are awaiting your pup, whether he has years of them behind him already or not. This formula is meant to support their activity levels and provide them with enough energy to take on each day.
Included in the formula are medium-chain triglycerides that come from coconut oil. These triglycerides function to support brain health for dogs that are aging. They also include the more typical omega fatty acids for healthy skin and fur that make them look like they are still in the prime of their life. Supporting those next adventures are the joint health compounds, glucosamine, and chondroitin. Chicken is once again the first ingredient, and vitamins are provided by fresh fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, blueberries, and even marine algae. For all the great things it does include, the recipe leaves out just as many harmful ingredients, such as grains, wheat, soy, and corn, and any poultry by-product meals.
- Some difficult-to-digest ingredients
- Contains some phytic acid and anti-nutrients
- Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
- No grains or poultry by-product meals
- Medium-chain triglycerides for brain health
- Omega fatty acids
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Senior Dog Food
You have enjoyed your dog’s company for years, and now, heading into his golden age, it is time to give him back some of the mounds of love and loyalty he has always shown you. The problem is, what goes into choosing the best dog food for seniors? Before this, it might have been so much easier to pick a well-reputed dog food and maintain it for years. It’s time to switch, and below we have listed things you should look out for when choosing a senior dog food.
How to Choose Quality Foods for Senior Dogs
High Protein, Low Fat
As a dog continues to age, it starts to lose some of its natural vim and vigor. With the reduction in its activity comes the decreases in metabolism. It is important to find recipes that have a high ratio of protein to fat to maintain a healthy weight.
This advice can apply to just about any food or product that you buy for your dog. However, it is especially true when it comes to those pups that are finding themselves in a more vulnerable position. Look for foods that have been vet recommended, or even better, ask you vet and see what they have to say.
Balance of Canned and Dry
Some dogs struggle with the opposite problem as they age, losing lean muscle mass without gaining any fat stores. If this is the case for your doggo, don’t just rely on dry food to help keep his weight up. Supplement the daily food schedule with higher calorie canned food. It is best to get a vet recommendation on the appropriate ratio of these foods to keep your dog as healthy as possible.
Individual Dog’s Health
Lastly, consider the specific needs of your dog. If your dog suffers from joint pain, skin problems, or other health issues as they age, it may help to find a food that focuses more on these.
Stay Away from Artificial
Whether human or animal, ingesting artificial substances is not great for the health and proper functioning of internal systems. This becomes especially true in old age. Help a dog’s system work as efficiently as possible by providing them high-quality food free from artificial substances.
As your dog moves into his golden years, he may feel more relaxed than ever before. However, these can be turbulent times for owners that want to do the best they can for their beloved Fidos. That’s where the best dog food for senior dogs comes in. With companies that pride themselves on distinct and extremely healthy dog food formulas, like Ollie Dog Food, you should have no problem finding something that supports your pup in just the right ways.
We hope that with our quick list of buying considerations as well as the breakdown reviews of each one of the best senior dog foods, help you find a little peace in each bowl of nutritious, supportive dog food.