In this article you will find:
- Health Risks for Aging Dogs
- Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs
- 1. Now Fresh Senior Weight Management Recipe
- 2. Chicken Soup for the Soul Mature Chicken, Turkey & Duck Recipe
- 3. Wellness Complete Health Senior Formula
- 4. Hill's Science Diet 7+ Savory Stew with Beef & Vegetables
- 5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Senior Recipe
- 6. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Urinary SO Aging 7+ Loaf in Sauce
- 7. Nutro Large Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
- 8. VICTOR Purpose Senior Healthy Weight
- 9. ORIJEN Senior Formula
- 10. Nulo Freestyle Senior Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe
- 11. Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Senior Recipe
- At What Age Are Senior Dogs Considered Elderly?
- Why is Dog Food Made Specifically For Senior Dogs Important?
- Senior Dog Food Nutrition
- Helping Picky Senior Eaters Eat
- Proper Diet For Medical Conditions
- The Best Years
When gray hairs start to grow on your pup’s body and face and he seems to want to nap more and more than play, it’s a sign that your lovely adult pup is now an older dog.
Like dogs in the puppy and adulthood stage, senior dogs need a specific kind of care and attention from you to help prolong their life.
During this time, age-related concerns begin to crop up. While some may need more serious medical intervention, a lot more can be prevented or helped by a healthy diet specifically designed for senior dogs.
To help you in your search, we listed down some outstanding recipes, researched each thoroughly, and chose what we believe is the best dog food for senior dogs from them all.
We only selected dog food recipes from dog food brands with no deadly recall history. We also made sure that each dog food formulation we included in our list is as healthy as possible and contains no harmful preservatives or ingredients.
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Health Risks for Aging Dogs
All dogs are subject to certain health risks depending on their breeding and the type of dog they are. For example, smaller dogs are highly prone to dental issues and back problems while large-breed dogs are more prone to musculoskeletal issues and gastric torsion.
All dogs have their risks and unfortunately, those risks can increase as your dog gets older. As your dog ages, his body is going to go through some changes and it may not work as well as it used to. For example, many senior dogs develop kidney problems which can necessitate a change in diet.
Cognitive decline, eye problems, and heart problems are also common in older dogs as is diabetes, arthritis, and various forms of cancer. Your dog’s immune system may also weaken, making your routine veterinary check-ups more important than ever.
Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs
- Now Fresh Senior Weight Management
- Chicken Soup for the Soul Mature Chicken, Turkey & Duck Recipe
- Wellness Complete Health Senior
- Hill's Science Diet 7+ Savory Stew with Beef & Vegetables
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Senior Recipe
- Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Urinary SO Aging 7+
- Nutro Large Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
- Victor Purpose Senior Healthy Weight
- Orijen Senior Formula
- Nulo Freestyle Senior Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe
- Castor & Pollux Organix Organic Senior Recipe
If you want to make sure that your senior dog’s nutritional needs are being met, you should consider switching to a senior dog food product. These formulas are specifically designed to meet the unique nutritional requirements of older dogs.
You may also be able to get by with a standard adult dog food or a breed size-specific formula as long as the protein content is adequate and the fat content is not too high.
To help you make your choice, here are the best dog food for senior dogs:
1. Now Fresh Senior Weight Management Recipe
First 5 Ingredients: De-Boned Turkey, Peas, Potatoes, Potato Flour, Pea Fiber
This grain-free formula by Now Fresh is specially formulated to help seniors keep the weight down and their energy up. The brand uses only fresh and deboned meat and fish to provide your pup with high-quality sources of protein necessary in the maintenance of lean muscles.
Since chondroitin and glucosamine are essential for supporting the joints, Now Fresh included New Zealand mussels into the formula to act as natural sources of the two nutrients.
To further make the recipe balanced and complete, a variety of superfoods were also mixed in by pet nutritionists.
- Crafted by pet nutritionists
- Has L-carnitine for heart health and fat burning
- New Zealand mussels supply chondroitin and glucosamine
- Made with 20+ natural superfoods
- Pricier than most
Customers highly recommend this Now Fresh formula for Seniors. The average rating for this recipe is 4.7 stars out of 5 based on the opinion of 92 reviewers.
Pet owners share that they love the quality of the food because it contains only premium ingredients and has no meat meals, by-products, or grains.
The food is easy on the stomach, and even fussy old pups like the taste. Some pups seem to be slimming down on it, while others are exhibiting more energy than usual.
The best senior dog food overall for us is Now Fresh Senior Weight Management because not only are the ingredients clean and of the highest quality, the recipe targets different areas of concern for senior dogs, from weight management to joint support, and skin and hair health.
The foods are cooked using the lowest temperature possible to preserve all the natural flavor and nutrition. We also like how the formulation has been carefully crafted to include over 20 superfoods so that most of the nutrients you can find in the diet are naturally sourced.
It’s a perfectly balanced recipe that’s as minimally processed as possible with no harmful ingredient included.
2. Chicken Soup for the Soul Mature Chicken, Turkey & Duck Recipe
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Turkey Broth, Turkey, Chicken Liver
Chicken Soup for the Soul Mature Chicken is a simple, clean food that’s filled with nutrient-dense ingredients for your poultry-loving fur friend.
The canned food is made with a blend of premium animal proteins, which are then mixed with wholesome grains, fruits, and veggies for a holistic diet. There are never any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
This recipe is specifically designed to provide proven benefits like healthy skin and coat, well functioning digestive system, strong immune system, and lean muscles.
- Blend of premium poultry and fish as the first 8 ingredients
- Contains l-carnitine to aid metabolism
- Wholesome blend of grains, fruits, and veggies
- Has a strong fish smell
This Chicken Soup for the Soul dog food recipe has received 4.4 stars out of 5 from 200 customers. The food is well-received by senior pups, even by picky pets who have suddenly become ravenous eaters. Some pooches who were struggling to put on weight were able to do it with this diet and maintain it.
Dog owners like that you can see the actual chunks of ingredients instead of some unrecognizable mush. Lastly, since it’s deemed tasty by several canines, it can also work as a nice topper on regular dry dog food.
3. Wellness Complete Health Senior Formula
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chicken, Whitefish, Chicken Liver, Ground Barley
This senior dog food by Wellness is formulated by veterinarians, nutritionists, and animal lovers to help your pet age gracefully and beautifully.
The pate-style dog food utilizes a holistic approach, which includes the thoughtful selection of natural ingredients in bringing great nutrition and superior taste, to optimize your furry buddy’s whole body health.
The recipe includes DHA, which plays an important role in healthy aging. It enhances memory, thwarts macular degeneration, and reduces cognitive decline.
- Contains DHA, glucosamine, and chondroitin
- Does not include fillers, artificial ingredients, or meat by-products
- Has a thoughtful blend of superfoods
- Has a bland texture that does not impress some dogs
135 customers rated this senior dog food 4.3 stars out of 5. It helps with the digestive issues that older dogs usually experience, and some pooches with IBS have been reported by their owners to do well on this formula.
Transitioning to this diet, according to a few, is not hard. Dogs who usually have a problem with the food they eat do not experience the same thing with Wellness.
Frequent symptoms like bloating, gas and vomiting associated with allergies or sensitivities have disappeared and energy levels have increased.
4. Hill's Science Diet 7+ Savory Stew with Beef & Vegetables
First 5 Ingredients: Water, Beef, Pork Liver, Brown Rice, Carrots
This Hill’s Science Diet provides precisely balanced nutrition for little senior canines who are 7 years old and up. The blend of nutrients aids in producing healthy stool, skin, and coat while promoting a healthy heart and organs.
A choice of lean proteins support lean muscle mass to keep your pet up and about even at his advanced age. Rounding off the food are key carbs and vegetables smothered in gravy to entice little picky seniors to eat.
- Recognizable ingredients
- Balanced minerals for kidney and heart health
- With gentle and easily digestible fibers
- Too much gravy in each can
290 pet owners gave this Hill’s Science Diet recipe a combined rating of 4.4 stars out of 5. Older pups with significant health issues and little appetite have been reported to be slowly getting back to normal eating and being their usual playful selves.
Dogs are looking forward to their mealtimes with this formulation and it’s not uncommon for them to lick their bowls clean.
5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Senior Recipe
First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Beef Broth, Turkey, Lamb, Potatoes, Pea Fiber
The Blue Wilderness Rocky Mountain recipe provides older puppers with a hearty supper using a mix of real protein and fresh fruits and veggies. It is especially formulated to support an older pet’s joints and assist with mobility.
The formulation only uses a premium mixture of meat that does not include chicken (for those with chicken allergies). It also does not contain corn, gluten, wheat, grain, soy, or byproduct meals.
- Support for mobility and healthy joints
- No chicken or chicken by-product meal included
- No artificial ingredients
- Has a mushy texture
135 reviewers gave the Blue Wilderness Senior Rocky Mountain recipe an average rating fo 4.4 out of 5 stars. Owners of puppers whose pets have sensitive stomachs say that this food completely agrees with their dogs.
Improved energy and better skin conditions were also observed in several dogs who are on this diet. And the food is satisfyingly soft that even dogs who’ve lost their teeth have no problem finishing off their meal.
6. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Urinary SO Aging 7+ Loaf in Sauce
First 5 Ingredients: Water Sufficient For Processing, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Pork By-Products, Chicken By-Products
Some pups develop urinary tract and bladder problems as they age. While severe cases need more intense medical intervention, in many cases a veterinarian-prescribed diet that lowers ion concentration in the urine is enough.
The Royal Canin Urinary SO is designed specifically for older canines to help dissolve and prevent pure struvite stones and prevent calcium oxalate stones. While lowering the risk of crystal formation, the food also supports cognition and promotes vitality in senior dogs.
- Uses RSS methodology for bladder health
- Designed to stimulate decreased appetite
- Formulated to support cognition in senior pups
- Contains pork and chicken by-products
Royal Canin’s veterinary diet has a combined rating of 4.2 stars out of 5 from 56 reviewers. According to reviews, several pups with very advanced ages who have been losing their appetite are now back on track and eating with this diet. It also helps with dogs who have been ill and are in recovery.
Pooches who are prone to bladder stones are doing great on this diet and their condition is being maintained well. It’s also a big plus that it’s very easy to transition to this food from other diets.
7. Nutro Large Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Split Peas
Senior large breed dogs have an even more specific dietary requirement than other senior pups. Because of their large frames and heavier weight, more stress is placed upon their joints which can grow painful as they age.
This Nutro dry dog food recipe for large dogs offers joint health support by utilizing natural sources of chondroitin and glucosamine. What’s more, there are guaranteed levels of fatty acids and essential antioxidants to support a healthy immune system.
All ingredients used are recognizable and non-GMO.
- Non-GMO ingredients
- Guaranteed levels of fatty acids, chondroitin, and glucosamine
- Only 304 calories per cup
- Kibble is the size of a nickel and might be hard for dogs with dental disease or issues to chew
This Nutro Large Breed dry dog food formulation has a 97% recommended and 4.7 stars out of 5 rating from 134 reviewers. One aging dog’s skin was reportedly helped by this recipe, and now it’s not as dry as before.
Another reviewer who typically adopts older dogs says that her adoptees are always fed on Nutro Senior, and it has helped keep them active and healthy for years. Many others echo this statement, saying that their senior dogs are still perky and moving very well for their age.
8. VICTOR Purpose Senior Healthy Weight
First 5 ingredients: Beef Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Whole Grain Millet, Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat
Victor Purpose Senior helps aging dogs who are less active or who are chunky to keep their weight down, thus reducing the risk of putting more stress on their joints or on their hearts.
Made with premium meat ingredients, the dry dog food recipe is nutrient-dense to help senior dogs maintain sustained energy throughout the day.
It features a complete and balanced nutrition that includes guaranteed levels of chondroitin, glucosamine, fatty acids, DHA, fats, and more.
- Has l-carnitine to convert fat to energy
- Features unique VPRO Blend for superior digestive health and immune function
- Contains prebiotics and probiotics
- Weight loss progress in many dogs is too slow
582 reviewers gave this product an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Healthy skin and a shiny coat were often mentioned as some of the positives they’ve seen in their dogs when placed on this diet.
Due to the quality proteins used, even when placed on what is essentially a weight reduction diet, dogs seem to be satisfied (and not hungry) until their next meal. Picky eaters were also said to be extremely happy with their food.
9. ORIJEN Senior Formula
First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Flounder, Whole Mackerel, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard)
Orijen is one of the best dog food brands when it comes to providing healthy and biologically-appropriate recipes for meat-loving canines.
This dog food recipe delivers much of the same whole-prey approach the brand is known for, except this time it’s geared towards older pups.
This WholePrey recipe helps senior dogs maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. It supports healthy aging by focusing on lean muscle mass development, weight maintenance, and maintaining gastrointestinal health. And, the food does not use any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
- Made of 85% premium animal ingredients
- Contains guaranteed levels of microorganisms for healthy digestion
- Freeze-dried coated for extra flavor
- The protein may be too high for some seniors
Orijen Senior has an average rating of 4.8 stars out of 5 from 573 reviewers. Customers say that the dry dog food has made a difference in their dogs’ overall well being and outlook. Their older pups are more active, less cranky, and look much better, sometimes behaving like puppies instead of their age.
The dogs’ poops also became more solid and regular after being placed on this diet. And since it’s freeze-dried coated, even picky eaters can’t refuse.
10. Nulo Freestyle Senior Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe
First 5 ingredients: Deboned Trout, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal, Yellow Peas, Sweet Potato
Nulo Freestyle Senior is a grain-free dry dog food formula that is free from chicken and egg proteins, perfect for our mature buddies who are food sensitive.
It has the right blend of calcium and phosphorus to help dogs maintain strong bones, and glucosamine and chondroitin to aid in joint health.
The dry food also contains bacillus coagulans, which is a probiotic that can help your dog digest food easily, absorb minerals and vitamins better, and help him keep a strong and well-functioning immune system.
- Has l-carnitine to support a mature dog’s metabolism
- Contains a pure probiotic strain that promotes healthy digestion
- Includes chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health
- Not completely poultry-free
146 reviewers gave this dry dog food an excellent rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. Many are quite happy that this diet agreed with their dogs’ sensitive stomachs and food allergies.
Those sensitive older pups are now thriving well and do not suffer from stomach, gas, or allergy issues since being placed on this diet.
A slight reduction in their dogs’ poop size was also noted by some reviewers. Areas of thinning fur and hair have also started to fill in and grow back.
11. Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Senior Recipe
First 5 ingredients: Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Sweet Potatoes, Organic Potatoes, Organic Peas
Castor & Pollux Organix is one of the few foods available for canines that is completely organic and USDA certified. The animal protein ingredients are all responsibly-raised, while the produce are all grown without the use of chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
The dry food contains a healthy amount of high-quality animal proteins, probiotics, and joint health supplements to ensure that your aging pup gets all the support he needs to keep mobile and active. And since it’s grain-free, it’s also the best dog food for seniors who have sensitive tummies.
- USDA-certified organic recipe
- Uses free-range and responsibly-raised chicken
- Made with zero grains, artificial colors, or preservatives
- A little pricey
87 customers rated this organic dry food 4.6 stars out of 5. The reviewers commended the recipe for its safe and healthy ingredients that you would not feel guilty of feeding to your dog. A few pets have also been reported to have had their allergies under control when put on this diet.
Many dogs simply loved the food. It works as a regular meal, and because of its highly palatable taste, some owners have taken to using the kibble pieces as treats. The pieces are small so they’re fine to give to small dogs too.
At What Age Are Senior Dogs Considered Elderly?
Lifespans for dogs vary depending on the breed and size, so the age dogs are considered crossing the adult stage into the elderly phase is not the same for all.
As a general rule of thumb, though, small dogs and toy breed dogs enjoy longer lives than medium-sized dogs or their large-breed counterparts. One possibility for this is that large-breed dogs age more quickly, so they succumb to age-related illnesses sooner.
Small dogs have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years. Medium-sized to large-breed dogs can live from 12 to 15 years. So from these numbers, small dogs generally pass the middle age mark at around 8 years of age, while medium-sized dogs and large breed pups are considered seniors by the time they hit 6 years.
Why is Dog Food Made Specifically For Senior Dogs Important?
The onset of aging often comes with medical conditions that afflict many senior dogs. Dog foods that support healthy aging help your older dogs live their twilight years in comfort and help maintain quality of life.
Adult dog foods generally don’t contain ingredients geared towards addressing specific medical conditions of aging dogs, like arthritis, diabetes, etc.
Senior foods, on the other hand, may contain supplements that can help alleviate the pain older canines feel to help them regain mobility once again. Or, they may be designed to have lower calories, prevent blood spike, and so on.
Senior Dog Food Nutrition
Foods for older dogs are not totally different from what you’d feed your adult pup, but there are some minor differences.
Generally, senior dog food formulations will contain less protein, less fat, but a higher percentage of carbohydrates than those recipes intended for puppies or adults. Calorie control is also quite important when feeding senior dogs to reduce the risk of kidney disease, obesity, osteoarthritis, and other illnesses.
Keep in mind that in very old dogs, the calorie intake may be even increased to help them maintain a healthy body weight. It’s still best to consult with your vet first before switching to a new diet.
Switching to a senior dog’s diet makes sense when you think of all the medical issues that come up once a pup turns into an older dog. Senior dog food brands address this by adding supplements specific to a need.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin – For joint health and maintenance, recipes for older dogs usually come with these supplements. These two help alleviate the pain in the joints and can help your pup regain mobility again, especially if he’s arthritic.
- Omega fatty acids – Older dogs may be at risk of thinning or losing fur. The omega fatty acids in their food help grow fur and hair back. These are also essential in helping canines maintain healthy skin.
- Probiotics and prebiotics – Older pets are more at risk of constipation, and the addition of probiotics and prebiotics into their food helps them better able to digest their meal and have regular waste movements.
Proper Feeding For Senior Pups
Since portion control is essential in older dogs, it is best to divide feedings for your pet into 2-5 meals each day. The key is to make sure that your pet has enough energy to move about the entire day and not feel hungry but also keep his portions small.
Your pup’s vet should be able to provide a specific portion recommendation for each feeding. Do schedule regular weigh-ins at your vet’s office if weight management is important to your dog’s condition.
All dogs need proper water intake, but it’s even more important for older dogs who are prone to dehydration. It is essential that your pet always has access to fresh water throughout the day.
If your pet does not drink water much, consider switching to the wet food version of his regular dry dog food to increase his intake of moisture.
Treats and Snacks
It’s perfectly okay to give your older pup a treat once or twice a day. Just make sure that these snacks don’t come from your table. Human food and some dog foods can contain high levels of sodium, which is not advisable at all for senior canines.
For guilt-free snacking, consider giving fresh water-based veggies like broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, and green beans. Apple slices are also great, and dogs love them.
Prescription Dog Food
Prescription dog food is not for every pup. It’s only when standard dog food fails to meet all of your senior dog’s needs that a vet may switch you to a prescription diet. Otherwise, simply choosing a healthier senior dog food recipe should suffice.
Helping Picky Senior Eaters Eat
You may find that your senior pup has now become a picky eater at this stage. To get your finicky canine to eat, adding toppers to his regular food may help. If no commercial dog food topper is available, use freshly cooked chicken or any quality meat instead (boiled with no salt or seasoning).
Canned food also tends to have a higher palatability than dry food, not to mention better moisture content. Or, you can choose to have freshly-cooked dog food delivered to your doorstep.
Proper Diet For Medical Conditions
There are many factors in a senior dog’s life that can affect his diet with most having to do with a medical condition. Here are some types of senior foods that are usually prescribed for specific medical issues:
- Low-protein diet – A diet that contains low protein is usually recommended for older dogs, particularly if a pup has liver disease or kidney issues. A low-protein diet won’t overwork the kidneys as much and may assist in the treatment of the illness.
- Low-calorie and low sodium diet – Older dogs with heart disease may benefit from keeping the weight down and keeping the intake of salt low. The low-calorie diet also prevents obesity.
- High fiber diet – A diabetic dog needs a delay in the absorption of food so as not to raise blood sugar quickly. The high fiber in some senior dog food formulations does this job. High-fiber diets are also important for seniors with constipation issues since fiber helps them become more regular.
- High-quality protein diet – A diet that takes its protein from premium and known animal sources will help your senior dog maintain proper muscle mass without putting much of the strain on the kidneys.
Steer away from ingredients like chicken by-product meal, unnamed meat meals, and the like. These might include unsavory parts of animals that you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near your beloved pet. Fresh meat and named meat meals (chicken meal, salmon meal, etc.) are fine.
The Best Years
As your pup transitions to this new phase in his life, it’s even more important that he gets all the nutritional care that he needs, and that starts with selecting the right kind of food.
The best senior dog food for him may not be found easily. In fact, you may go through some trial and error first. But with a little patience, some research, and your vet’s guidance, you will be able to find one that’s perfect for your pet’s specific needs.
Each year with your pup is the best year. And him passing from adulthood into full maturity does not change that in the slightest. With proper care and attention and the aid of healthy food, there is no reason why your older pup won’t live a very full, prolonged, and happy life with you.