- The Best Senior Dog Food
- 1. Blue Buffalo Senior Dog Food
- 2. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food for Senior Dogs
- 3. Purina ONE Senior Dog Food
- 4. Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food
- 5. Wellness Natural Pet Food Senior Dog Food
- 6. Hill’s Science Diet Canned Wet Senior Dog Food
- 7. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Senior Dry Dog Food
- 8. Wellness Natural Pet Food Senior Canned Dog Food
- 9. Instinct Raw Boost Dog Food for Senior Dogs
- 10. Nutro Ultra Grain Free Wet Dog Food
- 11. ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- 12. Iams Proactive Health Mature Adult Dry Dog Food
- 13. Canidae Pure Premium Dry Dog Food
- 14. AvoDerm Senior Health Dry Dog Food
As your faithful friend ages, you will inevitably start to see some signs that mean you may need to re-think their diet. They may still be thinking – and acting – like a pup, but they're getting a little slower chasing that stick on the beach or their middle-aged tummy is wider than it used to be. And while those tell-tale signs of grey around their eyes and muzzle tell you they are heading into their 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 their dog bowl. Feeding your older dog an optimum diet to ensure they get all the nutrition they need will help to keep that spring in their 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 healthy and young at heart.
The Best Senior Dog Food
1. Blue Buffalo Senior Dog Food
Quality chicken protein and wholefoods
Glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
L-Carnitine for healthy weight maintenance
Fortified with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
High-quality chicken protein and whole grains are the mainstays of this tasty kibble for older dogs which will get their taste-buds standing up and taking notice. Specifically formulated for senior pooches, you get a host of healthy goodies added to the mix, designed to help keep them energetic and active while supporting their immune system.
As one of our best senior dog foods, this recipe contains a premium single source protein, boosted by brown rice, flaxseed, blueberries and selected vegetables. This combination gives a decent boost of the nutrients your pup needs to keep their joints flexible and healthy. 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.
2. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food for Senior Dogs
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
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 them regain their 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 they need.
Blended to support energy levels, you also get minerals and omegas for heart and kidney health as well as vitamins to boost your pup’s skin and coat, all without overloading them 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 your pet satisfied and sprightly.
Here’s a detailed look at Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food.
3. Purina ONE Senior Dog Food
Energy formula for dogs 7+
Easy to digest chicken protein
Enhanced with botanical oils
Glucosamine for healthy joints
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 your pupper’s 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 your pooch can keep playing around as if they were still a pup. This dog food for senior dogs does contain whole grains and gluten though so it may not be right for pets with more serious allergies but as an all-round tasty meal, this is a well-balanced formula to help keep your dog happy, healthy and active. Read our in-depth Purina One Dog Food review here.
4. Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food
Trio of proteins – chicken, lamb and salmon
Blend of 15 superfoods
Free from artificial flavors and preservatives
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 the 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. For more information on the brand, check out our Nutro Dog Food Review.
5. Wellness Natural Pet Food Senior Dog Food
Natural source of glucosamine
Balanced vitamins and minerals
No wheat or artificial additives
As an all-round and well-balanced natural dog food for active senior dogs, Wellness Complete is hard to beat. With no wheat gluten, 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 their 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.
For a full list of our favorite options, see our round-up of Wellness Core Dog Food.
6. Hill’s Science Diet Canned Wet Senior Dog Food
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
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. Hill’s Science Diet Canned Wet Dog Food is also fortified with minerals and vitamins your older dog needs to help boost their energy as well as help protect their kidneys and heart health.
7. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Senior Dry Dog Food
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
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.
8. Wellness Natural Pet Food Senior Canned Dog Food
Chicken and fish protein source
Reduced calorie, wet formula
Added fiber for a healthy digestion
Fortified with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals
For when your old pup needs a pick-me-up or something extra to tempt them to eat, this wet senior dog food from Wellness Complete is ideal. The all-natural, easy to chew and digest wet formula is both delicious and kind on the system, adding extra minerals and vitamins to help put a spring back into your pupper’s step.
Chicken and fish are the core protein source to help build muscle and support energy levels. The recipe also has reduced calories with added fiber to keep your pet’s weight healthy and their 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 they will tuck into and enjoy.
9. Instinct Raw Boost Dog Food for Senior Dogs
High protein, grain-free kibble
Added freeze-dried raw chicken
No added potato, corn or soy
Glucosamine, chondroitin and calcium
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 pooches with digestive issues 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.
10. Nutro Ultra Grain Free Wet Dog Food
Trio of protein – chicken, lamb and salmon
Grain and GMO-free
Boosted with fruit and vegetables
No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
If your older dog has a sensitive tum or is vulnerable to allergies but you don’t want them 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 their 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 their teeth are 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.
11. ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
2/3 raw or fresh meat protein
Chicken, turkey, flounder, mackerel and herring
Carb limited – 15% fruit and vegetables
Grain and tapioca free
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. ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is one of 7 dog food recipes included in our Orijen Dog Food Review.
12. Iams Proactive Health Mature Adult Dry Dog Food
Easily digestible kibble
DHA for brain function
L-carnitine for healthy weight
Added vitamins and minerals
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 senior pooch to like about the Proactive health for mature adult dogs.
The recipe is also packed with older dog health boosters too, including a DHA complex to help promote his mental alertness. There’s also healthy weight supporting L-Carnitine, fiber for healthy digestion as well as added vitamins, omegas and minerals. We also like the easy crunch of the kibble, which 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. Iams ProActive Health Mature Adult Dry Dog Food is one of 5 dog food recipes included in our review of Iams Dog Food.
13. Canidae Pure Premium Dry Dog Food
Wheat, corn and soy-free
Chicken and turkey protein
Added antioxidants and omega oils
Fortified with vitamins and minerals
Sometimes less is more, and this is the approach Canidae 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 the kibble 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. If you want to find out more about their company, product lines, and recall history, read our review of Canidae Dog Food.
14. AvoDerm Senior Health Dry Dog Food
Chicken and lamb protein
Wheat, grain and additive free
Avocado for skin and coat
Added chondroitin, glucosamine and DHA
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 their best. With quality lamb and chicken as the core protein source, this grain and wheat-free dry food recipe packs a powerful, health- boosting punch.
You get natural chondroitin, glucosamine and DHA from fish sources for joint and eye health and brain function. Then there’s the added avocado for all-round healthy coat and skin condition as well as the strong immune system. Plus, there’s added antioxidants and vitamins for more energy and bounce. With no harmful 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 buddy’s weight.
Best Senior Dog Foods Guide & FAQ
To remain healthy and happy in their golden years, senior pooches require a diet that is specifically crafted to support their aging needs. These 15 options are some of the best that the pet market has to offer, but if you’re still unsure which recipe is right for your pup, we cover everything you need to know about senior dog food right here, in this buying guide. Read on to find out what makes dog food healthy and what unhealthy, as well as whether raw food is the right choice for your pet.
Things to Look in Dog Food for Older Dogs
They 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 their daily diet. From being a bit more mindful of calories to keep their weight down or a boost in key nutrients to keep that spring in their step, or supplements to maintain their skin and coat 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:
The middle-age spread can a problem for your pooch, especially if it's coupled with less exercise and less activity as it could lead to obesity. Switching to a lower calorie senior dog food, coupled with portion control can ensure they get all the nutrients they need 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 pooch is getting the right level of caloric intake for their body.
Take a look at our review of Low Protein Dog Food for more options.
Older dogs will ‘burn through’ their protein stores much faster than younger dogs, potentially leading to loss of muscle mass and tone. A good source of quality protein in the diet will supply the essential amino acids they need to keep their muscles in good shape as they age, as well as boost their 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’. For a wider selection of choices, check out our high protein dog food guide.
As your dog ages, so does their 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 their 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, our furry friends 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 aging. However, if your pooch requires specific supplements for a health condition, it's important to follow your vet’s advice and not rely on their senior dog food alone. Head over to our review of dog vitamins for more choices.
If your dog has issues with their kidneys, check the salt levels in your chosen dog food for older dogs as higher levels are not really advised for senior pets. For more options, check out our detailed review of the best low sodium dog foods.
Softer textures such as canned and wet dog food is a good choice for older dogs with weak teeth. Softer food rather than harder kibble is also a good idea if your dog has lost its appetite as it can help them to get back to enjoying their food. That said, if your pooch has strong teeth but struggles with tartar buildup, crunchy kibble may be a fantastic choice as it can help scrub away food debris and soft tartar build-up.
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 their vitality is to feed them more of what they need and cut out the things they don’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, but your pooch couldn't care less what their meal looks like as 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 they don’t need. Added sweeteners can also be detrimental to your pet's health, especially if they have diabetes.
- Bulking agents
Some dog food for older dogs can be padded out with extra agents that actually have no nutritional value 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 their 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 if your pup has an extra-sensitive digestion or skin and coat issues. That being said, grains can be a healthy addition in well-balanced formulas, so don't avoid them unless you know for sure your dog is sensitive or allergic to them. f you are looking for more options, check out our guide on grain free dog foods.
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 they age, their digestive systems are not so robust and may not be able to tolerate an uncooked diet. Also, older dogs who have serious health conditions – such as pancreatitis or cancer – should not eat raw food.
But ultimately, when it comes to deciding whether raw food is ok for your older dog, it's best to chat with your vet. It is likely that your dog will need a more balanced diet though, including fiber and good fats – to keep them feeling young and energetic.
Our Top Pick
As our top pick, Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Recipe 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 senior pooches need 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 aging fur baby's step.
Q: What is considered a senior dog?
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?
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?
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?
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.
- When Should I Switch My Pet To A Senior Diet? - Clinical Nutrition Service