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Dog Food Nutrition

Best Dog Foods For Senior Dogs

July 4, 2019

Best Dog Foods For Senior Dogs

As your dog gets older, it’ll start to slow down, and it might put on a little weight. When this happens, you may start thinking about making a change to its diet.

While your senior dog’s basic nutritional needs won’t change, it may not need as many calories and certain nutrients will become more important. But what kind of diet is best for a senior dog, and how do you choose the best dog food for seniors?

Keep reading to learn more about your senior dog’s changing dietary needs and to receive some tips for picking the best dog food to meet those needs. You’ll also receive our top 5 picks for the best dog food for senior dogs.

Best Senior Dog Food Overall: Wellness Complete Health Senior Recipe Dry Food
Best Affordable Senior Dog Food: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Recipe
Best Senior Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach: Canidae Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Senior
Best Grain-Free Senior Dog Food: Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Senior Recipe
Best Wet Senior Dog Food: Nutro Ultra Senior Wet Dog Food

Quick Look at Our Top 5 Picks:

  1. Best Overall: Wellness Complete Health Senior Recipe Dry Food
  2. Best Affordable Senior Dog Food: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Recipe
  3. Best Senior Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach: Canidae Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Senior
  4. Best Grain-Free Senior Dog Food: Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Senior Recipe
  5. Best Wet Senior Dog Food: Nutro Ultra Senior Wet Dog Food
ImageProductFeatures

Best Overall

Wellness Complete Health Senior Recipe Dry Food
  • Made with all-natural ingredients
  • Whole grains for healthy digestion
  • Guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin
CHECK PRICE

Best Affordable Senior Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Recipe
  • Guaranteed levels of joint-supporting nutrients
  • Supports skin and coat health
  • Digestible carbohydrates for energy
CHECK PRICE

Best Senior Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach

Canidae Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Senior
  • Made with a limited number of ingredients
  • High-quality animal protein sources
  • Digestible grain-free carbohydrates
CHECK PRICE

Best Grain-Free Senior Dog Food

Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Senior Recipe
  • Grain-free to reduce food allergies and sensitivities
  • Made with trout and sweet potato as main ingredients
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
CHECK PRICE

Best Wet Senior Dog Food

Nutro Ultra Senior Wet Dog Food
  • Moisture-rich and very palatable for older dogs
  • Multiple sources of animal protein
  • Supplemental fiber and antioxidants
CHECK PRICE

Special Dietary Needs of Senior Dogs

Before getting into the details about the special dietary needs of senior dogs, you first need to understand the point at which your dog becomes a senior.

The fact of the matter is that dogs of different sizes have different lifespans. Toy and small breeds like Pomeranians and Pugs have the longest lifespans – generally 12 to 15 years. Medium-sized breeds like Bulldogs and Australian Shepherds also tend to live fairly long, depending on the breed.

For larger breeds like the Golden Retriever and German Shepherd, lifespans between 10 and 12 years are more common and giant breeds like Great Danes may not live to see their 10th birthday.

Generally speaking, small and toy breeds reach “senior” status around 10 to 12 years while most other breeds become seniors when they turn 7 or 8. Giant breeds may be considered senior citizens as early as 5 or 6 years when their expected lifespan is less than 10 years.

Once your dog reaches senior status, its nutritional needs don’t suddenly change. Your dog still needs a high-quality diet rich in animal proteins, healthy fats, and digestible carbohydrates with modest fiber content and plenty of essential vitamins and minerals.

Here are some of the things to look for in a senior dog food:

  • Calorie Content. Your dog’s metabolism will slow down as it ages which means that it’ll require fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight and too many excess calories could lead to obesity.
  • Digestibility. As your dog’s metabolism slows down, its digestion may also become more sensitive which means that additional fiber and probiotics may be helpful.
  • Joint Support. Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can help keep your aging dog’s joints healthy to prevent osteoarthritis and other joint diseases.
  • Antioxidants. Found primarily in fresh fruits and vegetables, antioxidants may help slow the effects of aging for your senior dog.

Keeping all of these things in mind, you’re now ready to learn how to choose the best dog food for seniors. Here’s what you need to know:

How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Seniors

When shopping for senior dog food, you need to make your dog’s basic nutritional needs a priority. All adult dogs require a minimum of 18% crude protein in their diet with at least 8% crude fat. Protein should come from animal sources like meat, poultry, and fish with healthy fats from animal sources as well – chicken fat and salmon oil are two excellent examples.

Also Read: Best Probiotics for Dogs

In terms of carbohydrates, senior dogs do not have any specific requirements other than they come from digestible sources. Many dogs develop food allergies and sensitivities as they age, so it becomes even more important to choose highly digestible carbohydrates which, for many senior dogs, means grain-free options like sweet potatoes, legumes, and other vegetables.

For fiber content, about 5% is best although some senior dogs will benefit from additional fiber in their diet. You should also make sure that your senior dog’s diet contains at least 10% moisture.

Also Read: The 5 Best High Fiber Dog Foods for Anal Gland Problems

When it comes to beneficial supplements in a senior dog food, fresh fruits and vegetables are always a bonus. Not only are they natural sources for key vitamins and minerals, but fresh fruits and vegetables are also rich in antioxidants which help slow the effects of aging.

A high-quality senior dog food will still contain synthetic supplements for nutritional balance, so keep that in mind as well and know that chelated minerals are the best synthetic supplements to look for.

These are simply minerals that have been chemically bonded to protein molecules which makes them easier for your senior dog’s body to absorb and utilize. Probiotics may help your senior dog maintain healthy digestion, and joint-supporting supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin are welcome additions to any senior dog food as well.

Now that you’ve become familiar with the specific dietary needs of senior dogs, you’re ready to start shopping. Keep reading to see our top 5 recommendations for the best dog food for seniors:

The Top 5 Best Dog Foods for Seniors

Even though your senior dog’s metabolism will start to slow down as it ages, your dog still needs plenty of protein to maintain lean muscle mass with healthy fats for energy. Choosing a size-specific recipe will help ensure that your dog gets the right balance of these nutrients, though many dogs do well on regular senior dog food recipes.

Here are our top 5 picks for the best dog food for seniors that you should consider:

Best Senior Dog Food Overall: Wellness Complete Health Senior Recipe Dry Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 22% Min
  • Fat – 10% Min
  • Fiber – 4.25% Min
  • Moisture– 10% Max
  • Caloric Content: 416 kcal/cup
Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Barley, Ground Brown Rice, Peas, Rice, Ground Flaxseed, Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat, Tomatoes, Carrots, Natural Chicken Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Spinach, Vitamin E Supplement, Taurine, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols Added to Preserve Freshness, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Blueberries, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Chondroitin Sulfate, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Chicory Root Extract, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Garlic Powder, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.

Pros:

  • Made with all-natural ingredients
  • Whole grains for healthy digestion
  • Guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat

Cons:

  • Some dogs may be sensitive to chicken ingredients
  • Not a grain-free recipe

Designed to be complete and balanced to ensure healthy nutrition for your senior dog, this Wellness Complete Health Senior Recipe Dry Food features deboned chicken and barley as the main ingredients. Not only is it protein-rich, but it is a reduced calorie diet to help ensure healthy weight, made with all-natural ingredients. It also contains guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.

Best Affordable Senior Dog Food: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Recipe

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 18% Min
  • Fat – 10% Min
  • Fiber – 7% Min
  • Moisture– 10% Max
  • Caloric Content: 535 kcal/cup
Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Deboned Chicken, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Starch, Pea Fiber, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (Source of Omega 3 And 6 Fatty Acids), Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Fish Oil (Source of Dha-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Salt, Taurine, Dried Tomato Pomace, Vitamin E Supplement, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Dl-Methionine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Garlic, L-Carnitine, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice For Color, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Copper Sulfate, L-Lysine, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Chondroitin Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

Pros:

  • Made with all-natural ingredients
  • Guaranteed levels of joint-supporting nutrients
  • Supports skin and coat health
  • Digestible carbohydrates for energy

Cons:

  • Not a grain-free recipe

This Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Recipe dry foods features deboned chicken and wholesome brown rice for a protein-rich, digestible dog food. Not only is it made with all-natural ingredients, but it contains an optimal balance of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, plus guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin. It also contains digestible carbohydrates to make sure your dog has the energy to stay active in its old age.

Best Senior Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach: Canidae Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Senior

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 28% Min
  • Fat – 10% Min
  • Fiber – 5% Min
  • Moisture– 10% Max
  • Caloric Content: 409 kcal/cup
Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas, Peas, Potatoes, Suncured Alfalfa, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Minerals (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Salt, Choline Chloride, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Mixed Tocopherols (a Source of Vitamin E).

Pros:

  • Made with a limited number of ingredients
  • High-quality animal protein sources
  • Digestible grain-free carbohydrates
  • Probiotics and chelated mineral supplements

Cons:

  • Some dogs may be sensitive to chicken ingredients
  • Very expensive compared to other brands

If your senior dog has food allergies or a sensitive stomach, this Canidae Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Diet Senior Recipe might be a good choice. Made with high-quality proteins like chicken and turkey meal, it will help maintain lean muscle mass without going overboard on calories. This recipe is grain-free and contains a limited number of ingredients to reduce the risk for food allergies. Plus, it contains probiotics for healthy digestion and chelated minerals.

Best Grain-Free Senior Dog Food: Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Senior Recipe

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 30% Min
  • Fat – 12% Min
  • Fiber – 5% Max
  • Moisture– 10% Max
  • Caloric Content: 535 kcal/cup
Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Deboned Trout, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal, Yellow Peas, Sweet Potato, Chickpeas, Deboned Turkey, Pea Fiber, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols & Citric Acid), Lentils, Natural Flavor, Yeast Culture, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Tomatoes, Dried Carrots, Dried Blueberries, Dried Apples, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, L-Carnitine, Choline Chloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Iron Proteinate, Niacin, Copper Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Source of Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

Pros:

  • Grain-free to reduce food allergies and sensitivities
  • Made with trout and sweet potato as main ingredients
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
  • No artificial ingredients

Cons:

  • Very expensive compared to other brands

Many dogs develop allergies and sensitivities to grains in their old age which makes this Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Senior Recipe a great choice. Made with trout as the primary protein and sweet potato for carbohydrates, it is highly digestible and rich in nutrition. This recipe contains no artificial ingredients and it is supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.

Best Wet Senior Dog Food: Nutro Ultra Senior Wet Dog Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 7% Min
  • Fat – 5% Min
  • Fiber – 1% Max
  • Moisture– 80% Max
  • Caloric Content: 535 kcal/cup
Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Chicken Broth, Chicken (source of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate), Chicken Liver, Potato Starch, Wheat Gluten, Lamb Liver, Lamb, Salmon, Turkey, Ground Rice, Dried Egg Product, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Whole Brown Rice, Dried Peas, Dried Carrots, Whole Grain Oatmeal, Guar Gum, Ground Flaxseed, Sodium Phosphate, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Tomato Pomace, Sunflower Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Salt, Potassium Chloride, Natural Flavors, Calcium Carbonate, Blueberry Pomace, Cranberry Pomace, Tricalcium Phosphate, Iron Proteinate, Sodium Alginate, Xanthan Gum, Dried Avocado, Dried Pomegranate, Zinc Proteinate, Dried Pumpkin, Vitamin E Supplement, Dried Spinach, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Beta Carotene Color, Taurine, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Zinc Oxide, Magnesium Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Cobalt Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodine, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement.

Pros:

  • Moisture-rich and very palatable for older dogs
  • Multiple sources of animal protein
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
  • Supplemental fiber and antioxidants

Cons:

  • Wet food may not be best for dogs with dental problems

If your senior dog has become a picky eater, a wet food formula like this Nutro Ultra Senior Wet Dog Food may be more palatable. Made with nature’s best ingredients, this recipe features multiple animal proteins like chicken, lamb, and salmon with natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support. It is rich in moisture and contains plenty of supplemental fiber for healthy digestion plus fresh fruits and vegetables for antioxidant support.

How Much Should You Feed Senior Dogs?

How often you feed your senior dog depends on several factors. First and foremost, the number of meals your dog gets per day is determined by its energy needs and its size. Small and toy breeds generally do best with three smaller meals per day while larger dogs may be fine with two.

As your dog ages, however, you may notice that it eats less at a time, so it might be a good idea to make each meal a little smaller and add an extra one partway through the day.

In terms of how much to feed your senior dog, again, that varies. Smaller dogs will still need more calories per pound of body weight than larger dogs to maintain their metabolisms, but you should account for some slow-down in that department. Switching your dog to a senior dog food will help reduce the calories and you should follow the feeding recommendations on the package.

What About Food Allergies and Sensitivities?

All dogs are at-risk for food allergies and sensitivities, but the fact of the matter is that the risk seems to increase with age. The more a dog eats a certain ingredient, the more potential there is for it to develop an allergy. By the time your dog is ten years old, these allergies are likely to become apparent with digestive or skin-related symptoms.

Senior dogs are also at risk for developing allergies to fleas and various environmental allergens like dust and pollen.

Also Read: Best Dog Food for Skin Allergies

In addition to food allergies, many senior dogs develop digestive problems. For some, it is simply a matter of occasional digestive upset while, for others it may be chronic diarrhea or frequent vomiting.

Sometimes feeding your senior dog several smaller meals a day can help and switching your dog to a limited ingredient diet or a hypoallergenic formula might make it easier to digest. You should also make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water and consider giving it fiber supplements like canned pumpkin once in a while to help its digestion along.

Best Dog Food for Seniors: Summed Up

While it might not be so quick to chase the ball, and it might take a little longer to get out of bed in the morning, your senior dog is still your best friend and most loyal companion. To make sure you get to enjoy its company for as long as possible, choose a high-quality senior dog food like the top 5 picks we’ve reviewed above.

 

Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.
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