There are dog foods that are more appropriate for senior dogs and even specifically formulated ones that are commercially available. However, just like any other dog food, the market is so saturated with options that choosing the right ones is a challenge.
In this article, you will learn more about dog food better suited for senior dogs and other associated matters.
Overview of the Top Products
The BLUE Life Protection Formula takes into consideration the nutritional needs of senior dogs with this dry dog food. Its ingredients include real, protein-rich meat and garden-grown fruits and vegetables. Their dog food is guaranteed to be delicious for dogs and on top of that, they are grain and by-product meal-free as well. The kibble is also smaller in order to be more manageable for your senior dog. This dog food formula for older dogs is designed to boost their immunity and give them stronger bones and teeth, even in their old age.
- · Formulated for senior dogs
- · Premium ingredients
- · No artificial ingredients
- · No preservatives
- · Gluten-free
- · Smaller kibble
- · Makes some dogs sick
- · Formula may have changed with manufacturer change
This senior dog food is rich in protein from the cage-free chickens that make up its meat ingredient. Apart from the nutritional benefits of the vitamins, minerals, fruits and vegetables, it is also fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin, which help strengthen your dog’s joints. Your dog will also get a healthy dose of antioxidants, fatty acids and probiotics from all the supplemental ingredients that this dry dog food has. Because all the ingredients are combined in the form of pellets, even picky eaters enjoy this food.
- · Great quality and not very pricey
- · Nutritionally packed
- · Manufactured in the US
- · All-combined pellets work for picky eaters
- · Includes chicken meal in ingredients
- · Not entirely grain-free
- · Not gluten-free
- · There has been a price increase
Purina ONE’s dry dog food for dogs aged 7 years and above has real chicken as its primary ingredient, which is said to help develop your dog’s heart and muscles. The meat is protein-rich and is in the form of morsels mixed in with the kibble. Even senior dogs can still have sharp minds and remain energetic with the help of this dog food. Glucosamine is also added in as a supplement to strengthen joints, as joint pain is common in older dogs. Dog owners love all the nutritional benefits packed into this dry dog food. Not only does it address nutritional needs, it’s also easy on their dogs’ stomachs.
- · Packed with nutrition
- · Helps with stiff joints
- · Easy digestion for dogs
- · Boosts energy
- · Kibble is not of uniform size
- · Causes some allergic reactions
- · May cause upset stomach
NUTRO MAX Senior Recipe With Farm Raised Chicken Dry Dog Food, Whole Grains for Nutritious Fiber, (1) 25-lb. bag; Rich in Nutrients and Full of Flavor
Made from natural ingredients, the NUTRO MAX recipe for senior dogs ensures that your pet’s nutritional needs and food cravings are all addressed. Also included to boost your dog’s health are vitamins and minerals from natural sources.
Your dog’s health will not only be boosted significantly, but their energy, coat, immunity and digestion as well. This dog food’s small kibbles make them so much easier for senior dogs to eat. It’s also great for smaller breeds like Shih Tzu Chihuahuas or Deer Head Chihuahuas. However, it also means that it runs out quickly.
- · All-natural
- · Real chicken protein
- · Carefully sourced ingredients
- · No artificial additives
- · Small kibbles
- · Not grain-free
- · Taste may not appeal to some dogs
- · High potato content
- · Small kibbles mean food does not last long
This dog food for senior dogs is made especially for small breeds. Its primary ingredient and protein-source is deboned turkey supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint and hip health.
It is made from all-natural ingredients and does not contain any meat by-products, grains, or artificial additives to prevent any adverse reactions in your dog. Dog owners attest to this dog food’s appeal to dogs as well as the health benefits that they provide.
Moreover, it doesn’t cause dogs with sensitive tummies to react negatively, which is a huge plus. The small kibble size is also ideal for small senior dogs, which dog owners love.
- · Manufactured in the US
- · Ideal for small breed senior dogs
- · Made from whole foods
- · Guaranteed great taste
- · May not appeal to some dogs
- · Picky eaters may lose interest after a while
- · May cause loose stools
- · Quite pricey
IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Large Breed Senior Plus Premium Dry Dog Food (1) 26.2 Pound Bag; Veterinarians Recommend IAMS; Chicken Is #1 Ingredient
For senior dogs in the larger breed category, this dog food is one of the best sellers. Not only does it strengthen your dog’s bones and joints, it also has antioxidant properties to help them combat the signs of aging. It boosts your dog’s immunity in order to keep its body as fit and healthy as a younger dog’s. The kibble composition also aids in keeping your dog’s teeth plaque-free, which in turn prevents bad breath. While this food has grain content, it’s from wholesome grains for a good source of carbs. Vitamins and antioxidants are also available in the form of fruit and vegetable garnishes. Dog owners also love that it doesn’t upset sensitive stomachs.
- · No by-products
- · Specially-formulated for large breed senior dogs
- · Appeals to picky dogs
- · Boosts energy and metabolism
- · Makes some dogs sick
- · Some dogs don’t like the taste
- · Cheap pricing comes at a price, such as poor digestion due to ingredients like corn
- · May cause allergic reactions
Nature’s Recipe’s primary protein source is lamb meal, which gives dogs lean muscle mass. As for carbs, they included wholesome rice in the ingredients as well as barley and oatmeal to provide fiber that aids in digestion and immunity.
This specially-formulated senior dog food provides the necessary nutrition for your senior dog. On top of that, this food has been tried and tested with older dogs who love the taste, which has pleased their owners.
- · Better digestion
- · Appeals to picky eaters
- · Nutritionally balanced
- · Affordable
- · Small kibbles
- · Fluctuating price
- · Recipe changes
- · May not have 100% American ingredients, or made in the USA
While most of the dog foods on this list are the dry kind, this wet dog food is also available for senior dogs. Its main ingredient is deboned chicken, which not only provides protein to your dog, but amino acids as well.
It’s not entirely grain-free, but the brown rice and barley content of this dog food are whole grains, which provide carbohydrates into your dog’s diet. Other fruits and vegetables are also included for nutrition and antioxidant properties. Apart from the benefit of having wholesome ingredients, this wet dog food also does not contain any by-products, corn, wheat, soy, or any artificial ingredients and additives. Because of that, even dogs with allergies can eat it safely and enjoy it.
- · Great for picky eaters
- · Great for dogs with sensitive stomachs or allergies
- · Contains real vegetable bits
- · Its consistency makes it easy for dogs to eat and digest
- · Recipe changes compromised the quality
- · Makes some dogs sick
- · Pretty expensive
NUTRO ULTRA Senior Chunks in Gravy Canned Dog Food 12.5 Ounce Cans (Pack of 12); Rich in Nutrients and Full of Flavor; Supports Healthy Joints & Healthy Skin and Coat
Made from high-quality ingredients, this wet dog food appeals to the tastes of dogs in order to encourage them to eat and meet their nutritional needs. Senior dogs get the best nutrition they can with the combination of quality proteins, superfoods and other supplemental ingredients.
Moreover, it boosts their immunity, digestion and provides a balanced nutritional diet for senior dogs. Nutro’s quality pledge also ensures 100% satisfaction, or you get your money back. It’s appreciated by dog owners because the nutrition and energy it provides to their older dogs make them seem as if they’re still young pups.
- · Made in the US
- · Strengthens joints with glucosamine and chondroitin
- · Dogs love the taste
- · Great for digestion
- · Chunky
- · Not all ingredients are US-sourced
- · Price is quite high
For a balanced and nutritional diet for your senior dog, EUKANUBA has formulated this dry dog food. The lean protein from the lamb ingredient makes it ideal for your dog to help maintain its strong muscles.
Not just that, it provides them with optimized metabolism for healthier and fitter bodies. Because senior dogs need more immunity as they age, the antioxidant content of this dog food has also been amped from EUKANUBA’s regular adult dog food.
- · Small bits
- · Excellent ingredients
- · Fair price
- · Keeps dogs healthy
- · Has corn meal fillers
- · Has chicken by-product meal
- · Provides average nutrition
When is a Dog Considered a Senior?
Unfortunately, there is no single right answer for this question, because firstly, all dogs have different life spans. Generally, larger breeds have shorter life expectancies. An estimate of only 13% of large dog breeds live to an age past 10 years.
On the other hand, an estimate of about 38% of small dog breeds are able to live over 10 years. Due to this life span discrepancy between large and small dog breeds, the age where you begin to call them senior will vary.
However, one way to know when your dog is entering its senior years is to look up their expected life span. A good rule of thumb is that a dog enters its senior years as they reach half or the last 25% of their expected life span, depending on the sources.
A Good Senior Dog Diet
Just like there are certain qualities that make up perfectly good puppy food and adult dog food, there are several characteristics that make some food more appropriate for older dogs.
Ingredients like fiber, protein and calories must be observed when choosing the right food for your senior dog.
High in Fiber
Even beneficial for elderly people, food that is high in fiber needs to be incorporated in the diet of your senior dog. Basically plant matter that cannot be digested by the body, there are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber.
As their names suggest, soluble fiber absorbs water in the digestive tract and breaks down into simpler materials while fermenting, producing gases in the process. On the other hand, insoluble fiber absorbs water as well, but does not undergo fermentation.
Neither is generally considered better than the other and a mix of the two is best recommended. Just like in people, food containing high levels of fiber is generally regarded as healthy for the digestive tract.
Since both soluble and insoluble fibers absorb water, this means that the stools being produced by the digestive system will be softer for the body to release. This will prevent any painful constipation for your senior dog.
Food high in fiber will also help your senior dog feel full, which is much-needed because you will have to start feeding your senior dog less amount of food than you normally would. This feeling of fullness will also help control your dog’s weight, if ever weight is a concern.Diabetes is another common issue that older dogs face and a high-fiber diet will aid in controlling the disease. This is because this diet will actually slow digestion down, keeping blood sugar from spiking dangerously.
Lastly, a diet high in fiber has actually been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer, a risk that continually increases as dogs age over time.
While food rich in protein benefits adult dogs, it’s the same thing for senior ones as well. More commonly associated with energetic dogs, protein basically provides the building blocks needed for muscle development and coat quality.
While there are plenty of food available for dogs that are marketed as high in protein, senior dogs do not necessarily require a lot – just ones that are high-quality. This means that quality is more important than quantity.
This is because as a dog’s body ages, it becomes less and less efficient in incorporating nutrients from the food to its cells. This metabolic inefficiency is why you do not have to feed your senior dog high-protein food because it wouldn’t be able to absorb all the protein present.
Thus, that’s why high-quality protein is better, because the better the quality of the protein, the easier it would be for the senior dog to absorb it. However, protein-rich food may not be appropriate for every case.
Senior dogs with renal diseases are recommended to have less protein in their diets. Renal diseases affect how the kidneys function and one of those functions is to remove protein waste that accumulates in the blood.
In order to lessen the amount of protein waste that will accumulate in the first place, a low protein diet is required.
Calories are basically the body’s currency that it converts into the energy needed for metabolism and physical activities. As your dog ages, it is understandable that it won’t be as energetic as it used to be, which means it doesn’t need that much calories to begin with.
An excess intake of calories occurs when the amount going in is greater than the calories burned for energy. The body automatically stores excess calories for storage in various forms, most notably fat.
This storage of energy is used for times needed, but for senior dogs that live sedentary lifestyles, this storage will never be used and will keep accumulating more and more. As a result, this will eventually lead to obesity.
To prevent this from happening, begin feeding your pet food that is low in calories. You may also keep on feeding the same number of calories, but you have to make sure that your dog will receive sufficient exercise.
However, this option is not suitable for every situation, as there are some senior dogs with problems in their muscles, bones, or joints that make physical activities difficult.
Why This Diet is Different Than Others
So, from the previous section, it’s easy to understand how a diet for a senior dog differs from the diet of an adult dog. However, it must be noted that the points mentioned above may not necessarily be the best choice for your dog.
This is because, although the points covered were extremely basic, there are certain situations where they may not be the best choice for your senior dog’s health.
Like in the case of protein, there are experts who recommend high-protein diets for senior dogs, while there are other experts who claim low-protein diets are better.
This feud comes from the argument that while dogs age, they will need more protein to aid their old muscles in development. However, senior dogs often carry inefficient organ systems and high-protein diets might become an issue for their kidneys to process.
Weight control is another issue that senior dog diets have to tackle because there are also opposing groups when it comes to the issue. This stems from the fact that some dogs become sedentary while eating the same amount of food, which in turn leads to obesity.
On the other hand, there are other dogs who begin to eat less and less as they age and become dangerously thin. The decision to decide on weight control will ultimately depend on the situation of your senior dog.
Lastly, most dog foods that are formulated specifically for older dogs often include ingredients such as omega fatty acids, glucosamine, or chondroitin. These substances provide nourishment to joints and aid in preventing inflammation from occurring.
That said, joint problems are common issues that arise from constant physical activity as well as aging.
Switching Dog Food
Just like when you switched your dog’s diet from when it was a puppy on to becoming an adult, there are certain steps and procedures to follow to be able to switch its diet without any complications.
The first thing that must be done before initializing the switch to senior dog food is to figure out what kind will be best for your aging pet.
While you may not be able to pinpoint the perfect food just by reading literature, you are able to at least have an idea as to what nutrients your dog specifically needs as they have aged.
For instance, if weight control is an issue, then make sure to check the calories present in the dog food. If you have noticed that your dog is having trouble passing its feces, then fiber content is an important aspect when choosing his or her senior dog food.
Basically, what you will have to do is check every ingredient present in each senior dog food and then ask yourself if those are ingredients that your aging dog needs.
If there’s one thing that old dogs don’t appreciate, it’s change. Your dog has been with you for years and you bet there will be some dogs out there who will definitely not appreciate a diet change all of a sudden.
The key to a smooth diet transition is a slow one. A slow transition will be so much more beneficial for you and your pooch for a few reasons. First, he or she won’t get shocked.
A sudden diet change can not only surprise it, but this can even possibly be a source of lack of appetite, or worse, a bad body reaction to the entirely new diet. A slow transition can give your dog time to gradually be accustomed to the new food.
Moreover, it will also give you a chance to observe its behavior with the introduction of new food. Second, a slow transition will give you time to see whether your dog likes the new food or not.
If you’re lucky, he or she can just eventually begin to take a liking to the new food. However, for the worst-case scenario, you are going to have to change its senior dog food into something it will like more.
A new diet is a big change to a dog’s life, especially during its senior years. It is imperative that you monitor your pet’s behavior and health as soon as you begin introducing new food into its diet.
While health is an important aspect that you have to look out for, their behavior is important too. First thing to monitor is to make sure it is eating the food in the first place. There are times that new food can be frightening to old dogs and as mentioned, that can result to a loss of appetite.
Make sure that your dog is getting enough food to eat to keep it healthy. Another thing to monitor when introducing new food to your old dog is its overall behavior.
Ask yourself this:
Have you noticed any changes in your dog’s behavior since you started giving him or her the new food?
If your dog goes about its day as it normally would, then you are able to breathe a little easier. However, if you notice something off about your pet, then it would be wise to revisit other food options.
What You Have to Look Out For
Health-wise, there are certain symptoms you have to look out for when introducing a new diet to your dog to make sure that the food is doing nothing wrong to its aging body.
A common problem old dogs get when switching diets are typical gastrointestinal issues such as gas or irregular stools. These symptoms are perfectly normal for the first few days of the new diet and should not be cause for any alarm.
However, your veterinarian should be called if those gastrointestinal issues persist longer. Other symptoms that you have to look out for would include vomiting, diarrhea, extreme loss of appetite and excessive water drinking.
These symptoms typically indicate internal problems with the new diet. In the event these symptoms would occur, then it would probably be best to switch to a different senior dog food.
A visit to the vet might be needed if additional symptoms (e.g. weight loss, itchiness, shedding, etc.) occur weeks after the introduction of the new food.
A senior dog is one that has practically spent most of its life with you. Because of all those years of loyalty and friendship, he or she deserves the right food for its new phase in life.
Take note that it is important to remember the different ingredients in the senior dog food that your dog might specifically need as they become older. By learning the right food for your senior dog, you are playing the role of a responsible dog owner.
If you have any questions or comments regarding this topic, feel free to share your thoughts.