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Best Senior Dog Foods: Ratings, Reviews & Top Picks

Is your senior dog needing an immune system boost? How about joint health support? Join us as we compare the best senior dog foods for your aging furry friend.

Emma Braby

Last Updated: May 8, 2020 | 16 min read

Best Dog Food For Seniors

Looking for the best senior dog food for your aging pup? As our beloved pups age, we need to think even harder about the food we put inside them. Just like us humans, his body will slowly start changing and getting weaker, and might not be able to tolerate the food he once loved. With his aging bones and weakening immune system, he will also need different nutrients and vitamins. 

This is also an important stage in his life because the food that we feed him may well increase his lifespan, and the longer we can keep our pets healthy and with us, the better. In this guide, we will explore what it means to be a senior dog, what health issues he might start to face, or already face, and what key nutrients and vitamins he will need as part of his daily diet.

From here we have looked at the best foods available on the market for your senior dog, and we have put together our list of the very best natural dry kibble. Nutrition is the easiest way to keep your beloved dog healthy and if you stick to our list of recommendations below, you won’t go wrong!

At a Glance: Best Dog Foods For Seniors

Top Pick: Blue Buffalo For Seniors
Budget Pick: Purina One Smart Blend
Weight Loss: Victor Senior Weight Management

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Entering Their Senior Years

Some dogs, like humans, age a long time before they go grey, and some go grey long before they age. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association dogs do not age at a rate of 7 human years for each dog year, so this is an old wives’ tale! But it is generally thought that when a dog reaches the age of 7 he is a senior dog, after all that is 44 to 56 years in human years, depending on his size.

Smaller dogs tend to live a lot longer than large or extra-large dogs, therefore the life stages of a smaller dog are extended across a longer time frame, and the life stages of a larger dog are equally compacted into a shorter time frame. If he is a smaller breed, being 20 pounds or less, then he might be considered a senior dog at around the age of 8. If he is a large or extra-large breed, with a large breed being 51 pounds and upwards, then he is considered to be a senior dog at the ages of 5 to 6.

However, there are a lot of other factors to consider besides his age, if he is still really fit and active, then he may not need senior dog food just yet.  Or if he is really slowing down and appears stiff and lethargic, then he may need senior dog food slightly earlier. Lethargy is a big factor to consider for any dog age, and while it is normal for an aging dog to be less active, it is not common for him to become lethargic to the point where he doesn’t want to move at all.  If your senior sits in the corner staring at a wall or seems generally confused, then get him to the Veterinarian, as this may signal a more serious health issue.

Senior Dog Nutrition

Older Senior Dog
Your dog’s nutritional needs will change as they enter their senior years.

Health concerns are one of the main factors to consider when choosing the right food for your senior dog, this will be heavily influenced by his breed, as the Chihuahua’s food needs for their health are much different to that of an English Mastiff, so of course you need to look at his specific breed’s health concerns before you make a decision.

Generally, however, there are common age-related factors to consider when looking at senior dogs as a whole population. The main things to think about when it comes to feeding your senior dog are:

Weight Management: This is the biggest concern for senior dogs when it comes to their nutrition. As they get older, they will become less energetic over time, and eventually only really waking from a snooze for a toilet break or a cuddle from his master, therefore he will need less and less calories. If you were to feed him the same food as when he was running around for an hour a day, then he will become very porky very quickly. And not only that, but his metabolic rate decreases as he ages, so he is much more likely to become obese as he gets older if his diet is not controlled. Therefore, senior dogs should be fed senior formulas that are age and calorie appropriate.

Mobility Management: Senior dogs will inevitably slow down, and this is not solely due to less energy. Many older dogs will suffer from arthritis, joint pain or joint stiffness. Therefore, most senior formula will have extra nutrients such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin which helps support healthy bones and joints. In addition to this, another big factor to think about when it comes to his slowing mobility is his weight, because if he is carrying extra weight then this is going to have a massive impact on his bones and joints too, so be sure to manage his weight if he is struggling with his mobility.

Digestive Management: If there is something not quite right with his digestive system then you will soon know about it! Your dog will either have diarrhea or constipation, foul-smelling gas (more than normal!), become nauseous, or he might not want to eat anything at all. If your pup is struggling with any of this then it is best to get him to the Veterinarian straight away, but also try feeding him a high fiber diet too. Fibers, such as sweet potatoes, green beans and legumes, while they cannot be digested by his body, help his digestive system in so many ways, so check out our guide to feeding him a high fiber diet. Senior formulas take this into account, and therefore they tend to have extra fibrous content, with added probiotics that introduce friendly bacteria to his gut.

While many of his health concerns cannot be prevented or resolved simply by nutrition (although some can!), his symptoms can be alleviated somewhat with the right food and diet. Therefore, it is so important to listen and look at your pup, assess what he needs, and make the right nutritional choices for him.

Our Favorite Foods For Seniors

Top Senior Dog Food
There are several types of food you can consider for your older pup.

Now that you know a bit more about his aging process and what that might do to his body, and consequently what he may need from a diet, we are at the recommendation section.

Below are our natural dry dog kibble recommendations for senior dogs. They are all high-quality kibbles that are made from natural ingredients, and we, as well as nutritionists and dog owners across the world, feel that these products have the best overall nutritional content for your senior dog. We have also considered the overall product rating, as well as the reputation of each brand, so that you know you are choosing the best products from expert companies.

 ProteinFatsFiberKcal/Cup
Diamond Naturals
25%
11%
4%
318
Blue Buffalo
18%
10%
7%
357
Science Diet
19%
13.7%
2.4%
353
Nulo
30%
12%
5%
396
Canidae Pure
28%
10%
5%
409
Orijen
38%
15%
8%
435
Instinct
35.5%
16%
4%
496
Nutro Wholesome
22%
11%
4%
306
Nutro Ultra
26%
11%
4%
316
Purina One
28%
13%
4.5%
363
Iams Protective Health
26%
11%
5.5%
346

Diamond Naturals Senior Dog

Diamond Naturals Senior Real Meat Recipe...
  • Only quality ingredients used in our products
  • Made in the USA
  • Health source of vitamins, proteins, fats, and carbs
  • No soy

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This recipe is packed full of superfoods, such as kale, blueberries and pumpkins to name a few, which provide your senior dog with all the nutrients and vitamins that he needs to support his immune system and overall health. It is also pumped with probiotics, with a guaranteed 80 million per pound of kibble, so you know your dog is getting live probiotic cultures with every bite, which supports a healthy gut. It also has Glucosamine and Chondroitin, and omega 3 fatty acids which all help to support his bones, joints, and healthy skin and coat.

We love that this recipe offers the lowest amount of calories, which is great for those more sedentary seniors that need to watch their weight.


Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior...
  • REAL MEAT FIRST: Blue Buffalo foods always feature real meat as...
  • FOR SENIOR DOGS: BLUE Life Protection Formula? senior dog food...
  • WITH LIFESOURCE BITS?: This formula contains BLUE?s exclusive...
  • A NATURAL DOG FOOD: Formulated for the health and well-being of...

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Blue Buffalo have created this recipe with wholesome grains, such as brown rice, barley oatmeal, which are much better for his digestive system than refined grains. It is also full of vegetables such as carrots, peas and sweet potatoes, as well as fruits such as blueberries and cranberries for all his antioxidant and nutrient needs. This recipe also contains their exclusive ‘Lifesource Bits’ which are cold-formed, which helps to help maintain the potency of the nutrients that supports his immune system and oxidative balance. Deboned chicken and chicken meal not only provide him with rich protein, but also Glucosamine and Chondroitin to maintain his bone and joint health. 

We love that this recipe is considered to be high in fiber for those senior dogs whose digestive system would benefit from a more fibrous diet.


Hill’s Science Diet

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult 7+...
  • This dry dog food provides easy-to-digest ingredients to support...
  • Uses a balanced set of minerals to promote a strong heart and...
  • This dry dog food provides omega-6s & vitamin E for healthy skin...
  • High-quality protein help maintain lean muscle in grown dogs

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This recipe has easy to digest ingredients which is important for aging dogs, as well as ingredients that support cardiovascular and kidney health. It also provides just enough rich protein without being too protein rich or calorific, which is ideal to maintain his body weight for those seniors who aren’t as active anymore. It also includes omega 6 fatty acids, as well as vitamin E, that supports his skin and coat health. This diet recipe also boasts being voted the number 1 dog food by Veterinarians.

We love that this offers a fairly low protein content for those seniors who need a low protein diet.


Nulo Senior Formula

Nulo Grain Free Senior Dog Food With...
  • GRAIN-FREE recipe contains no corn; wheat; soy; white potatoes;...
  • HIGH MEAT/LOW CARB proprietary formula 80% animal-based protein...
  • Nulo Sr Dry Dog Food more closely resembles your dog’s...
  • JOINT SUPPORT for dogs with Glucosamine and Chondroitin. These...

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This recipe is full of probiotics which is great for his digestive health and gut flora. It is also packed with rich protein such as deboned trout, turkey meal and salmon meal being the first three ingredients, to help your senior pooch maintain his lean muscle mass, as well as supporting muscle repair. It has few carbohydrates and lower glycemic ingredients, which is great for his blood sugar levels. It also has Glucosamine and Chondroitin which maintains bone and joint health, whilst promoting flexibility which is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties for his joints. L-carnitine is also included which promotes healthy weight and metabolic state.

We love that that this recipe is grain free for those seniors with a sensitive stomach, or grain allergies or intolerances.


Canidae Pure Senior Recipe

CANIDAE PURE Limited Ingredient, Grain Free...
  • 10 INGREDIENTS or LESS: Limited ingredients crafted from 7-10...
  • GRAIN FREE FOR DOGS WITH SENSITIVE STOMACHS: There’s nothing...
  • HEALTHPLUS IN EVERY BITE: Probiotics added to every kibble after...
  • FLAVORS & TYPES: With 6 different proteins (Salmon, Lamb, Duck,...

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This recipe is also grain free for those seniors with sensitive stomachs and grain allergies. It has rich protein including chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal, for all his muscle needs, as well as sweet potatoes and beans for his fiber needs. It also includes probiotics in every bite which aids his immune system, as well as vitamin A, B12, D3 and E supplements to name a few, so you know that he is getting those extra nutrients that he wouldn’t get elsewhere. With omega 3 and 6 fatty acids his skin and coat will be nourished from the inside out too.

We love that this senior recipe is made with just 9 key ingredients, with added nutrients, so you know that everything in this recipe has a purpose and there are no wasted filler ingredients.


Orijen Senior Formula

ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Senior, Biologically...
  • ORIJEN Senior dog food delivers a diet rich and varied in fresh,...
  • With 85% quality animal ingredients, ORIJEN nourishes dogs...
  • Using fresh and raw animal ingredients, including meat, organs,...
  • Our Fresh Regional Ingredients are supplied by people we know and...

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This is one of the more premium recipes on this list, with the first 5 ingredients being rich protein which is why it is one of the very best protein diets around for seniors. The recipe is 85% meat and 15% vegetables and fruit, so this natural diet offers your senior dog with his optimum nutritional needs, and it is packed with antioxidants and superfoods, such as spinach, kale, apples and pears. The protein content is based on a whole prey ratio, which means it includes meat, organs, cartilage and bones, which is just what nature intended his diet to be. It is also full of fish and fish oils, which are great for his bone and joint health, as well as his cardiovascular health.

We love that this offers the highest amount of protein for those seniors who either do well on a higher protein diet or are still energetic and need protein for muscle repair and to maintain their muscle mass.


Instinct Raw Senior Recipe

Instinct Raw Boost Senior Grain Free Recipe...
  • GRAIN FREE SENIOR DOG FOOD WITH FREEZE DRIED RAW CAGE FREE...
  • SENIOR DOG FOOD PLUS FREEZE DRIED RAW PIECES: Made with natural...
  • THE FIRST RAW BOOSTED SENIOR KIBBLE: Raw Boost mixes natural,...
  • POWER OF RAW INGREDIENTS: Our dog food is made with the pure,...

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This recipe is not only full of high-quality kibble, but it is also full of extra freeze-dried raw pieces that not only add flavor to encourage him to eat it, but it is also full of nutrients that are maintained in the process, so he will get all of the nutrients that he needs, and probably more. This recipe includes DHA ingredients, which are good for his brain and eye health, which means not only will it assist in keeping his vision healthier for longer, but it might also help to maintain his brain function if he is mentally slowing down a bit. It has the important Glucosamine and Chondroitin ingredients for his bones and joints, as well as being full of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for his skin and coat health.

We love that this offers the highest number of calories and fat content for those seniors who are still super active and need their energy.


Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior

NUTRO WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Senior Natural Dry...
  • Contains one (1) 30 lb. bag of NUTRO WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Natural...
  • Natural Dog Food Plus Vitamins, Minerals and Other Nutrients
  • Lamb is the first ingredient for high-quality protein in every...
  • NUTRO Senior Dog Food is designed to maintain cognitive health...

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Nutro’s wholesome essentials line lives on the tag line “feed clean.”  This particular food recipe comes in both chicken and lamb.  The price point is pretty reasonable, and this formula contains natural ingredients with vitamins and minerals along with other nutrients.  Because this formula is engineered specifically for seniors, some of the vitamins included will help maintain mental sharpness as well as a boost to your pup’s immune system.  It also contains omega 3’s and omega 6’s to help support skin and coat health.

We love that this particular food’s number one ingredient is meat.  It’s also made with natural ingredients and doesn’t have unnatural fillers.


Nutro Ultra Senior Formula

NUTRO ULTRA Senior High Protein Natural Dry...
  • Contains One (1) 30 Lb. Bag Of Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food...
  • Features Trio Of Protein From Chicken, Lamb, And Salmon—Chicken...
  • Our Premium Dog Food Kibble Is Made With High-Quality Ingredients...
  • Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food Is Made With High-Quality Protein And...

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Like the wholesome essentials line, the Ultra Senior is made with natural ingredients but is boosted by adding additional superfoods that contain antioxidants.  Nutro Ultra does not contain by-products, and the superfood list includes coconut, chia, kale and blueberries, all with their own antioxidant properties.  The antioxidants are there to boost your aging pup’s immune system, prolonging their life and preventing against unforeseen illnesses.

We love Nutro as a brand and the fact that this Senior formula is specifically designed to boost your pup’s immune system as they age.


Purina One Smart Blend Senior

Purina ONE Senior Dry Dog Food, SmartBlend...
  • 31.1 Lb. Bag - Purina One Smartblend Vibrant Maturity Adult 7+...
  • High-Quality Protein, Including Real Chicken As The #1...
  • Veterinarian Recommended
  • Protein-Rich, Tender, Meaty Morsels Plus Crunchy Kibble For A...

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Purina One’s Smart Blend Senior formula is another great food for budget conscious families.  It’s specifically formulated to promote mental alertness and healthy energy, and is made specifically for pups over the age of 7.  It contains no fillers, and has added Omega 6 oils, as well as Glucosamine.  While not specifically formulated for joint health like these foods, the added Glucosamine helps promote healthy joints as your dog ages.

We love the cost-effectiveness of this senior food, as well as the fact that it comes from a well known & reputable brand like Purina.


IAMS Protective Health

IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Mature Adult Dry Dog...
  • Contains one (1) 29.1 pound bag of IAMS Proactive health mature...
  • Veterinarians recommend IAMS
  • Our 1st ingredient is real chicken
  • Supports strong immune system with antioxidants. When introducing...

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Iams protective health is engineered for mature pups and is a more budget-friendly senior dog food.  The top ingredient is real chicken, and it does include nutrients specifically for seniors.  Like other brands it contains antioxidants to support immune system health, and also aids in digestion with a higher fiber content than other foods.  It does contain by-product, but that’s typically going to happen when you are feeding your pup on a stricter budget.  IAMS is an extremely popular brand, and the Mature Adult Formula’s popularity further solidifies that.

We love the cost-effectiveness of this particular senior food.  If you can’t afford to go natural, this is a great alternative.


Foods For Seniors With Dietary Needs

Senior Dog Food For Overweight Pups
If your senior is overweight, or has a sensitive stomach, there are several options to help.

There are much fewer age specific dog kibble that also focus on another dietary requirement, so the below recommendations deserve their own section as they aren’t comparable with the recommendations above.  Is Your Senior Dog Seriously Overweight?


Victor Senior Healthy Weight

VICTOR Purpose - Senior/Healthy Weight, Dry...
  • Nutrient-dense recipe made with premium-quality beef, chicken,...
  • Ideal for older dogs that are less active, and adult dogs that...
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin promote long-term joint health
  • Formulated with our scientifically advanced, proven VICTOR Core...

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Controlling his weight will not only help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, but it will also decrease the pressure on his aging bones and joints. In order for your senior dog to lose weight, he either needs to become more active and burn that energy off, or eat a lot less calories, and it is more likely to be the latter option with senior dogs. So, if he is struggling with his weight and joints, or even if his body shape has changed and you can’t see his defined waist anymore, then switch him to a specific weight management kibble with less fat and calories.

We love that this recipe is specifically formulated with overweight seniors in mind. Be sure to follow the package guidelines closely and continue his exercise routine as directed by the Veterinarian. You also need to ensure that you don’t feed him any unhealthy snacks, and carrots and apple slices are a good alternative if you can convince him!


Diamond Naturals Light Recipe

Diamond Naturals Light Real Meat Recipe...
  • HIGH quality PROTEIN made with real PASTURE RAISED lamb, for...
  • Premium ingredients with added vitamins & minerals; fruits and...
  • Nutrient rich and HIGHLY DIGESTIBLE with PROPRIETARY PROBIOTICS...
  • FAMILY OWNED & run, MADE in the USA choosing ingredients from...

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Diamond naturals is a popular food selection for many different breeds, and it’s popular because it contains completely natural ingredients.  It contains no artificial fillers, corn, wheat or other preservatives.  It’s been made with a higher protein content that supports muscles and is specifically engineered for less active pups.  Weight control is something that most dog owners will need to be considerate of as their dog starts to age.  They will run less as their joints hurt, so optimizing your pup’s dietary needs and prioritizing foods that will help keep them lean is important.

We love that Diamond Naturals makes their food with natural ingredients.  This food is a great selection for overweight dogs and is one of the better foods you can consider if your pup is both elderly and needs to drop a few pounds.


Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach Dry Dog...
  • One (1) 41 lb. Bag - Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach Dry Dog...
  • Real salmon is the #1 ingredient
  • Oatmeal is an easily digestible source of carbohydrates
  • Contains no corn, wheat or soy.Calorie Content (fed):3725...

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Purina Pro has many different food selections depending on what your pup’s individual needs are.  Their sensitive stomach formula is a great pick for dog owners on a budget.  You can choose from several different flavors, and the probiotic fiber will help ensure your pup gets the nutrients they need to ensure they are going to the restroom on a regular basis (which can be a problem with older pups).  This food is also less expensive than other options, making it a great food if your pup needs a little extra TLC.

We love that this food helps with both sensitive stomachs and sensitive skin.  Purina Pro has different formulas for many different needs, and this formula is no different.


Final Thoughts

Our beloved senior friends have blessed our lives for the last 7 years or so, and now that they are aging and have specific digestive and health needs, we should put the extra effort into giving him the age specific nutrients that his body needs and craves.

His nutritional needs will vary dependent on his age, breed and previous overall health, and now that he might face more health issues than he previously has done, you should ensure that you take him to his Veterinarian check ups regularly. If he has any particular requirements over and above his age, then your Veterinarian will be able to guide you with specific advice. But if his health issues are just age related then sticking to the above recommended senior dry kibble will not only provide him with the extra nutrients that he needs to be happy and healthy, but you might just keep him with you for a little longer.

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