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 food. 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
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- Entering Their Senior Years
- Senior Dog Nutrition
- Our Favorite Foods For Seniors
- The Farmer's Dog
- Diamond Natures Dry Senior Dog Food
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Senior
- Hill's Science Diet Senior Formula
- Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Senior
- Orijen High-Protein Senior Formula
- Instinct Raw Boost
- Victor Purpose Senior Healthy Weight
- Nutro Ultra Senior
- Nutro Large Breed Senior
- Purina ONE SmartBlend Vibrant Maturity Senior 7+
- Foods For Seniors With Dietary Needs
- Final Thoughts
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
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 their 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:
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 their master, therefore he will need less and fewer 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.
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.
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
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 recommendations for senior dogs. They are all high-quality foods 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.
|The Farmer's Dog|
|Iams Protective Health|
The Farmer's Dog
- Cooked fresh, flash-frozen, and shipped to you.
- Personalized meal plans.
- 4 healthy, vet-designed options: beef, chicken, turkey, or pork.
- Made with human-grade ingredients (no fillers or preservatives).
- Manufactured in the United States.
- Calories and nutritional values vary based on recipe.
The Farmer’s Dog offers four grain-free recipes that always offer more fresh-frozen meat than any other ingredient. Depending on the formula, you will get a mix of veggies and meats like sweet potatoes, green beans, or even broccoli among the fresh produce fiber sources. All of these superfoods pack a lot of nutrients, maintaining a robust immune system. Every recipe is AAFCO-certified for all life stages and the meal plan is customized for your unique dog, you can feel confident that your dog’s next meal will meet all of his nutritional needs to keep him healthy and strong.
If you’d prefer to include grains, you can always cook up some rice to mix in. This will not only help your dog’s diet and also spread the food across more meals, saving you money!
We love that these recipes are cooked fresh based on a personalized meal plan for your best friend. Every ingredient is human-grade, so you can be sure that your dog is getting the very best dog food possible.
Diamond Natures Dry Senior Dog Food
- High-quality protein.
- Made for senior dogs.
- Added Glucosamine & Chondroitin for joints.
- Natural foods with added vitamins & minerals.
- Nutrient rich and highly digestible.
- Senior species-specific probiotics that survive and thrive in the GI tract.
- No corn, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
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 Formula Natural Senior
- Real meat as the first ingredient.
- High-quality protein.
- Contains wholesome whole grains, garden veggies and fruit.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin to help support joint health and overall mobility.
- A precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Natural ingredients enhanced with vitamins and minerals.
- No chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives.
Blue Buffalo 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. Blue Buffalo is one of the top brands, and this senior food is no different.
Hill's Science Diet Senior Formula
- Made from high-quality & natural ingredients.
- Antioxidant-rich dog food.
- Veterinarian endorsed brand.
- Made in the United States.
- 353 Calories per cup.
- 15.5% Protein, 10.5% Fat, 4% Fiber.
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.
Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Senior
- Made with only 9 real food ingredients.
- Grain-free and made without corn, wheat or soy.
- Contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
- Fortified with Canidae’s HealthPLUS probiotics, antioxidants and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids.
- Manufactured in United States.
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 High-Protein Senior Formula
- Fresh chicken meat is the first ingredient.
- Vegetables include butternut squash, and spinach.
- Includes glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
- Uses only low-glycemic carbohydrates.
- Grain-free Formula.
- 414 Calories per cup.
- 38% Protein, 15% Fat, 8% Fiber.
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. Orijen is another premium dog food brand, and often compared to Taste of the Wild and other brands.
Instinct Raw Boost
- High protein, grain free kibble with all natural bites of freeze dried raw chicken.
- Made with cage free chicken, probiotics and omegas.
- Natural DHA for brain and eye health, plus glucosamine chondroitin for hip and joint health.
- No grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by product meal, artificial colors or preservatives.
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 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.
Victor Purpose Senior Healthy Weight
- Nutrient-dense for aging dogs.
- Glucosamine boost for joint health.
- Fortified with vitamins and minerals.
- L-Carnitine for muscle retention.
- Formulated for superior digestion.
- 360 Calories per cup.
- 27% Protein, 11.5% Fat, 4.5% Fiber.
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 their 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!
Nutro Ultra Senior
- Limited ingredient food.
- Made from lean animal proteins.
- Contains glucosamine boost for seniors.
- No artificial colors or flavors.
- Omega fatty acids for skin & coat health.
- 316 Calories per cup.
- 26% Protein, 11% Fat, 4% Fiber.
Nutro’s wholesome essentials line lives on the tagline “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 Large Breed Senior
- Non-GMO formula.
- Made with farm-raised chicken.
- Natural sources of glucosamine & chondroitin.
- Made with no corn, wheat, or soy.
- Made in the United States.
- 306 Calories per cup.
- 22% Protein, 11% Fat, 4% Fiber.
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. Nutro is a premium brand and doesn’t let down with this formula.
Purina ONE SmartBlend Vibrant Maturity Senior 7+
- Made with MCT-rich vegetable oil to nourish and promote mental sharpness.
- Real chicken as the first ingredient.
- High quality dog food for older dogs features omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
- Natural glucosamine sources to promote joint health for dogs.
- Taste and textures dogs love and work with added calcium to support strong teeth and healthy gums.
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.
Foods For Seniors With Dietary Needs
There are much fewer age-specific dog foods 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?
Diamond Naturals Light
- Ideal for overweight or less active adult dogs.
- 18% fewer calories.
- Added glucosamine, chondroitin and L-Carnitine.
- Helps reach and maintain a healthy body weight while also receiving adequate nutrition.
- 3,035 kcal/kg (275 kcal/cup) Calculated Metabolizable Energy.
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
- High-protein content.
- Salmon is the first ingredient.
- Fortified with probiotics.
- Prebiotic fiber for digestive health.
- Made with digestible oatmeal and rice.
- 467 Calories per cup.
- 26% Protein, 16% Fat, 4% Fiber.
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.
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 them the age-specific nutrients that their 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.