Best Senior Dog Food - Comparison and Reviews

Becky - author

Author: Becky Roberts
Last Updated: November 2019​

Category: Best Dog Foods

Your dog’s digestive system changes as he gets older. To avoid issues, such as constipation, excessive flatulence, or diarrhea, you should feed your senior dog with food that’s more amenable to his aging tummy.

dog eating from bowlAs your dog ages, he’ll also need a specific balance of nutrients to support his aging joints, declining muscle mass, and overall declining functionality. This requires high-quality, age-appropriate dog food. That means dog food with high fiber content, minimal calories, and an adequate balance of fat and protein levels.

Of course, finding the best senior dog food for this can be challenging, especially with so many brands claiming their senior dog food is the best.

To help, we’ve put together a list of the best senior dog foods for ensuring the longevity and physical and mental wellness of your wizened dog.

Best Senior Dog Food 2019 - Reviews

1. Blue Buffalo Protection Formula Senior

As the name implies, the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is designed to protect the health of your senior dog. It’s a dry dog food that accomplishes this with a specialized formula that boosts your dog’s longevity, as well as mental and physical functionality.

It’s easy to digest chicken and brown rice content contain a rich balance of nutrients – The high protein content maintains tissues and muscles, while the carb content provides energy.

Blue Buffalo Protection Formula further boosts its nutrition profile with its proprietary LifeSource Bits. LifeSource Bits consists of seven essential minerals and vitamins that keep your dog youthful by boosting his immune system and vitality. It also contains natural omega-3 fatty acids that maintain the gloss and strength of his coat and skin.

Because it doesn’t contain grains like wheat, corn, or soy that can lead to allergic reactions, you know your aging best friend is in good hands when eating Blue’s Senior Protection Formula.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food – Natural Dry Dog Food for Senior Dogs – Chicken & Brown Rice – 30 lb. Bag

Pros

  • Dry dog food with a long shelf life
  • Available as a 6-, 15-, and 30-pound bags to match your budget
  • Suitable for all dog breeds
  • Real meat is the first ingredient
  • High-quality protein content boosts your dog’s muscle health
  • Contains natural vegetables and fruits that deliver a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals
  • Healthy fiber content to aid your aging dog’s digestive system
  • Contains glucosamine, calcium, phosphorus, and chondroitin that aid healthy joints and keep your dog pain-free
  • Proprietary LifeSource Bits delivers antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that support the immune system and ensure a healthy oxidative balance
  • No artificial or harmful ingredients

Cons

  • Available in only one recipe
  • Most dogs aren’t fans of the LifeSource Bits and end up spitting them out

2. Wellness Complete Natural Food

Wellness Complete Natural Food is a dry senior dog food that is highly recommended for smaller dog breeds. It comes in the form of small kibbles that you can feed in the form of treats or as a standalone meal.

It contains a unique balance of nutrients that keeps old dogs lively and healthy without compromising on flavor. Its recipe primarily consists of turkey and peas for a rich balance of premium proteins and healthy carbs.

It contains no unhealthy grains, such as wheat, corn, or soy, that may cause an allergic reaction in your dog. Instead, what you get is a balance of vitamins and minerals to keep your small senior dog alive and well for many more years.

Each kibble contains deboned turkey and is rich in chondroitin and glucosamine. These are vital nutrients that’ll keep your dog’s joints and hips sturdy. This senior dog food contains no artificial additives or preservatives and will help keep your dog healthy at an ideal body weight.

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Senior Dog Food, Turkey & Peas, 4-Pound Bag

Pros

  • Helps maintain your dog’s body weight
  • Promotes a healthy digestive system
  • Its Omega fatty acid content will keep your aged dog’s coat and skin healthy
  • Low sodium content ensures the health of your dog’s heart
  • Made in the US
  • Delivers a rich nutrient profile without compromising on taste
  • Keeps the aging bones and joints of your dog healthy

Cons

  • Only suitable for small dogs
  • Your dog may take some time to adjust to this diet

3. Nutro Senior Chicken Nutritious Nutrients

This ultra-nutritious dog food comes in a delicious recipe that your senior dog won’t be able to resist. Every bite is packed with a perfect balance of high-quality ingredients and nutrients to boost the length and quality of your dog’s life.

Its rich protein profile consists of chicken, lamb, and salmon. The salmon is an important addition because it delivers a healthy dose of Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids that keep your dog looking beautiful and his mind sharp.

Other excellent ingredients in this senior dog food are coconut, sunflower oil, tomatoes, flaxseed, kale, apples, carrots, egg, pumpkin, spinach, chia seeds, and blueberries. All these superfoods ensure that each serving is rich in antioxidants and other life-giving nutrients.

For your dog’s safety, there is no wheat, soy, corn, artificial additives, or preservatives in this senior dog food.

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

Pros

  • Contains 12 superfoods that make it far healthier than a majority of other senior dog foods
  • It’s made with real farm-raised chicken
  • Chondroitin and glucosamine minimize the risk of arthritis or other joint disorders
  • Gluten-free but contains all the essential vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals
  • Available as beef or lamb recipe variants
  • Reasonable price for this high-quality of dry food for senior dogs
  • Comes with a money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Some dogs may have an allergic reaction to one of its many ingredients

4. Nulo Senior Grain Free Dog Food

This is among the best grain-free dog foods for senior dogs with joint or hip disorders. This is because of its rich Glucosamine and Chondroitin content. It also has a high protein content thanks to its trout and turkey content, which deliver a healthy balance of protein and fats.

Because Nulo only uses lean proteins, each serving contains a healthy amount of calories to help manage your dog’s weight. Its grain-free recipe also makes it ideal for sensitive tummies, while its exciting taste makes it the right choice for picky eaters.

Nulo Senior Grain Free Dog Food With Glucosamine And Chondroitin (Trout And Sweet Potato Recipe, 11Lb Bag)

Pros

  • A great choice for dogs with joint or hip disorders
  • Contains no gluten or artificial additives
  • Made in the US
  • There’s a chunk of meat in every bite
  • Vital Omega fatty and amino acids for healthy fur and an active senior dog lifestyle
  • Probiotics ensure the presence of healthy bacteria in your dog’s stomach
  • Available in a 4.5-, 11-, and 24-pound bag to match your budget

Cons

  • You might consider it a bit pricey

5. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food – Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe

This variation of the Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food is ideal for medium to large-sized senior dogs. It’s chicken and oatmeal content is grain-free but contains a healthy blend of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The oatmeal content is especially important as it’s rich in fiber, which promotes healthy bowel movement in older dogs.

The high protein content delivers strong muscles and a robust immune system. The other contents combine to give your dog a healthy heart, sturdy joints and hips, and boundless energy.

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food - Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe - 15lb

Pros

  • Keeps your dog’s bodyweight at healthy levels
  • Aids proper digestive health
  • Keeps your dog’s skin healthy and coat shiny
  • Made in the US
  • Doesn’t compromise on flavor
  • No additives

Cons

  • Your older dog may take some time to adjust to this food

6. Science Diet Senior Defying Chicken

Here’s a dog food that makes life easier for dogs as they get on in years. It’s easy to digest and contains a combination of ingredients that aid the kidney and renal functions of your dog.

It also contains a blend of antioxidants that boost your dog’s immune system. Its rich chicken content makes the food appetizing and provides healthy protein content. In the unlikely event, you or your dog don’t enjoy this meal, you’ll be happy to know it comes with a 100% money-back guarantee.

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult 11+ for Senior Dogs, Small Paws, Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe, 4.5 lb Bag

Pros

  • It’s ideal for senior dogs over the age of 11
  • All-natural ingredients from wholesome grains, vegetables, and fruits
  • Easy to digest and highly nutritious without compromising on flavor
  • Made in the US
  • Omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E for healthy skin and a shiny coat
  • No harmful ingredients or substances

Cons

  • Your dog may have bad breath after eating this senior dog food
  • Only suitable for small breed dogs
  • Not suitable for dogs with grain allergies

7. Canidae Meadow Senior Formula Chicken

This grain-free dry dog food formula provides your best friend with the right balance of nutrients to keep him active in his old age. It contains no additives or other harmful elements, and is also grain-free, making it ideal for senior dogs with sensitive tummies.

Aside from being safe, a bowl of Canidae PURE is healthy, containing probiotics to aid your dog’s digestive system, and antioxidants to boost his immune system. Each bite is also rich in Omega-6 and -3 fatty acids to keep your dog’s fur and skin healthy and beautiful.

Depending on your dog’s palate, you can get the salmon, lamb, duck, bison, boar, or chicken dog food recipe.

CANIDAE PURE Limited Ingredient, Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food

Pros

  • Uncomplicated whole-food recipes that let you know exactly what you are feeding your dog
  • Available in various recipes to suit your dog’s unique needs and palate
  • Made in the US
  • High nutrient content, including Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Uses high-quality meats as its first three ingredients
  • High protein content builds muscles but control weight
  • Probiotics content aids proper digestion

Cons

  • It’s a bit pricey
  • Some dogs suffer from constipation when switched to this food

8. Science Diet Youthful Vitality Chicken

Science Diet Youthful Vitality Chicken is highly recommended by vets as one of the best senior dog foods for its effectiveness and deliciousness. It’s designed to help maintain the quality of life of senior dogs above seven years old, and you can get it as either a wet or dry food.

It contains a variety of nutrients to keep your dog strong and healthy as he ages. Said nutrients include amino acids, ascorbic acid, minerals, and vitamins that reduce the negative effects of your dog’s aging and boost his immune system.

It may be a bit pricey, but it’s a worthwhile investment for your older dog’s health and happiness.

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult 7+ for Senior Dogs, Youthful Vitality, Chicken & Rice Recipe, 12.5 lb Bag

Pros

  • Keeps your senior dog’s energy levels up
  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Delivers only natural ingredients, vitamins, and minerals for a strong and healthy adult dog
  • Available as dry food or wet food
  • You can get it in one of two recipes—chicken & rice, or chicken & vegetable stew
  • Combats the effects of aging
  • Suitable for all dog breeds
  • Supports brain function and energy levels as your dog ages
  • Made in the US
  • A top choice among veterinarians

Cons

  • Can be a bit pricey

9. Purina Smartblend Vibrant Maturity Formula

Whether you opt for the chicken recipe, or the turkey & barley recipe, Purina Smartblend for senior dogs is going to keep your elderly best friend healthy. Each bag of Purina senior dog food contains a high-quality blend of natural ingredients, vitamins, and minerals. These keep your dog’s energy levels, physical performance, and mental sharpness up as he ages.

Depending on your dog’s palate, you can get Purina Smartblend as either a wet or dry dog food. Either way, your dog will be getting a top-quality, high protein diet that doesn’t compromise on flavor.

Purina ONE Senior Dry Dog Food, SmartBlend Vibrant Maturity Adult 7+ Formula - 31.1 lb. Bag

Pros

  • Suitable for dogs above seven years old
  • Supports the heart of your dog and boosts muscle growth
  • Real pieces of chicken
  • No artificial additives
  • Veterinarian recommended
  • Promotes mental and physical health
  • Available as dry food or wet food

Cons

  • The barley option isn’t suitable for dogs with grain or gluten allergies

10. Avoderm Natural Chicken Formula

Avocado is a superfood that your aging dog can benefit from. AvoDerm agrees, which is why they add it to their AvoDerm Natural Senior Dry Dog Food.

Beyond avocado, this unique senior dog food recipe contains alfalfa meal, dried tomatoes, and peas. Combined with the food’s chicken and brown rice content, your dog has a highly nutritious and tasty meal to dig into.

Its EPA and DHA content also reduces the risk of your aging dog suffering from inflammation or chronic heart disease. There are also fatty acids for promoting skin and coat health.

AvoDerm Natural Chicken Meal & Brown Rice - Senior Dry Dog Food 26 pounds

Pros

  • Features a perfect balance of high-quality proteins and healthy carbs
  • Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine support your aging dog’s joints and hips
  • Avocado provides nutrients that keep the skin and coat healthy and boosts the immune system
  • No wheat, corn, soy, or artificial additives
  • Contains various nutrient-dense superfoods
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Not all stores stock this product

11. Eukanuba Senior Small Breed

Eukanuba dry dog food is ideal for small dog breeds above the age of 7 and below 23 pounds. It contains various supplements, including chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, for supporting joint health. It’s also rich in protein to keep your elderly little guy/gal happy and active with strong lean muscles.

Eukanuba’s omega fatty acid and DHA content support brain activity, keeping your aging dog mentally alert. It also contains a variety of antioxidants to boost the immune system. This minimizes the risk of your senior dog, catching some of the common diseases that typically plague elderly canines.

There’s also lots of fiber to aid your aging dog’s digestive system.

Eukanuba Senior Small Breed Dry Dog Food, 15 lb. bag

Pros

  • Antioxidants to keep your dog’s immune system strong and capable of knocking down ailments
  • Supports the muscles, joints, and hips of your dog so he can enjoy an active life in his later years
  • Keeps the brain healthy so that your senior dog remains alert
  • Prebiotics and high fiber content to aid your dog’s digestive system
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for a shiny coat and healthy skin
  • Contains enough carbs to provide your dog with a healthy dose of energy to conquer each day

Cons

  • It’s not grain-free, which may cause an allergic reaction in your dog
  • May contain some chicken by-products

How to choose the Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs

As your dog ages, his digestive system, organs, muscles, and joints start losing the battle against time. Putting your best friend on a senior dog food diet is crucial to combatting these effects and ensuring he still enjoys a good quality of life in his winter years.

Senior dog food is specially engineered to contain all the vital nutrients needed to keep your aging dog mentally and physically strong. It’s also easier for your dog’s older stomach to digest, reducing the risk of constipation, or excessing flatulence or stooling.

senior dog sitting

The best senior dog foods have the following features as standard:

  • Vet Recommended – Top-quality senior dog foods have the approval of the veterinary community and are typically prescribed by vets. Before buying dog food for your senior dog, be sure to consult with your vet to verify the food has ingredients that will actually help your dog. It’s an effective way to avoid dog foods that may do more harm than good to the health of your aging dog.
  • High-quality protein content – Top-quality senior dog foods usually have a higher protein content. The high protein content keeps your aging dog’s muscles strong and aids the repair of deteriorating tissues. It also prevents kidney diseases. The protein source in the food is also important. Chicken is a common ingredient, but dog foods that use venison, lamb, and other lean protein sources offer better results.
  • Antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and glucosamine content – Antioxidants will keep your aging dog’s immune system functioning optimally. Glucosamine and EPA will support your dog’s aging joints, keeping him mobile and active.
  • Grain-free – A grain-free diet isn’t vital unless your senior dog has a grain or gluten allergy. Nonetheless, your aging dog’s body will benefit more from a diet that provides healthier carbs from low-fat foods like sweet potato, pumpkin, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, carrot, banana, and apple. These are easier to digest and won’t negatively impact your dog’s digestive or immune system.
  • Avoid artificial ingredients – Dog foods that contain artificial additives or preservatives, or animal by-products, should be avoided. Studies show that artificial foods can negatively impact your aging dog’s health, causing issues like allergies, tumors, digestive problems, kidney disease, and more.

Note that choosing the best dog food for your senior dog isn’t only about knowing the right features to look out for. You also need to identify your aging dog’s unique needs and know which dog food has the ingredients to meet those needs best.

What Things to Consider When Buying Senior Dog Food

To find a senior dog food with ingredients to best meet your aging dog’s needs, take the following factors about your dog into consideration:

Dog Breed

The senior dog food ingredients that work best for a small dog may not deliver the same quality of results to a large breed.

  • Small Breed Food: Small breed senior dogs need food that’s rich in protein, and that’ll help maintain their weight. If your small dog becomes overweight, it can cause a variety of health complications. Also, if it’s dry food, it should come in kibble size that’s small enough to fit into your small dog’s mouth and easily chew. If your dog has failing teeth, you might even consider soaking the kibble before feeding.
  • Large Breed Food: Large breed dogs age faster than smaller breed dogs. They also have shorter lifespans. As such, large breed dogs need foods that contain vitamins and supplements that’ll support their bones and joints, and possibly increase their longevity.

Nutritional Needs of Old Dogs

As dog’s age, they need food that they will have an easier time digesting. A high protein diet that uses real meat is helpful. Additionally, because older dogs are more prone to becoming overweight, their food must be nutrient-rich without increasing your dog’s chances of gaining too much weight.

It’s also important that the food contains less sodium and more fruits and vegetables. This will boost the cardiovascular health of your aging dog. Finding food with ample DHA, EPA, and glucosamine will support your dog’s aging joints, while antioxidants will keep his immune system strong.

To keep your dog’s skin healthy and fur shiny, Omega fatty acids must also be present in the food.

Health Conditions of Your Senior Dog

If your dog has any of the following conditions, he’ll require a special diet.

Joint Problems

Most senior dogs suffer from joint and hip issues, such as arthritis. To help with this, ensure your dog’s food contains glucosamine, calcium, phosphorus, chondroitin, or all four.

You can further assist your senior dog by adding ingredients like ginger, papaya, and alfalfa to their regular diet. These foods contain essential ingredients that’ll help minimize inflammation in your senior dog’s joints. While some of these, such as alfalfa, are common in dog food, you may have to look to treats to add in others.

Constipation

Constipation is another common problem in elderly dogs as their stomachs become unable to properly handle food that they formerly could. You can minimize the likelihood of constipation by feeding your dog with a high protein diet that’s easy to digest and a high fiber diet that aids bowel movement. While looking for high fiber foods, though, avoid filler fiber. You want nutrient-rich sources from fruits and vegetables rather than grains.

Feeding your dog with senior dog food that contains prebiotics will also help.

Diabetes

If your elderly dog has diabetes, you can help him live a healthy, happy, and long life by feeding him food that contains high-quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, and fibers. This balanced diet must be supported by regular exercise to keep his glucose level under control.

Kidney Disease

If your senior dog is diagnosed with kidney disease, switching him to wet dog food that contains minimal sodium will help. More fruits and water, and less high-quality proteins will also help by reducing the workload on his kidneys.

Gum Disease

If your dog’s bad breath is worse, or his gums are bleeding, it could be a sign of gum disease. Dry dog food that’s rich in calcium and cleans your dog’s teeth as he chews can be helpful.

FAQs

Is senior dog food necessary?

Dogs that are past their prime require fewer calories than younger dogs that are more active. Too many calories in your aging dog’s diet, and you could end up with an overweight dog, which only increases the risk of health problems.

Senior dog foods are designed to provide all the nutrients your dog needs, minus the excess they don’t need. For example, they contain more fiber to combat constipation, more glucosamine to combat joint issues, and more high-quality protein to support lean muscle mass.

While switching to a senior dog food may not be completely necessary, it is useful in keeping your older dog healthy and happy for more years to come.

When to switch to senior dog food?

Different dog breeds age differently. A smaller dog breed won’t be considered a senior until he turns seven. On the other hand, a larger dog breed is considered a senior by the time he turns five or six.

At these ages, an aging dog’s rate of metabolism will reduce. The immune system may also become less effective, making it the perfect time to switch your dog to senior dog food.

How much dog food to give to senior dogs?

The amount of food your senior dog needs will depend on his breed and size. Because your dog’s metabolism rate reduces as he ages, feeding him on the same schedule as before but with smaller portions is advisable. It will reduce his chances of becoming overweight.

For a more accurate recommendation of the right quantity of food for your aging dog, it’s best to consult your vet.

Can senior dog food cause diarrhea?

Senior dog food can only cause diarrhea if it contains ingredients your dog’s stomach doesn’t find agreeable. For example, the food may contain artificial ingredients or other ingredients that your dog is allergic to.

Diarrhea may also be caused by a sudden change in diet. It is why we advise slowly introducing your dog to senior food by mixing it a little at a time with his old food. This will give your dog’s stomach time to acclimate to the new diet.

If uncertain whether your dog’s diarrhea is caused by an ingredient in his new diet, consult your vet to verify.

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