Best Senior Dog Food: Reviewed for 2021

Published: August 5, 2021

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As the dog ages, their dietary needs change. Senior dogs are less active and may be facing health issues such as sensitive stomachs, joint problems, or constipation. Their specific needs often call for a change in the food they are eating.

Senior dog foods are specially formulated to meet the needs of older dogs. If you’ve started looking for new senior dog food for your pup, you may have noticed that there are a large number of options on the market. Whether you’re looking for the best vet recommended senior dog foods, the best budget-friendly options, or a splurge-worthy option for your beloved companion, you’ve come to the right place.

Read on to discover our number 1 overall recommendation as well as some of our other top picks! You’ll feel good knowing you’re helping meet your dog’s nutritional needs, and he or she will enjoy their tasty new food!

The Top Picks for Senior Dog Food: Ranked

Sale
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Senior Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Brown Rice 30-Lb
  • REAL MEAT FIRST: Blue Buffalo foods always feature real meat as the first ingredient; High-quality protein from real chicken helps your dog build and maintain healthy muscles; Plus they contain wholesome whole grains, garden veggies and fruit
  • FOR SENIOR DOGS: Blue Life Protection Formula senior dog food contains glucosamine and chondroitin to help support joint health and overall mobility with essential proteins and carbohydrates to help maintain energy requirements for a healthy lifestyle
  • ANTIOXIDANT-RICH LIFESOURCE BITS: A precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals carefully selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support immune system health, life stage needs and a healthy oxidative balance
  • A NATURAL DOG FOOD: Blue dry dog food is made with the finest natural ingredients enhanced with vitamins and minerals; Blue contains No chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Contains one (1) 30 lb Bag of Blue Life Protection Formula Senior Dry Dog Food Chicken and Brown Rice

While we recommend all of the senior foods on this list, the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula for Seniors is our top recommendation. Real wholesome chicken is the first ingredient in this chicken and brown rice formula that seniors are sure to enjoy. The high-quality protein from the chicken will help seniors maintain their muscle mass while building new muscles.

In addition to the chicken in the formula, some other healthy ingredients in this food include garden vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. There are no poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives in this food; it is made using all-natural ingredients along with added vitamins and minerals to help senior dogs stay healthy.

This formula also includes glucosamine and chondroitin to help seniors maintain their joint health and mobility. The essential proteins and carbohydrates are also targeted to meet the specific needs of a senior dog. Additionally, Blue Buffalo added their signature Lifesource bits to this formula. These anti-oxidant-rich bits are designed to support a dog’s immune system and promote a healthy oxidative balance.

Choose from a 6-pound bag, 15-pound bag, or a 30-pound bag. Compared to many other more expensive brands, Blue Buffalo is a budget friendly option that doesn’t skimp on quality.

Click here to check out Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Dry Dog Food

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Purina Pro Plan Senior Gravy Wet Dog Food, FOCUS Morsels in Gravy Beef & Rice Entree - (12) 13 oz. Cans
  • Twelve (12) 13 oz. Cans - Purina Pro Plan Senior Gravy Wet Dog Food; FOCUS Morsels in Gravy Beef & Rice Entree
  • Made with real beef
  • Formulated for dogs ages 7 and older
  • Omega-6 fatty acids help to support his healthy skin and coat
  • Formulated with an optimal protein to fat ratio to help dogs maintain an ideal body condition

Splurge a little with this delectable wet food that will be easier for your senior dog to eat and digest. Purina Pro Plan’s Focus Senior Food features a beef and rice formula with gravy that dogs are sure to enjoy. Each case includes 12 13-ounce cans.

This wet dog food is made using real beef. It is specially designed to deliver the ideal protein to fat ratio for senior dogs to help them maintain a healthy weight and body condition.

If your senior’s coat has been looking dull, this is also good food for you to choose from. The omega-6 fatty acids in the formula help promote a healthier coat and skin.

Click here to check out Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 7+ Wet Food

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Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Large Breed Adult 6+ Senior, Chicken, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe, 33 lb. Bag
  • A synergistic blend of easily digestible ingredients to support energy levels in large-breed dogs
  • Supports your grown dog's joint health with natural sources of glucosamine & chondroitin
  • Uses a balanced set of minerals to promote heart and kidney health in large dogs
  • Nourishes your big dog's skin and supports a shiny coat with omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E
  • Made in the USA with global ingredients you can trust

If you have a large breed dog, choosing a senior food that is specially formulated to meet his needs is important. Hill’s Science Diet offers this senior dog food that is designed with easy-to-digest ingredients that will meet the specific requirements of older large dogs.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are also included in this formula to address the joint problems that many older large dogs face. The formula is also enhanced with minerals designed to target a healthy heart and kidneys in older dogs. Additionally, with the added vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids, you will likely notice that your dog’s skin and coat look healthier and shinier.

Hill’s Science Diet is one of the top vet recommended brands. This senior dog food features a tasty chicken meal, barley, and rice recipe to keep your senior dog excited about mealtime. You can purchase this large breed senior formula in a 15-pound bag or a 33-pound bag.

Click here to check out Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed 6+ Dog Food

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Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food with Grains, Turkey & Peas, 4-Pound Bag
  • This senior small breed dry dog food's #1 ingredient is turkey; high quality protein with wholesome grains like oats
  • Our crunchy kibble has no meat byproducts, fillers, or artificial preservatives
  • Designed to support the unique health needs of smaller dogs through nutrient-rich whole foods; glucosamine to support joint and bone health for dogs
  • Made in the USA using only the finest globally sourced ingredients
  • Spend a lifetime with Wellness natural dog food; we offer recipes for puppy, adult, and senior dogs as well as grain free dog treats, meal toppers, and wet food options too

Just as large dogs have unique needs when it comes to nutrition, the same is true for small dogs. Consider the Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Senior Formula for your small dog. Turkey is the first ingredient in this food to help ensure the higher protein needs of your senior dog are met. Oats and other wholesome grains are also included in the formula to meet the other dietary requirements of senior pups. The formula does not include any harmful ingredients such as fillers, meat by-products, or artificial preservatives.

This food is designed to address five signs of wellness in small dogs. The first is a healthy coat and healthy skin with the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals added to the formula. Next, is your dog’s digestive health. This food includes probiotics, prebiotics, healthy fiber, and chicory root extract to aid with digestion.

The optimized blend of protein, fat, and carbohydrates in this formula helps ensure your senior pup’s energy level remains as high as possible. Next, the calcium-phosphorus, vitamin A, and vitamin C in the formula work together to keep your dog’s teeth, gums, and eyes healthy. Finally, this food can also help support a healthier immune system with its mix of high-quality protein, vitamin A, and vitamin E.

Click here to check out Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Senior Dog Food

Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low Calorie Dry Dog Food, Chicken Meal, Salmon Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas & Oatmeal, 15 Pounds (Packaging May Vary)
  • Contains (1) 15 pound bag of dry dog food. For a limited time, you may receive either bag while we update our packaging
  • Made with targeted levels of L-carnitine to help maintain a healthy weight
  • Contains a special fiber and protein blend to help your dog feel full and satisfied
  • Includes wholesome grains with fiber to help support healthy digestion, plus added vitamin E, C and zinc to help support immune health
  • Complete, balanced nutrition for adult dogs

If you’re worried about obesity and all the potential problems associated with it for your senior dog, take a look at Natural Balance’s Fat Dogs Low Calorie Dog Food. This lower-calorie formula is designed to help dogs safely lose weight to avoid obesity and other possible health risks.

The food also contains targeted amounts of L-carnitine. L-carnitine can help a dog’s body convert fat into energy to facilitate weight loss. The blend of fiber and protein added to the food will ensure your dog feels satisfied after making the switch to a lower-calorie food.

The first ingredient in this food is chicken meal, a high-quality protein. Some of the other key ingredients include wholesome grains for digestive support and vitamin E, vitamin C, and zinc to support a healthy immune system. Choose from a 5-pound bag, 15-pounds bag, or 28-pound bag.

Why Do Seniors Need a Special Diet?

All senior dogs may not require a special diet. If you are feeding your dog a higher protein dog food, they are maintaining a healthy weight, and there are no health issues that your veterinarian thinks could be addressed by new food, you can keep your dog on their current diet.

However, many senior dogs do require a special diet. There are a few reasons why this is the case. First, as dogs age, their energy level, and metabolism decrease. With these decreases, dogs don’t require as many calories as they used to eat.

Without choosing a lower calorie food, some senior dogs will be more prone to become obese. Obesity can put a lot of strain on a dog’s body, which may result in a wide range of problems including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. Some senior dog foods are formulated for weight loss, while others are more directed at weight control and helping a dog maintain their current healthy weight.

Many senior dogs also have joint problems, such as arthritis or hip dysplasia. If the dog becomes obese, this will put more pressure on the joints and can exacerbate these problems.

In addition to helping keep dogs at a healthy weight, senior dog foods are also formulated to improve these joint problems. Many senior foods are also formulated to be easier to digest to help with sensitive stomach issues, constipation, or other digestive concerns.

As a dog ages, it also requires greater amounts of high-quality proteins. Senior dog foods include the right amount of protein to meet these needs.

What to Do If Your Senior Dog Will Not Eat

It can be worrisome if your senior dog isn’t eating. You begin to worry if they’re getting enough food to maintain their energy and continue to stay healthy. If you’ve noticed a huge drop in your dog’s appetite, consider trying one or more of the following ideas:

  • Switch to a wet food
  • Try making home-cooked meals
  • Add a food topper or flavor enhancer to their current food
  • Try vet recommended suggestions from their veterinarian

Choosing the Best Food for Your Senior Dog

Deciding which food to feed a senior dog can be quite difficult. Use the suggestions we’ve compiled below to help you in your search.

Consulting with their vet before starting the search is a good idea. Their vet can help identify any health issues that need to be addressed and offer suggestions on the type of foods or ingredients that would be best for your dog. They can also weigh your dog to see if they are at a healthy weight and need food for weight control or if they are too heavy and need food for weight loss.

Protein

Choosing a dog food with high-quality protein is important for dogs of all ages, but even more so for senior dogs. As tissues become damaged with age, protein can help these tissues rebuild themselves. Senior dogs need food with high amounts of high-quality protein.

If your dog is suffering from kidney problems, they will still need protein, but the amount they require will be less. Check with your veterinarian to make sure you are feeding them the right amount of protein for their overall health.

Wholesome Grains

Unless your dog has an allergy to grains or is dealing with immune system issues, it is best to look for foods with whole grains in them, rather than grain-free options. Grains deliver amino acids that can be used to build tissues and keep the body healthy.

Stay Natural

Finally, as you’re looking for the right food for your senior dog, look for foods formulated with natural ingredients. Stay away from anything with artificial flavors or artificial colors. You should also avoid dog foods with fillers, such as corn or soy.

The Different Types of Senior Dog Food: Pros and Cons Compared

As you read above, there are both wet and dry senior dog foods on the market. If you’re trying to decide which option is right for your dog, consult the list of pros and cons below to help you make a decision.

Wet Food

Pros!Cons!
Dogs often prefer the taste Not as budget-friendly
The higher moisture content keeps dogs hydrated It Will need to be refrigerated once opened
Higher amount of protein to match a senior’s needs Shorter shelf-life
Easier to chew and eat, especially for dogs with dental problems May lead to more dental problems

Dry Food

Pros!Cons!
Long shelf life The formula often contains less protein and more cards
Help keep a dog’s teeth cleaner Difficult for many seniors to chew
Lasts for a long time Dogs don’t seem to like the taste as much
Easy to travel with
Less of a splurge

Last update on 2021-08-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Senior Dog Food: Reviewed for 2021 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What should I feed my senior dog?

The best food for your senior dog will vary depending on his or her size, breed, age, and health issues. Seeking vet recommended ideas from your dog’s veterinarian and foods that target specific health concerns your dog is facing can help you select the right food to meet their needs.

Is wet food better for older dogs?

Wet and dry dog food are both suitable options for seniors. However, some seniors suffer from teeth issues, a sensitive stomach, or other problems that may make wet dog food a better option for them. If you notice your senior is having trouble chewing dry dog food or doesn’t seem as interested in eating as he once did, you may want to consider switching to wet dog food.

Why do older dogs need special food?

All older dogs don’t necessarily require senior dog food. However, some senior dogs develop health issues, such as joint problems, constipation, or sensitive stomachs, that may be better controlled with a senior food. Weight control is also important for many senior dogs that are obese. Senior foods are often formulated specifically to help dogs reach their ideal weight.

When is a dog considered a senior?

The age when a dog is considered a senior can differ between breeds. Smaller dogs have a longer lifespan. They are generally considered seniors when they are around 7 years old. Since a large dog’s lifespan is often shorter than a smaller dog’s, they’re considered a senior around the age of 5 to 6 years old.

Do older dogs need more protein or less?

Contrary to what many may think, the older a dog is, the greater his or her need for protein is. As a dog ages, their muscles can break down, so they need higher protein foods to replace this wasted muscle mass.

Should all older dogs eat senior food?

No, switching to senior dog food is not always needed. Many older dogs will do fine when they are fed a balanced diet that contains sufficient protein. If you are unsure whether you should switch your dog to senior food, consult with his or her veterinarian.

Some older dogs develop health issues that may indicate that it is time to switch to a food formulated specifically for seniors. These health issues may include sensitive stomachs, joint problems, and constipation.

What is the number 1 cause of food-related illness in senior dogs?

Obesity is the number one cause of food-related illness in senior dogs. Obesity can be problematic for younger dogs too and puts strain on a dog’s joints despite their age. However, since seniors often are already dealing with joint issues such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, or arthritis, this extra weight can be an even greater problem.

Many seniors require about 20% fewer calories than they did when they were younger. This is due to a decrease in their metabolism and less energy to get as much exercise as they once did.

How much food should I feed my senior dog?

The amount of food your senior dog should eat will vary from what another senior dog should consume. The dog’s weight can be used to help you determine how much food to feed them based on the recommendations on the bag or can. However, other factors such as breed, metabolism, and health issues can also impact how much food your dog should eat. Work with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate serving size to help your dog maintain or reach a healthy weight.

How do I determine my dog’s ideal weight?

Even within the same breed, a dog’s ideal weight can vary. If you are not sure whether your dog is at an appropriate weight, or if they need to lose or gain weight, check with your veterinarian. They can help you assess their current weight and develop a plan to help them reach their ideal weight.

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