Best Senior Dog Food: Reviewed for You

Updated: May 12, 2022

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As dogs age, their dietary needs change. Senior dogs are less active than their younger counterparts and may face more health issues such as sensitive stomachs, joint problems, or constipation. Their specific needs often call for a change in what food you are feeding them.

Senior dog foods are specially formulated to meet the needs of aging dogs, usually around 8 years or older. If you’ve started looking for new food for your older pup, you may have noticed that there are many options on the market. Whether you’re looking for the best vet recommended senior dog foods, budget-friendly options, or a splurge-worthy option for your beloved companion, you’ve come to the right place.

Read on to discover our top recommendations for the best senior dog foods on the market. You’ll feel good knowing your dog has their nutritional needs fulfilled while also enjoying their tasty new food!

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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

Our Criteria

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 your veterinarian before starting the search is very important. The vet can help identify any health issues that may need to be addressed by diet and offer suggestions on the type of ingredients that are best for your dog. They can also weigh your dog to see if your dog is at a healthy weight or if a food for weight control may be required.

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

ProsCons
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

ProsCons
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
  1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Dry Dog Food

  2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Dry Dog Food

    •High-protein senior dog food

    •Includes essential vitamins & minerals

    •Glucosamine and chondroitin aid in joint health

    •Affordable

    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Complete Essentials Chicken & Rice Entree Wet Dog Food, 13-oz can, case of 12

  4. Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Complete Essentials Chicken & Rice Entree Wet Dog Food, 13-oz can, case of 12

    •Ideal wet dog food for 7+ years of age

    •Formulated protein:fat ratio for healthy weight & body condition

    •Omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin & coat

    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. Hill's Science Diet Adult 6+ Large Breed Dry Dog Food

  6. Hill's Science Diet Adult 6+ Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    •Senior dog food for large breeds

    •Glucosamine & chondroitin for joint health

    •Easy to digest

    •Additional vitamins & omegas for healthy skin & coat

    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  7. Wellness Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food

  8. Wellness Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food

    •Perfect for older, small breed dogs

    •Omegas and vitamins for healthy skin and coat

    •Probiotics, prebiotics, and herbs for digestion

    •Optimized blend of protein, fat, and carbohydrates

    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  9. Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low Calorie Dry Dog Food

  10. Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low Calorie Dry Dog Food

    •Formulated for weight management of senior dogs

    •L-carnitine for converting fat to energy

    •Key ingredients for better digestion

    •Multiple size options for bag

    Check Chewy Check Amazon

The Top Picks for Senior Dog Food: Ranked for 2022

#1 Best Overall: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Dry Dog Food

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

In addition to high-quality protein in the formula, other healthy ingredients include garden vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The best part about the formula is that it excludes poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives. The food is not only made using all-natural ingredients along, but also has added vitamins and minerals to help further organ function of senior dogs.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are also added into the food and help seniors maintain 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. The food also comes in varying types based on small, medium, or large breed dogs. Compared to other, more expensive brands, Blue Buffalo is a budget friendly option that doesn’t forfeit quality or quantity.

Best Overall
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Dry Dog Food

•High-protein senior dog food

•Includes essential vitamins & minerals

•Glucosamine and chondroitin aid in joint health

•Affordable

Check Chewy Check Amazon

#2 Best Canned: Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 7+ Wet Food

Splurge a little with this delectable Purina ProPlan Focus Adult 7+ wet food that will be easier for your senior dog to eat and digest. Their formula features a beef and rice formula with gravy that dogs are sure to enjoy. Each case includes 12 count 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.

Best Canned
Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Complete Essentials Chicken & Rice Entree Wet Dog Food, 13-oz can, case of 12

•Ideal wet dog food for 7+ years of age

•Formulated protein:fat ratio for healthy weight & body condition

•Omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin & coat

Check Chewy Check Amazon

#3 Best for Large Dogs: Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed 6+ Dog Food

Hill’s Science Diet offers a senior dog food designed with easy-to-digest ingredients that will meet the specific requirements of older large dogs, which is why we chose it as the best of its category.

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.

Best for Large Breeds
Hill's Science Diet Adult 6+ Large Breed Dry Dog Food

•Senior dog food for large breeds

•Glucosamine & chondroitin for joint health

•Easy to digest

•Additional vitamins & omegas for healthy skin & coat

Check Chewy Check Amazon

#4 Best for Small Dogs: Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Senior Dog Food

Consider the Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Senior Formula for your small dog, as it is specially formulated with wholesome ingredients and added vitamins for these breeds. Turkey is the first ingredient in this food, ensuring 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 harmful ingredients such as fillers, meat by-products, or artificial preservatives.

The 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. Probiotics, prebiotics, healthy fiber, and chicory root extract are added 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.

Best for Small dogs
Wellness Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food

•Perfect for older, small breed dogs

•Omegas and vitamins for healthy skin and coat

•Probiotics, prebiotics, and herbs for digestion

•Optimized blend of protein, fat, and carbohydrates

Check Chewy Check Amazon

#5 Best for Weight Loss: Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low Calorie Dry Dog Food

If you’re worried about canine obesity and the potential problems associated, 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.

Obesity in dogs can pose a serious threat to overall health but, specifically, joint health. The deteriorating joints now have added weight, making them become weaker, faster. This food contains targeted amounts of L-carnitine which helps 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.

Best for Weight Loss
Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low Calorie Dry Dog Food

•Formulated for weight management of senior dogs

•L-carnitine for converting fat to energy

•Key ingredients for better digestion

•Multiple size options for bag

Check Chewy Check Amazon

Summary

RankBest forProduct
1OverallBlue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Dry Dog Food
2CannedPurina Pro Plan Focus Adult 7+ Wet Food
3Large DogsHill’s Science Diet Large Breed 6+ Dog Food
4Small DogsWellness Complete Health Small Breed Senior Dog Food
5Weight LossNatural Balance Fat Dogs Low Calorie Dry Dog Food

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Last update on 2022-06-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Best Senior Dog Food: Reviewed for You 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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