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Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs

Last Updated: January 24, 2020
Jack Campbell
Product Review by Jack Campbell

In this guide, we’re going to cover how to choose the best dog food for senior dogs.

With many options to choose from, and specialized senior dog food being something relatively new to the market, it can be a little overwhelming. Making it that much more challenging to choose which one is best for your dog.

As your dog starts to age, their body starts to go through changes that slow them down. A proper diet is an excellent preventative measure and will instead potentially extend it.

We’ll give you our opinion on some of the best dog food for senior dogs in the market to help you with your senior dog.

Our Reviews

1

Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Hill’s Science Diet for senior dogs aged 7 and older supports energy and promotes a healthy immune system, using easy-to-digest nutrition in a precise balance to help them live a longer, healthier life.

Made in the USA, the synergistic blend endorses an ideal weight and encourages youthful vitality, as well as omega 6 fatty acids to boost coat health and nourish the skin.

Small Bites Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food only uses natural, high-quality ingredients and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • Fresh, whole food, high-quality ingredients that are naturally sourced
  • Small bites that are easier to eat
  • Reasonably priced
  • Features good weight control
  • Easy to digest

Cons

  • Lots of grains
2

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Farm Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Senior dogs require essential anti-oxidants to support their aging immune system and cognitive health, Nutro Wholesome Essentials dog food recipes incorporate farm-raised chicken, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.

Developed for older dogs, the Senior Farm Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe was crafted to help build muscle and maintain a healthy metabolism, their number-one ingredient is great-tasting, amino acid-rich U.S.-farm-raised chicken.

For help maintaining healthy joints, and the nutritional building blocks of healthy cartilage, they blend in naturally sourced glucosamine and chondroitin.

Lastly, to promote a healthy digestive environment, Nutro incorporates brown rice and oatmeal into their recipe.

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • Specially formulated to be easily digestible
  • Targets health issues that come with age
  • Decent amount of protein at 23%
  • There's a lot of truth in their advertising
  • Lower-cost option

Cons

  • Kibble pieces may be too big for smaller dogs
3

Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind developed their 7+ Chicken & Rice Formula after proprietary research revealed enhanced botanical oils provide an efficient fuel source for the brain in dogs aged 7 and older.

Dogs aged 7+ have reduced glucose metabolism in their brain, affecting memory, learning, awareness, and decision making.

For optimal digestive health, Purina source natural prebiotic fiber from wheat bran and botanical oils to promote alertness and mental sharpness.

Vitamin A and linoleic acid promote healthy skin and a shiny, beautiful coat by providing essential fatty acids to the blend.

Lower participation in daily activities is a sign that your dog is aging; Purina’s 7+ Chicken & Rice Formula helps to nourish their minds and interest in playing naturally.

Pros

  • Protein Rich at 29%
  • Specially formulated for senior dogs to benefit
  • Uses real meat

Cons

  • Requires a slow integration to normal diet
  • Not great for dogs with sensitive stomachs or that have allergies
4

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Chicken

The diet of wolves inspires this one; Blue Wilderness Senior Chicken formula is a grain-free, protein-rich food, made with natural ingredients that are specially designed to meet the needs of senior dogs.

Instead of the typical grains, you’ll often find in other dog foods, such as wheat, the healthy complex carbohydrates in the Senior formula are derived from sweet potatoes; ideal for providing your dog with that much-needed energy.

To meet your dog’s protein needs, the formula contains deboned chicken, chicken meat, and turkey.

It also supports antioxidant-enrichment via ingredients such as blueberries, cranberries, and carrots.

To top it all off, it even includes their special ‘LifeSource Bits’ – small, dark kibbles which are mixed into the Blue dog food. They’re a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support immune system health, and a healthy oxidative balance.

LifeSource Bits are ‘cold-formed’ which helps to preserve their potency; this ensures that your furry friend receives the full benefits of these vital nutrients.

So, if you have an older dog, this could be the ideal choice.

 

 

Pros

  • Incorporates naturally sourced, high-quality ingredients
  • Every ingredient is formulated to benefit the senior pooch
  • Targets common health issues in elderly dogs to prevent them
  • High in Protein at 30%
  • Relatively inexpensive cost

Cons

  • Not suitable for dogs with allergies
5

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Blue Buffalo dog foods consistently include natural ingredients such as high-quality real meal, healthy fruits, and wholesome grains, as well as added vitamins and minerals – and the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is no different.

No corn, wheat, soy, are to be found across their range and Blue make a promise not to use poultry by-products in any of their recipes.

Developed in the United States, the Senior Chicken and Brown Rice recipe is packed full of high-quality protein and L-Carnitine to help senior dogs maintain healthy muscles.

The pet food researchers at Blue strives to create and improve upon their reliable formula, catering for breed size, weight, management, and bite.

Their mix of Glucosamine and Chondroitin promote strong bones and teeth, joint health, and mobility, while Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids nourish healthy skin and coat.

Pros

  • Uses high-quality, naturally sourced ingredients
  • Designed for every ingredient to benefit the senior dog
  • Targets common health issues in elderly dogs to prevent them
  • Kibble bits are small, making it easier to eat
  • Decently affordable price

Cons

  • Not suitable for younger dogs
  • Not budget friendly

So What is the Best Senior Dog Food?

As with anything, the best food for your senior dog is going to vary based off of quite a few factors.

Your dog’s age, breed, health, and activity levels are just a few of the variables we can name.

Making it pretty confusing and difficult to determine precisely when to make the switch from adult to senior dog food.

For example, smaller breeds tend to mature faster. And once they reach adulthood, start to age slower.

Larger breeds could be considered senior citizens at around age 5 or 6. That said, most vets consider dogs to be part of the elderly once they become 7 or 8 years old.

With age comes an assortment of health issues. Requiring veterinary care and maintenance, making the best dog food for senior dogs a prescription diet in some cases.

Signs of Aging to Keep an Eye Out For

If your dog is showing any of the following signs, it may be time to switch them to senior dog food. The hints of aging in dogs to look out for include:

  • Lack of energy, sensitivity or intolerance to exercise, or a limit in mobility.
  • Sudden loss of appetite or weight loss/gain.
  • Gray, thinning, or drier fur and coat.
  • No restraint or other bathroom issues.
  • Getting tired quickly or sleeping more than usual.
  • Getting lost or confused – this could be a sign of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome or Alzheimer’s.
  • Behavioral changes – such as increased whining, or apprehension and fear of loud noises.
  • Lack of response to commands – may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or an indication of hearing problems.

Health Issues That Come With Age

As with humans, when dog’s age – their health and stamina slowly decline. The body’s ability to maintain normal functions and repair itself deteriorates.

Their metabolism starts to slow down, and they struggle to adapt to the stresses and changes in their environment.

Senior dogs also can experience a few health problems as well. Such as:

  • Joint Problems – like hip dysplasia or arthritis.
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Failure
  • Liver Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Constipation
  • Weight Gain or Loss

The more common of them being joint problems and constipation. It’s highly important to ensure your senior dog’s food caters to these health issues.

However, as previously mentioned, for the more serious ones – a veterinary prescribed, specialized diet may be required.

Nutritional Adjustments for Senior Dogs

A few of the nutritional adjustments that will be required once your dog joins the rankings of senior citizenship are laid out below.

Higher Protein Content

Just like with humans, senior dogs start losing muscle mass as they age. As a result, the protein stores of older dogs get depleted more quickly than in younger dogs.

To make up for that muscle loss and replenish their protein supplies – senior dogs require foods that have high protein content.

That said, it is recommended that per 1000 calories, there should be at least 75 grams of protein in an older dog’s diet.

However, if your senior dog has kidney disease, this could be detrimental and worsen the illness. As in most adult dog food, the phosphorous content increases parallel to the protein.

Something you want to avoid with kidney disease is the increase of the phosphorous content.

Therefore, you should consult with your vet on how to reduce phosphorous intake while still being able to increase the needed protein.

More or Less Fiber

Psyllium is a fiber blend of both soluble and insoluble fibers that is commonly used in senior dog foods. Which is great for improving the general health of your dog’s gastrointestinal system.

Too much fiber can compromise the ability to absorb other essential nutrients.

Whereas a diet rich in fiber, but not too much, will help relieve your older dog from constipation.

Calorie Density

As with any dog, there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the calorie intake for senior dogs. It depends on whether your senior needs to lose or gain weight.

Most vets and experts recommend low-calorie diets of around 350-450 calories per cup of kibble. Since senior dogs are not as active as they were when they were young.

Digestibility Ease

Older dogs are more vulnerable to digestion-related problems as they age. Such as food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and pancreatitis.

Senior dog foods that use high-quality, naturally sourced ingredients that are hypoallergenic are a good preventative measure. Especially if they are easier for their digestive system to break down.

Joint Supplement Additions

Older dogs, especially if obese, are more susceptible to arthritis and other joint issues. You should supplement their diet with glucosamine and/or chondroitin to reduce these symptoms.

Also, consider foods that have nutrients proven to minimize inflammation in the joints. Such as omega-3 fatty acid rich EPA and DHA.

Recap

The great thing about all of these products is they don’t need a veterinary prescription to purchase them.

And quite a few do target special needs of senior dogs – like joint problems and digestibility.

Senior dogs need a well-balanced dog food that’s high in fiber, low in calories, and contain sufficient amounts of fat and protein.

There were two that it was tough to decide on a winner between, but alas, there can only be one victor in the end.

With Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food as a close runner up.

The best dog food for senior dogs in our opinion and the winner out of all the products we reviewed is Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Farm Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food.

They source a lot of high-quality, natural ingredients and not a lot of fillers or additives.

If you’ve had an experience with any of these products that you want to share or a suggestion that didn’t make the list – be sure to share! We love to hear from you!

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