As your dog gets older, their nutritional needs change. In the same way that puppies should eat puppy food, senior dogs should eat senior dog food. Senior dog food is specially formulated for your aging pup, but sometimes it is difficult to determine which senior dog food is the best for your dog, after all, there are lots of options. Below is a quick guide to buying senior dog food, and reviews of some of the best senior dog foods, as well as my personal recommendation.
Benefits of Buying Dog Food for Senior Dogs
The main benefit of buying senior dog food is that it will meet the unique nutritional requirements of senior dogs. As dogs get older, they naturally become less active and certain conditions, like arthritis, can exacerbate the problem.
If your dog is still eating regular dog food, odds are they are getting way too many carbs and calories, which only make them fatter and less mobile. A dog’s metabolism slows down when they get old, so reducing calorie and carb intake is a good way to make sure your dog doesn’t become obese as they age.
High protein diets also promote a healthy weight and may reduce the risk of kidney related problems. Senior dog food is also crucial for senior dogs because it contains low sodium and fat levels, too much of either of those things can lead to numerous health complications.
Factors to Consider Before Buying Dog Food for Senior Dogs
Before buying a senior dog food, you will want to consider what breed your dog is. Some senior dog foods are only meant for certain breeds of dogs. Giving your dog food that is intended for a different breed can make it so they are not getting all the nutrients that they need, or not getting the right levels of them.
You will also want to take into consideration any health conditions that your dog has. Certain health conditions may affect what your senior dog’s diet should look like. For example, a dog with arthritis may benefit from food with micronutrients such as chondroitin and glucosamine, both of which are known to relieve inflammation.
Other health conditions that can affect your dog’s diet include cancer, dementia, gum disease, kidney disease, deafness, diabetes, and blindness. Knowing about your canine health conditions will help you pick a dog food that is just right for your pooch.
Lastly, you will want to consider wet versus dry food. Dry food is more common than wet food, but they both have their advantages. Wet food is especially good for senior dogs who have weak, decayed, or missing teeth since it is easier to chew.
Wet food is also a good choice for senior dogs who are no longer interested in dry kibble or refuse to eat it. There is a pretty good chance the dog doesn’t want to eat the kibble because they have lost some of their smell or taste capabilities and it just doesn’t taste good anymore.
Wet food, on the other hand, tends to be tender and savory and packed with flavor, which is more likely to entice your dog. Unfortunately, wet food cannot be left out as long as kibble, simply because you have to chuck it if your older dog doesn’t eat it after a few hours.
This can be pretty unfortunate considering any wet food worth buying is likely going to cost more than dry kibble. Furthermore, wet food can be very messy so you need to consider whether or not you are willing to clean it up when your dog makes a mess.
Tips for Choosing the Best Senior Dog Food for Your Needs
If your dog hasn’t had a comprehensive vet visit in a while, it is a good idea to take them before you start shopping for food. Taking your dog to the vet will allow you to find out about any health conditions you may not have been aware of that would affect their diet.
This is also a good chance to get an expert opinion as to what to feed your furry friend, just ask your vet what they would recommend for your dog. Lastly, you want to always look at the ingredients used before making a final decision.
Your goal should be to give your pooch only the best ingredients, so try to avoid fillers, byproducts, and artificial flavors and colors. The first ingredient in a good dog food should always be some kind of meat; protein is crucial in a senior dog’s diet.
A great dog food will also include unprocessed whole grains, fruits, and veggies. If there are any other ingredients that your vet says your dog absolutely needs, likely for health conditions, make sure they are included as well.
For example, if your dog is suffering from vision loss, a dog food rich in beta-carotene and docosahexaenoic acid is key. However, usually dog foods with natural, high-quality ingredients cost a bit more. If you are on a tight budget you may have to settle for a more processed food, just make sure it is still meant for seniors and you should be fine.
Once you choose a food, I recommend purchasing a small bag first so you can see if your dog will eat it and how it may affect them. When you try a new food, there are certain things you should look for in your dog, including changes to their skin and coat, stool, and energy levels.
Keeping an eye on these things will let you know how your dog is reacting to a certain food and whether or not it is working for them.
List of Dog Foods That Appeal to the Nutritious Needs of Senior Dogs
1 – Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food
Top Features/ Specs
Flavor: Chicken and Barley
Sizes: 5-pound bag, 15-pound bag, & 30-pound bag
Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, & oatmeal
Healthy and Complete Diet
Besides the top 5 ingredients, I already listed, Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food also contains fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants, and several other vitamins, nutrients, and herbs, which each serve their own purpose.
When it is all put together, this dog food constitutes a healthy and well-balanced diet for your senior pup. This particular senior dog food contains 9% Fewer Calories.
Since senior dogs have slower metabolisms, they also need fewer calories, which is why this food contains 9% fewer calories than the adult version. This may not sound like enough, but it does contain most of the needed nutrients.
If you feed your senior dog adult dog food, the extra calories they are eating will add up over time and likely cause your dog to gain weight, and actually become less healthy.
Added Glucosamine & Chondroitin
A very common problem among senior dogs is the joint and hip pain. As dogs get older, their joints wear down, sometimes leading to arthritis. Thankfully, Glucosamine and Chondroitin are both in this food, which helps maintain joint and hip health, reduce inflammation, and may even relieve joint pains caused by arthritis.
This dog food is all natural, with no meat by-products, corn, soy, wheat, or artificial flavorings, colorings, and preservatives. It almost all sounds too good to be true, but it’s true, this dog food is naturally preserved, eliminating the need for artificial preservatives.
The only disadvantage of this dog food is that it is the most expensive one on the list. Some people would argue that means it is the best, which means it would be worth the investment.
I wouldn’t call this dog food the best just because it is the most expensive. However, it is definitely worth what you pay for it.
2 – Nutro Ultra Wet Dog Food
Top Features/ Specs:
Flavor: Chunks in Gravy
Sizes: 12 pack of 12.5 oz. cans
Top 3 Ingredients: Chicken broth, chicken, & chicken liver
Nutro didn’t create chunks from “meat”, or some other kind of fake junk disguised as meat, no, they created chunks from high-quality cuts of protein. This wet food contains chicken, lamb, and salmon meat, which gives your dog essential amino acids they need.
This Nutro Ultra Wet Dog Food has tons of great ingredients, so it only makes sense that there are also some great health benefits. This food supports healthy digestion and a strong immune system, as well as healthy fur and skin.
Almost all of these health benefits are a direct result of the complete, and balanced diet that Nutro provides your pet with.
Speaking of healthy diets for your dog, you can’t get any better than all natural products, which is what this dog food is packed with. This food contains a unique blend of 14 superfoods, designed to give your dog the key nutrients they need to feel their best.
Nutro is committed to using natural ingredients, including natural colors, flavors, and preservatives, rather than artificial ones.
Foods don’t usually come with any kind of warranty or satisfaction guarantee, but this dog food does. Nutro has a 100% satisfaction or your money back guarantee. This means there is no risk in buying it and letting your dog try it.
The only downside I have found with this particular dog food is that it contains gluten. For most dogs, this doesn’t matter, but there are some dogs out there with gluten sensitivities.
If you know your dog is sensitive to gluten, try another food on this list, if your dog isn’t sensitive to gluten, there is nothing wrong with this food.
3 – Blue Basics Limited-Ingredient Formula Senior Dry Dog Food
Top Features/ Specs
Flavor: Turkey and Potato
Sizes: 4-pound bag & 24-pound bag
Top 3 Ingredients: Deboned turkey, brown rice, & oatmeal
Blue Buffalo is particular about what they let in their dog food. They carefully choose what goes in and are strict about what must stay out. Blue Basics contains absolutely no dairy, eggs, soy, corn, or wheat. By excluding these ingredients, and several others, Blue Basics has made a dog food that may help animals with food sensitivities.
The unique LifeSource Bits in all of Blue’s dry recipes are a precise blend of carefully chosen vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which ensures that your dog is getting the precise nutrients they need.
When your dog is getting all the nutrients they need, their body functions better and they can live a healthier life. Health benefits you may see in your dog if you choose this food are as follows: more energy and being more active, healthy and strong muscles, a healthier heart and joints, and improved eye & brain health.
One advantage of feeding your dog Blue Basics is the deboned turkey that is in every scoop of food. Turkey is a very healthy source of lean protein, which has fewer calories than other sources of protein like beef.
As we have learned, senior dogs do not need a bunch of extra calories, so the turkey in this food gives them the protein they need, without adding a bunch of calories.
The only thing I don’t like about this food is the sizes it comes in. I wish there were some kind of middle ground between 4 pounds and 24 pounds, but those are the only options. This doesn’t take away from the food in any way, it is just a bit inconvenient.
4 – Blue Buffalo BLUE Senior Dog
Top Features/ Specs
Flavor: Chicken & Brown Rice
Sizes: 6-pound bag, 15-pound bag, & 30-pound bag
Top 3 Ingredients: Deboned chicken, brown rice, & barley
With absolutely no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors, this dog food uses all natural ingredients as much as they can. With real chicken, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, your pup is eating a well-balanced diet.
Packed with Vitamins
Blue Buffalo has packed this dry food with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This provides your dog with all the key nutrients they need.
Improved Bone and Teeth Health
This dog food is a good source of calcium and phosphorous in your dog’s diet, as well as several essential vitamins. All of these things help to keep bones and teeth strong and healthy.
Another thing I like about this one is that it has no corn, wheat, or soy in it, which makes it a great option for dogs with food allergies or intolerances. This also means it’s much easier for them to digest than typical dog food.
When you start your dog on a new food, especially senior dogs, they may be reluctant to eat it. This isn’t exclusive to this particular dog food, but it could happen. However, an easy fix is to slowly switch your dog over to the new food.
Each day you add a little more new food, and a little less old food into your dog’s food bowl and after about a week or so their food bowl should be filled with just the new food.
5 – Iams Proactive Health Senior and Mature Adult Dry Dog Food
Top Features/ Specs
Flavor: Mature Adult w/ Real Chicken
Sizes: 7 pound bag, 15 pound bag, & 29.1 pound bag
Top 3 Ingredients: Ground whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum, & chicken by-product meal
Supports Overall Wellness
Iams Proactive Health is packed full of antioxidants, which are meant to boost the immune system. It also contains beta carotene, which is known to play a key role in healthy skin and good vision, even in dogs.
Made with Real Chicken
This particular dog food features real chicken, which is a great source of lean protein. It also gives the kibble an irresistible smell and taste for your dog.
Lastly, this dog food has a good bit of L-Carnitine in it, which is known to burn fat and maintain a healthy metabolism. This will be especially useful for senior dogs who have grown lazy and obese. It is never too late to start them on a healthy diet.
Iams Proactive Health is an affordable option that will still give your dog the nutrients they need. Considering you pay almost twice that for the same size bag of some other brands, I would say this is a pretty good deal.
This isn’t a very high-end brand of dog food, so while it does have some great ingredients, the ingredients are not as high quality as some of the other brands. Like I said though, this Iams food will give your dog what they need, it just doesn’t go above and beyond.
6 – Purina One SmartBlend Vibrant Maturity 7+ Formula Dry Dog Food
Top Features/ Specs
Flavor: Vibrant Maturity w/ Real Chicken
Sizes: 4 pound bag, 8 pound bag, 16.5 pound bag, & 31.1 pound bag
Top 3 Ingredients: Chicken, rice flour, corn gluten meal
Real Meat Morsels
What sets this bag of food apart from the rest is its tender and juicy meat morsels scattered throughout the kibble. This makes it so the food is both chewy and crunchy and is like a little treat for your dog.
Purina One SmartBlend was designed to be easily digestible by dogs. This means that your dog’s body can break it down better and absorb more of the nutrients it needs. This should also eliminate any uncomfortableness your dog may experience during digestion.
Enhanced Botanical Oils
Purina also included enhanced botanical oils in this dog food, which has been shown to promote mental sharpness. Everyone’s mind starts to go a little wacky once you reach a certain age, but this dog food can help keep your dog’s brain healthy and sharp.
Instead of using fillers to just take up space, Purina used ingredients with a purpose, so there wasn’t even room for fillers. Yep, this dog food is 0% filler. A natural source of glucosamine is also in this food, which promotes joint health, a common issue for senior dogs.
This food focuses heavily on the meat and the various vitamins and minerals. There are fewer fruits and veggies in this food, but there are a lot of vitamins and minerals that probably help make up for it.
7 – Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb Meal & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
Top Features/ Specs
Flavor: Lamb Meal & Rice
Sizes: 4.5-pound bag, 15-pound bag, & 30-pound bag.
Top 3 Ingredients: Lamb meat, ground rice, & ground whole wheat
Lean Protein and Carbs
The main meat in this food, lamb, packs a bunch of protein in a very lean package, meaning it provides nourishing proteins to your dog, without also adding excessive calories. The brown rice is also a lean carbohydrate, which gives your dog more energy, without a lot of calories.
Vitamins and Minerals Galore
This food has virtually every vitamin and mineral you can think of. From Vitamin A, B, C and D, to zinc, copper, and manganese proteinate, this dog food has it all. The vitamins and minerals will also have numerous health benefits for your dog, like improving your dog’s coat and skin.
Improves Digestion & Immune Function
And finally, the fiber from the oatmeal and the barley act as a digestive aid and supports overall immune function. Both the immune and digestive systems play crucial roles inside of your dog’s body, so it is important they remain healthy.
Nature’s Recipe has been providing nutritional and delicious food to dogs for over thirty years. This means that they have a good reputation and you can trust buying from them.
The only thing I have found “wrong” with this food is that wheat is included. Like before, this only matters if your dog has some kind of sensitivity or allergy, if they don’t, you have nothing to worry about.
Who’s the Winner?
Without a doubt, the best dog food on this list is the Blue Buffalo BLUE Senior Dog. I have had great success with this one in my own home and I highly recommend it to anyone with a senior dog. I have noticed such a huge difference in her since starting this food and she seems way happier.
She loves the taste of the real chicken, and I could tell right away because she gobbled up the whole bowl of food pretty much right after I put it down, which she hadn’t done in forever. This food does a superb job of providing a full, well balanced, and nutritious diet, which is one of the best things you can give your dog.