7 Best Dog Foods For Older Dogs

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Are you looking for the best senior dog food? We’ve got you covered.

Dogs are not just dogs, they are family, and it’s natural that we want to take care of them the best that we can.

Just like people, as dogs age they start to slow down, often being less mobile and experiencing changes to their metabolism.

As pet parents there are various ways we can help our dogs through old age — one of which is to make sure that they are eating well and receiving all the nutrition they need as their bodies change.

Do Older Dogs Have Specific Dietary Needs?

As a dogs’ metabolism changes, the way that their bodies use energy from the food they eat changes.

They start to become less active and process fats and calories differently, so their diets need to be altered to keep them healthy and prevent them from gaining weight.

Doing so limits stress on joints, keeps the heart, kidneys and immune system functioning correctly, and reduces the risk of age related diseases such as cancers, diabetes, and arthritis.

There are a wide range of dog foods available that are designed specially for seniors.

Let’s take a look at them in more detail…

best dog food for senior dogs

Best Ingredients For Senior Dogs

The best diets for senior dogs are composed of high quality, highly digestible sources of protein, fats, and carbohydrates which place less stress on the digestive system, allowing it to function more easily so that the body can keep a natural, healthy balance of energy without putting strain on vital organs and the immune system.

So what kind of ingredients should you be including in your senior dog’s diet?

Here’s a list of some of the most important…

Omega Fatty Acids

Omega fatty acids are healthy fats that are vital for boosting the immune system and improving the body’s ability to heal effectively by increasing cell growth, keeping organs such as heart and kidneys in good health, reducing inflammation and easing arthritis, plus keeping skin and coat in tip top condition.

They cannot be created in the body, so it is important that they are provided as parts of your dog’s diet. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are two of the best fatty acids for senior dogs, and are best found in oily fish such as salmon, but can also be found in algae oil and certain nuts and seeds, like linseed and walnuts.

Antioxidants

Scientifically proven to improve memory and cognitive function in senior dogs, as well as supporting the immune system, antioxidants are another important ingredient to look out for in any prepared food for older dogs.

Antioxidants are beneficial molecules that neutralize toxic free radicals floating around in your pet’s body before they can attack healthy cells and tissue.

The best sources of antioxidants include the vitamins certain fruits and vegetables such as vitamin A in brightly colored fruits and veggies like apricots, broccoli, carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes, vitamin C in citrus fruits and green, leafy veggies, and vitamin E which can be found in nuts and seeds.

Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are another great source.

Protein

Even if your senior pooch is still getting a good amount of exercise, he or she will unfortunately still lose muscle mass as part of the aging process. There are various reasons why this is not a good thing.

Firstly, losing muscle can put extra stress on bones and joints as they are less well supported. Also, less muscle means less protein stored in the body, which can lead to an impaired immune system and reducing the amount of amino acids available for maintaining energy levels and healing tissue. Providing enough quality protein as part of your dog’s diet is essential.

For dogs the best sources of protein are real whole meats and fish. As older dogs are more prone to weight gain it is best to choose leaner meats such as turkey, chicken, rabbit, or human grade beef.

A quality source of protein should be the listed as the premier ingredient in any decent senior dog food.

Good Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide energy in the form of glucose, and fiber to aid digestion. Senior dogs still need carbohydrates in their diet in order to stay healthy, even if they are less active.

Whole grains such as bulgur, brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa — as well as vegetables such as carrots, green beans, and pumpkin — are the best sources of carbohydrate for older dogs, and they provide a good dose of vitamins and minerals too.

Fat and Calories

Fats in senior dog food can either be beneficial or detrimental depending on the individual dog.

Overweight seniors should have a diet which is low in fat, but on the other hand, dogs who have difficulty in metabolizing food and who are losing weight can benefit from a diet higher in fat in order to gain weight.

Hounds who are suffering from a a loss of appetite may also be encouraged to eat if presented with a more fatty, appetizing dish.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

While not strictly necessary provided your senior dog is of a correct, healthy weight, glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate supplements can help ease arthritis and joint pain.

best dog food for older dogs


Ingredients To Avoid

Refined Carbohydrates

Quality carbohydrates are a necessary addition to any dog’s diet, but it’s crucial to ensure that the food your dog is eating contains only good carbohydrates and not bad carbohydrates.

As previously mentioned, good carbohydrates come in the form of whole grains and certain fruits and vegetables. Bad carbohydrates on the other hand are refined carbohydrates.

These are grains which have been milled, removing almost all of their nutritional value. Not only that, but they are also absorbed too quickly by the body, providing an unhealthy rush of calories and glucose.

Often used as fillers to bulk out prepared dog foods at minimum cost to the manufacturer, these refined carbohydrates include white flour, semolina, cornmeal, and white rice.

Fats and Calories

Changes in metabolic rate cause older dogs to burn fewer calories and more to be stored as fat, meaning that they require less in their diet than older dogs.

A high fat diet could well cause your senior dog to gain weight, putting strain on joints and organs, and compromising his or her immune system.

Unless your pooch has a problem gaining weight he or she will benefit best from eating a food with less fat and fewer calories.

Animal Meal / Animal Byproducts

Protein is probably the most important ingredient in any dog food, but not all protein sources are healthy.

Senior dog foods may contain animal byproducts or animal meal rather than good quality chunks of whole meat.

Animal byproducts are essentially the parts of an animal that humans would never eat, including bones, skin, beaks, brains, hooves, intestines, feathers, grease and blood. In addition these products may often come from livestock animals that have been killed because they were diseased or dying, or already dead.

When these products are ground down they are given the label meat meal. Needless to say that these are not sources of quality protein, and may often be detrimental to the health of your pet.

Artificial Flavors, Preservatives, and Coloring

Artificial flavorings such as MSG, corn syrup and propylene glycol, artificial preservatives including sodium nitrate, BHA, and BHT, and artificial colorings, have no nutritional value and many are known to be carcinogenic and / or cause allergic reactions or food sensitivities.

Best Senior Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

best food for senior dogs

Tasty real meat is the major ingredient of Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula.

This recipe for large breed senior dogs contains genuine deboned chicken and L-Carnitine for healthy lean muscle development, along with antioxidant rich blueberries and cranberries, and healthy nutrient rich vegetables including carrots and sweet potatoes.

Wholesome whole grains such as barley and oatmeal add a good source of carbohydrates, and Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements ensure that your dog’s joints stay flexible for as long as possible.

This complete diet for senior dogs also contains essential omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and is free from artificial preservatives and flavors.

Pros

  • Real meat is the first ingredient
  • Specially formulated with large breed dogs in mind
  • Suitable for dogs with joint problems
  • Very easy to digest
  • Good nutritional balance, chelated minerals and probiotics
  • No artificial additives
  • Doesn’t contain chicken by products

Cons

  • Relatively low protein and fat content
  • On the more expensive end

senior dog food

Merrick Grain Free Senior Dry Dog Food Recipe

best senior dog food

Large quantities of top quality deboned fish, poultry, or red meat make up 55% of the ingredients in the Merrick Grain Free Senior Dry Dog Food Recipe, which is ideal for creating lean muscle and keeping your pet feeling sprightly.

Salmon oil and meal provides omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids to keep coat and skin in top condition.

The grain free recipe also contains an excellent mix of nutrient packed vegetables and fruit including sweet potatoes, apples and blueberries.

L-Carnitine is included to assist your dog’s metabolism, and the addition of glucosamine and chondroitin works to keep bones strong and joints supple.

The grain free formula with added probiotics is easy on the gastrointestinal system, helps dogs to absorb nutrients, and may help combat allergies.

Pros

  • Very high quality protein content
  • Suitable for dogs with digestive issues
  • Contains beneficial supplements for good canine health
  • Free from artificial preservatives and meat byproducts
  • Ideal for active seniors
  • Can help with weight loss
  • Most dogs love the taste
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Some of the proteins come from peas and potatoes rather than meat

senior dog food

Orijen Senior Dry Dog Food

best dog food for older dogs

Created to mimic what a wild dog would eat, Orijen Senior Dry Dog Food contains free range chicken and turkey and eggs, plus wild caught fish and liver which makes up the excellent 38% protein content that is perfect for building and maintaining muscle mass and heart function.

Even better — two thirds of the meat in every bag of food is fresh and refrigerated rather than frozen or preserved using additives, and the other third is carefully dried to retain a maximal protein content, which gives the Orijen Senior Dry Dog Food recipe an unbeatable meaty taste.

The recipe also contains low quantities of carbohydrates and fats to promote a healthy weight.

There are no supplements or artificial additives in this food for senior dogs, instead Orijen rely on natural ingredients to provide all the nutrients elderly pets require.

A huge variety of vegetables such as butternut squash, pinto beans, green lentils, kale, spinach, and carrot, as well as fruit and seeds including apple, watermelon, juniper berries, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds contain all the necessary vitamins and minerals as nature intended.

Pros

  • Very high quality meat content
  • Designed to meet dogs’ biological and evolutionary needs
  • No grains or artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors
  • Delicious for dogs
  • Provide good support for arthritis and joint problems
  • Promotes digestive health
  • Good for weight loss
  • Diverse ingredients

Cons

  • Expensive

senior dog food

Blue Buffalo Blue Freedom Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog Food

best dog food for senior dogs

For senior dogs with allergies, Blue Buffalo Blue Freedom Grain-Free Chicken Recipe Senior Dry Dog Food could be the perfect solution, as it contains zero gluten and grains which are known to be triggers for allergic conditions.

This complete dog diet for senior dogs also contains Blue Buffalo’s exclusive ‘life source bits’, which are a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to support the immune system, maintain a healthy oxidative balance, and promote heart, bone and tissue health, keep skin and fur in good condition, improve metabolism, and encourage lean muscle growth.

Pros

  • No grain formula
  • Free from artificial flavors and preservatives
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals including omega fatty acids
  • Easily digestible
  • Good choice for typically active dogs
  • Ideal for dogs with joint problems

Cons

  • May not be suitable for dogs with weight problems

senior dog food

Nulo Senior Grain Free Dog Food 

best senior dog food

Less grains means a higher protein content and a lower carb content for senior dogs who are fed a diet of Nulo Senior Grain Free Dog Food.

Not only does this make this kibble more easily digestible, it is also great for pets with sensitive stomachs.

This senior dog food also provides your pet with quality animal protein which promotes muscle growth and helps keep the heart healthy.

Antioxidant fruit and vegetables combined with added vitamins and minerals in the recipe give your dog’s immune system a boost.

A lower carbohydrate content plus the addition of Glucosamine and Chondrotin help to keep weight under control in order to avoid overloading joints and organs for better mobility and overall health.

Nulo use only the best quality ingredients in their senior food, and include probiotics and L-Carnitine which assist in regulating the metabolism correctly.

Pros

  • Made from top quality, fresh, natural ingredients
  • High protein content
  • Provides dogs with nutrition similar to their ancestral diet
  • Easy to digest
  • Good for dogs with sensitive digestive tracts
  • Increases energy levels
  • Great for dogs who need to lose weight
  • Small kibble size is easy to eat for older teeth

Cons

  • Odor can be unappealing for some owners
  • A little expensive

senior dog food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Senior Dry Dog Food

dog food for seniors

Available in either chicken or lamb flavor for both small and large breeds, Nutro Wholesome Essentials Natural Senior Dry Dog Food incorporates fresh, farm raised meat as the premier ingredient.

A combination of non GMO vegetables, fruit, and whole grains including legumes, sweet potato, barley, blueberries, carrots, apples, and beets provide the necessary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals an elderly dog needs.

Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids in the form of fish oils are included in the recipe in order to ensure that your dog has healthy skin and a glossy coat.

This kibble for senior dogs contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, or animal byproducts.

Pros

  • High quality ingredients from trusted suppliers
  • Whole meat is the highest percentage ingredient
  • No fillers or artificial ingredients
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals
  • Non GMO
  • Helps maintain good cognitive function
  • Appeals to picky eaters
  • Easy to digest

Cons

  • May contain trace amounts of GMO products
  • Food can sometimes go stale quickly

senior dog food

Nutro Max Natural Adult Dry Dog Food

best food for older dogs

Another product from the Nutro range, Nutro Max Natural Adult Dry Dog Food senior recipe features farm raised chicken responsibly sourced from field to bowl.

Wholesome nutrition is provided in the form of non GMO meat, peas, oatmeal, brown rice, flaxseed, chick peas, fish oils rich in omega 3, and a wide range of added vitamins and minerals to promote good health for your aging pet.

Nothing artificial goes into the Nutro Max Natural Adult Dry Dog Food recipe, nor wheat, corn or soy which may trigger allergies.

Pros

  • Ideal for medium sized breeds
  • Free from chemicals
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • Affordable
  • Made from good quality ingredients
  • No chicken byproducts
  • Seems to please most fussy eaters

Cons

  • Chicken meal rather than chicken meat is the premier ingredient
  • Contains quite a lot of filler ingredients

senior dog food


Which do you think is the best food for senior dogs?

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