Just like humans, senior dogs need to watch what they eat to stay healthy. This is because an aging body needs fewer calories, more protein, and tons of different vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to function properly.
It’s difficult to accept that your dog might be aging, but feeding them the right food can help any canine feel peppy, spunky, and young for a long time. Just make sure you give them the right amount and are paying attention to their individual needs.
There are a couple of features that truly make a dog food one meant for seniors, and the most important are those nutritional changes, digestibility, and softness. After careful consideration, we identified four of the best senior dog foods currently on the market that meet these qualifications and will make any senior dog feel like a puppy again.
This dry dog food comes in 4.5 lb. bags and features crucial ingredients like wild turkey, fish, and chicken, which add lean protein to the overall formula. The food is 38% protein, making it an excellent option for aging dogs who are struggling to maintain muscle mass. It is easily digestible and flash frozen while raw to ensure it retains freshness and doesn’t break down during transport and shelving.
This food additionally limits its carbohydrates to 19%, another great feature since canines don’t need carbohydrates to be healthy. Fresh vegetables are added to boost the total fiber as well, including turnip greens, carrots, and spinach, and kale. Pears and apples are also utilized for their dietary fiber and vitamins.
Orijen is soft and easy for senior dogs to chew, making it a favorite for those suffering from dental health problems. All ingredients are sourced from the United States, where the product is packaged and sold. The only downside to including so many different meats, fruits, and vegetables is that this food is not ideal for dogs that have preexisting allergies, as it might trigger a reaction.
While it is not the best for canines that have allergies, numerous users reported that their dogs exhibited more energy, hair growth, and better gum health after using Origen for several weeks. Each 4.5 lb. bag costs around $30.
- Packed full of protein
- Low carbohydrates
- Tons of fiber
- Easy to chew
- Not great for pets with allergies
The Annamaet dry dog food is designed to be one of the easiest for canines to chew, featuring small kibble pieces about 3/8 of an inch in diameter. The formula is completely grain free, making it easy to digest for all breeds of dogs and helping to counteract the allergic reactions often seen in canines that consume corn, wheat, and soy.
This formula utilizes animal protein primarily from fish, including freshly caught silver carp. It is bred and caught in sustainable conditions, making this an environmentally conscious food as well. One feature ingredient is the presence of L-Carnitine, which promotes muscle growth and healthy muscle mass. This helps stop deterioration in the old age.
There are several ingredients that are actually unique to this formula, not being seen in many other alternatives. One is coconut oil, which researchers believe is essential for helping promote canine brain health. Another is turmeric, which is anti-inflammatory and works to reduce joint injuries and the pain of arthritis. Prebiotics promote digestion and a great GI tract.
There are roughly 366 calories in a cup of this dog food, making it a high calorie, high protein option for senior dogs that struggle to properly digest and metabolize energy from their food. Clear portion instructions are included on the packaging to explain how much a dog needs.
Annamaet REJUVENATE Senior Dry Dog Food comes in containers of 12 lbs. and costs around $55.
- Tons of protein
- High caloric content
- Promotes muscle growth and mass
- Includes prebiotics
- No grains are used
- High caloric content
When you have an aging large dog, it can be difficult to find a senior food that comes in large enough portions and contains enough joint health ingredients to keep them happy. Dr. Tim’s Kinesis All Life Stages Dog Food is a great option because it comes in up to 45 lb. bags for around $60 and includes tons of natural ingredients essential for promoting muscle, joint, and organ health.
This formula uses a slow cooking method to limit how many nutrients are lost from ingredients during the process, ensuring there is still adequate protein and fiber. It utilizes fresh meats from chicken, fish, and turkey to create a formula that includes 79% animal protein.
Each bag includes digestible kibble that is softer for aging teeth. Ocean fish oil is utilized for DHA and EPA, which will reduce inflammation while improving the function of the heart, brain, and immune system. It also aids in the reduction of shedding and can help senior dogs maintain a healthy, shiny coat.
All of the ingredients in this formula are sourced from the United States and Europe to ensure quality. To minimize allergic reactions, no corn or soy is included just because these products are not digestible by many canines.
- Excellent option for large dogs
- No corn or soy included
- Tons of fiber
- Tons of animal protein
- Improves coat health
- Great for dogs with allergies
- Slightly expensive
- Uses some plant proteins
The Nutro Max Natural Senior dog food comes in containers of 25 lbs., making it an excellent option for someone with an aging bigger dog. This formula heavily utilizes wild and farm fresh chicken to ensure each hound gets an adequate amount of protein. No chicken by-product is included, as well as no filler ingredients like corn, wheat, or soy protein.
Like some other foods, the Nutro Max senior formula utilizes other fresh ingredients like fruit and vegetables to meet the dietary fiber needs of canine. The manufacturers are also careful to include essential vitamins and minerals as well as glucosamine and Omega-3 fatty acids to promote joint and kidney health. It deliberately steers clear of sodium and phosphates, which can actually increase blood pressure and reduce kidney function.
Clear portion guidelines for this food are included on the back of the bag. Although dry, this dog food is still in the form of soft pellets that are chewable for canines of all shapes and sizes. There are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
One nice feature about this food is that each bag of Nutro Max Senior Dog Food purchased from a retailer like Amazon comes from a manufacturer’s guarantee and return policy. This means if your dog doesn’t like it or doesn’t respond well, you can return the food.
A 25 lb. costs around $30, making it great for someone who wants to feed their dog a quality senior food while still being on a budget. This product is highly recommend for large dogs.
- Great size for large dogs
- Protein comes from fresh chicken
- No soy, corn, or wheat protein included
- Manufacturer’s guarantee included
- Some dogs might have an allergic reaction to the vegetable ingredients
What to Look for When Buying a Senior Dog Food
While many of us like to think that our senior dogs are just old puppies, the truth is they need different nutrition than their younger counterparts. To stay healthy, a senior dog needs a food that makes adjustments in calories, protein, overall composition, and what kind of supplements are included to keep the body healthy and strong.
A calorie is a unit of energy produced by food when it is metabolized. Every living thing needs a specific amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight and survive. For dogs, the average caloric burn a day varies wildly between 250 and 3,000. This means you, as an owner, need to know your dog’s weight to give them the right amount.
When a dog is young, the standard rule of thumb is that they need between 25 and 30 calories per pound per day. So, a 10 lb. Chihuahua needs 250, while a 100 lb. Great Dane might need 3,000. These rules change when dogs get older, because their bodies can go one of two ways – they either start to burn less, or they might struggle to metabolize food. The first causes weight gain, while the second is weight loss.
Monitor your dog’s weight. If they start to gain on the same food you have been giving them, switch to a low calorie senior alternative. If they lose weight, switch to one with more calories to help facilitate healthy weight.
Senior dogs need digestible protein to help them maintain their muscle mass and stay healthy. As any animal ages, muscle mass starts to deteriorate because the body struggles to metabolize protein and remain stable. Extra protein can help a senior dog stay in shape and remain healthy during their golden years. Just make sure it comes in a form they can chew and digest.
You might have noticed that a lot of dog food comes in the form of hard kibble. In many cases, this is done to preserve the food and promote strong gums and teeth in young canines. As a dog ages, their teeth and gums weaken, making it difficult to chew kibble. Cracked teeth and gum infections are common.
To avoid this problem, find a senior dog food that is soft and easy for your canine to chew. The best option will be one that comes as soft pellets full of the aforementioned digestible protein. If this isn’t available, switch to soft foods like canned alternatives.
Finally, there are numerous additional acids, nutrients, and vitamins that dogs need to live their best senior lives. These include supplements like fiber, antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids, and glucosamine. Such ingredients promote joint health, solid bowel movements, reduced inflammation, and better immune systems.
You should also identify a food that is low in sodium and phosphates. These ingredients can hinder kidney function and drive up blood pressure, making them poor choices for a healthy diet. Most senior dog foods will include little of these additives.
Some other good supplements are fiber, which will promote digestive regulation; turmeric to reduce inflammation; and healthy ocean fish oils which will maintain brain function and encourage a strong immune system.
In general, you should avoid selecting a senior dog food that contains protein from wheat, corn, or soy. These grains are difficult for canines and other animals to process and can lead to poor nutrition and declining health if proper animal proteins are not utilized.
Always check the list of ingredients for any food you are interested in buying and look under the protein label. You want to find the percentage of animal protein, as this is better for any dog. If it is lower than 60%, invest in another food that is easier for your canine to digest.
The best senior dog food is a combination of many features, but will ultimately be the one your furry friend enjoys eating while still staying healthy. If you still struggle to identify a good food, consider getting a vet’s recommendation and trying smaller bag sizes until you and your dog find a good balance for them.
If your dog does not react well to a food or struggles to eat it, do not continue to feed them that variety. Food allergies are common among dogs and often exhibit themselves through itchy and puffy eyes, inflammation, rashes on the skin, and even hair loss.
Remember to always stick to portion sizes, and check out these healthy options that can promote overall health and wellness by improving protein and reducing unnecessary additives.