What Is the Best Senior Dog Food?
If you’re a proud owner of a senior dog, there’s no doubt you’re always looking for tips on how to give him the best possible care so he can stay youthful and healthy as he ages. While many say that pups enter their senior dog age around 7, every pooch is unique and should follow a diet that’s customized to fit their needs to ensure the best possible health outcome. With the right care and nutrition, you can keep your dog feeling youthful, playful and happy. Check out our list of the best senior dog foods and you’ll have no problem convincing your friends and family that your senior pooch is still a pup—both at heart and in real life!
Which Ingredients Are Important in Senior Dog Foods?
With years of research and numerous products on the market that have been specially developed for senior dogs, pet parents are now better equipped to provide the best possible senior dog nutrition.
Leasa Greer, Manager of Nutrition and Regulatory Affairs at Solid Gold, recommends feeding senior dogs “omega-3 fatty acids found in ocean fish and salmon oil for cognitive function and heart health, as well as superfoods—like carrots for eye health, cranberries and blueberries—as great sources of antioxidants.” These ingredients are particularly beneficial for senior dogs, because they boost their immune systems and provide the right nutritional components that older dogs need. Pet parents can find these ingredients in the Solid Gold Young At Heart Senior Recipe Dog Food formula, which contains 20 superfoods to keep pups looking and feeling youthful.
Russell Hartstein, Certified Dog/Cat Behaviorist and Trainer and CEO (Canine Executive Officer) of Fun Paw Care in Los Angeles, stresses the importance of antioxidants, coconut oils and omega-3 fatty acids in senior dog food formulas. Now Fresh Grain-Free Senior Weight Management Recipe is an example of an ideal senior dog food formula with omega oils and antioxidant-rich berries.
Both Greer and Hartstein agree that as a senior dog ages, it can be harder for them to digest and process the nutrients in their food. Due to this, pet experts say that the best senior dog foods have highly digestible protein with high fiber content. Pet experts also suggest that pet parents limit their pet’s fat and sodium intake once they become senior dogs. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Meadow Senior Formula Limited Ingredient Diet is a simple recipe that is made with whole foods and a mix of probiotics for a gentle digestion process that is imperative to senior dog nutrition.
How to Manage a Senior Dog’s Weight and Joint Health
Ensuring your senior pup gets the right type of food in the right portions based on his breed, age and level of activity will have a positive impact on his weight and joint health.
“The single most important thing pet parents can do for their senior dogs is to manage their weight and make sure they are not overfeeding them,” says Hartstein. Excess weight and poor nutrition can lead to “earlier onsets of common doggy illnesses such as kidney and heart disease, arthritis, cancer and overall weakening of the immune system.”
Greer adds that weight management will “protect dogs against joint issues and enhance their mobility as they get older, so in addition to a balanced diet, senior dogs might need additional support for their aging joints.” To keep your senior dog’s joints in tip-top shape, try Wellness Complete Health Senior Deboned Chicken & Barley Recipe, which offers glucosamine and chondroitin—both of which support healthy hips and joints.
When to Transition to Senior Dog Food
Since every dog is different, there is no exact age that dictates when you should start feeding your dog a senior formula food. As Dr. Danielle Bernal, veterinarian for WellPet, explains: “Just because a dog is old, doesn’t mean he will soon be ill.” Most veterinarians will recommend transitioning to a senior dog food at 7 years old, but as Hartstein notes, “It really depends on the breed, gender, genetic makeup and physical activity level of the dog.” Greer suggests that pet parents transition their dog to senior food “when they notice him slowing down a bit, or if a veterinarian recommends transitioning to a senior food due to a medical condition or dietary need.” It’s always a good idea to pay attention to any signs your pup may be showing and to consult your veterinarian before making any dietary adjustments.
Remember that older pooches no longer have the same vitality and physical strength that younger pups exhibit, which is why Dr. Bernal recommends that pet parents engage them in relaxing exercises like a walk or swim instead of a hard run, and provide them with a comfortable bed to keep them cozy and their joints happy. As an owner of a bouncing and happy 15-year-old Border Collie herself, Dr. Bernal cannot stress the importance of proper nutrition enough in keeping senior dogs active and healthy.