Dry, wet, grain-free, freeze-dried… Feeding for your fur baby can be a complicated task when there are so many options available. As your dog gets older, it’s important to also consider the changes their body is going through. Your pooch shouldn’t be eating the same kibble you’ve been buying since they graduated from puppy food. So, what is the best thing to feed an old dog? From preventative measures that keep your dog healthy to managing age-specific ailments that may sprout up, the best senior dog food is expertly designed to cater to older dogs’ needs.
Typically, dogs 7 years old and older are considered senior, but your dog’s breed also plays a role in the classification.
“As a generality, larger breeds don't live as long as smaller breeds. So for a giant breed, 5 [years] may be senior and for a very small dog it may be 10 -- give or take,” says Gary Richter, MS, DVM, CVC, CVA, owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California, and a holistic veterinary health expert with Rover, an online service that helps you find pet sitters and dog walkers.
Is your dog a senior? If so, it might be time to make the switch—but it can be hard to know what is the best thing to feed an old dog. Use this list of the best dog food for senior dogs, based on popularity and Chewy customer reviews, to guide you through your options.
Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food
With a mix of lean proteins and holistic ingredients that promote joint health among other benefits, Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food is crafted for dogs 5 years old or older. The best senior dog food contains naturally sourced ingredients, Richter says: “The first step with pet foods is to keep the ingredients natural.”
You also won’t find any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives in this Nutro product, ensuring you’re giving your fur baby proper ingredients.
Tylee's Human-Grade Beef Recipe Frozen Dog Food
The fresher, the better. Dog food for older dogs should be mainly made of real, fresh food. But not every pet parent is able to spend the time it takes to prepare homemade dog food, no matter how much they love their furry friend.
Tylee’s Human-Grade Frozen Dog Food delivers the benefits of fresh food without the hassle of making it yourself. Formulated for sensitive tummies like those of some senior dogs, Tylee’s uses cooked meat mixed with a nutritious mix of fruits and veggies, frozen to preserve freshness. All pet parents have to do is defrost and serve.
VICTOR Senior Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food
Food for senior dogs should have higher quality protein sources, not just “high meat” content. No wonder Chewy customers love VICTOR Senior Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food, which is composed of 78 percent meat protein using premium-quality beef, chicken, fish and pork meals. This brand of senior dog food also is formulated to foster weight control and better digestion for sensitive tummies.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
Richter recommends avoiding dog food with a lot of filler ingredients like meat meal, corn and wheat. Luckily, this Blue Buffalo variety offers real meat, whole grains, garden veggies and fruits. Its antioxidant-rich formula features deboned chicken and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from flaxseed—but no corn, wheat, soy or other poultry byproduct.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Farm Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
In addition to being rich in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids, which Richter says are beneficial to senior dogs, this Nutro Wholesome Essentials dry dog food is made with absolutely no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.Instead, it uses vet-approved vitamin E.
Iams ProActive Health Mature Adult Dry Dog Food
This Iams ProActive Health dry dog food for mature pooches is formulated to help build strong muscles and nourish the heart with its blend of protein sourced from real chicken and eggs. It also avoids using fillers and artificial preservatives, which Richter says are not optimal for dogs. Plus, it includes Iams DHA Gold, a special omega-3 fatty acid supplement that promotes alertness and mental sharpness.
Diamond Naturals Senior Formula Dry Dog Food
Just as antioxidants and superfoods are good for humans, they also provide nutritional benefits to dogs, especially senior dogs.
Blueberries and kale are antioxidant superfoods, and this Diamond Naturals dog food is made with both. It also includes real chicken, peas and coconut, ingredients that can aid in promoting healthy skin, a shiny coat and dog’s overall nose-to-tail wellbeing.
What’s Inside the Best Senior Dog Food
You probably noticed some recurring nutritional perks in the senior dog diets above, things like high-quality ingredients, omegas, and vitamins and supplements that support senior dogs in areas where they might need a little extra help, such as weight loss or joint mobility. But there are a few other things you should look for in any dog food for older dogs, our experts say.
Keep the Ash Low
You should make sure that the meat content in your senior dog’s food is of higher quality. One way to determine that is by checking your food's ash levels. Food with more than 7 percent ash levels contains lower-quality protein.
Ash levels may not always be on the label. Food that costs more typically has higher quality proteins and, thus, lower ash.
Keep the Salt Low
Read dog food labels when you’re narrowing down your options. Pet owners of senior dogs should also look for food with lower salt content, because too much salt can have negative effects on the kidneys.
Avoid Fillers and Artificial Ingredients
Instead of artificial ingredients and preservatives like BHT and BHA, you should favor products that use vitamin E as its preservative. Filler ingredients, such as byproducts, meat meal, corn and wheat are also not your best bets.
This article lists the most popular and best-rated food for senior dogs on Chewy.com. The veterinarians’ opinions in this article are intended to explain dog nutrition and do not indicate an official endorsement of any of the products on this list.