Treating your dog with love and care is easy – we do love our dogs after all!
But one of the hardest things an owners must do is to try and keep your dog healthy while he or she begins to age.
One to keep your aging canine healthy is to consider special formulas of dog food that are uniquely engineered with senior dog health in mind.
|Quick Picks: Best Senior Dog Food||Our Rating||Price|
|Canidae Platinum Senior Dog Food||$$$|
|Wellness Complete: Senior Health Recipe||$$$|
|Nutro Max Senior Formula||$$|
|Diamond Naturals Senior Dogs Food||$|
Continue reading for more in-depth reviews
Is “senior dog food” really any different from normal dog food? With trusted dog food brands, it really is.
Dog food for senior dogs contains special ingredients such as fish oils, chondroitin, glucosamine and MSM. These ingredients help to improve your dog’s health and help remedy common senior dog issues such as joint pain, coat thinning, and digestive troubles.
These ingredients are often used in dog joint supplements, and their presence in dog food can potentially mean reduced arthritis pain for your pooch.
Senior dog food also usually contains less calories. While some owners have trouble getting dogs to gain weight, senior canines struggle more with keeping their weight down.
This is mainly due to the fact that as they grow older, dogs’ metabolism begins to slow down. Energy levels gradually begin to decrease, with dogs moving much less as a result. Keeping your dog trim is very important for senior canine health, which is why these specialized dog foods try to control canine weight-gain.
Veterinarians agree that keeping your dog a healthy weight is the very best thing you can do for a senior dog. Overweight dogs suffer more from arthritis and live shorter lives. Keep your dog trim to keep him healthy!
Here’s what to look for (and what to avoid) when shopping for senior dog food formulas:
Chondroitin, Glucosamine, & Other Special Ingredients. As mentioned above, many senior dog food formulas will have additional ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and fish oils, that can help alleviate senior dog joint paint and maintain a healthy coat and digestion.
High Fiber. Older dogs should be eating a dog food formula that contains fewer calories, higher fiber, and plenty of protein. Look for a fat level between 10 – 12%.
Dry Food. While some dogs may be forced to resort to just wet food if their teeth are in really bad shape, it’s recommended to encourage your dog to eat dry food when possible, as dry food can reduce gum disease and control tartar build up.
Manufactured in Certain Countries. We suggest avoiding dog food that is manufactured in countries with lower food-quality standards. Instead, opt for dogs foods made in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Western Europe, when possible. While there is always a chance that any dog food brand could be recalled, dog foods manufactured in these countaries are generally a safer bet.
Avoid Artificial Colors & Additives. Just as with humans, it’s best to avoid any artificial colors, additives, or preservatives in food.
Avoid Unidentified Meat Byproducts. Meat and protein are great for you pooch, but unidentified meat byproducts are best avoided. Note that meat meals are byproducts themselves are fine, so long as they are identified (ex. “chicken meal” or “beef byproduct”). However, vaguely labeled “meat meal” or “poultry byproduct” are best left out of your dog’s food.
Now that you know some of the key reasons behind how senior dog food helps aging dogs, here are a few of the best different types of dog food for you to contemplate buying for your elderly dog.
Note: Be prepared to try several brands and formulas of dog food before finding your perfect match. Often, the dog food that works for one dog won’t suit another as well. Try different dog foods and see which variety works best for your own dog’s unique body composition.
About: The Canidae Platinum senior dog food helps to keep your dog forever young with its reduced fat and protein levels, plus plenty of ingredients for senior dog health in mind.
Price: $$, available from Amazon and other dog food retailers.
K9 of Mine Rating:
Pros: Owners love this dog food that is made in the USA – it comes well recommended.
Cons: Unlike some of the other dog foods listed, this senior dog food is not grain free (although it is a healthy source of grain).
About: The Wellness Complete Health senior dog food prides itself on only using the finest, most high-quality ingredients and combining them with unique, effective nutrients for canine whole-body health.
Price: $$$, available from Amazon and other dog food retailers.
K9 of Mine Rating:
Pros: There is overwhelmingly high praise for Wellness Complete Senior Dog Food from owners, who rave about the quality of the food and the improvements seen in their dogs after transitioning to this dog food.
To sweeten the deal, this Wellness Complete senior dog food is satisfaction guaranteed, and the business is family owned, which gives comfort to consumers.
Cons: This dog food comes extremely highly rated, and at such a high level of quality, this senior dog food isn’t cheap.
About: This affordable dog food for senior dogs comes in chicken & rice flavor, providing good quality ingredients such as fish oils and Vitamin A and B for senior health.
Price: $, available from Amazon and other dog food retailers.
K9 of Mine Rating:
Pros: This dog food has received positive reviews, is made in the USA, and is much more affordable than other senior dog food brands.
Cons: The only downside to this senior dog food is that it doesn’t contain any ingredients like chondroitin or glucosamine, which are present in other senior dog foods.
One buyer also noted that, when measuring the bag marketed as a 30lb bag, it came out to actually weighing at only 25 lbs. It’s yet to be determined if this is a single isolated case, or a common issue.
About: This Diamond Naturals Senior Dog food offers great ingredients designed to keep your older dog lean and healthy, all in a tasty egg, chicken and oatmeal formula.
Price: $, available on Amazon and other dog food retailers.
K9 of Mine Rating:
Pros: Owners note that this is a great senior dog food at an affordable price. The dog food comes in very small pieces, making it a great choice for smaller dogs.
Cons: There were no downsides to this product as far as we could find. As usual, the dog food did not react well with some dogs, but the vast majority of owners reported positive results.
In conclusion, the best dog food for your senior dog really depends on what you are looking for, as well as how much you are willing to spend on a regular basis to keep your dog healthy.
If you are looking for a good budget dog food option, try the Diamonds Naturals, as it offers a number of solid features such as good ingredients to keep your dog healthy and doesn’t pose any huge disadvantages.
However, if you have a bigger budget and want a premium dog food, I’d point you in the direction of the Wellness Dog Food as it offers premium features such as wholesome grains, quality protein, and many other nutritional benefits.
Ultimately though, be prepared for a trial and error process. Dogs react differently to various brands of senior dog food, and you may need to try several options before you find the perfect formula for your unique canine. Still, start with these recommended dog foods and you’ll be at a good starting point.
In some cases, you’ll be fine feeding your dog his normal dog food formula – you just may need to feed him less of it. This is especially true if your dog is active and in good shape physically.
It’s worth noting that a dog is considered a “senior” in the last third of the dog’s normal expected lifespan. This is when you may want to consider switching to a dog food for older canines.
Many dogs slow down and develop arthritis and joint issues when they age, and in this case, a unique senior formula can be helpful as it can aid in alleviating some of those senior symptoms.
Of course, there’s always the option of feeding your dog additional supplements to combat arthritis, keep fur healthy, etc. It’s best to discuss any supplement regiments with your vet to ensure your pooch is getting all his nutritional needs met.
Some dogs can get a bit picker about their food as they get older. While you’ll need to first rule out any medical problem that could be contributing to your four-legged pal’s fasting, there are a few tricks you can use to try to get your dog to eat.
Check With Your Vet. First, check with your vet to make sure this lack of eating isn’t due to more serious health concerns like kidney disease or cancer.
Mix In Wet Stuff. While dry food is good for dogs, it isn’t always as appealing. Try mixing in warm water or chicken broth to soften up that dry food. Many owners choose to mix in some wet canned food with their dog’s dry kibble as well.
Switch to Smaller Kibble. While some senior dogs can chew down kibble just fine, some pooches may prefer a smaller kibble size, as it’s easier to chew.
Switch to Wet Food. If your dog still isn’t eating when you mix wet and dry food together, you may need to try an all wet diet. Just make sure you’re picking out something that can meet your senior dog’s nutritional needs.
Add Sardine Oil. Many owners swear by mixing in some tasty, fishy oil in with their dog’s dry food. This doesn’t just soften up the food, but also makes it smell spectacular. Plus, the fish oil is really great for older dogs’ joints and coat.
Feed Smaller Amounts. Some dogs fare better by being fed a small amount of food several times throughout the day, rather than just one big meal.
Homemade Diet. As a last resort, if your dog refuses to eat, you may need to start cooking him a homemade diet. Be sure to consult your vet when planning out your dog’s new eating regiment, and it’s very important to make sure all your pooch’s nutritional needs are met – something that isn’t always easy to do when you’re not using a commercial dog food.
Looking for other ways to care for your senior dog? Make sure to check out our post about dog steps and ramps (for improving senior dog mobility), our post about Fresh Patch and other dog potty pads (for when trips outside get more difficult), as well as our evaluation of the best dog beds for senior dogs.
Meg Marrs is the Founder and Senior Editor at K9 of Mine. She loves iced coffee, hammock, and puppy-cuddling!
Sign up for our email newsletter and get the latest and greatest in dog care tips, delivered right to your inbox!