Senior Dog Food

The Best Senior Dog Food According to a Veterinarian

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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What Kind of Food is Best for Senior Dogs?

The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Clusters
  • SUITABLE FOR ADULT DOGS: Complete & Balanced nutrition for adult dogs of all breeds and sizes, including adult and senior dogs.
  • PREMIUM NUTRITION: Clusters are thoughtfully prepared using human-grade muscle meat & liver, oats, beneficial fats & live probiotics; cold pressed into delicious, bite-size, ready-to-eat pieces. This recipe is also free of potatoes and legumes.
  • MINIMALLY PROCESSED: Clusters are made by mixing small batches of fresh ingredients, cold pressing them into bite-sized clusters, and then gently slow roasting and dehydrating them to maintain the nutrients, aroma, and taste of whole foods.

Do Older Dogs Really Need Senior Food?

Yes, senior dog food is good for older dogs.

These foods may vary in their ingredients and nutrient profiles. In comparison to adult dog foods, senior dog foods can vary in terms of nutrition. For instance, senior foods may have fewer levels of sodium and phosphorus.

This is exactly what sets senior dog foods apart from adult foods, as there is a difference in certain nutrients and ingredients. Additionally, senior dog foods can help manage age-related diseases depending on their life stage. If you are looking to incorporate a senior diet, it is best to read the label of the product or simply consult a vet before you make the change.

Irrespective of the life stage, all foods should contain the nutrient levels set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (or AAFCO). However, just because a product has AAFCO approval, it does not mean that it is perfect for countering or managing diseases.

How do I Know if My Dog Needs Senior Dog Food?

Certain signs indicate you should make a switch to senior dog food. Here are the signs:

  • Coat Health. If your dog has a dull coat or is losing an exceptional amount of hair, there might be a chance that their current diet does not suit them. You might want to consult a vet before you shift them to a diet that is made especially for senior dogs. These diets often contain high levels of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and other antioxidant-rich sources such as blueberries.
  • Weakness/Fatigue. If you notice that your dog is lazing around a lot and does not move much, it might be feeling weak generally. This is because your furry friend is having difficulty digesting the current food. Whether you have a small or large breed dog, this problem can affect any canine. They need food that can provide them the energy to move around all day.
  • Weight Gain. If your dog has unexplained weight gain, bloating, or a build-up of fat, chances are that their current food is not suiting them (due to excessive calories). It is best to consult a vet and shift them to a diet made for senior dogs.
  • Digestion Issues. In addition to weight gain, there can be other GI irregularities that could be caused by generic dog foods. Moving to a senior diet can help reduce these problems and improve the quality of life.
  • Skin Infections. Some dog foods can lead to skin infections in senior dogs. This is because of the food ingredients. Skin infections could be related to skin inflammation or simply losing the shine of the coat.

What are the Benefits of Senior Dog Food?

Senior dog food comes with several benefits. Here is what to expect from a senior diet:

  • More Protein. Senior dog food contains high-quality protein sources in greater amounts (as compared to adult maintenance formulas). This helps to support lean muscle mass and also provides sustained energy.
  • Caloric Balance. Senior dog foods contain appropriate caloric balance and have a great fat-to-protein ratio.
  • Nutritional Benefits. Senior dog food contains added nutrients. These include glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids that help support joint health and boost mobility.
  • Skin and Coat Health. Senior dog foods contain Vitamin A and linoleic acid that help support healthy skin and provide a shiny coat.

The Best Senior Dog Food Reviewed

There are different senior dog food options on the market. To help owners find the best senior diet for their pets, we have reviewed some of the best formulas.

The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Clusters

The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Clusters

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Summary: The Whole-Grain Chicken & Oat Recipe by The Honest Kitchen is the best senior dog food. It is made with selected and nutritious ingredients that are minimally processed. The recipe is formulated and manufactured with human-grade quality and safety standards. It contains probiotics for gut health and L-carnitine for boosting the fat metabolism and promoting healthy weight in senior dogs with more sedentary lifestyles. 

Type: Dry dog food 

Best for: Adult and senior dogs

Flavor Options: Beef; Chicken; Turkey; Beef & Turkey 

Price: $5.99/pound 

Pros

  • Human-grade and minimally processed
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient 
  • With easily digestible carbohydrate sources 
  • Free from fillers, potatoes, and legumes 
  • No artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives 

Cons

  • No significant cons 

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken: Chicken is the best lean protein source. It is also high in vitamins & minerals and helps with weight control.
  • Oats: Oats are an easily digestible and healthy source of carbohydrates. Plus, they are rich in natural prebiotics.
  • Eggs: Eggs are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. They also help round up the protein profile of the food. 
  • Salmon Oil: Salmon oil is an excellent source of healthy and anti-inflammatory fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6. 

Review: Pet owners are delighted with this senior dog food and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. They say their dogs love the taste of the food, and it is helping them thrive. Overall, customers describe the formula as an excellent product. 

Purina ONE High Protein Senior Dry Dog Food, +Plus Vibrant Maturity Adult 7+ Formula

Purina ONE High Protein Senior Dry Dog Food, +Plus Vibrant Maturity Adult 7+ Formula

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Summary: Purina ONE Senior Dog Food with MCT-rich vegetable oil is the perfect dog food for your senior canine. This is because it is known to promote and nourish your dog’s mental health, sharpness, and activity levels. It has been observed that more than 20% of the senior dogs showed an increase in activity levels after being given this food. This product contains real chicken as the primary ingredient and also features omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals for an added health boost. It also contains natural glucosamine sources that promote joint health for dogs.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Senior dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $1.45/pound

Pros

  • Promotes mental sharpness and builds cognitive function
  • Contains high-quality carbohydrates for an energy boost
  • Offers a natural source of glucosamine for better joint health
  • Can be paired with wet foods easily
  • Supports strong muscles, including a healthy heart

Cons

  • The packaging could have been better

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken By-Product Meal: Chicken by-product meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding digestion.
  • Chicken: Chicken is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy
  • Oat Meal: Oatmeal is a wholesome, high-quality grain rich in B vitamins that gives pets the energy they need.
  • Vegetable Oil: This provides calories for energy and omega-3 & 6 fatty acids for a healthy coat.

Review: This dog food offers a high-quality source of protein as the first ingredient. It is free from fillers and other artificial ingredients. Pet owners give this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Diamond Naturals Senior Real Meat Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Senior Real Meat Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food

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Summary: Diamond Naturals Senior Real Meat Recipe is the perfect dog food for older dogs. It has been made using ingredients of top quality and contains real meat as the first ingredient. The brand offers holistic nutrition for every pet. Furthermore, the product is enhanced with superfoods and guaranteed probiotics. This helps provide optimal nutrition and improves your dog’s digestive powers. If you have a senior dog, you can blindly opt for the Diamond Naturals Senior Dog Chicken, Egg, and Oatmeal Formula, thanks to its premium ingredients.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Senior dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $3.69/pound

Pros

  • Healthy source of vitamins, proteins, fats, and carbs
  • Quality ingredients used in the product
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joints
  • Formulated with carefully determined protein and fats
  • Made in the USA with quality ingredients

Cons

  • The smell might be off-putting for some pet parents

Ingredient Analysis

  • Whole Grain Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy and fiber.
  • Chicken: Chicken is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding digestion.
  • Peas: Packed with the protein, vitamins, fiber, and potassium that pets need, peas support a pet’s GI health.

Review: This dry dog formula has been formulated with K9 Strain Probiotics and beneficial bacteria. This leads to improved digestive and immune system health. Dog owners give this food 4.6 out of 5 stars.

Nutro Natural Choice Senior Dry Dog Food

Nutro Natural Choice Senior Dry Dog Food

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Summary: This dog food has been crafted with high-quality protein (like chicken, beef, lamb, or venison), which is the primary ingredient. These recipes contain real, recognizable non-GMO ingredients that offer a wide range of beneficial nutrients. This enhances your senior dog’s health and helps make them more active. The product is formulated without chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy protein. Additionally, it contains chicken and brown rice along with other recognizable ingredients sourced from trusted farmers and suppliers.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Senior dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $2/pound

Pros

  • Made with non-GMO ingredients
  • No chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy
  • Helps support strong bones and joints with calcium
  • Supports your senior dog’s aging immune system
  • Loaded with essential antioxidants and provides natural fiber

Cons

  • The kibble might be difficult to chew for some older dogs

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken: Chicken is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.
  • Peas: Packed with the protein, vitamins, fiber, and potassium that pets need, peas support a pet’s GI health.
  • Whole Grain Barley: Barley includes the whole grain with the hull and bran and is an excellent source of soluble fiber, plus carbohydrates and B vitamins for digestive health in pets.

Review: This brand of senior dry dog food contains essential antioxidants that support your mature dog’s aging immune system and improve mobility. Pet owners rate this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

IAMS Proactive Health Mature Adult Dry Dog Food for Senior Dogs

IAMS Proactive Health Mature Adult Dry Dog Food for Senior Dogs

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Summary: This senior dry dog food has been perfectly formulated to provide support to your dog’s aging bones and joints. It also contains a special blend of key nutrients that include real, farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient. This kibble is extremely delicious and contains a wholesome blend of fiber and prebiotics. Not only does this improve digestion, but it also contains antioxidants that help support a robust immune system. This product does not contain preservatives, fillers, or artificial flavors that could cause health complications.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Senior dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $1.24/pound

Pros

  • Contains real, farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient
  • Formulated with a blend of fiber and prebiotics
  • Supports a robust immune system
  • Offers complete and balanced nutrition
  • Promotes healthy weight and digestion

Cons

  • The supplements could have been more concentrated

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken: Chicken is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.
  • Ground Whole Grain Barley: Barley includes the whole grain with the hull and bran and is an excellent source of soluble fiber, plus carbohydrates and B vitamins for digestive health in pets.
  • Dried Plain Beet Pulp: This is a natural source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C.

Review: Every IAMS Dog Food formula contains high-quality animal protein. It does not contain any artificial preservatives, flavors, and fillers. Pet owners rate this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Victor Super Premium Dog Food Senior Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food

Victor Super Premium Dog Food Senior Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food

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Summary: This brand of dog food contains an exclusive mix of supplements, vitamins, and minerals. This unique combination helps maximize every dog’s genetic potential, regardless of breed, age, or activity level. Every bag of VICTOR dog food is made in the brand’s facility, thus ensuring premium-grade nutrition. Most of the ingredients used to make this dog food is sourced from ranches, farms, and other trusted suppliers who are within a day’s drive of their East Texas plant.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Senior dogs

Flavor Options: Beef

Price: $2.99/pound

Pros

  • Specifically formulated for less active older dogs
  • Packed with premium-quality beef, fish, and chicken meals
  • Formulated with gluten-free grains and L-carnitine
  • Supports lean muscle development
  • Provides glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health

Cons

  • Could lead to a minor skin infection in rare cases
  • Could cause digestive distress in some dogs

Ingredient Analysis

  • Whole Grain Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy and fiber.
  • Beef Meal: Beef meal is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Chicken Fat: Chicken fat enhances the flavor while supplying omega-fatty acids.
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.

Review: This product has been specifically formulated for less active older dogs, and adult dogs that would benefit from weight loss. Pet owners give this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food for Senior Dogs

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food for Senior Dogs

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Summary: This particular dog food offers tailored nutrition to support healthy aging, especially during small & mini dogs’ golden years. The special kibble shape is made with prebiotic fiber and thus improves your furry friend’s digestion. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil which promotes joint health. The product also contains a balanced set of minerals that lead to healthy kidneys, bladder, and heart health. It also contains omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E that nourish the skin and coat.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Senior dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $4.33/pound 

Pros

  • Supports your mature dog’s immune system
  • Contains omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E
  • Helps maintain your senior dog’s healthy skin and shiny coat
  • Provides your small-breed dog with balanced minerals
  • Made with natural ingredients

Cons

  • The product could cause an allergic reaction in some cases

Ingredient Analysis

  • Cracked Pearled Barley: Barley includes the whole grain with the hull and bran and is an excellent source of soluble fiber, plus carbohydrates and B vitamins for digestive health in pets.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy, and fiber.
  • Soybean Meal: This is a great source of plant protein. However, it is an ingredient that is often frowned upon by many vets.
  • Dried Beet Pulp: This is a natural source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C.

Review: This product uses a special blend of antioxidants to promote lifelong health. It also boosts immunity and leads to graceful aging. Dog owners rate this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Senior Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Senior Dry Dog Food

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Summary: Blue Buffalo dog food contains real meat as the primary ingredient. The protein is derived from real chicken and helps build your dog’s lean muscles, and provides them with sustained energy to play all day. They also contain whole grains, garden veggies, and fruit for an added nutrient boost. The product also contains glucosamine and chondroitin that helps improve your dog’s joint health and overall mobility. It also helps maintain energy requirements for a healthy lifestyle.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Senior dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $2.03/pound

Pros

  • Contains high-quality protein from real chicken
  • Helps maintain healthy muscles
  • Contains wholesome whole grains, garden veggies, and fruit
  • Supports joint health and overall mobility
  • Formulated with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals

Cons

  • More expensive than other products on this list

Ingredient Analysis

  • Deboned Chicken: Chicken is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy, and fiber.
  • Barley: Barley includes the whole grain with the hull and bran and is an excellent source of soluble fiber, plus carbohydrates and B vitamins for digestive health in pets.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a wholesome, high-quality grain rich in B vitamins that gives pets the energy they need.

Review: This dog food contains real meat along with wholesome brown rice that provides your senior dog with the energy they need for an active lifestyle. Dog owners rate this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Purina Pro Plan Senior Dog Food With Probiotics for Dogs

Purina Pro Plan Senior Dog Food With Probiotics for Dogs

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Summary: Purina Pro Plan Senior wet and dry formulas have been created to cater to your senior dog’s nutritional requirements. Each product contains glucosamine and EPA for joint health and mobility. Additionally, it uses real meat as the first ingredient. Both their wet and dry formulas provide premium-grade nutrition along with a delicious taste that most dogs love. The product also contains a proprietary blend of brain-supporting nutrients for cognitive health. Furthermore, the dog food also contains enhanced botanical oils shown to promote alertness and mental sharpness in older dogs.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Senior dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken and Rice

Price: $1.82/pound

Pros

  • Made with high-quality protein
  • Fortified with guaranteed live probiotics
  • Supports digestive and immune health
  • Helps support your dog’s joint health and mobility
  • Promotes healthy skin and coat

Cons

  • Often out of stock on online retailers

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken: Chicken is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Beef Fat: Beef fat is a protein source that supports muscle development and provides energy.
  • Barley: Barley includes the whole grain with the hull and bran and is an excellent source of soluble fiber, plus carbohydrates and B vitamins for digestive health in pets.
  • Rice: This provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy and fiber.

Review: This product offers 100% complete and balanced nutrition tailored to the needs of senior dogs. It has a high-protein content that gives stronger muscles and improved mobility. Pet owners give this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Senior Wet Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Senior Wet Dog Food

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Summary: This dog food is sold in a delicious paté style wet food that is a hit with most dogs. It has a high-protein formula that is made with real chicken. This helps build muscles in your dog’s body and provides them with sustained energy. This helps them lead an active lifestyle. This product can be used as a treat, mixed with dry kibble, or simply be used as a complete meal. The product is made with the finest ingredients and has been enhanced with beneficial vitamins and minerals. It does not contain any by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, and artificial flavors.

Type: Wet dog food

Best for: Senior dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $2.5/can

Pros

  • Made with real meat as the first ingredient
  • Formulated for dogs of any life stage or breed size
  • Features tender chunks of real meat plus garden veggies
  • Offers a wide variety of delicious flavors and recipes
  • Enhanced with vitamins and minerals

Cons

  • Relatively expensive price tag

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken Liver: Chicken liver provides pets with protein, iron, vitamin A and delicious natural flavor.
  • Carrots: Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene, fiber, Vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants.
  • Peas: Packed with the protein, vitamins, fiber, and potassium that pets need, peas support a pet’s GI health.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy, and fiber.

Review: This product contains real meat as the primary ingredient and is free from preservatives and additives. Pet owners rate this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

What Should I Look for in Senior Dog Food?

There are a few factors that one needs to keep in mind before opting for a good senior dog food brand. Here are those factors:

  • Calorie Count. As your dog ages, it might require lesser calories. This is because their bodies are slowing down, and they do not require excessive calories. Otherwise, they can end up with excessive weight gain, which might lead to further problems.
  • Specialized Diet. With age, dogs can end up developing various health complications such as kidney disease or heart troubles. You can consult a vet and opt for a senior dog food that caters to these health conditions. For instance, if your dog has allergic reactions to most foods, you can feed them grain-free dog food. You also might want to feed them foods with real meat (ex., real chicken) as it reduces the chance of an allergic reaction.
  • Affordability. The food that you are going to buy should not just be effective; it should also be affordable and easy on the pocket.
  • Shelf Life. If your food has a long shelf life, it might be more convenient and cheap to buy bigger bags rather than smaller portions. However, if your dog food has a long shelf life, it could be a cause of worry as it might contain harmful preservatives. It is best to consult a vet for the best advice.
  • Supplements. Senior dog foods should contain supplements that offer beneficial nutrients to boost your dog’s health and immunity. For instance, rice recipes, chicken meals, whole grains, chicken by-product meals, sweet potatoes, and brown rice can either be a hit or a miss in terms of nutrition.

What Ingredients Should Not be in Senior Dog Food?

If you are looking for a senior dog food brand, make sure you read the label correctly before you make a decision. Some ingredients should not be in senior dog food. Here are those ingredients:

  • Melamine. This is an ingredient that is added to increase the protein content in most dog foods. However, it can even lead to kidney failure.
  • BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin. These are mainly used as preservatives and are found in several dog food brands and dog treats. They can be toxic for dogs and lead to health complications in the long run. For instance, ethoxyquin is a known pesticide.
  • Propylene Glycol. This is used to add texture to your dog’s food. It has the ability to keep your dog’s food soft and moist to make it seem like the real deal. However, it is considered toxic by most vets.
  • Carrageenan. This is extracted from red seaweed and used to thicken dog food, especially wet food. It can lead to GI tract troubles and digestive problems.
  • Meat Meal. While this is an excellent source of protein, one can never be sure where the meat originated. If you opt for a well-known brand, the meat meal they use will be fine. However, some smaller brands might source these from leftover bits of animal parts that are not considered edible (like beaks and claws).
  • Food Dyes or Corn Syrup. These are added to make the food look more appealing. Dogs do not really care about the color of the food. So this is an unnecessary ingredient added to make the food look more attractive to humans. Corn syrup can be addictive and lead to overeating.

How Important is Senior Dog Food?

Senior dog food is essential for older dogs.

In addition to featuring the proper nutrients and in the correct amounts, the senior dog food is easier to digest. It is also easier to chew as it features a texture more convenient for older dogs with teeth issues.

Plus, senior dog food is supplemented with nutrients that cater to the specific dietary requirements of old dogs. Examples of such supplements are glucosamine and chondroitin, necessary for joint health, and probiotics vital for gut health.