As dogs go through different stages of life, their nutritional needs change. What makes a great food for a puppy will not be good for a senior, and so on. When dogs reach their senior years, their metabolisms often slow down. This means that many dogs need fewer calories because more food can be stored as fat. However, senior dogs may need more protein to help with muscle loss.
Read on to learn how to choose the best senior dog food for your pet.
What Is Senior Dog Food?
Senior dog food is designed to meet the nutritional needs of older dogs. The age of the dog is variable; some large breed dogs transition to senior food at age six or seven years old, while some small dogs might not be ready until they are 11 or 12 years old. Every dog is a little different, so it is always a good idea to talk to your vet about your dog’s changing needs.
When dogs get older, their metabolisms slow, so they need fewer calories. If your dog is gaining weight, it might be a sign of a change in metabolism, and you will want a senior diet with lower calories and lower fat content.
At the same time, senior dog foods often contain glucosamine, vitamins and minerals, probiotics, and other supplements. If you think that your dog might benefit from any of these supplements, have a talk with your vet. There are many choices available, so you should be able to find exactly what your dog needs.
Does My Dog’s Size Matter?
Generally, the size of your dog does make a difference. Large breed dogs might be ready for senior dog food by the time they are six or seven, whereas small breeds might not need it until later in life. It is important to ask your vet for advice and keep an eye on your dog’s condition.
Another factor to consider is the size of the kibbles. Many pet food brands have foods specifically for small or large senior dogs. This is important because it can be difficult for small dogs to eat big kibbles, and large and small dogs have different dietary needs across all stages of life, including the senior stage.
Signs That Might Mean Your Dog Is Ready for Senior Dog Food
Besides discussing your dog’s nutritional needs with your vet, there are some signs you can look out for that may indicate that your dog is starting to slow down. Keep in mind the following factors:
Appetite: When dogs age, many of them have a reduced sense of smell and taste. This can make dogs less interested in food. You should make sure that your vet doesn’t find any other causes for this lack of appetite, and then consider switching to a senior diet. You can also mix wet senior food with dry kibbles to make it more enticing.
Activity: As dogs grow older, their activity levels decline. This can lead to weight gain if you keep feeding them the same diet. If you notice your dog gaining weight, it may be time to switch to a senior dog food that has fewer calories and less fat.
Dental Issues: Senior dogs may develop problems with their teeth and gums. Often changes in dental health are a sign that you should consider senior dog foods. You can also combine canned senior dog food with dry kibbles to make it easier for your dog to chew.
Caned Wet Senior Dog Food Versus Dry Kibbles
You can buy canned wet food or dry kibbles for dogs at every stage of life, including seniors. There are different schools of thought in which is better. Some people think that dry kibble is better because it promotes healthy teeth and gums, and others prefer wet canned food because they claim it has more meat.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle, and it is a question of what you and your vet think is best for your dog. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and some people feed a mixture of the two. There are also times when your dog may need one or the other. Take a look at the following:
- Kibble is easier to store
- Kibble can be purchased in bulk
- Kibble is normally less expensive
- Kibble can help promote dental health
- Dogs often prefer wet food
- Wet food has higher moisture content
- Wet food often has higher protein content
You should consult with your vet, but many people find that if their budgets allow, a combination of the two is middle ground. Sometimes a senior dog needs some wet canned food mixed with the kibble, especially if your dog is a finicky eater or has dental issues.
Is it Necessary to Buy Premium Senior Dog Food?
Premium dog food is marketed as being better for dogs, and people often think that the price means that it is a better quality food. This isn’t necessarily true across the board. There is little double that feeding your dog a nutritious balanced diet is a good idea, but when you are shopping for dog food, you need to look beyond the premium label.
To begin with, experts often disagree as to what is the best diet for a dog, which makes sense because dogs come in all shapes and sizes. The needs of a Great Dane may be very different from the needs of a Chihuahua. It is a good idea to talk to your vet to determine what is best for your dog.
Many premium foods have high-quality food that is easily digested. They may also have nutrients and other ingredients that are good for your dog. Normally, premium dog food is made with higher quality protein sources. They shouldn’t contain artificial dyes or preservatives, and there might be extra vitamins, minerals, and other good things such as glucosamine or probiotics.
Best Senior Dog Foods
The following are some of the best senior dog foods you can buy. Remember that you should consult with your vet about the best diet for your particular dog, and any change in diet should happen gradually. You will want to mix the new food with the old food for a few days during the transition.
1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Dog Food
This is a very popular brand for senior dogs, and for good reason. It has actual chicken instead of by-products, and it doesn’t have fillers that just add calories. This can help your senior dog maintain its lean muscle mass. It is grain-free, and it is formulated to help support healthy joints and optimal weight. It also has vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants selected by animal nutritionists and holistic veterinarians.
In addition, this senior dog food has no corn, wheat, or soy, and it contains no artificial flavors or preservatives. It is formulated specifically for the health of your dog, and it contains the nutrition that senior dogs need. It is designed with the overall health of your senior dog in mind.
- It contains real chicken meat, which makes it one of the best tasting dog foods out there. Dogs love the way this food tastes.
- It contains Blue’s exclusive Lifesource Bits, which is a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists.
- It is formulated to support the immune system in senior dogs.
- It is made for all stages of life, including puppy, adult, and senior.
- It is grain-free and has no soy, so most of the product is nutritional for your senior dog.
- Your dog can become overweight if it eats too much, so pay attention to serving sizes.
2. Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Senior Dog Food
Nulo dog foods are known for having high quality, hypoallergenic, animal-based protein as its main ingredient. This food has no soy, corn, or wheat because it is grain-free, and it is a high meat, low-carb proprietary formula. There are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives in this food, and most dogs find it delicious.
In addition to the nutritional content, this food offers joint support with Glucosamine and Chondroitin. It also has patented BC30 Probiotics to support healthy gut flora. This aids in digestion and helps with metabolism regulation. This is a high-quality food for senior dogs.
- This food has hypoallergenic, animal-based protein as the main ingredient.
- It contains Glucosamine and Chondroitin for joint support.
- There are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
- Nulo is grain-free, with no corn, soy, wheat, or white potatoes.
- It contains L-Carnitine to promote healthy weight and stamina.
- It is expensive.
- Some people dislike the smell.
3. Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food
This dog food is made with a blend of premium lean proteins, healthy oils, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. They also have senior food for small breed dogs. The animal proteins come from farm-raised chicken, pasture fed lamb, and salmon, and all three ingredients help senior dogs maintain lean muscle mass.
This food includes naturally sourced Glucosamine and Chondroitin to support healthy joints, and it contains fiber, which supports digestion. It has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, and it is a high-quality food. It uses only natural ingredients, and it provides well-balanced nutrition for your dog.
Nutro Ultra includes 15 superfoods, including coconut, chia, kale, and blueberries. All ingredients are non-GMO. Dogs usually love the taste of this food, and it is made with high-quality premium ingredients.
- This food is made with all natural non-GMO products.
- This food contains 15 superfoods, including coconut, chia, kale, and blueberries.
- The main ingredients are a trio of protein from chicken, lamb, and salmon.
- It supports healthy joints with Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
- Dogs generally like the flavor of this food.
- It is higher in carbs than other brands, so be careful with overweight dogs.
4. Iams Proactive Health Senior Dry Dog Food
If you are looking for a simple senior dog food that includes grains and has no plant-based protein boosters, this might be the food for you. Most of the meat protein in this food comes from fresh chicken, and this brand has been around for a while. Many people find it to be ideal for their senior dogs.
This food has antioxidants to support a strong immune system, and it contains a balance of important nutrients. It has a blend of fiber and prebiotics formulated just for senior dogs, and it is designed with the nutritional and wellness needs of senior dogs in mind. This food is often recommended by veterinarians, so you can have confidence that it is a good choice for many senior dogs.
- Fresh chicken provides most of the meat protein.
- Good option for people who want to feed grains.
- Iams is recommended by veterinarians often.
- Dogs tend to like the flavor of this food.
- It has higher carbs than other brands, so it may not be ideal if your dog is overweight.
5. Fromm Gold Nutritionals Senior Dog Food
Fromm’s is a family owned and operated company that produces quality dog food with fresh ingredients. This food is formulated to give a senior dog the balanced nutrition it needs. It is a grain inclusive diet, which some people prefer. Its main source of meat protein is chicken. It also has Wisconsin duck, lamb, and fish, as well as whole eggs and real cheese.
This food tastes great to most dogs, and it is an especially good choice if you have a picky eater that can tolerate grains. The food is formulated to support digestion and to help the immune system. It has prebiotics and probiotics as well, but people love this food because it has a wide selection of real food.
- This food has delicious ingredients that most dogs love, which is great for picky eaters.
- This food has high nutritional value.
- It has balanced and complete nutrition for senior dogs.
- The company has a special blend of probiotics to support digestion.
- It is not grain-free.
Although these are all great choices for your best senior dog food, the winner is Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Dog Food. Not only does it contain real meat as the first ingredient, but this food was designed with the overall health of senior dogs in mind. It has nutrients, joint support, and powerful antioxidants, and dogs love its taste.
The company has gone the extra yard by having their Lifesource Bits formula, a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, carefully selected by animal nutritionists and holistic veterinarians. It contains everything that the majority of senior dogs need.