The years pass all too quickly, and soon your little puppy has not only grown into a full-grown dog, but is now moving into their golden years.
Gray hairs start to sprout around their face, their energy slows, they sleep deeper, and they have creaky joints, too. These body changes should also mean that you’re shopping for a new food for them to eat.
A food that has extra nutrients, a focus on supporting their immune system, and plenty of vitamins and minerals that ensure a smooth, healthy, and pain-free transition.
Your senior dog is a special member of the family, so let’s feed them right with the best senior dog foods of 2018.
The following are dog foods for those canine companions who are older than eight years.
Best Senior Dog Food Reviews
1. Blue Buffalo BLUE Senior Dog Chicken & Brown Rice
Blue Buffalo has become well renowned in recent years for their commitments to high quality dog food. They have senior foods for small breed, medium size breed, and large breed dogs, so there’s a bag perfect for your dog.
This Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Dog Food is great for your elderly canine. It’s got more vegetables and fruits than any other dog food on this list, too.
What makes Blue Buffalo dog food recipes so great is that they start with real protein. This is a chicken and brown rice formula that has delicious, protein-rich, and deboned chicken.
Dogs are primarily carnivorous, so having protein is a must. There’s 18% protein in here, which is easy for older dogs to digest while still getting the energy levels they need.
The rest of this senior food is rounded out by having a balanced combination of wholesome grains, garden veggies, and fruit. You’ll find whole potatoes, peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, and flaxseed together with blueberries, cranberries, apples, blackberries, and even pomegranate.
Those whole grains start with a generous helping of whole ground brown rice, and also include oatmeal and ground barley. There’s no corn, wheat, soy, or other difficult to digest ingredients in this recipe.
Finally, this senior food also has plenty of vitamins, minerals, probiotics for better digestion, and even nutrient boosters like flaxseed and sunflower oil for Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
As dogs age, their immune systems aren’t as able to digest as easily as they used to, so finding ingredients like Lactobacillus acidophilus, the ‘good bacteria,’ is going to help your older best friend.
Not sure how much kibble you’ll need to feed your senior dog? This Blue Buffalo food comes in three different sizes: the 6 lb., the 15 lb., or the 30 lb. It’s less expensive per serving the more you get.
- REAL MEAT FIRST: Blue Buffalo foods always feature real meat as the first ingredient. High-quality protein from real chicken helps your dog build and maintain healthy muscles. Plus they contain wholesome whole grains, garden veggies and fruit.
- FOR SENIOR DOGS: BLUE Life Protection Formula? senior dog food contains glucosamine and chondroitin to help support joint health and overall mobility with essential proteins and carbohydrates to help maintain energy requirements for a healthy lifestyle.
- WITH LIFESOURCE BITS?: This formula contains BLUE?s exclusive LifeSource Bits ? a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals carefully selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists, to support immune system health, life stage requirements, and a healthy oxidative balance.
- A NATURAL DOG FOOD: Formulated for the health and well-being of your dog, BLUE dry dog foods are made with the finest natural ingredients enhanced with vitamins and minerals. BLUE contains NO chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives.
- Contains one (1) 30 lb. Bag of BLUE Life Protection Formula Senior Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Brown Rice. Meal Frequency - Small Breed- 1 Meal Per Day. Medium/Large Breed: 2 Meals Per Day.Caloric content: 3,424 kcal/kg, 357 kcal/cup
What's to like about the Blue Buffalo BLUE Senior Dog Chicken & Brown Rice
There are many good points with this Blue Buffalo Senior Food, but one of the best is that it has a unique look to its kibble.
There are lighter brown pieces and darker brown pieces, which are what the brand calls LifeSource Bits. These extra nutrient-rich bits are full of vitamins and minerals that provide antioxidants that help you dog’s immune system.
Another benefit is that this formula includes the two main ingredients necessary for joint health and function: glucosamine and chondroitin. Not every senior food has these, but for aging dogs with arthritic and sore joints, you’ll definitely want a food that has them.
What's not to like about the Blue Buffalo BLUE Senior Dog Chicken & Brown Rice
While each bag of dog food you get for an older pet is subject to your dog’s personal taste buds, more than one canine customer didn’t like the LifeSource Bits featured in this food. They ate the other regular kibble pieces, though.
Also, some dogs with sensitive stomachs developed bloating and gas issues. That could be a symptom of a chicken allergy, but you’ll need to check with a vet before diagnosing food allergies in dogs. Due to the fruits present in this food formula, that adds some sugar, so you wouldn’t want to feed this to dogs needing to lose weight.
2. NUTRO MAX Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
The Nutro pet food company has been a favorite of dog owners for decades. Now, they’ve introduced one of the best senior dog foods on the market, with its farm-raised chicken protein sourced from real poultry. This NUTRO MAX Chicken Senior Recipe is also one of the more budget friendly dog foods on this list.
It’s not enough that senior dog foods have an excellent protein like chicken as their main ingredient. It has to be of high quality, too. Luckily, this NUTRO MAX Senior Dog Food in the Chicken flavor is high quality, farm-raised, and is real chicken. It’s not chicken by-product meal or another protein filler, which you’d find in a poorer quality food.
You’ll also notice both glucosamine and chondroitin listed in the ingredients, which is another highlight. Those two nutrients help lessen the pain and soreness from creaky, arthritic joints that older dogs commonly suffer.
Your senior dog will get plenty of excellent carbohydrates and fiber in this blend, since it features whole grain sorghum, brewers’ rice, whole brown rice, and whole grain oatmeal. Just like humans, these whole grains will help your pup feel fuller longer.
A wide range of vitamin supplements are present in this senior food, too. Your dog will get vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B12, D3, and E, helping to turn food into fuel, giving your dog better eyesight, and improving their overall health.
There’s plenty of bad ingredients you won’t find in this senior food, including corn, wheat, soy, and difficult to digest foods like dairy items, potatoes, or yeast. There aren’t any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, either.
This dog food comes in a single size of 25 lbs., and can be served dry straight from the bag, or lightly moistened with water to help older dogs chew it easier.
- Nutro Max Senior With Farm Raised Chicken Dry Dog Food, Whole Grains For Nutritious Fiber, (1) 25-Lb. Bag.; Natural Ingredients Selected With Care To Satisfy Your Adult Dog'S Food Cravings; Includes Natural Sources Of Vitamins And Minerals
- Natural Ingredients Plus Vitamins, Minerals & Other Nutrients: Real Chicken Protein Sourced From Real Poultry, And Natural Ingredients Plus Vitamins, Minerals, And Other Nutrients Come Together In This Delectable Meal To Ensure Its Healthy; Our Dog Food Contains No Added Artificial Flavors Or Preservatives
- Responsibly Made In-House With A Blend Of Carefully Sourced, Quality Ingredients And Other Nutrients; Made With No Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn, Wheat, Or Soy Protein; No Added Artificial Colors, Flavors Or Preservatives For A Meal Your Dog Will Love
- Feed Alone Or Mixed With Wet Food; Our Dog Food Is Full Of Flavor And Has A Complete Satisfaction Guarantee Or Your Money Back (1-800-833-5330); Provide Fresh Water For Your Dog At All Times; Portions Vary Depending On Your Canine'S Activity Level And The Size Of Your Dog
- Our Dry Dog Food Supports Healthy Skin And Coat And Fur Health; Nutro Max Dry Dog Food Delivers Wholesome Nutrition For A Strong Immune System And It Supports Healthy Digestion, Our Dog Food Provides High-Quality, Great Tasting Ingredients, For Healthy Energy While Maintaining Overall Health And Vitality
What's to like about the NUTRO MAX Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
There’s plenty to love about this NUTRO MAX Senior Dog Food. It’s a high quality dog food that isn’t pumped full of fillers, is specially formulated for older canines, and is offered at a reasonable price for the bag size, too.
Many satisfied pet parents have also commented on how much their dogs love the chicken flavor of this food. It has grains, but when it comes to the emphasis on the ingredients, the chicken is number one. All that protein will give your older dog a great boost in energy and mental alertness, too.
What's not to like about the NUTRO MAX Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
With this senior food, there are some negatives that go along with it. One of the biggest that other ‘pet parents’ have mentioned is that it has a very high carbohydrate count compared to other brands; whole grain sorghum is listed as the second ingredient, plus there’s brewers’ rice, flaxseed, whole brown rice, and whole grain oatmeal. If your dog does not digest carbs well, this isn’t a good food for them.
3. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food
When you read the complete list of healthy ingredients in this Wellness Complete Health Senior Dog Food, you’ll be impressed. It’s designed to give your older dog nutrition for optimum skin, coat, energy, digestive health, immunity, and so much more.
This excellent Wellness Senior Dog Food formula advertises itself as ‘complete health,’ and they mean it. It’s got wholesome grains, natural fiber, and probiotics for digestive health, guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin for hip and joint health, and high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids for skin and coat health.
The main protein in this senior food is deboned chicken, which will give your dog plenty of energy and keep their muscles strong and healthy.
The protein amount is about 22%, which is higher than some other brands and excellent for more active elderly dogs who need higher protein amounts. With such a high protein count combined with the glucosamine, don’t be surprised if your older dog starts running around like a puppy again!
There’s also a good fat content, and that’s also important for energy, too. It’s also low in sodium, so if your older dog is having heart problems, this is a perfect formula for them.
Besides chicken, the other three main ingredients are blueberries, spinach, and flaxseed.
These are three powerhouse sources of antioxidants, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, and are designed to help the immune system and improve the skin and coat. They’re good enough for humans to eat, so are extra good for senior dogs!
This senior dog food comes in two bag sizes – 6 lbs. or 30 lbs. It’s recommended to mix the dry kibble with a little bit of warm water before feeding, to make it easy on older teeth to chew. The ingredients are primarily sourced from the United States and Canada.
- Complete health: Complete and balanced everyday nutrition to support your dog's healthy weight
- Healthy weight formula: Reduced calorie diet made with delicious deboned chicken and peas to help satisfy hunger and maintain a healthy weight
- All natural: Contains only premium, all natural ingredients with no wheat, corn, soy, meat by products, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
- Made in USA: Backed by the wellness guarantee and proudly made only in the USA
What's to like about the Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food
It’s really nice to see ‘deboned chicken,’ as the first ingredient, right next to chicken meal. You’ll also find plenty of great whole grains like oatmeal, ground barley, rye flour, ground brown rice, rice, and sweet potatoes.
There are no white potatoes, which is good, too; that’s one of the ‘filler carbs’ often found in pet foods. You won’t find any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives in this food, either.
Senior dog foods should be as easy to digest as possible, to not put strain on an aging stomach. This Wellness food has both prebiotics and probiotics for improving digestion from the front to the back end!
What's not to like about the Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food
Since senior dogs aren’t as active as they were when they were younger, they tend to gain weight. If your senior dog has weight issues, then this Wellness Senior Dog Food has too many calories and won’t contribute to weight control. It also can cause excess gas and bloating, probably due to all of the carbohydrates in this formula.
While this Wellness senior dog food has great ingredients, that does come at a real cost. This is the most expensive of the five best senior dog foods.
4. AvoDerm Natural Dog Food
The “Avo” in AvoDerm comes from an unusual, but surprisingly effective ingredient: avocados. They provide the ‘good fats’ and a bunch of other nutrients your senior dog needs for plenty of energy. This food also contains proteins from three sources: lamb, chicken, and salmon.
A senior dog food that features avocado? While humans love this to make guacamole, it’s also a fantastic ingredient to give to your older dog. They can’t eat the pit or skin, but those aren’t featured in this food, only the fruit meat itself.
Avocados are very nutrient dense with nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants, for great doggie health. Just like flaxseed, they’re also rich in both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids that assist heart and brain function. Did you know avocados have protein, too?
Speaking of protein, the main ingredient is lamb meal in this formula. There are no grains in this senior food, so if your dog has been struggling with digesting brown rice, oatmeal, or barley, give this one a try. Many dogs have chicken allergies, too, so lamb is a safer protein for more dogs to digest.
Is your older dog suffering from skin issues? It’s one of the most common senior pup ailments, and those issues include ‘hot spots,’ itching, rashes, foot licking, excess scratching (not caused by fleas), and just general restlessness. Their fur can also become greasy or dull.
This AvoDerm food is excellent for those skin issues because of the good fats from the avocado, as well as the fact that it’s grain free. It’ll also make your dogs’ coats shiny, soft, and silky.
This food can also help reduce or eliminate gassiness and bloating that some dogs experience when on lesser formulas. It’s hard when your older dog already has health problems and then gets more from their food. You want a dog food that helps them feel better.
As an extra bonus, this AvoDerm Senior food has higher levels of glucosamine and chondroitin than any other senior dog food on this list. So, if you have an arthritic dog or one prone to hip dysplasia, joint problems, or other bone-related issues, this food will help them.
- One (1) 24 Pound Bag - Avoderm Natural Senior Health+ Grain Free Lamb Meal Dry Dog Food
- Supports Joint, Eye, And Brain Health: Natural Chondroitin Sulfate, Glucosamine & Dha Helps Support Senior Dog'S Joints, Eyes And Brain Function
- Promotes Healthy Skin & Coat: Premium Natural Dry Dog Food Made With California Avocados To Promote Healthy Skin, Coat, Immune System And Overall Health
- Grain Free Natural Dog Food: Wheat Free, Corn Free And Soy Free. No By-Products Meals, No Artificial Flavors, Colors Or Preservatives
- Protein Rich Senior Dog Food: Specially Crafted For Senior Dogs. Pure Mix Of Natural Ingredients Provides A Crunchy Savory Taste That Senior Dogs Love
What's to like about the AvoDerm Natural Dog Food
This AvoDerm Grain Free Senior Food has some excellent benefits. The kibble is on the small size, about the same as a green pea, so great for older senior dogs to chew comfortably. The bag comes in three sizes – 4 lbs., 12 lbs., or 24 lbs. – depending on how much your dog needs.
Does your senior dog need more protein than other breeds? Especially if you have a larger breed older canine, you’ll want to get this AvoDerm food. It has 28% protein, which is excellent for active dogs, too. You don’t want your best friend slowing down before their golden years, so this food will help with energy levels.
What's not to like about the AvoDerm Natural Dog Food
While this AvoDerm dog food has plenty of amazing ingredients, including avocado, peas, and salmon meal, it doesn’t have a ‘meaty’ lamb flavor to it. For that reason, many dogs won’t eat it since it doesn’t have any flavor.
The kibble size is also very small, so it might not be well suited for larger senior breeds, and the texture is hard, making it difficult on older teeth.
If your older dog has weight control issues, then this higher fat food is not recommended. It’s not for dogs with liver or kidney problems. The food tends to leave a greasy residue in the bowl.
5. Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb Meal & Rice Dry Dog Food
Rated highly and loved by many dog owners, this Nature’s Recipe senior food contains the popular combination of lamb meal and rice.
Countless canines love the flavor, eat up the whole bowl, and are getting the nutrients and vitamins they need for their golden years. Oh, and did we mention that it’s also the most budget friendly senior dog food, too? That is just a bonus!
When this is one of the best senior dog foods on the market, and certainly the one with the highest rating, expect all kinds of good things in it. The lamb meal and rice formula is beloved by many pooches, due to its easily digestible protein.
The rice also is a lean source of energy giving carbohydrates. In addition, this formula also has barley and oatmeal to support better digestion and a stronger immune system.
There’s plenty of vitamins and minerals that are also packed into this Nature’s Recipe Senior dog food. You’ll also find flaxseed, a great source of both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. This food is made in the USA, so no outsourced ingredients from other countries.
Many pet owners have also reported that their senior dogs are now acting like they’re younger, with more energy, mental alertness, and an eagerness to eat this food. They seem to like the taste as well, too. If you have dogs with sensitive stomachs, the soothing lamb protein and other ingredients won’t upset them.
- Contains 1 - 30 Pound Bag of Dry Dog Food
- Lamb Meal is an excellent source of high quality protein that helps support optimal muscle strength
- Natural fiber from barley and oatmeal help support healthy digestion
- Natural dog food with added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients
- No added corn, wheat, soy, poultry by-product meal, artificial colors or flavors
What's to like about the Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb Meal & Rice Dry Dog Food
You can’t tell how good a dog food is if your senior canine won’t eat it – and you won’t have that problem with this Nature’s Recipe Dry Dog Food. Dogs really love the lamb meal and rice flavor, and it satisfies even the pickiest eater.
In addition to having 19% protein, it has a low fat content, which is great for senior dogs. They won’t gain any excess weight, and they might do better with a lower fat food.
This food also seems to do really well with dogs who have allergies. It clears up ‘hot spots’ and skin problems, ear problems, itching, bloating, and gas. All of those symptoms are associated with foods that don’t have as good an ingredients list.
What's not to like about the Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb Meal & Rice Dry Dog Food
This dog food from Nature’s Recipe is highly rated and great for senior dogs, but it does have some negatives. This is a crunchy kibble, not a soft one, so it might be difficult for senior dogs with teeth problems.
Also, it doesn’t come with any glucosamine or chondroitin in the formula to help with joint health and arthritis. It’s not gluten free, since it contains ground whole wheat and soybean hulls.
Please keep in mind it looks like Nature’s Recipe is eliminating the 15-lb. size, so only the 4.5 lb. and the 30 lb. would be available going forward.
You’ve probably noticed from perusing each of these senior dog foods, that they come in a variety of flavors. We know there’s quite a few pet parents out there who have picky eaters and struggle to find the correct foods.
Senior food isn’t going to help if the dogs won’t eat it! So, flavor is one of the key features of dog food. These foods can be purchased in the flavors of chicken and brown rice, just chicken, chicken and barley, lamb meal, or lamb meal and rice. Each one has their own benefits.
Regular adult dog foods contain a basic selection of essential canine nutrients, like proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. But senior dog foods feature added nutrients that are specifically meant for older dog health issues. For example, you’ll often find glucosamine and chondroitin added to help with aging joints.
Extra Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are great for improving the skin and coat. Antioxidants help the immune system, which help prevent your dog from getting sick. Each formula has its own group of added nutrients.
Kibble Size and Texture
As dogs get older, they often have teeth problems and their jaws can get weaker. So, it’s great to find a kibble size that is easy to chew and swallow.
Also, different breeds find it easier to eat different sizes; the smaller the breed, the smaller the kibble. Kibble texture is also important. These dry dog foods each have a crunchy texture.
If the food is too crunchy and hard, it’s recommended to mix with a little warm water to soften it before feeding to your older dog. Pay attention to how easily your dog is able to chew their food. A hard texture might be causing them soreness.
Senior Dog Food FAQs
How is senior dog food different from regular adult dog food?
Senior dogs have different health requirements than they did just a few years earlier when they were adults. Senior dog foods are fortified with joint health ingredients like glucosamine and packed with nutrients like vitamins and minerals to improve the immune system, brain, eyesight, and other parts of the body.
Are these foods safe for a senior dog with health issues to eat?
The broad answer is yes, but it depends on the health issue your senior dog has. If they have digestive problems, then you’ll want to check with your vet first about which foods they recommend. However, if your senior dog has other, more mild health issues such as arthritis and slowing energy, then these all natural senior dog foods will help.
What primary protein is the best for older dogs – lamb or chicken?
You’ll notice in this dog food selection that two major proteins are featured: either lamb or chicken, and sometimes both. Which one is the best for senior dogs? Both proteins are easy to digest, contain the nutrients your primarily carnivorous dog needs, and are cost effective, too.
Truthfully, it depends on your dog’s personal preference and whether they have allergies.
Some dogs are allergic to chicken, so you’d choose lamb instead. But lamb is often paired with high carbohydrates like rice and oatmeal, so the chicken option would be better.
Do these senior foods really make a difference in overall health improvement?
Yes! Just like when humans switch their diets to healthier ones, a dog’s health can be vastly improved with a specific senior formula.
These foods for elderly dogs have specific vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and other nutrients designed for their aging bodies. For those older dogs who already have health problems, then switching to a senior formula is the step in the right direction towards decreasing those symptoms, too.
But the single biggest benefit of senior dog foods is that they can prevent your older dog from suffering further health problems that would have been caused by poor nutrition. In that sense, senior dog foods do make your dog healthier.
How do I switch from an adult dog food to a senior dog food successfully?
Now that your dog has gotten older and you’ve made the decision to switch from the adult to the senior formula, you’ve got to do it gradually. This is to prevent your dog from getting sick due to switching foods too quickly. Senior foods have different nutrient compositions than adult foods.
Purchase the bag of senior food before you run out of the adult food. Then, over the course of about 10-12 days, gradually add a small amount of the senior food to the adult food, mixing them together. Add a bit more and a bit more with each passing day. At the end of about 10 days or so, your dog should be successfully eating senior dog food!
Senior dogs make wonderful and beloved companions for their pet parents. They are already trained, have lower energy, enjoy fewer walks, and are very loving.
Whether you’ve raised your senior pet friend from a puppy or have adopted an older lady or gent, one of the best things you can do to add a few more years is to feed them correctly.
But it can be frustrating finding that perfect food for them. Senior dog foods come in many flavors, nutrient profiles, kibble sizes, and from different brands. To know which one is the best, we’ve compared all of these factors, and a clear winner has emerged.
Based on such a high rating after over 100 customer reviews, the Nature’s Recipe Senior Lamb Meal & Rice Dry Dog Food is definitely the best senior dry dog food! You can choose from two sizes – 4.5 lbs. or 30 lbs. So, if your older dog isn’t able to eat as much food as he/she used to, you can choose the right size!
Pick up a bag of the Nature’s Recipe today for your pooch, gradually add a bit of it into their adult food each day until you’ve completely switched, and be amazed at the difference in their overall health and energy levels. Every year spent with your dog is precious, and you can add more to their lives – just by feeding them right!