If the years are starting to rack up and take their toll on your senior dog that isn't exactly the most youthful of pooches nowadays, then you should be giving them all the proper care they need in the world, as well as implementing some changes here and there in order to accommodate their new needs.
And, just like 90% of dog problems you could think of, it all starts with their diet and what kind of dog food they're being fed.
Just like young and growing puppies should be fed the absolute best puppy food formulas out there, just like small sized dogs should be fed the absolute best dog food for small breeds, and just like dogs that have frequent digestive problems should be fed the absolute best dog food for sensitive stomachs, the same holds true for older dogs that should be fed the absolute best dog food for senior dogs.
Our List Of The Top 6 Senior Dog Foods Of Today – (Updated List For 2023)
Top Pick: Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food
Pick #2: Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Senior Dog Food
Pick #3: Holistic Select Natural Dry Senior Dog Food
Pick #4: Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+ Active Longevity Dry Dog Food
Pick #5: Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Dog Food
Pick #6: Wellness Complete Health Natural Wet Canned Senior Dog Food
*Note: The links in the table above, as well as several links in the remainder of the article below, will take you to over to Amazon.com where you can find out more information about the products, such as current prices and customer reviews.
Best Dog Food For Senior Dogs – A Closer Look Into Our Top 5 Options
Now that we had a quick look at the 5 best dog food options for older dogs, let's get into some more details about what exactly makes each of these 5 dog foods top options worthy of being included in this list.
Abundance In Glucosamine And Chondroitin: When taking a quick look at the nutritional facts of this dog food bag, one of the first things you'll notice is the abundance of Glucosamine And Chondroitin, both of which are essential for the support and maintenance of your dog's hips and joints.
We've previously discussed the benefits of Glucosamine supplementation for dogs that suffer from hip and joint problems (something which most senior dogs go through at this stage in their life), and this formula from Wellness offers just the right amount of Glucosamine And Chondroitin that your older fella needs in their food.
Less Amount Of Calories: With this formula, Wellness have taken into consideration the fact that senior dogs have slower metabolisms and tend to get less and less physically active with time, two issues that contribute to rapid weight gain if these dogs continue to be fed the same amount of calories they used to eat a few years back when they were at their prime.
So, and given that this is a formula specifically produced with senior dogs in mind, Wellness have designed this formula to give your dog 9% less calories, while still meeting all their nutritional needs for the day.
Filler Free: As would be expected of the top pick in this list, this formula is 100% filler free, meaning it contains no corn, soy, wheat, meat by-products, artificial flavors, artificial colors or harmful preservatives.
Greatly Improved Digestive System: This senior dog food formula is very easy on your older dog's digestive system to properly process, something which you will notice first hand when you start seeing improvements in the form of your dog's poop (more solid and easier time defecating), as well as improvements in the consistency and regularity in terms of how much your dog poops per day.
Best Senior Dog Food For Small Breed Dogs: If your senior happens to be a small breed dog that remains tiny in size throughout the entirety of their life, then this formula from Wellness dog food is possibly the best you could offer them in this case.
While our #1 pick above is the all-round best senior dog food for the average sized dog breed, this formula is specifically produced to meet the needs of small breed senior dogs.
Smaller Sized Kibble: One of the main differences between this formula and our #1 pick above is the smaller sized kibble found in this bag of dog food, since smaller dog breeds don't have the ability to take on large sized kibble the same way larger sized dogs do.
This way, your older dog can get all the nutrients and benefits found in our #1 pick above, except that they're just getting it from smaller sized kibble that caters to their smaller mouths.
Optimized To Improve Digestive System: The aspect we love most about this senior dog food formula from Holistic Select is the fact that it's filled with properties that greatly improve your older dog's digestive system, given the fact that older dogs need these properties most.
This formula is absolutely rich in dietary fiber, prebiotics, probiotics and botanicals, all of which tremendously help relieve your older dog from any digestive problems they may be facing, prevent these digestive problems from affecting them in the near future, as well as greatly improve the nutrient absorption that your dog gets from their food.
We also love the wide variety of different fruits and vegetables included in the ingredients list of this formula, all of which also aid and boost your senior dog's digestive system.
Optimal Macro-Nutrient Ratios: If you were to examine the ingredients list of this formula and study the protein, fat and carbohydrate ratios, you'll find that Holistic got them on point.
Especially when it comes to the protein and fat ratios, protein content is just high enough to meet the needs of an older aged dog without exceeding the required limits, while fat content is just low enough to ideally meet the needs of an older aged dog without being too low (such as fat levels found in low fat dog food) and having this backfire with problems like low energy and poor coat quality.
Easy For Senior Dogs To Chew: Despite being a dry dog food formula, one of the strong points that Hill’s Science Diet got right with this formula is how easy the kibble is for senior dogs to chew, despite dental weaknesses they may now have.
Beneficial For Senior Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs/Sensitive Skin: Another very strong benefit this formula from Hill’s Science Diet has to offer is that it's incredibly easy on the digestive systems of dogs that have sensitive stomachs.
Specifically Produced Dog Food For Large Breed Senior Dogs: If you're looking for the best senior dog food for large breed dogs, then this formula from NUTRO is arguably on the top of the list, having been specifically produced with the nutritional dietary needs of large breed senior dogs in mind.
Best Canned Senior Dog Food: Last but most certainly not least on this list is the best canned senior dog food option for those of you looking to feed their older dog wet dog food instead of dry kibble because their chewing abilities aren't the same powerhouses they used to be.
How Do I Know When I Should Transition Into Feeding My Dog Senior Dog Food?
Because of the fact that not all dog breeds have the same life expectancy, and this can differ quite a bit between one dog breed and another, there doesn't exist a specific age range in which all dogs can be labeled as senior dogs.
Humans can be labeled as senior after they pass the age of 60, for example, but this doesn't apply the same way to dogs, unfortunately.
So, how exactly can you tell when it's the appropriate time to start gradually shifting your dog from regular adult dog food into consuming senior dog food specifically made for older dogs?
The simplest and most common way you can go about determining when your dog is considered to be a senior dog is by looking up the average life expectancy of their specific breed, and then divide it by 2.
If your dog's age is more than the number attained, then your dog is considered to be a senior dog. However, if your dog's age is less than the number attained, then your dog is still considered to be a regular adult dog that still doesn't need to be fed dog food for older dogs.
Small dog breeds tend to lead fairly lengthier lifespans than larger dog breeds, so you'll have to do the math on that one yourself depending on the average expected lifespan your dog breed is known to live for.
Not All Senior Dogs Need To Be Consuming Senior Dog Food
Sounds a bit contradicting, doesn't it? It isn't really so, though, we promise.
Even though these cases aren't very common among different dog breeds, but the fact of the matter is that not all senior dogs will need to be put on a diet that's based on senior dog food.
How? Allow us to explain.
Sometimes, and even when they've entered the "senior" stage of their life, some dogs tend to remain as physically active as much as they used to be before, and sometimes even more.
So, if your dog is still as physically active as they used to be, don't suffer from any physical problems like arthritis or joint pain, and don't seem to be gaining any unexplained weight while they're still eating their regular adult dog food, there's no reason to make the shift just yet and you'll be more than fine continuing feeding them whatever formula they're eating for the time being.
Why Should I Feed My Senior Dog Only The Best Senior Dog Food Brands?
So, why exactly should you change the brand/formula of dog food that you give Fido when they've become older in age? Why can't you just keep on feeding them the same brand and formula of dog food that you've been feeding them throughout all these years of adulthood?
Here are some of the most important and common reasons as to why you should feed your senior dog dog food that has been specifically manufactured for older dogs.
Change In Nutritional Needs: The #1 and most important reason why you should be shifting from feeding your older dog regular adult dog food into senior dog food is the fact that their nutritional needs change with time and as they get older.
While adult dogs in their prime may do best on dog food that's significantly high in protein levels, senior dogs tend to do best on dog food that has been specifically produced for them and contains high levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin, for example, in order to help them with conditions such as arthritis and joint pain.
Protein and fat are both still essential macro-nutrients that your senior dog should be getting from their dog food, especially protein which is used to maintain muscle mass and prevent muscle loss that senior dogs are at a high risk of experiencing.
But, the point is that other parts of the nutritional puzzle rise in importance as well, such as Fiber (more on that in a few).
Losing Interest In Dog Food: One of the most common situations that dog owners find themselves facing with their senior dogs is them gradually losing interest in eating the dog food they've been used to eating with full enthusiasm before.
Lower Caloric Needs: As dogs age with time and when they surpass that senior age mark, their caloric needs tend to significantly decrease in comparison to the amount of calories they used to need back when they were still young and growing puppies, as well as the amount of calories they used to need for maintenance purposes back when they were adult dogs at their prime.
Senior dogs that are still fed the same type of dog food they used to eat when they were adult dogs at their prime, and still fed the same amount of calories in their day to day diets, are at a very increased risk of facing obesity since they're still eating the same amount of calories they used to eat before but now have a significantly slower metabolism that isn't able to keep up like it used to before.
And, an obese senior dog will suffer much more from their joint problems/arthritis, as obesity amplifies these conditions in dogs just like it does in humans.
Not only does your dog's metabolism slow down with age, they also tend to move around much less frequently than they used to and become much less physically active, something which also means they're burning much less calories than they used to before.
This is also one reason why dog food specifically produced for older dogs tends to contain lower levels of dietary fat, since dietary fat is very high in calories and these calories can add up real fast, causing rapid weight gain and obesity in your senior dog in no time.
Higher Fiber Needs: High fiber dog food is beneficial for dogs of all ages alike, but it becomes much more necessary and essential for senior dogs since older dogs are much more likely to suffer from gastrointestinal problems than their younger peers.
Constipation is a very common problem among senior dogs, and feeding them a diet that's especially high in fiber will go a long way in preventing such problems from affecting their day to day lives.
Difficult Kibble To Chew: Sometimes older dogs will start to find it much more difficult to chew the same kibble they had no trouble chewing back in the day when their dental conditions were a 10/10.
In this case, senior dog food that's been manufactured with softness and ease of chewing in mind goes a long way in helping your older buddy meet all their nutritional requirements for the day without finding it the least bit difficult.