The 13 Best Senior Dog Foods

By Kevin Myers | 2022 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

This (updated) guide lists all of the best senior dog foods this year.

When our dogs enter their golden years, it’s our responsibility to find the BEST nutrition for them.

In simple words… A diet that contributes to their quality of life and optimizes longevity. Our love for our senior dogs can sometimes blind us to the fact that they’re not puppies anymore. And we need to pay attention to the fact that their nutritional needs are changing. So if you’re looking for the best dog foods for older dogs, then this is the place to be.

Below are my top picks. See more options later in the post.

Let’s dive in…

The Best Senior Dog Foods

Top PicksRatingTop Ingredients
1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dry Dog Food
(Editor’s Choice)
4.9Deboned Chicken, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Chicken Meal
2. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Dog Food4.8Chicken, Whole Brown Rice, Chicken Meal, Split Peas
3. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE SeniorDog Food4.8Chicken, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Garbanzo Beans
4. ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food4.8Deboned Chicken, Whole Red Lentils, Whole Apples
5. American Journey Chicken & Sweet Potato Senior Dog Food4.7Deboned Chicken, Peas, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick

Senior Dog Food Reviews

1. Blue Buffalo — Life Protection Formula Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Brown Rice, 3. Barley, 4. Oatmeal, 5. Chicken Meal

The Life Protection Formula from Blue Buffalo is a favorite of mine for helping to sustain your senior dog’s wellbeing. It’s nutritionally balanced specifically for the older dogs and a great choice for satisfying the needs of your puppy at heart.

The blend of ingredients of this Blue Buffalo offering is sure to impress parents of senior dogs. Including high-quality real meat, vegetables, and fruits, it’s sure to satisfy your dog’s taste buds as well as his body. This power-packed recipe’s balanced nutrient profile offers your dog a savory meal. To help aid the digestion of your older pup, this formula also contains garden vegetables and wholesome grains. Last but not least, the protein content and chelated minerals present in the blend guarantees better nutrient absorption for great health benefits.

2. Nutro — Wholesome Essentials Senior Farm-Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken, 2. Brewers Rice, 3. Whole Brown Rice, 4. Chicken Meal, 5. Split Peas

Your four-legged friend is going to love the flavors of this wholesome, clean-feed formula diet. This one by Nutro is a specified senior dog recipe suitable for all breeds. The nutrient-rich diet helps your dog with a number of aging complications such as memory loss and mobility issues. The nutrients are derived from a blend of high-quality ingredients to formulate a diet that supports cognitive and joint health in your senior dogs.

This diet is also suitable for dogs that develop food-related sensitivities as they grow older. Expertly formulated GMO-free ingredients and extract protein from farm-raised chicken help your senior to maintain a healthy metabolism. Rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, this recipe helps to keep your dog’s skin in shape and their coat shiny.

3. CANIDAE — Grain-Free PURE Senior Real Chicken, Sweet Potato & Garbanzo Bean Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Garbanzo Beans

It’s quite common for older dogs to develop food sensitivities and allergies; and giving them a diet not specifically formulated for seniors could be bad for their health. To ensure your gray muzzled pup gets the best nutrition, nutrition that supports their gut health without causing any triggers, you can rely on this recipe to deliver.. If you are looking for an option that’s gluten-free, grain-free, corn-free, soy-free, wheat-free, and also helps with sensitive digestion, this limited-ingredient diet by CANIDAE is an ideal pick.

Made from only 9 ingredients to eliminate all the possible allergens that could cause sensitivity in your dog, this recipe is crafted from the best, high-quality ingredients. As a bonus, dogs absolutely love the great taste of this kibble made from chicken, sweet potatoes, and garbanzo beans as primary ingredients.

4. ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Deboned Turkey, 3. Atlantic Flounder, 4. Whole Red Lentils, 5. Whole Apples

To keep your senior dog lean and muscular, Orijen has designed this protein-rich diet that’s made from almost 85% animal ingredients. Most of the protein content comes from deboned chicken and turkey meat, both highly nutritious sources that encourage muscle nourishment and energy maintenance. The food is also coated in freeze-dried liver, giving it a fantastic taste that will leave your dog licking their bowl.

Apart from that, most of the recipe list is made up of wholesome greens, lentils, and beans. These act as sources of carbohydrates, antioxidants, and additional protein. The food also contains multiple fruits like apples, berries, and pumpkin, all of which deliver loads of vitamins and minerals that assist your dog’s aging body. 

5. American Journey — Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Turkey Meal, 5. Sweet Potatoes

The high protein content in this blend by the American Journey is one of the main reasons why it is a favorite pick of  senior pet owners. The brand has earned a great reputation by offering pet parents a variety of carefully crafted dog foods that are specific to the unique requirements of senior dogs. This recipe is specially designed for your senior buddies, fulfilling their special nutrition requirements.

This grain-free recipe is prepared under expert supervision to formulate a diet made from selective nutrients to support the overall health and wellbeing of senior dogs. It includes a variety of nutrient-dense ingredients that support your aging dog’s immune system and joint health. Keep the adventure in your dog alive and minimize the signs of aging by paying special attention to your senior dog’s diet.

6. Merrick — Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Peas, 5. Potatoes

Prepared with the best quality ingredients in Merrick’s kitchen, this recipe includes real chicken, sweet potatoes, and a variety of wholesome ingredients to meet the special nutritional needs of your senior dog. The formula is tested before it is packaged to ensure maximum safety and superior-quality. A high-quality offering for your precious pup.

If you’re looking to switch foods in your dog’s golden years this offering from Merrick is a particularly healthy choice. This grain-free diet includes high levels of chondroitin and glucosamine to support the well-used bones and joints of our senior dogs. High-quality proteins are of particular benefit to our older dogs, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in this blend.

7. Hill’s Science Diet — Adult 7+ Youthful Vitality Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken, 2. Brewers Rice, 3. Yellow Peas, 4. Cracked Pearled Barley, 5. Whole Grain Oats

Once your pooch blows out seven candles on his cake, it is a good time to think about introducing him to a new, more suitable diet for his golden years. This blend by Hill’s Science Diet features high-quality chicken as a primary ingredient inside delicious kibble that your big guy is surely going to enjoy. Packed with the recommended levels of nutrients, this diet will support your dog’s health and wellbeing in his later life.

8. Purina Pro Plan — Bright Mind Adult 7+ Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken, 2. Poultry By-Product Meal, 3. Brewers Rice, 4. Whole Grain Corn, 5. Whole Grain Wheat

Keep your aging dog fun and active by giving her a diet that perfectly matches her nutritional requirements at this age. Packed with high levels of protein and other essential nutrients, this recipe has tons of amazing ingredients to help your dog feel satisfied, healthy, and happy during daily activities. Also rich in natural prebiotic fiber, the blend is a great addition to a sensitive dog’s diet.

9. Blue Buffalo — Wilderness Senior Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Pea Starch

Even a senior dog’s food shouldn’t be too different from their natural ancestral diet. This particular formula by Blue Wilderness incorporates a range of holistic ingredients to keep up with a high nutrient profile for your older dogs. With chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal as the primary source of protein, the finest ingredients craft this grain-free formula to support your dog’s health in her senior years.

10. Iams ProActive Health Mature Adult Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Ground Whole Grain Barley, 3. Carrot, 4. Dried Plain Beet Pulp, 5. Natural Flavor

One of the main reasons to recommend Iams ProActive Health Mature Adult Dog Food is that it delivers almost every nutrient a senior dog could need. From protein sourced from real chicken to antioxidants, prebiotics, and more. The food ensures that your dog gets all the amino acids they require to remain muscular and active.

Besides that, the formula also contains prebiotics that improve gut health and enhance nutrient absorption. The recipe is enriched with nutrients that support bone health and keep the joints functioning properly. Antioxidants in the food also help strengthen immunity, and fibers improve digestion.

11. VICTOR — Senior Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food

It’s natural for your older dog’s activity level to fall as they show signs of aging. However, maintaining the ideal weight for your four-legged friends in his senior years shouldn’t be a problem if you have Victor Senior Healthy Weight dry dog food on hand. Rich in chondroitin and glucosamine, this diet supports great bone and joint health to encourage your big buddy to stay active and adventurous. It is an excellent choice for pet parents with less active adult dogs as it helps maintain weight without compromising on high-quality nutrients.

12. Nulo — Freestyle Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog Food

This high-protein, grain-free recipe is formulated with nutrient-dense ingredients to support an older dog’s health. It’s an ideal diet for dogs with chicken and egg sensitivities because the protein in this formula is derived from turkey meal, deboned trout, deboned turkey, and salmon. Also rich in natural vitamin supplements, calcium, and phosphorous, the kibble works to strengthen your dog’s skeletal structure and supports optimal immune health.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Senior Deboned Turkey Recipe Dry Dog Food

Boost your senior dog’s health and activity level with this special turkey-based recipe by Wellness. The grain-free formula is packed with high-quality nutrients and does not include fillers or artificial flavors to trigger your dog’s sensitive digestive system. Serve your paw-tner a meal that’s loaded with the goodness of rich and nutrient-dense components to protect your dog’s health in his senior years.

13. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Senior Deboned Turkey Recipe Dry Dog Food

Boost your senior dog’s health and activity level with this special turkey-based recipe by Wellness. The grain-free formula is packed with high-quality nutrients and does not include fillers or artificial flavors to trigger your dog’s sensitive digestive system. Serve your paw-tner a meal that’s loaded with the goodness of rich and nutrient-dense components to protect your dog’s health in his senior years.

Related Guide:


What To Avoid In Senior Dog Foods?

Amongst all dog foods available in the market, some are just straight-up low-quality formulas that can ruin your dog’s health. Here’s what you need to look for to avoid such dog foods:

  • BHT and BHA: Both BHT and BHA have known carcinogens and should be avoided at all costs. They’re typically used for preserving fats and can be found nearby fat-related ingredients in the recipe list.
  • Meat by-products: By-products consist of all the waste or non-meat portions left from an animal. Since these have little protein in them, we advise you to avoid dog foods that primarily contain meat by-products and choose formulas that use real meat or meat meals.
  • MSG: Monosodium Glutamate is normally used as a taste enhancer in different foods. But sometimes, it can trigger a dangerous allergic reaction in both humans and dogs. That’s why we recommend that you avoid any dog food with MSG in its ingredient list.

At what age does my dog enter his senior life stage?

A dog’s age and longevity vary between breeds. Smaller breeds are considered a senior between ages 9 and 11, a medium-sized breed between ages 7 and 9, while a large breed dog may start showing signs of aging after hitting 6.

What are the common signs of aging in dogs?

Our dogs show the signs of aging much like we do. Symptoms such as a decline in physical condition, dropped activity levels, food sensitivities, digestive problems, inefficient organ function, a decline in mental and sensory function, and weakening immune response.

How many calories should I feed my senior dog?

The caloric requirements of a dog changes through the different life stages, increasing when the dog is growing up and becoming more active, and decreasing as they become less active during senior years. For a senior dog of an average weight, the recommended calories fall between 800 and 1000 calories keeping the size of their breed in mind. This will vary if your dog is overweight or underweight.

How’s do the nutritional requirement of senior dogs different from adult dogs?

One of the major side effects of aging is a decline in activity level. Also, organs start to lose their efficiency. During this life stage, it becomes difficult for senior dogs to digest a calorie-dense meal. Of course, lack of activity can also lead to weight gain. Senior dog food formulas have certain dietary actors to help manage medical and physical changes better. The food crafted for senior dogs has nutrient adjustments, higher digestibility, added joint supplements, softer texture for easier chewing, and added triglycerides, antioxidants, and essential omega fatty acids to sustain your dog’s better health in his senior years.

Does my senior dog need more protein?

A simple answer to this question would be ‘yes’. The protein requirement of senior dogs is pretty much similar to younger pups. Aging in dogs can also mean losing muscle mass rapidly. Therefore, it is highly recommended to pick a diet option that offers extra protein supplies for your senior, to give him additional amino acids to cover the loss. Extra protein also ensures better mobility. A senior dog’s diet will ideally include around 75 grams of protein for every 1000 calories. For senior dogs that are overweight, you might want to stick to lower levels of protein.

What’s the healthiest food for my senior dog?

We have listed the 17 best senior dog foods in this article that you can pick from. Also, the healthiest diet for your senior dog can be anything that matches their specific nutritional requirements. Any food that contains the appropriate balance of protein, fats, carbs, minerals, and vitamins is considered healthy for older tail-waggers.

Is it necessary to switch to a senior dog’s diet once my pooch starts showing the signs of aging?

For dogs, their dietary needs start to change as they get older and it is important to switch to dog food that’s specifically designed for seniors to meet their unique nutritional requirements. Making the switch in time can put you at peace knowing that your dog is getting the best diet in this crucial stage of life.

What’s the best way to transition to a senior food diet?

The key is to make the transition slowly. This is the same approach that you must take while making any food switches in your dog’s diet. Replace ¼ of their current food with the new one. Gradually increase the amount until your dog becomes completely comfortable with the new recipe.

How do I determine if the food I have picked is suitable for senior dogs?

Every dog is different and may react to the new formula differently. You may pick the best food options available for senior dogs but there is still a possibility that your dog isn’t comfortable with the new formula. The key is to observe if the new diet is having a positive impact on the deteriorating health of your dog. If the aging symptoms continue, consider switching to another brand. If you’re unsure please consult with your veterinarian.

What should I look for in a complete and balanced senior dog’s diet?

The glucose metabolism of your aging dog changes with time. This can affect attention, memory, and trainability. When choosing the right dog food that’s both complete and balanced for your senior buddy, look for an option that has high levels of protein and lower levels of fat. Glucosamine, omega fatty acids, enhanced botanical oils, and antioxidants are essential ingredients as well.

Can I feed regular adult dog food to my senior dog?

If your adult dog’s food has the appropriate nutritional balance as recommended for senior dogs, you can continue and feed the regular adult dog food to your older dog. It is also important to check the ingredients in the recipe to ensure it does not include allergens that could be detrimental to your dog’s health.

Should I eliminate carbohydrates completely from my senior dog’s diet?

No, carbohydrates should be a part of your aging pet’s diet but it is important to understand that not all carbs are created equal. Older dogs may find it difficult to digest cereal grains such as corn, wheat, and barley, which can also cause intestinal gas, allergies, flatulence, vomiting, and diarrhea. When it comes to feeding your dog carbs, stick to high-quality whole grains that contain complete grain kernel. Examples include buckwheat, quinoa, whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal.

What are the benefits of feeding my pooch a senior dog diet?

Specifically formulated senior dog foods are lower in calories and rich in balanced nutrition to create a feeling of satiation. Such recipes are also low in fat content to avoid causing weight gain. This keeps your dog healthier and happier.

How is regular dog food different from senior dog food?

The difference in calorie content, ingredients, and nutrient profiles is what makes regular dog food different from senior dog food. This is the main reason why switching to a special senior diet once your dog becomes a senior is highly recommended.

What should I feed my overweight senior dog?

Choose a calorie-control formula without compromising on the nutrition. You cannot deny the fact that your aging dog needs a certain amount of nutrition for health maintenance. Fortunately, you can find some options in the market that claims to help with the weight management of senior dogs. Compare your options. Also, control the portion size you are feeding your dog. Eliminate all the excess food and treats and stick to a routine meal with controlled calories.

Related: Best Dog Foods for Weight Loss

What are the common health problems that my dog is likely going to face at a senior life stage?

While this varies from breed to breed, some common health problems that you might witness in your aging dogs may include gum disease, arthritis, diabetes, sudden weight loss, blindness, dementia, kidney disease, and in the worst case, cancer.

What do I feed my skinny senior dog?

Do not hesitate to give a rich diet to your skinny senior dog and provide him great nutrition with a calorie-dense meal. However, do not go overboard with the calorie count because your older dog’s daily activity level is likely to decline. Regularly feeding too much can cause severe weight gain or obesity which can be fatal at this life stage.

Does my senior dog need exercise and activities?

Indeed! The decline in health and other joint-related problems can lead to a decline in the activity level of your dog. They may not be as playful and hyper as they were when you first had them. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t encourage your senior dog to play and exercise. Pay special attention to their physical wellbeing and invest some time and effort to ensure your good girl stays active.

Does breed matter in adjusting the nutrition for senior dogs?

Some of the best senior dog foods in the market are suitable for small, medium, and large breeds, making it an easier choice, especially if you have several dogs of different breeds. You can also adjust the nutrition based on the portion size by adjusting it to the size of their breed and feeding the recommended amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight.

Can I offer puppy food to my senior dog?

While the nutrient profile of puppy food and senior dog food can be similar – since dogs in both life stages require a high level of nutrition – the calorie content in puppy food is very high and therefore not suitable for senior dogs. Feeding such a calorie-dense recipe for your big dog can lead to weight problems.

Senior Dog Food Buyer’s Guide

Nutrition is a highly important factor that cannot be ignored across the lifespan of your beloved dog. And when it comes to feeding your senior dog, it should be as important as feeding yourself or a family member. Even when old age takes a toll on your senior’s health, you can still keep your dog happy, active, and healthy by ensuring they receive the best nutrition that will keep their immune system healthy, their joints flexible, coat shiny and sleek, and their digestive system smooth.

It is, however, important to note that different breeds may hit the ‘senior’ stage at different ages and switching to a specified senior diet right away may not be appropriate. The key is to watch and observe if there are clear signs of aging before making that transition.

In this buyer’s guide, we will discuss all the important aspects related to buying the best senior dog foods to save you from getting all overwhelmed by the selection you can pick from.

Feeding Your Senior Dog a Special Diet

Decreased energy is often one of the first signs we notice in our dogs as they age. This can be a sign of a decline in the efficiency of your dog’s internal organ function which affects your senior’s activity level and overall wellbeing.

Joint problems like arthritis cause discomfort and pain while moving and playing about and can contribute to your senior’s lack of desire to engage in these activities. If this is the case, then feeding them too many cards for energy can be a mistake.

As far as the senior diet is concerned, the first thing you need to do is reduce their carbohydrates and rely more on fats to give them a highly concentrated form of energy. Older dogs are also likely to benefit if you reduce their calorie intake. Since their movement is restricted, providing the same amount of calories as before can lead to weight gain and other health problems associated with excessive weight.

Fiber is another component that you must include in your older dog’s diet as it improves digestion, reduce sensitivities, and encourages efficient bowel movements.

As far as protein is concerned, make sure you stick to only high-quality sources. Protein plays a critical role in your dog’s health maintenance at all life stages and this is where you need to be extra careful with the protein-based ingredients in your older, sensitive dogs.

Last but not least, a senior’s special diet should also contain chondroitin and glucosamine as these substances work to relieve joint problems and even improves the flexibility of the joint capsule.

Common Health Problems of Older Dogs

It is quite common for your grey muzzled partner to develop medical problems in the later stages of their lifespan. In addition to seeking help from your veterinarian, you should also be mindful of these health problems, as they are the clear signs of aging in dogs and also an indication that your dog needs to switch to a more specific diet to help fight these issues with the right nutrition.

Some common health issues and symptoms include:

  • Skin problems and lumps
  • Vision problems or blindness
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Bad breath, dental problems, excessive drooling
  • Memory loss
  • Altered behavior/irritability
  • Personality changes
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Sleeping problems
  • Increased thirst – indicating kidney disease
  • Impaired mobility
  • Osteoarthritis

Make sure you keep an eye out for these symptoms as your senior canine enters into their golden years. Providing your dog the most suitable diet you can at the senior stage can lead to benefits in their quality of life. It is also a good time for more frequent checkups to see if the food you are giving him is making any difference to their overall wellbeing.

What to Look For In The Best Senior Dog Foods

Picking from the wide variety of food for your aging best friend is not easy, especially if your pet is suffering from a medical condition. Here are a few important things to consider when choosing the best senior dog food for your dog.

Get an assessment done – To know the specific dietary needs of your older paw-pal, it is important to find out about their current health condition. Seeking help from a veterinarian and getting an assessment done beforehand is extremely helpful. Your vet can give you specific advice about the nutritional requirement of your dog depending on his current health profile.

Choose high-quality, rich protein sources – Not only should the diet you pick be rich in protein, it should come from high-quality protein sources. Protein serves as the most crucial macronutrient in aging dogs and can help with building a strong immune system, replacing age-damaged tissues, and even benefit if the canine has kidney problems.

Add wholesome grains to the diet – Most pet parents prick their ears at the mention of the word ‘grain’. While a grain-free diet is highly recommended for pooches with digestive issues and a weaker immune system, wholesome grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal serve as phenomenal sources of amino acids that are a must for an elderly canine diet.

Steer clear of the artificial – whether it is the color, flavor, or preservatives, don’t be fooled by the smart marketing tactics that try to cover up these unnecessary fillers, which can be particularly harmful to your older dog. Always read the labels and beware of anything that’s artificially synthesized.

Choosing Nothing But The Best

To ensure that your dog’s living his best life even at an older age, providing him with the best diet is essential. In an effort to help you narrow down your options and make a wise decision, we have listed and reviewed the 17 best senior dog foods in this article. With maximum customer approval rating and the best-sourced protein, I believe these options are great for providing your big guy with the nutrition they need to keep that tail wagging and maintaining excellent health.

References & Resources:

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