As dogs get older, their nutritional requirements tend to change, which means that it could be time to modify their diet.
And the immediate question pet owners ask is:
Which pet food is the most suitable for my maturing furry friend?
With this article, we will fill you in on how to pick the best food for senior dogs and what to watch out for.
We’ve also reviewed the top 5 senior dog foods in the UK that could keep your canine friend well-fed, happy and healthy as he advances into retirement.
In a hurry? Here are the top 3 senior dog foods our experts chose:
Our top picks
Best Senior Dog Foods
Before we dive into the details of how to pick the right dog food for older dogs and what to look for, we present you the top 5 senior dogs individually reviewed:
This IAMS product is a great value for money kibble for small to medium dogs.
It’s high in animal protein andenriched with essential vitamins and antioxidants. These are beneficial to treat a wide range of symptoms, while also ensuring that your dog receives balanced meals.
Owners have noticed significant weight gain in geriatric dogs, improved muscle mass, shining fur coats, and an improved eagerness to eat among fussy hounds.
If your dog is slowing down, taking strain and not as lively as he was, majority of IAMS users noticed increased vitality after using this product. Your pooch will return to his old self in a few weeks after you switch to IAMS senior.
Additionally, it’s wheat-free and contains zero additives or harmful fillers, making the kibble suitable for gluten-sensitive pets, and dogs seem to love the taste!
This product also has a mild fragrance, which is great news for pet owners who can’t stand pungent dog food.
The crunchy kibble containing vital minerals optimises oral health in elderly pooches. It’s also easy to eat, even if your old fur-baby has lost a couple of pearly whites!
Certain breeds with extremely sensitive stomachs have experienced liquid stool, so purchase a smaller bag before committing fully to the brand.
Additionally, the only flavour available is chicken. If your dog gets bored of the taste, you could use it intermittently with another brand.
- Contains 85% animal protein
- Antioxidant blend with vitamin E
- Wheat-free food
- No fillers, artificial flavours and GMOS
- Mineral-dense crunchy kibbles
What we liked
- Great for weight gain in geriatrics
- Suitable for gluten intolerant pets
- Improves vitality in lethargic and sick dogs
- Aggravates extremely sensitive tummies
James Wellbeloved is well known for producing food that allergic and food intolerant canines can eat, and this particular product is no different from the rest.
The combination of lamb, brown rice and barley is not just delicious for your pooch but will also energize him by providing all the necessary goodness he needs.
This product is jam-packed with organic ingredients that aid in an ageing dog’s vitality. It’s also devoid of food that causes skin rashes and sensitive tummies.
Picking up smelly, running stool won’t be a problem in the future, and your dog won’t be constipated either.
Ingredients, such as chicory root, will reduce your dog’s digestive upsets, while yucca extracts take the pong out of poop.
This product also prioritises heart health, with the amino acid taurine added to the formula. If your dog suffers from heart issues, this product provides the healthy diet your pooch needs to keep his ticker strong.
Stiff and aching joints often accompany old age. However, pet owners have seen marked improvement after using this product. If extra effort is required to get old pooch up, a change to James Wellbeloved has been known to improve mobility.
Overall, the taste is enjoyed by different pooches, and the smell of lamb isn’t unpleasant for pet owners. However, adding a small amount of wet food is recommended to enhance the flavour.
At the same time, if your furry friend has dental problems, add some water to moisten the kibbles, which can be quite chewy for tender mouths.
- Comes in lamb, barley and rice flavour
- No wheat or wheat gluten, dairy products or egg, and soya
- Additive free
- Available in 7kg and 15 kg bags
What we liked
- Full of nutritional goodness
- Suitable for food intolerant and allergic dogs
- Remedies joints and improves mobility
Arden Grange offers a well-balanced diet to ageing pooches, especially those predisposed to obesity or in need of extra joint support.
Tailored amounts of chondroitin and glucosamine on the recipe helps strengthen weakened joints caused by wear and tear.
At the same time, L-carnitine will prevent your dog from packing on the pounds as he begins to slow down.
This senior dog food also has the potential to enhance your beloved pooch's quality of living by minimising discomfort brought on food sensitivities. Being naturally hypoallergenic means that your pooch can enjoy this food without suffering later.
The texture and consistency of the kibbles are light and moist, making it beneficial for old dogs who struggle to chew in their later years. If your dog doesn’t drink enough, the extra moistness will help to maintain his hydration levels.
Your furry friend might not mind making smells that can clear a room, but we’re sure that you do! The addition of yucca extracts in this senior dog food puts a stop to flatulence and smelly poop.
One thing to bear in mind is the size of the kibble, which is fine for small dogs. However, it might not be suitable for bigger animals that wolf down their food. Try alternative foods to prevent choking hazards in large breeds.
Overall, the low-calorie product containing hypoallergenic components is effective in helping four-legged family members shed a few kilograms and their allergies. At the same time, they'll continue to receive the proper nutrition they need.
A bonus is a shiny coat that will have strangers wrongly guessing the age of your prized canine!
- Naturally hypoallergenic senior dog food
- Includes prebiotics
- Available in 2kg, 6kg and 12kg bags
What we liked
- Well balanced diet
- Helps to regulate weight
- Contains krill which is good for the skin and coat
- Extra-small kibble not great for bigger dogs
Containing 25% less fat than the average adult dog food, this product from Harringtons is perfect for Labradors and other breeds who put on weight easily.
Not only will the food regulate your pooch's size, but the flavoursome taste will receive your hungry dog's seal of approval.
Harrington food products arepumped with natural goodies to keep your pooch happy. These ingredients help to ease painful joints while keeping his eyesight sharp, heart strong, and the immune system healthy. Additionally, your furbaby will sport a coat so glossy that others will think he’s younger.
Dogs with sensitive stomachs will undoubtedly benefit from using this product because it contains beet pulp, yeast and kelp that are great for digestive health.
The kibbles are chewable and packed with minerals. These elements help to fight oral health issues while forcing your dog to eat slower. Additionally, the size of the kibbles is suitable for big and small mouths.
While the delicious chicken-and-rice filled kibbles is sure to get your dog drooling, make sure the meat agrees with your dog before making it a staple. Poultry allergies are common!
The bags made from recyclable, non-toxic materials - a bonus for the environment, if you ask us!
One downside is only receiving two packs of 2kg upon delivery, which is fine if you’re testing out Harringtons. However, if you’re a loyal customer, not being able to buy bigger ones is inconvenient.
- Low calorie senior dog food
- Recipe includes glucosamine, chondroitin
- Contains beet pulp, yeast and kelp for digestive health
What we liked
- Its supplements, and vitamins help with common ailments
- Keeps your dog feeling and looking good
- Only available in chicken flavour
- Not the best choice for toothless dogs
From tiny Pomeranians to Great Danes, Bakers is a dog food fit for all senior breeds.
The outer crunch of the kibble combined with the soft meaty pieces in the middle are gobbled down in haste. Therefore, dogs give this product five paws for taste!
It contains soluble wholegrains that aregentle on the digestive system.
As dogs age, they become less active and more prone to illness. Bakers Senior's weight control qualities and essential antioxidants safeguard your dog from unplanned fat gain and various health issues, while promoting vitality.
Your dog should be fine eating the kibble even if he or she has oral health issues. Adding gravy or warm water might help if chewing proves difficult for your animal.
Despite its numerous good qualities, some ingredients listed have been questioned in regards to whether artificial flavouring have been used.
What’s more, you’ll notice that fewer organic compounds are used in this product than competitor brands. If you aren’t sure about giving this to your beloved pooch, check with your vet first.
There’s only a one-sized bag weighing 12kg, which can be hugely problematic and wasteful if your dog refuses to eat its new food.
- Low fat chicken and veg flavoured dog food
- Contains whole grains, vitamin d and antioxidants
What we liked
- Great on taste
- Gentle on digestion
- Moderately healthy
- Some ingredients may have been questioned
- Only comes in one size
How To Pick The Best Senior Dog Food
Through this guide, you'll notice that most of the dietary changes needed for senior dogs are due to age-related diseases and changes in metabolism.
So, there are no "one fits all" solution. However, we will cover what you should be looking for in dog foods.
When Is The Right Time To Switch From Adult To Senior Dog Food?
The general consensus is that a dog is considered senior when she has lived out half of her predicted lifespan.
Larger breeds live shorter than smaller breeds, around 10 to 15 years. This means they’ll move from adult to senior dogs around the age of six.
On the other hand, little dogs outlast bigger ones by a few years, meaning they’re only considered old when they’re 8 or 9.
Remember that ageing isn’t a good enough reason on its own to change your pooch’s good food. It’s fine to keep your dog on quality adult food so long as he’s happy.
Keep an eye out for changes relating to movement, appetite, alertness, and comfortability.
What Are The Signs I Should Look Out For?
As your dog can’t communicate that he’s feeling unwell, it’s important that you pay close attention (ah if only he could talk, he’d tell you how much he loves you all the time!).
Lassie might need to change her diet if she suffers from any of the below symptoms:
Signs to switch to senior dog food
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Vision impairment
- Drooling, bad breath or signs of dental issues
- Skin issues or lumps
Senior dog food vs. regular dog food
Is there such a thing as senior dog food then?
While senior dog foods might be labelled as such, take caution in brands that over-claim. According to The European Pet Food Industry Federation, food fit for older dogs doesn’t combat ageing specifically. But instead, are designed to meet their changing nutritional requirements.
They’re packed with ingredients to treat ailments typically found in senior pooches, for example, joint supplements, healthy fats such as Omega 3 and 6, antioxidants and more. Conversely, food fit for older dogs contains fewer calories.
What Are Some Key Ingredients in Quality Dog Food?
Your dog requires a daily intake of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and sometimes supplements to obtain a balanced diet well into his golden years.
These days, quality dog food contains mostly organic ingredients that are beneficial to our four-legged family members. If you aren’t already, start reading the labels on dog food and look out for the below ingredients.
The importance of protein can’t be stressed enough. The nutrient is produced in limited supplies naturally, so the rest is derived from food dogs eat.
If your pooch has lower food intake due to older age, his food should contain a higher protein concentration in order to meet his needs.
Omega 3, 6 and linoleic acid are responsible for your dogs shining coat and healthy skin.
Like protein, the body doesn’t make much of it, so a dog food containing enough healthy fats is essential to keep your senior pooch’s engine running.
Carbs keep the intestine healthy and are a necessary energy source. That said, too many carbs isn’t great for your dog.
Older dogs are at risk of becoming overweight and obese due to a variety of illnesses.
So, carb intake should be regulated. You can use The Global Nutrition Committee guidelines for an optimal nutrition plan. Always select a food that contains fewer carbohydrates than protein.
If your pet is suffering obesity or pancreatitis already, a low fat diet could help regulate his body weight.
Vitamins and minerals
Your ageing dog needs a broad spectrum of vitamins to keep them healthy and strong when ageing begins to take its toll.
A daily intake of Vitamin A, B, D, E, K, calcium, and phosphorus will enhance the quality of your dog’s life.
Free radicals are dangerous molecules that can negatively impact your pet’s nervous and immune system.
Incorporating more antioxidants, like vitamins E and C, beta-carotene and selenium into their food will fight these radicals and provide essential support dogs need to remain healthy and alert.
Some dogs suffering from arthritis are said to benefit from this compound, which is found in trace amounts in senior dog food.
However, studies aren't conclusive whether it actually is beneficial or not.
Weak and painful joints are the plight of many ageing dogs. A chondroitin-rich food is believed to relieve some of their discomfort.
Chat to your vet before giving it to your dog.
What Is The Best Diet For A Senior Dog?
When choosing a senior dog food, you might also need to take into account, changing dietary needs and any diet adjustments due to illnesses.
You’ll often read that senior dog food should be lower in calories, while higher in protein and fibre. However, there are no golden rules as dogs have different health conditions.
Some pooches need more calories to maintain their build, while others have kidney issues that require them to have less, not more protein.
- Cognitive functions issues
- Skin diseases
- Digestive tract problems
- Cardiovascular system
- Degenerative joint issues
- Urinary diseases
Low Calorie Diets For Reduced Activity
Because they become less active when they age, several breeds will burn fewer calories and may pick up extra kilograms.
For example, any joint issues could reduce the amount of exercise which means that your pooch needs less energy intake.
Therefore, most senior dog foods aren’t as calorie dense as normal adult dog food to prevent unnecessary weight gain.
However, there are no golden rules. You might find that your dog is dropping weight dramatically and needs more calories than his chubby counterpart.
Higher Protein Diets Against Muscle Loss
An ageing dog and a geriatric dog are in different stages of their lives. With the latter often losing weight and muscle mass instead of gaining fat around their middle.
Losing muscle mass is dangerous because it accompanies fast depleting protein reserves. Without the necessary reserves, a dog’s immune system will suffer, resulting in increased illnesses, slower recoveries, and potential death.
A higher protein diet contains the needed amino acids that help to repair tissue, stimulate energy metabolism, and will generally keep your dog healthy as he enters his final phase of life.
The recommended amount you should feed your dog is approximately 75 grams of protein per 1000 calories.
High Fibre Diets
Opinions differ on whether high fibre diets are beneficial for senior dogs.
On the one hand, more fibre has been known to improve gastrointestinal health and alleviate constipation. On the other hand, too much fibre decreases the intake of essential nutrients.
If you must give your dog extra fibre, consider feeding him small amounts of beet pulp. Studies have shown that it’s healthier than the insoluble fibres found in dog food.
Other Specialised Diets
Your dog might become inflicted with life-altering issues which require careful food planning and advice from your local veterinarian.
The primary goal for controlling diabetes is to delay the absorption of food and keep blood sugars low by combining treatment with a low-fat, higher fibre diet.
Dogs with heart issues require a low-calorie diet to help reduce and manage their weight. Reducing their intake of sodium is important, but don’t eliminate the nutrient entirely from their diet.
Kidney disease can prove fatal if it’s not properly treated with medication and a change in diet.
Generally speaking, dogs suffering with kidney issues must receive food that’s reduced in phosphorus, sodium, and protein.
A low phosphorus diet in particular helps to slow down the progression of kidney disease.
Allergies And Food Sensitivities
It’s not uncommon for all dogs, not just seniors to suddenly develop allergies after being on the same diet for years.
Chicken, beef, wheat, soy, pork and corn are the common culprits that cause dry, irritated skin, digestive upsets, inflammation, flatulence, and other health issues.
Switching over to a hypoallergenic diet helps to relieve or eliminate these issues by replacing these nutrients with others.
For example, recommended alternative meat proteins include duck, rabbit or venison, while sweet potatoes could be carbohydrate substitute.
Which Is Better: Wet Food or Dry Food?
Often, pet owners will switch their geriatric seniors from dry kibble to wet food, or at least add a spoon or two of wet food to dry.
Wet food benefits for senior dogs
- Higher water count, which is beneficial if your pet doesn’t drink enough fresh water
- The soft consistency is ideal to chew if missing teeth or jaw misalignment
- Ageing dogs lose their smell. Canned food has a richer scent
- The contents of canned foods get dogs fuller quicker, helping with obesity
Experiment with different brands
Finding a senior dog food fit for your pooch is challenging. What might work wonders for one old pooch might not agree with another.
That said, a renewed sense of vitality, improved mobility, a hearty but controlled appetite, no skin irritants and a generally healthy dog are sure-fire signs that you’ve chosen the right food.
The trick to finding nutritious food that your old pooch will eat is to experiment with new brands. Experiment with different dog food until you find a match, and stop feeding your dog kibble immediately if there are adverse effects.
You should also ask your vet about what the best diets are for their unique needs.
If you switch dog foods too quickly, senior dog food can cause diarrhoea.
Because your dog’s digestive system takes time adjusting to the dietary change. Introduce the new kibble mixed in with the old, until the old food has been transitioned out completely.
Yes. The majority of senior dog food brands contain 20-25% less calories to help fight obesity and weight gain in older pets.
It caters to an ageing dog's changing nutritional requirement. Senior dog food recipes contain a balanced mix of essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals and other vital organic compounds to keep your pooch healthy, happy, and mobile.
Knowing when to start feeding your dog age-appropriate food isn’t an exact science. However, around 6 for larger breeds and 8 or 9 for smaller ones.
If your dog is still happy with his regular food, there is no reason to discontinue using it unless he's showing signs of ill-health.
Senior dog food can make a huge impact on your dog. It can help to increase vitality and mobility, improve gastrointestinal health, support the immune system, while adding a glossy sheen to his coat.
There were tough competitors. However, we find Arden Grange Senior Dry Dog Food to be the top product for ageing pooches.
It provides a well-rounded diet, especially for overweight animals with suffering joints, which are common symptoms for retiring dogs.
It also optimises dental hygiene, is hypo-allergenic, and contains enough moisture to keep dogs who don’t drink enough water hydrated.
However, if your dog has chicken allergies, James Wellbeloved is the next go-to senior dog food, supplementing poultry with nutrient-rich and simply delicious lamb!
Haven't decided yet? Here is the top 5 in a nutshell:
Our Top Picks
- Senior dog food for small and medium breeds with up to 85 percent of animal...
- Wheat free pet food with no fillers, artificial colours, flavours or GMOs
- Antioxidant blend with Vitamin E to help support the immune system of your...
- No unhealthy additives
- Full of natural goodness
- Balanced recipe for older dogs
- Boosted levels of joint support for extra joint protection
- L-carnitine to help increase fat metabolism and improve stamina
- Contains 25 Percent less fat than standard adult Harrington's for older...
- A blend of glucosamine and chondroitin to help support joint structure and...
- Marigold is a source of lutein, a natural antioxidant known to help support...
- Wholegrains for fibre to help support healthy digestion
- Vitamin D and minerals for healthy teeth and strong bones
- Antioxidants to help maintain natural defenses in ageing dogs
So, what is your favourite?
Paw-some job for taking your time to take care of your ever so young senior pooch.
If you decided already, why not let us know your favourite in the comments section below.
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