Say Goodbye to Dietary Woes for Senior Dogs With These 5 Top-Rated B
As your pup reaches her golden years, she may face health challenges ranging from joint pain brought on by arthritis to tooth decay and gum disease that can make chewing food a struggle.
These conditions can have a significant impact on your dog’s nutritional needs, as well as her overall well-being. A switch to senior dog food may be necessary to ensure your aging pup receives the nutrition she needs.
But with so many options on the market, it can take time to figure out where to start. That’s why we’ve taken the time to review the best senior dog food brands available, to help you find complete and balanced nutrition options for your beloved pet.
While traditional kibble has long been the standard for dog food, many owners are turning to fresh, whole-ingredient diets or even raw food meals. We’ve selected a range of senior dog food brands that cater to this growing trend, as well as a variety of dry and wet food so that you can find the perfect option for your aging pup.
Best 5 Senior Dog Food Options
- Best Overall: JustFoodForDogs Lamb & Brown Rice
- Best for Allergy-Prone Dogs: Chippin Cricket Protein Daily Dry Dog Food
- Best Raw Diet: We Feed Raw
- Best Dry Kibble: Iams Proactive Health Healthy Aging Chicken & Whole Grain Recipe
- Best Wet Dog Food: Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Chicken & Barley Entree
Whether your pup is dealing with joint pain and arthritis, dental issues or other health concerns, we believe that any dog food options on our list will provide the nutrition and support they need.
However, we also know that every dog — and pet parent — has different preferences and needs. That’s why we’ve broken down the top brands into categories to help you find the right option for your pup.
Our category winners are a great place to start if you prefer senior dry dog food, wet food, or a specific type of food targeting joint health or digestive health issues.
We only recommended products from reputable companies that use high-quality ingredients to ensure your senior dog receives the proper nutrition and support they need during their golden years.
1. Best Overall: JustFoodForDogs Lamb & Brown Rice
JustFoodForDogs believes that dog food should look, taste, and be made from real food. This whole-ingredient meal made with ground lamb and high palatability is a protein source that packs a punch!
- Made with human-grade ingredients
- Fresh food with ground lamb, whole grain brown rice and veggies
- Provides plenty of omega-3s from natural oils
- Free from preservatives and growth hormones
- Moderate protein levels for older dogs
- High-calorie content; not ideal for overweight dogs
This dog food is not just delicious, but it provides numerous benefits that are particularly important for aging pups. The zinc and iron in ground lamb support a healthy metabolism. These minerals also help maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat, so your furry friend can continue to look and feel their best.
JustFoodForDogs Lamb & Brown Rice is specifically formulated with older dogs in mind. It contains safflower oil and fish oil for extra omega-3 fatty acids. Lamb liver is high in vitamins B12 and A to promote eye health and a strong metabolism. The high-calorie formula is great for older dogs with reduced appetites.
This food is delivered frozen to your home. You thaw it out, serve it to your dog, and watch them enjoy the real bits of lamb, whole grain brown rice, and veggies.
This dog food has received rave reviews from customers, with many saying that even their pickiest of pups love the taste! We saw several reviews from pet owners who used to prepare their dogs’ food from scratch but switched to this food as a healthy and time-saving alternative.
This food formula has received particular praise from pet owners with dogs suffering from arthritis. They’ve reported that their dogs have become more active and appear less uncomfortable after switching to this pet food.
About the Brand:
JustFoodForDogs products are formulated by real veterinarians and canine health experts. The company believes in transparent marketing and creating dog foods free from dangerous preservatives. Their Autoship program ensures you never run out of senior dog food. They’ll deliver at your chosen frequency — as often as every week.
- Comes in 18-ounce and 72-ounce packages. You can also purchase a 7 or 21-count box of 18-ounce packs or a 7-count box of 72-count packs.
- Crude protein: 7.5% minimum.
Read more at JustFoodforDogs.com
2. Best for Allergy-Prone Dogs: Chippin Cricket Protein Daily Dry Dog Food
If you’re looking for dog food that’s gentle on your furry friend’s sensitive tummy, Chippin Cricket Protein Daily Dry Dog Food is worth considering. This food is crafted by veterinarians and made with human-grade ingredients, including the star of the show — cricket protein. This protein is easy to digest, making it ideal for older dogs struggling with digestive issues and allergies.
- Free from all common allergens including chicken and beef
- Great source of omega-3s and fiber
- Soft, palatable texture once hydrated
- Comes in eco-friendly packaging
- Made with sustainable, planet-friendly ingredients
- Requires prep time: must be rehydrated before serving
Dogs can develop new allergies as they age. Allergy-prone dogs often do best on limited-ingredient diets free from common allergens, such as chicken, wheat and eggs.
Chippin Cricket Protein Daily Dry Dog Food is formulated with human-grade cricket protein, which contains all ten essential amino acids, tons of omega-3s and lots of fiber. These nutrients contribute to complete and balanced nutrition for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
To prepare your pet’s meal, just add warm water to the dehydrated food, wait for three minutes, and give it to your pup. The soft texture is ideal for older dogs with dental disease or jaw pain.
Customers say this food improves their older dogs’ digestion and stool quality. Many allergy-prone dogs experience relief from itchy skin after switching to this food. Customers also appreciate that dehydrated food takes up less space and is easy to store.
About the Brand:
Chippin was founded by a pet owner passionate about the environment. They create pet foods using sustainable ingredients that are better for the planet. Chippin works with a board-certified veterinarian. Plus, all of their packaging is made from recycled materials. Customers who subscribe to automatic deliveries can save on every order.
- Comes in 3.5-pound and 10-pound bags.
- The 3.5-pound bag rehydrates to provide 10.5 pounds of fresh food.
- Cruden protein: 26% minimum.
3. Best Raw Diet: We Feed Raw
Feeding your dog a raw diet can be challenging, as you want to ensure they receive the right balance of nutrients to meet their unique needs. Fortunately, We Feed Raw is here to take the guesswork out of the equation! This company takes the time to analyze your dog’s nutritional needs and create a custom raw diet just for them.
- Custom-designed diets for every dog
- Veterinarian-approved formulas
- All meats are USDA-sourced
- High-moisture content
- Products are cold-shipped for safety
- Foods must be thawed before serving
Say goodbye to the hassle of meal prep with this raw wet dog food customized to meet your pet’s dietary needs. All you need to do is thaw and serve, making mealtimes a breeze for both you and your furry friend.
We Feed Raw’s wet food formula is vet-approved and made with USDA-sourced meats. All their diets meet AAFCO nutrition standards and are highly digestible.
They ensure your senior dog’s food is easy to chew and provides enough energy, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids to meet their needs as they grow older.
Use the “Create Your Meal Plan” tool to easily tailor your dog’s raw food meal to their specific dietary needs. You’ll be asked for basic information such as your pet’s age, breed, weight and body condition.
With a choice of 6 delicious proteins, including chicken, turkey, and beef, you’re sure to find your dog’s new favorite. This variety keeps your pet interested and excited about their meals and allows you to switch things up regularly, ensuring they receive well-rounded nutrition.
Food allergies are common in older dogs, and raw diets can be a good way to limit exposure to allergens since they are free from preservatives, byproducts and over-processed ingredients. We Feed Raw uses high-pressure processing methods to kill dangerous pathogens in their fresh ingredients.
Customers love how easy it is to feed raw with the help of We Feed Raw. Several reviewers note that older dogs with smaller appetites are more willing to eat this food. We also saw reviews mentioning the soft coats, improved mobility, and higher energy levels older dogs experience when fed We Feed Raw diets.
About the Brand:
We Feed Raw helps pet owners feed their dogs a more natural diet. As a premade raw dog food company, they offer a variety of nutrient-rich options to meet the needs of dogs in every stage of life.
They believe that good nutrition is key to dogs’ overall health and happiness, and they’re committed to helping you give your dog the best possible raw diet the easy way.
- Every order from We Feed Raw is customized to meet your dog’s unique needs.
- Six sources of protein to choose from, including chicken, turkey, beef, duck, venison, and lamb.
- The dog food will be delivered to your doorstep in biodegradable packaging.
4. Best Dry Kibble: Iams Proactive Health Healthy Aging Chicken & Whole Grain Recipe
Give your senior dog the nourishment they deserve with Iams ProActive Health Healthy Aging Chicken & Whole Grain Recipe dry dog food. This formula is specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of aging dogs.
- Convenient, easy-to-feed kibble
- Made with real chicken and chicken meal
- High in prebiotics and fiber for good digestion
- Great source of antioxidants for immune health
- Ideal for dogs of all sizes
- Crunchy; not ideal for dogs with advanced dental disease
With real farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient and essential nutrients for bone and joint health, this formula supports your senior dog’s overall wellness. Antioxidants support the immune system, while a blend of prebiotics and fibers promotes healthy digestion.
While Iams use real chicken and chicken by-product meal as the main protein sources, other natural ingredients include dried egg, ground barley and carrots. The high DHA content is great for preserving visual acuity and cognitive function in senior dogs.
The small kibble size makes it easy for senior dogs of all sizes to eat comfortably, regardless of their breed. The small size also helps to promote chewing and digestion, making it a great option for older dogs with dental issues or who typically struggle with larger kibble sizes.
Customers praise Iams Proactive Health Healthy Aging for its balanced, high-fiber formula. Customers who have fed Iams for years often switch from an adult dog formula to this senior dog food when their dog is around the age of 7.
They often report that their dogs’ stool quality improves on this dog food. We also saw lots of reviews mentioning that dogs seemed more alert, energetic and youthful.
About the Brand:
Iams was one of the first pet food brands to do extensive nutritional research. They still work with vets and PhD-level veterinary nutritionists to formulate healthy, balanced senior dog foods. Iams is also a very charitable company. They partner with local shelters to help find homes for pets and help feed pets in need.
- Iams Proactive Health Healthy Aging dog food comes in 7, 15, and 29.1-pound bags.
- Crude protein: 24% minimum.
5. Best Wet Dog Food: Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Chicken & Barley Entree
Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Chicken & Barley Entree is the perfect solution for aging dogs who need a little extra support to maintain their health and wellness. This canned dog food contains high-quality protein to help keep lean muscle mass and maintain ideal body weight.
- Soft, easy-to-chew texture
- Comes in three flavors/formulas
- Great source of healthy whole grains
- Provides plenty of protein to help maintain muscle mass
- Metal cans require a can opener to open
Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ canned dog food is made with natural, whole grains like cracked pearl barley and whole grain corn. These carbohydrate-rich ingredients are good sources of energy for older dogs. Real meats, like chicken, pork liver and beef provide plenty of lean protein to help maintain your older dog’s muscle mass.
Canned dog food can be a great choice for senior dogs with advanced dental disease and those with a reduced appetite or sense of smell. This senior dog food formula is made with natural ingredients, high-quality protein sources and tasty flavors.
Some customers feed this canned dog food as their dog’s sole ration. Others mix it with kibble to make it more palatable. We saw lots of positive reviews from the owners of dogs with advanced tooth decay and jaw pain. Their dogs seem more comfortable eating this food, and its soft texture helps prevent jaw pain and bleeding gums.
About the Brand:
Hill’s Science Diet specializes in creating food for dogs at various life stages and for those with specific health needs. Veterinarians frequently recommend the brand. All Hill’s Science Diet products are made with carefully sourced ingredients. The company is committed to sustainability, and all of their manufacturing facilities are certified Zero Waste by the TRUE® program.
- Comes in 5.8-ounce and 13-ounce cans. Customers can purchase 24-packs of 5.8-ounce cans or 12-packs of 13-ounce cans.
- Three flavors/formulas: chicken & barley, beef & barley, and turkey & barley.
- Crude protein: 4.7% minimum.
Read more about Hill’s Science Diet
How We Made This List
Most dog food brands make senior dog food, so there are a lot of choices to pick from. We narrowed down our options and chose the very best senior dog food brands to feature, hereby relying on three sources of information: product descriptions, product reviews and our own pups.
When reading product descriptions, we favored brands that shared lots of details about their ingredient sourcing and formula strategies. The foods on this list are all formulated with the help of vets and in adherence to AAFCO standards.
The ingredients are sourced responsibly. Most of these foods are made with human-grade ingredients. When human-grade ingredients are not used, the brand is still careful to buy from reputable farms and suppliers.
We also chose a variety of pet food specifically formulated for senior dogs. Here are some of the key features we looked for:
- High omega-3 fatty acid content
- Easy to chew
- Good sources of protein and fiber
- Free from common allergens
We also considered the reputation of the brands themselves. The companies featured here are involved in the pet community as a whole, and many make sustainability a priority.
Digging into Customer Feedback. We scoured through an abundance of reviews from pet owners with older dogs. The top senior dog food brands consistently received high marks for their delicious taste, as reported by furry friends of all shapes and sizes.
We also considered when these tasty treats led to visible improvements in the dogs’ overall health and vitality. If reviewers found that the food seemed to make their older dog more energetic, alert, or active, we took note. These are all good markers of overall health in senior dogs.
Our Own Dogs
After selecting a shorter list of foods to consider, we put them to the test with the most scrupulous of testers — our own senior dogs. Before long, a few front-runners emerged.
Those are the foods featured here. Our dogs not only enjoyed eating them but also remained healthy or even experienced some apparent improvements in health when fed these five top dog food brands.
What To Look for in a Senior Dog Food
When searching for the best senior dog food, it’s important to consider the following factors. The brands mentioned above are among the best in the market, but we encourage dog owners to do their own research before making a final choice.
Good Sources of Protein
Older dogs need plenty of protein in order to help maintain muscle mass as they age. In fact, some experts say older dogs need as much as 50% more protein than their younger peers.
Make sure the dog food you select is high in protein, and check that the protein comes from good, reliable sources. Some examples are beef, chicken, chicken meal, and duck.
If your dog is allergic to chicken meal or beef, which is not uncommon in older dogs, consider foods with alternative protein sources, such as cricket protein or lamb.
If your dog is overweight, you may want to look for a senior food that is slightly lower in calories. Alternatively, you could simply feed them a slightly smaller volume of higher-calorie senior dog food.
As dogs grow older, they tend to lose weight and have a harder time maintaining body mass. So, even if your dog is a little overweight right now, that could change in a year or two. Higher-calorie foods — made with calorie-dense ingredients like chicken meal or chicken by-product meal — tend to be best for senior dogs.
If your older dog is losing weight even on a high-calorie, senior dog food, contact your vet. Something more serious may be going on, such as kidney disease or diabetes.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a specific type of unsaturated fatty acids that have a number of health benefits. There are two common omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA.
Dogs of all ages can benefit from a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but these nutrients become even more important as dogs age. They support healthy brain function and joint health, help prevent inflammation of body tissues, and can even lower the risk of a heart attack. Senior dogs also tend to have healthier skin and coats when they consume plenty of omega-3s.
The best senior dog food brands all contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Usually, they come from fish oil, so if a dog food lists fish oil as an ingredient, that’s a good sign.
Dogs can develop allergies at any age. Allergies are more common in senior dogs than in younger dogs. Symptoms of food allergies include itchy skin, hives and an upset stomach.
If your dog has ever been diagnosed with a food allergy, or if they display some symptoms you suspect may be caused by food allergies, then you want to look for a senior dog food that is free from common allergens.
Common food allergens in dogs include:
- Chicken and chicken-related ingredients, such as chicken by-product meal
- Dairy products
- Wheat and wheat gluten
Many dogs with allergies do best on dog food made with less-popular meats such as venison, lamb, or duck.
If your dog continues to show allergy symptoms after switching them to a limited-ingredient senior dog food, consult with your vet. They can help you use an elimination diet to systematically narrow down the specific ingredients your dog is allergic to. Then, you can shop for food that is free from those particular ingredients. For example, if you find your dog is allergic to chicken, you should focus on foods that don’t contain chicken or chicken meal ingredients.
Great Flavor and Aroma
For senior dogs that have lost their sense of smell and taste, stronger flavored foods like canned, wet or fresh-prepared dog food might be more appealing. These types of foods tend to have a stronger flavor and scent than kibble.
If you’ve observed your pet eating less or having trouble locating their food bowl through scent, switching to these types of food with a more prominent flavor and aroma may help.
Soft or Chewable Texture
If you have a younger senior dog and their teeth are still in good shape, there’s generally nothing wrong with feeding kibble. Make sure the kibble is formulated for senior dogs and appropriately sized for your dog’s breed.
If your dog is an older senior and has some dental disease or missing teeth, they’ll likely do better with softer food. Canned food is often a better option. Fresh-prepared foods made with ingredients like whole-grain brown rice, ground meat and chopped veggies also tend to work well.
If you feed a raw diet, make sure it is one suitable for senior dogs. Your older dog will likely struggle to pull apart the larger pieces of meat that a younger dog might enjoy eating. Smaller pieces of meat and veggies will be easier for them to chew.
Detailed Food Label
The best dog food companies are happy to tell you everything you want to know about their products. The package should have a detailed ingredient list and nutrition information. If you have to search for this information or it is simply unavailable, that’s a red flag.
Finally, make sure you can source the food conveniently. If it’s fresh or raw food, will the company deliver it to your door on a regular basis? If it’s kibble or canned food, can you have it auto-delivered, so you don’t run out? Senior dogs don’t always respond well to rapid changes in diet, so you want to make sure you have enough of their special food on hand.
When Should You Switch Your Dog to a Senior Dog Food?
In general, a dog is considered a senior when they turn eight years old. You should consider switching them to a senior dog food formula around this time.
However, there is some variability in aging between dog breeds. Larger dogs tend to age faster than smaller dogs and may therefore benefit from transitioning to a senior food earlier in life.
With giant breeds, like English Mastiffs and Great Danes, switch to a senior food around the age of 6. With large breeds, like German Shepherds and Labradors, you can switch between 6 and 7 years of age.
With medium breeds, like Border Collies and Shiba Inus, make the change around 8 to 9 years. Small dogs under 20 pounds often don’t need senior food until they are 10 or 12.
Every dog is different, so it can also be helpful to monitor your dog’s health and eating habits as they age. A few signs indicate it may be time to switch your dog to senior dog food. These include trouble chewing, weight loss, less interest in food, and a diagnosis of arthritis.
If your dog is approaching a mature age and is struggling with digestive problems, such as loose stool, they may benefit from switching to healthy senior dog food. Vets sometimes recommend senior foods for dogs with diabetes, kidney disease, or tooth decay, even if those dogs are not strictly “seniors” yet.
Is Senior Dog Food Necessary?
Some senior dogs might do okay when given a diet designed for younger pups. However, if you want your older dog to thrive, switching them over to a senior food truly is the best option. The following are some key benefits of senior dog food.
Better Management of Disease
It’s very common for older dogs to struggle with conditions like arthritis, cancer, and kidney disease. Senior foods are designed with this in mind. For example, most contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids to help minimize the symptoms of arthritis.
Many senior foods are also balanced in phosphorus and sodium, which is better for dogs with kidney disease. Managing these conditions with an adequate diet may help your dog live a longer, healthier life with less need for medication as they continue to age.
Easier on Teeth and Gums
Tooth decay and gum disease are quite common in older dogs, and they can make chewing painful. If you continue feeding your older dog kibble made for younger dogs, they may experience pain when chewing it — which may keep them from eating enough to maintain weight.
Senior foods tend to be softer, smaller, or otherwise easier to chew, so your dog can enjoy them more comfortably.
As dogs grow older, they often lose weight. Interestingly, younger seniors may be overweight, but “very old” dogs are often underweight. Senior foods are often higher in calories than the average dog food. As such, your dog won’t have to eat such a high volume of food to maintain their weight.
Senior foods also provide the right amount of protein to help preserve your dog’s lean muscle mass as they age. This will keep your dog more agile and active. After all, they need healthy muscles to get around and play at any age!
Is your dog less energetic than they once were? Senior food won’t make them act like a puppy again, but it can help sustain their energy levels as they age.
These specially-made foods often have wholesome sources of carbohydrates like whole grains, providing your dog with the energy needed for daily activities. They also contain sufficient calories, maintaining your senior pup’s vitality.
Healthy food for senior dogs also contains added nutrients targeting joint health, so your pup keeps healthy body weight and agility, even later in life.
Reduced Need for Supplements
If you stick with a standard dog food diet for your aging pet, they may require additional supplements to get the nutrients they need. For instance, some pet owners turn to fish oil supplements to provide extra EPA and DHA for their senior dogs.
Senior dog food tends to be already fortified with these nutrients. So, feeding a senior dog food can reduce your need for supplements. This can help you save money and simplify your feeding routine.
How do you switch a dog to senior dog food?
To ease the transition to senior food, start by choosing a senior food similar to the food you’re feeding your dog. For instance, you may want to buy a senior formula from the same brand you’re currently feeding.
If your dog is already eating canned food, look for a senior-specific canned food. If you’re already feeding a fresh diet, look for a fresh diet formulated specifically for seniors.
Once you’ve selected the best senior dog food for your pet, you can start transitioning them slowly. The American Kennel Club recommends feeding 25% of the new food and 75% of the old food on day one. By day three, you can feed half old and half new food. On day five, switch to 75% new and 25% old food. And on day seven, you can give your dog full meals of their new, senior food.
If your dog develops an upset stomach or refuses to eat their food, back up a step or slow down the transition. Your pup’s digestive health is number one, and there’s no reason to rush the change-over to senior food.
Should senior dogs be fed a raw diet?
Some senior dogs do well on a raw diet, and others don’t. If your dog has been fed a raw diet throughout their lifetime and has responded well to it, you can generally continue feeding them raw food into their senior years.
Just make sure you purchase your raw food from a company that uses excellent hygiene practices to prevent disease. Also make sure you’re feeding a good variety of raw foods to meet all of your senior dogs’ nutritional needs.
Here are some good foods to include should you feed your older dog a raw diet:
- Pumpkin: This high-fiber food may help relieve constipation in older dogs.
- Fatty fish: These are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin, coat, and joint health.
- Cranberries and blueberries: These berries are great sources of antioxidants for disease prevention.
- Green Beans: These are a good source of fiber but are low on the glycemic index and therefore a good choice for dogs with diabetes.
While a raw diet can be healthy for many dogs, feeding raw is not necessarily better than feeding a fresh diet, canned food, or kibble. Most veterinarians and animal nutrition experts agree that commercial dog foods are adequate for dogs at all life stages when properly formulated.
What is AAFCO?
When shopping for senior foods, you may come across the phrase “meets AAFCO standards.” AAFCO stands for Association of American Food Control Officials. This organization has analyzed the nutritional needs of various animals at all life stages.
If a certain food meets their standards, you can rest assured that it will supply all of the basic nutrients your dog needs for good health.
Should you feed your senior dog vegan dog food?
Vegan dog food contains absolutely no meats, animal products, or animal byproducts. While it may be possible to meet a dog’s nutritional needs with a vegan diet, many veterinarians don’t recommend it — especially for older dogs with even more specific nutrient requirements than their younger peers.
Dogs are naturally omnivores. They tend to do best on a combination of plant and animal foods. A vegan diet is not inherently healthier for a dog, and it may be less healthy. If you decide to feed your dog animal-based protein, make sure to select protein derived not just from chicken meal or beef but also meats like lamb or venison.
If you wish to feed your older dog a vegan diet for ethical reasons, seek a veterinarian’s guidance when selecting food and making the transition.
How often should you feed your senior dog?
Dogs thrive on routine, and your older dog will likely do best if you maintain the same feeding routine as they age. So, if you normally feed your dog twice a day, you can keep feeding them twice a day once they enter their senior years.
If your older dog stops eating entire meals at once, you may want to try feeding smaller meals more often. For example, instead of giving them one cup of food in the morning and one cup at night, you might try giving them ½ cup of food every four hours.
Your vet may also recommend smaller, more frequent meals if your senior dog is underweight or has been diagnosed with diabetes. If you decide to change the type of food, such as going from dry dog food to wet food based on chicken meal or beef meal, it’s recommended to slowly transition so as not to upset your pup’s digestive health.
As your dog grows older, it’s important to keep feeding them good-quality food. Senior dog foods are formulated with older dogs’ needs in mind, and they can help manage common conditions like arthritis, joint pain and diabetes.
Whether you prefer to feed kibble, canned food or even a raw diet, our list of best senior dog food brands features some excellent options. Your pup deserves the very best — especially as they enter their golden years.