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As your best four-legged friend gets older, they may start to be less active, have mobility issues such as arthritis and hip dysplasia, and—just like people—have a slower metabolism. That’s why you’ll want to pay particular attention to what you’re feeding your dog in their senior years—just make sure to speak to your vet first!
Here, the best foods for older dogs.
Best Overall: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
As your pup’s muzzle starts to turn to silver, it becomes more important than ever to pay attention to their diet. Why? It helps to keep their weight in a healthy range—and some evidence shows that nutritional supplementation can help maintain their cognitive function.
Blue Buffalo delivers on both counts. Formulated with protein- and fiber-rich chicken, it keeps your dog fuller for longer. LifeSource Bits—an exclusive blend of crunchy fruit and veggie pieces full of antioxidants and vitamins—help boost your dog’s brain and immunity.
Best Budget: Diamond Naturals Dry Senior Dog Food Formula Made with Chicken, Egg, and Oatmeal
This dry dog food from Diamond Naturals contains cage-free chicken, eggs, and oatmeal, plus chia seeds and quinoa for a blend that’s high in protein and fiber and low in fat. Glucosamine and chondroitin help maintain healthy joints, while fatty acids and other vitamins encourage a shiny coat. With added K9 Strain Probiotics, the good-for-your-pup bacteria, this dry food also promotes healthy digestion and weight control. It’s made in the United States with imported ingredients.
Best Splurge: ORIJEN Senior Dry Dog Food
This grain-free formula is made with a blend of more than ten different types of meat including organs, cartilage, and bones, and whole fish and eggs. In fact, the first 15 ingredients are all meat proteins, including free-run chicken and turkey, Atlantic salmon, whole eggs, and whole Atlantic mackerel. Two-thirds are freshly refrigerated without or flash-frozen raw without any preservatives. This makes for a nutrient-dense, higher calorie food that dogs love to eat. Owners report that their pups are more playful and have glowing coats after even just a few weeks on this formula.
Best for Large Dogs: Iams ProActive Health Mature Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food
Bigger dogs are considered seniors around age five or six years and tend to have a shorter lifespan than smaller dogs. That's why it’s even more important to feed your large breed dog the right food.
With farm-raised chicken, a blend of whole grains including barley and sorghum, beets, and carrots, this dry kibble promises to boost your older dog’s immune system, strengthen their bones, and support their joints. It also contains fiber and probiotics for healthy digestion.
Best for Small Dogs: HIll's Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites Chicken Meal, Barley & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
Smaller dogs tend to live longer and aren’t considered seniors until their eighth or ninth birthday. When you choose a senior dog food for your smaller breed, in addition to the nutrient profile, you’ll also want to take into consideration the size of the kibble—the smaller the pup, the smaller the kibble should be.
This variety from Hill’s Science Diet has small pieces of kibble that are soft enough for smaller jaws (and pups with fewer teeth). As for ingredients, it’s made in the U.S. from chicken meal, rice, and barley, plus has added omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and a lustrous coat.
Best for Sensitive Stomachs: CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Senior Real Chicken, Sweet Potato & Garbanzo Bean Recipe Dry Dog Food
As your fur baby ages, you may find their stomach gets more particular. This Canidae formula is grain-free and made without corn, wheat, or soy. You’ll like that its primary ingredients are all sourced in the U.S. and are all things you can pronounce—chicken, lentils, fish meal, etc. After it’s cooked, the kibble is fortified with probiotics for an additional boost to your pup’s digestive health, plus antioxidants, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. The kibble pieces are small enough for dogs of all sizes to happily chow down on them.
Best for Weight Control: Wellness CORE Grain-Free Senior Deboned Turkey Recipe Dry Dog Food
At 359 kcal per cup, this Wellness CORE formula is one of the least caloric varieties available. But don't let that fool you: with a high concentration of animal protein, along with nutritional supplements like vitamins A and E, omega-fatty acid 3 and 6 from salmon oil, plus glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate for healthy joints, your pup won’t go hungry.
It’s made without artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. It’s also grain-free, gluten-free, and contains no wheat, soy, or corn, so it’s gentle on sensitive tummies.
Best for Joint Problems: Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but this Purina Pro Plan for pups seven years and older aims to change that.
Made with fatty acids derived from botanical oils, called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), that have been shown in their research to increase alertness, memory, and, yes, trainability in older dogs. Chicken is the first ingredient and the kibble is also fortified with live probiotics for a healthy digestive system, vitamin A and omega-6 fatty acids for a shiny coat, and EPA and glucosamine for joint health and mobility. With kibble that’s 0.5 inches in size, this food is better for medium to large size dogs.
Best for Constipation: Royal Canin Small Digestive Care Dry Dog Food
If your pup has a hard time going on your walks, dry food that’s high in dietary fiber is your best bet to help them get things moving again. This food from Royal Canin is made with easily digestible proteins, primarily from chickens, and has added prebiotics to help the good bacteria in your pup’s digestive tract flourish. The kibble is also smaller in size—this variety is intended for pups up to 22 pounds—so it's a good choice for larger dogs, too, because it’s easy for them to chew and digest. Those who tried it say that even their picky pups gobble down a bowl of this food.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Anne Fritz has a 10-year old 65-pound mixed-breed dog, Spencer. She feeds him Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food. She says it helps him keep his weight in check and give him the energy he needs to keep up with the new puppy he’s now forced to share his home with.