8 Best Senior Dog Foods of 2023

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8 Best senior dog foods

Senior dog food has specific benefits for older dogs. Whether it’s decreased activity, muscle loss, joint pain, dementia — these foods are formulated to target issues that are common in senior dogs.

Below we list our picks for best senior dog food, some pros & cons for each type of food, and for which dogs they’ll work best.

Our picks at a glance

Does my dog need senior dog food?

The short answer: not all dogs need senior dog food.

Dogs that will benefit most from eating senior dog food are those that are showing obvious signs of aging, such as a decrease in activity, change in weight (usually weight gain), changes in sleeping cycle, or bouts of confusion. Check out our complete guide on this topic linked below.

On the other hand, dogs that have chronic diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease should be guided by a vet in their diet. Usually this will mean a prescription diet, i.e. not commercial dog food. Older dogs that are otherwise healthy (no chronic diseases, and no obvious signs of aging) can stick to their current diets.

Best overall senior dog food

What we like

  • Chicken & healthy grains are the primary ingredients
  • With healthy fats, vitamins, joint supplements & probiotics
  • Multiple bag sizes to choose from
  • Excellent value for the price

What we don’t like

  • Contains peas
  • Only 1 flavor (chicken)

Blue Buffalo’s dry dog food for senior dogs ticks all the boxes: meat as the first ingredient, healthy grains within the top 5 ingredients, plus all the fats, vitamins & supplements an older dog will need. And all for a very reasonable price. It’s a hard-to-beat offer!

Blue Buffalo also sells this variant in smaller sizes (5 pound bags) in case you want to give a try before committing. We recommend the larger-sized bag (30 pounds) because it’s cheaper by the pound.

Best budget-friendly senior dog food

What we like

  • Chicken & healthy grains in the first 5 ingredients
  • Contains healthy fats & vitamins
  • Multiple bag sizes to choose from
  • Variants for medium and large dogs

What we don’t like

  • No variant for small dogs
  • No probiotics, no joint supplements

IAMS dry dog food for seniors is the most inexpensive option we could find from a reputable company. You get all the healthy macronutrients, and you also get some extra vitamins & minerals. It’s a solid choice, and a very popular one among fur parents.

It’s also nice that they have variants for medium- and large-sized breeds (but not for small ones, unfortunately), and that you get a choice of smaller- or bigger-sized bags.

Best wet senior dog food

What we like

  • Paté-style food
  • Contains chicken, broth & organ meat; also has healthy grains
  • No preservatives

What we don’t like

  • One flavor only (chicken)
  • Contains peas

If your dog has become a picky eater in his older years, wet food may be the right choice for you. Blue Buffalo’s wet dog food for seniors is our pick due to its high quality and competitive pricing. The food is paté-style, which is easier for dogs to chew & swallow than chunks, especially for dogs with dental disease.

They guarantee this item has no meat by-products, which is typically considered a lower-quality protein enhancer, and does not contain common fillers or preservatives.

Best premium senior dog food

What we like

  • Very high quality food with an excellent nutrient profile
  • Variety of meats in the first 5 ingredients
  • Plenty of micronutrients and supplements
  • Multiple bag sizes to choose from

What we don’t like

  • Grain-free might not be everyone’s preference

If you want the best of the best for your maturing fur baby, Orijen is the one for you. It’s chock-full of everything an older dog would need, and then some – healthy fats for brain health, joint supplements to prevent arthritis, probiotics for gut health. Additionally, it’s calorie-controlled to prevent weight gain.

You’ll get just about the highest-quality dog food to be found, but be prepared to pay a pretty penny for it.

Best for arthritis

What we like

  • Chicken + healthy grains in the first 5 ingredients
  • Joint supplements higher than usual in the ingredient list
  • Comes in multiple bag sizes

What we don’t like

  • Chicken meal is high on the ingredient list
  • Contains peas

Wellness Complete’s dry dog food for seniors doesn’t say “for joint health” on the bag, but it does seem to contain more than the usual amount of joint supplements, at least when compared to other dog food brands. Glucosamine & chondroitin are pretty high up on the ingredient list, while another joint supplement (green tea extract) is present lower on the list.

Most dog food options targeting senior dogs will have joint supplements in them already (in fact most adult dog foods do, too); but if your dog is at high risk of developing arthritis, this product might be able to provide extra protection for your dog.

Wellness Complete also offers an option to purchase joint supplements along with their dry dog food. We find the additional supplements to be unnecessary, but it is a nice option to have for those that want it.

Best for brain health

What we like

  • Healthy fats high on the ingredient list
  • Also contains probiotics
  • Comes in multiple bag sizes

What we don’t like

  • Contains by-products and fillers in the first 5 ingredients

It’s nice that there is a dog food option specifically to prevent/delay dementia in older dogs. This was an unexpected but welcome find. This dog food has vegetable oil and fish oil rather high on the ingredient list — both ingredients that are known to protect the brain from issues including dementia.

Just a word of caution here: healthy fats play a role in delaying the onset of dementia; it does not reverse dementia that is already present.

Best for large breed dogs

What we like

  • Meat as the first ingredient
  • Healthy grains in the first 5 ingredients
  • Good balance of nutrients and calories

What we don’t like

  • Contains peas

Large-breed seniors have unique health issues that would benefit greatly from correctly-tailored dog food. They need a good balance of protein, grains and calories to get all the nutrients the need, but without gaining too much weight.

Nutro’s dry dog food for large-breed seniors does a good job of finding that balance. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than many of the other options out there.

Best for small breed dogs

What we like

  • Small kibble size
  • Meat is the first ingredient

What we don’t like

  • Only one bag size (small)
  • The small bags are rather expensive

Nutro’s dry dog food for small breed senior dogs only comes in a small bag (5 pounds), which is why it’s pretty expensive per pound. There’s no option to purchase large bags for a lower price. The singular benefit for this particular product is the small kibble size. If you have a strong need for small kibble, this one is better than the other options for small breeds out there.

We can’t really justify paying this price for food that isn’t spectacular, so we would much rather recommend one of the other options listed above — particularly the ones we listed for best overall food, best budget-friendly food or best premium food.

That concludes our list of best senior dogs foods! Now, how about checking out our guide for picking out healthy dog food?

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