Best Dry Food for Senior Dogs
Best Senior Dry Dog Food
Is My Dog a Senior Dog?
There is no specific age at which your dog becomes ‘senior’. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes and there are so many breeds in which genetic differences will also play a part in the ageing process.
On the whole smaller breeds age less quickly than larger ones. A large dog may be classed as senior from around 5-8 years, whereas a small breed at around 10 years. This is because smaller dogs tend to have a longer lifespan than large breeds.
What Happens During Ageing?
If only we could beat the ageing process! However it is an inevitable part of a dogs’ life just as in humans. We all start to ache and creak a bit, along with other more scientific processes! Let’s have a look at what happens to dogs:
- Digestive changes – tooth loss, gum disease, reduced taste and smell
- Nervous system and behavioural changes including cognitive decline
- Reduced physical activity
- Changes in body fat – increase or decrease
- Reduction in lean body mass (‘muscle mass’)
- Endocrine changes eg thyroid, diabetes which influence energy requirements
- A change in energy requirements (based on nutritional assessment, body condition score)
An important point that I was reminded of during research – obesity will have an impact on ageing. Being an optimal weight will allow your dog to age more healthily, could increase his lifespan and delay onset of age related chronic disease such as osteoarthritis. It is much the same in us human counterparts!
Signs that My Dog is Getting Old
If we can understand the ageing process, we can learn what to look out for when our dogs are becoming seniors.
The changes that are occurring on the inside are reflected on signs our dogs are showing. These could be:
- Reduced appetite
- Weight change
- Reduced mobility
- Greying hair and coat changes
- Signs of confusion
- Changes in behaviour
- Coughing or breathlessness
Diseases of Old Age
If the above are the ‘normal’ ageing processes, what diseases are more likely to occur in relation to ageing?
- Degenerative joint disease such as osteoarthritis
- Obesity – which can predispose to other diseases
- Cardiovascular problems including heart failure
- Skin problems – which may be signs of other chronic disease such as liver disease, cushings
- Endocrine Disease – such as diabetes and hypothyroidism
- Urinary system problems – kidney disease, urinary incontinence
- Cognitive problems – cognitive decline and even dementia
- Nervous system problems – including hearing and sight loss
- Respiratory problems – such as chronic bronchitis (COPD)
- Digestive problems including incontinence, liver disease
- Increased rates of cancers
Does My Dog Need a Senior Dog Food?
The answer will be specific to your dogs individual and unique needs. Some dogs may be better on a senior diet earlier than others. It is dependant upon lots of factors such as his age and breed, body condition and other medical conditions. Ideally, discuss with your vet.
What Is Different About Senior Dog Food?
The composition of senior dog food is altered to try and meet the changing needs of senior dogs. This may include changes to the amount of energy, protein, fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals and supplements.
Generally speaking, older dogs have lower energy requirements and senior dogs are more at risk of becoming overweight and therefore senior dog foods tend to contain lower calories than the equivalent adult food. If your dog is losing weight however, speak to your vet.
Senior dog foods will mostly have a higher protein percentage than an equivalent adult food, to try and combat the loss of lean muscle mass. High protein diets though may not be tolerated in some diseases such as kidney disease so speak to your vet if your dog has a pre-existing medical condition.
Vitamins and Minerals
These should be included at levels seen in adult dog food, keep an eye out for zinc, selenium and idodine, as well as vitamin E.
Many dog foods contain supplements which benefit your dogs health in some way. A common example are joint supplements chondroitin and glucosamine. They may be included in senior dog foods at higher levels to try and optimise joint health. Look out for others such as prebiotics for digestive health.
Best Senior Dry Dog Food
There’s so much information to digest about senior dog food, so we’ve tried to narrow down the choices and found our top picks with all the relevant information you need to help you decide what is right for your dog.
You may notice a lot of the brands are those which feature in our best dry dog foods review – this is because they are brands we particularly like, which we have researched, and which we would trust.
Lily’s Kitchen Senior
Lily’s kitchen – Royal Warrant Holder no less, is one of our favourites and always super highly rated. They have created a salmon and trout recipe with turkey, using only fresh quality ingredients for a deliciously palatable complete food for older dogs. It contains the joint supplements glucosamine, methylsuofonylmethane (MSM – anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant), and chondroitin, and is grain free with no artificial preservatives or fillers.
There is no denying that it is not a cheap dog food and at £6.71 per kg for a larger 7kg bag it is the most expensive of our picks. It is however a brand we love, with a great ethos, using only the best ingredients and freshly prepared meat and so if this is what you are looking for then it will be worth the extra.
- Contains 25% protein, 9% fat, and 3% fibre
- Made with freshly prepared salmon and trout 26% and 18% fresh turkey
- Contains prebiotic MOS and FOS for gut health
- Packed with the highest level of joint care supplements
- Uses sustainably sourced ingredients and eco friendly packaging
- Grain free
- £6.71/kg (7kg bag)
- Rated 4.6/5* on amazon
Pooch and Mutt Senior
Pooch and Mutt was conceived as a dog food brand that wanted to include supplements and ‘neutraceuticals’ similar in a way to human sports nutrition – but for dogs. This is their senior dog offering, and it doesn’t disappoint. Part of their ‘superfood’ range, with products developed for every lifestage, each contains chicken with superfoods including kale, cranberries, sweet potato, spinach, and all contain prebiotics and calming supplements.
- Contains 25% protein, 8% fat, 3.5% fibre
- Grain free, 100% natural, health food for dogs
- Chicken & superfood blend
- Free from Grain, Cereal , Gluten, GM produce, Artificial flavours, colours and preservatives
- A small, ethical, award winning Great British company
- £3.50/kg (3 x 1kg bags)
- Rated 4.7/5* on amazon
A complete dry dog food with Chicken and Rice, specially formulated for Senior dogs 7 years and above. This recipe is 25% lower fat than adult Harringtons to help avoid weight gain in seniors, and also included joint supplements.
It contains no artificial colours or flavours, dairy, soya or wheat (however does contain oats). All natural ingredients, Harringtons senior uses chicken and meat meal. If you are wondering about meat meal, I wrote about it in our best dry dog foods review and it’s useful to know as it’s on many dog food labels.
Look out for the varying protein content between this and the two foods rated above – this is lower at 20.5% so you can see there is variation between brands – work out what your dog needs.
A UK born and bred dog food brand hailing from Yorkshire, Harringtons is a good all round excellent value for money choice and come highly rated.
- Contains 20.5% protein, 7.5% fat, 3.5% fibre
- No artificial colours or flavours, no dairy, no soya, no added wheat
- A blend of Glucosamine & Chondrotin to Help Support Joint Structure & Movement
- Balanced Ratio Of Omega 6 & 3 Oils For A Glossy Coat
- Whole Oats Known to Help Support a Healthy Heart
- Prebiotic FOS, to Help Maintain a Healthy Digestion
- £2.09/kg (15kg bag)
- Rated 4.7/5* on amazon
Arden Grange Senior
The Arden Grange food for senior dogs contains higher levels of joint supplements and lower calories than in its standard adult food range. L-cartinine helps to increase the metabolism of fat, and prebiotics are good for digestive and immune health.
The primary protein source is from chicken meal and fresh chicken, with rice however they also produce a ‘sensitive’ senior food which is fish and potato based.
A good value for money dog food brand with all the complete goodness your senior dog deserves.
- Contains 22% protein, 12% fat, 3.5% fibre
- 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 prebiotics, krill and yucca extract
- £2.42/kg (12kg bag)
- Rated 4.8/5* on amazon
James Wellbeloved Senior
James Wellbeloved aim to make naturally hypoallergenic foods to combat sensitive tummies, using only single source protein and avoiding wheat, eggs and soya. There are no artificial prevervatives, flavours or colourings. This senior food uses lamb meal and brown and white rice as their main ingredients, and incorporates joint supplements, taurine for heart health and other essential vitamins and minerals your dog needs.
- Contains 18.5% protein, 10% fat, 3.5% fibre
- No unhealthy additives
- Nourising lamb, brown and pearl rice and whole barley in delicious crunchy nuggets
- With prebiotics for healthy gut flora
- Glucosamine for joint health
- Yucca – a natural deodriser for less smelly poo
- £2.80/kg (15kg bag)
- Rated 4.8/5* on amazon
Barking Heads Senior
Made with free-run chicken, trout and salmon oil with vegetables and herbs, this ‘golden years’ senior dog food contains only natural ingredients with added joint supplements glucosamine, MSM and chondroitin, with prebiotics. It contains everything you’d expect to find in a senior dog food, with a good level of protein compared to some on the market.
Barking heads began as a small company whose ethos was to only provide tasty, wholesome dinners with only the best ingredients, such as free run chicken, grass fed beef and lamb and Scottish salmon to name but a few. These, alongside selected vegetables and herbs with added essential vitamins and minerals provide a complete diet that positively contributes to your dogs overall well being.
- Contains 25% protein, 11% fat, 3.5% fibre
- A nutritionally balanced recipe containing optimal levels of protein and fat for your senior canine companion
- This dry dog food recipe is made using only the best quality, natural ingredients. Free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives
- Made using a formula that aids healthy digestion and contains added extra joint support too.
- This yummy pet food for older dogs blends 40% chicken, trout, and salmon with vegetables and herbs to ensure your pooch’s tail is left wagging
- Our natural dog food is approved by vets for senior dogs of all breeds
- Cost £4.48/kg (12kg bag)
- Rated 4.7/5* on Amazon
Burgess Mature Dog Food
Burgess hails from rural North Yorkshire with their head office still at their original site. The factory in East Yorkshire has good links with local producers meaning many ingredients are sourced from the area wherever possible. Working with an in house vet, their aim is to provide expert nutrition for dogs, cats and other small animals.
Their senior food contains added glucosamine, prebiotics and antioxidants, and is free from artifician flavours and colours with no added preservatives.
We’re about honest reviews – this isn’t a feed with meat as the number 1 ingredient. In fact wheat and maize come first, and the chicken ingredients follow. Meat meal contains more concentrated protein however, and overall the feed contains the right balance for many older dogs. With that in mind, it makes for a good value for money food and is really highly rated plenty of times over, so we think it’s worth a further look.
- Contains 20% Protein, 7% fat, 5% fibre
- With added glucosamine for optimal joint mobility
- Contains two prebiotics to aid the body’s natural defences and remove bad bacteria from tummies
- With linseed, zinc and biotin for healthy coats, skin and fur
- Natural antioxidants to support the immune system
- Beet pulp to aid healthy digestion
- Free from artificial flavours and colours, no added preservatives
- With added yucca to help make stool less smelly
- £1.60/kg (12.5kg bag)
- Rated 4.6/5* on Amazon
A Note on Feeding Your Senior Dog
Your senior dog may be better off fed smaller portions, throughout the day. Aim to feed him at least 2-3 times, and provide plenty of fresh water at all times.
If he is eating dry food, it may be more palatable if it is soaked in warm water first.
Follow the manufacturers food labels for feeding guides by weight, and seek advice from your vet if his weight is changing.
When switching from one type of dog food to another, it is important to do this gradually. The food labels should guide you as to how to do this to avoid upsetting your dogs tummy.