Best Senior Dog Food (Buying Guide)

Do you notice, and worry about the changes in your senior dog? Does he seem to prefer lying down to running around like he used to? If yes, it is not because he has grown lazy. It is because your dog is going through some old age-associated physiological changes.

Best Senior Dog Food
Chalabala / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Old age leads to a reduction in the functioning of mobility associated organs, which is the reason they feel tired quickly, and prefer lying down. To make things worse, they may also have joint problems, like arthritis, that affects their mobility.

Expensive Dog Food VS cheap Dog Food

Feeding them with a proper meal may help elevate and reduce these symptoms. However, when shopping for senior dog food,  it is true that some may cost you more money while another bag of the same size may cost you less.

Wondering why there’s an astronomical difference in dog food prices?  It’s because of the quality of ingredients.

Cheap dog foods are loaded with fillers like wheat, corn and meat and vegetable by-products that have little nutritional benefit and can actually block the absorption of nutrients.

Aside from that, these cheap dog foods are laced with corn syrup and other synthetic ingredients that can create imbalance in your dog’s digestive system.

That’s the main reason some manufacturers were able to market their products at half the price.

But here is the kicker, in this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the following 5 Best senior dog food to help you find your match!

What is the best dog food for an older Dog?

Don’t get fooled by advertisements. Sometimes the most attractively marketed ‘healthy’ dog foods may not be safe for your pet. They usually contain artificial ingredients and anything artificially synthesized is not good for your dog, and you.

Instead, look for products with natural ingredients. This means that it’s better to stay away from products containing artificial preservatives, colorings, and flavorings. Anything natural is okay.

Do Older Dogs Need Special Diets?

The associated pain and discomfort makes it difficult for older dogs to move, which is also why they prefer spending their day lying down. Their inactivity also significantly reduces their metabolic rates. 

This in turn makes them more prone to obesity, which is another reason to change their dietary calorie intake in the following manner:

  • Reduce carbohydrates and fats
  • Their reduced activity levels mean that they no longer need to have a high carbohydrate and fat diet like they needed before. You will have to make dietary changes, like reducing their fat and carbohydrate intake.
  • Increase fiber
  • In addition to reducing fat and carbs, it’s important that you increase their fiber intake. This is because their immobility affects gut peristalsis, and leads to difficult bowel movements.
  • You can help by introducing fiber into the diet for more efficient bowel movements.
Best Senior Dog Food
  • Increase water intake
  • You also have to increase their water intake. This is because the aging process also makes it difficult for their body to balance water levels.
  • Insufficient water can raise the risk of dehydration and fluid and electrolyte imbalance. This is why it’s important to ensure your dog drinks water. If mobility is a problem, or he just doesn’t want to drink it, compensating with some moisture-rich dog food should also help.
  • Reduce sodium and fat intake
  • Another important dietary change to make in older dogs is reducing their sodium intake. It’s necessary to reduce the risk of metabolic problems and complications arising because of too much of this ingredient.
  • Include glucosamine and chondroitin supplements
  • It’s worth giving some glucosamine and chondroitin supplements to canines suffering from mobility issues. Glucosamine and chondroitin help relieve arthritis symptoms and other particular surface problems in two ways.
  • It improves the production of synovial fluid and improves the flexibility of the joint capsule. It, in general, improves their body mobility and is also found in most dog food formulations.
  • Proper weight management
  • In addition to giving supplements, experts also advise proper weight management for similar benefits. High-quality proteins are great for older dogs because it not only helps in weight management but also maintains muscle mass.
  • It also minimizes the pressure on kidneys, and the consequent risk of developing kidney-related dog diseases.

Keeping these points in mind, senior canines basically should follow a diet that’s high in fiber and protein and low in fats, carbohydrates, and sodium. It also helps if you feed them micronutrient rich dog food.

Best Dog Food For Older Dogs & How to Choose the Right One

Selecting the perfect dog food for your dog isn’t an easy task. Things get more complicated if the dog has an underlying health condition that affects their food processing abilities. 

In fact, most of them may have to follow a particular diet that the veterinarian suggests based on their existing health conditions. 

This naturally makes you wonder how you can select the right food for your senior dog. 

The following tips should prove helpful here:

  • 1. Vet's Complete Assessment

You never know if and when your dog has a health problem. Though there may be signs, it’s better to have your veterinarian take a look at him to find out if he has any diseases and the ideal diet for it.

You have to know which specific diet to feed your senior canine if he has any of the aging-related health conditions discussed above. Things can get complicated if your dog suffers from coexisting diseases that call for conflicting diets. Your veterinarian is the best person to help you address the problem.

  • 2. Look for higher quality protein sources

Protein is the most important macronutrient for senior dogs for supporting the body’s ongoing tissue-building processes necessary for replacing age-damaged tissues.

Feeding your pet a diet without protein will only quicken his deterioration process. In fact, dogs with kidney problems benefit from high-quality proteins if fed in the right, lower quantities.

best dog food for senior dogs
  • 3. Should include wholesome grains

Most pet owners are apprehensive about feeding their pets ‘grains’. You wonder if it should be included in your pet’s diet or not. Well, you’ll understand better if you understand the difference between grains and wholesome grains.

It is true that grain-free diets are beneficial to canines suffering from immune system problems. However, wholesome grains like oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice are beneficial to your dog.

This is because they are great sources of amino acids, the simplest forms of proteins that don’t need to be broken down. In other words, your dog can readily use them for building tissues.

  • 4. Nothing artificial

Don’t get fooled by advertisements. Sometimes the most attractively marketed ‘healthy’ dog foods may not be safe for your pet. They usually contain artificial ingredients and anything artificially synthesized is not good for your dog, and you.

Instead, look for products with natural ingredients. This means that it’s better to stay away from products containing artificial preservatives, colorings, and flavorings. Anything natural is okay.

What are the health problems elderly dogs may face?

The diet mentioned above is ideal for normal and healthy senior dogs. However, it may have to be customized to meet the nutritional requirements of a canine with existing health problems like:

01

Gum Disease

Best senior dog food

Yes, it’s true that dry kibbles do help prevent or at least minimize periodontal diseases in canines. However, dogs’ bones, tissues, and teeth tend to deteriorate as part of their aging process.

Weak teeth lead to increase susceptibility and development of tartar and plaque. This introduces bacteria and other microorganisms into the teeth structures, and germs eventually end up reaching the gum tissue.

There, unfortunately, is no diet that can treat canine gum disease. It, however, is possible to control teeth deterioration by feeding your dog more calcium-rich foods and foods low in starchy carbohydrates.

While calcium helps at strengthening tooth integrity, reducing carbohydrate intake reduces the germs’ energy to grow.

02

kidney Disease

Senior dogs suffering from kidney disease benefit from a customized renal diet low in phosphorus and higher-quality proteins but high in moisture. If you wonder what ‘low in higher-quality proteins’ means, well it means that while your pet needs higher quality proteins, it should be in lower amounts.

Dogs with kidney disease already have a dysfunctional kidney. So feeding them with too many protein metabolism byproducts, and too much phosphorus only strains the kidneys.

Taking all this into consideration, it’s better to feed your pet wet or canned dog food. Their increased moisture content helps kidney functioning because kidneys have always relied on water for better and more efficient functioning.

03

Diabetes

Yes, you heard right. It’s not only we humans who suffer from diabetes; it’s also a canine disease. Dogs, however, cannot be given insulin or even oral hypoglycemic agents to reduce or control their sugar levels. The proper diet is the best way to control and prevent diabetes.

As in humans, an abnormal accumulation of glucose in the blood is the trigger for canine diabetes. So it’s quite fair to say that reducing their food’s carbohydrate content helps because it leads to fewer carbohydrates converting into glucose.

Increasing your dog’s fiber intake also helps. It not only adds bulk to the food but doesn’t end up absorbed by the body but gets eliminated. So there’s no chance of it converting into glucose.

Feeding your dog food that is slowly absorbed helps prevent any abnormal or sudden spike in blood sugar levels. However, things may get a bit complicated in diabetic senior canines because they may have other problems alleviating their diabetes.

04

Arthritis

Arthritis is a disease that inflicts most senior dogs. It’s similar to arthritis in humans, characterized by joint inflammation and pain that consequently limits mobility.

Canines with arthritis should be given supplements containing chondroitin and glucosamine if it doesn’t already exist in their dog food. Including natural ingredients like alfalfa, papaya, celery, and ginger in their diet also helps to at reduce some of these arthritic symptoms.

05

Blindness

Even dogs experience visual changes as they grow older. This is why it’s important that you make a visit to your veterinarian if your senior pet already has vision problems.

Your vet will most probably suggest a diet that’s rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and beta-carotene. While DHA helps improve the transmission of nerve impulses in the eye structure, beta carotene enhances the working of the eye photoreceptors. There are no diets or dietary changes that can help cure complete blindness.

06

Cancer

Senior dogs suffering from cancer have a substantially affected immune system. If they are undergoing cancer therapy, most of their tissues may end up damaged and need replacement.

Dogs with cancer should follow a high protein and fat diet, and it should be grain-free. This is because protein helps support the tissue-building process while fats are needed to ensure the newly-built tissues’ integrity. The reason for a grain-free diet is to prevent straining the already compromised immune system.

07

Dementia

It’s surprising how many similar diseases canines suffer from! They also suffer from dementia or forgetfulness which, fortunately, can be improved through the right dog food.

Feeding your pet with dog food rich in vitamins C and E, beta carotene, flavonoids, carotenoids, DHA, EPA, and selenium will slowly but surely improve canine memory and cognitive functioning.

My senior dog refuses to eat. What should I do?

It is true that senior dogs need the right nutrients in the right amounts for their overall good health. However, it’s not always possible to feed them a healthy diet because it’s common for senior dogs to lose their appetites. This makes you wonder what you should and can do.

best dog food for senior dogs

01

Consult your Veterinarian

The first thing you should do is check with your vet to find out why exactly your pet isn’t eating. This is to eradicate and treat any illness or disease he has before trying to entice him to eat.

For example, it’s common for dogs with something as simple as an upset stomach to feel nauseated, which in turn makes them not want to eat. Even dogs suffering from cancer may lose their appetite.

02

Try Feeding Him Something Home-Cooked

This is the best time to try cooking and feeding some home-cooked food for your pet. You can start with cooked chicken and brown rice, or lamb and rice to help revive their appetite and make them feel like eating.

Make sure you don’t use any ingredients considered hazardous or toxic for canines like garlic, onions and more.

03

Try Adding Flavor Enhancers

It is only if and when your home-cooked meals don’t seem to make your pet hungry that you can consider adding some flavor enhancers to his dishes. However, you will have to search around for natural flavor enhancers because most of them contain artificial ingredients.

Conclusion:

In a nutshell, senior dogs need to be fed special diets because of the bodily changes due to the aging process. They typically have to be fed a diet with higher-quality proteins, water, and fiber, while reducing fats and carbohydrates, especially the starchy ones.

The need for a specialized diet is even higher if your senior dog suffers from medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, dementia, kidney problems, arthritis, and others.

This is why you should not just buy and feed them any random food. It’s important that you check and consult with your vet to find out more about the specific diet your dog’s needs, especially if they have health problems. The above-mentioned tips should prove integral, and helpful in helping you make the right choice.

Rate this article:
4.5/5

Worth your Posts

Image Credit to: 3happycarrots

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *