Proper nutrition is fundamental to the health of any and all living creatures and as your dog ages, his nutritional needs will change somewhat. Just as puppy food is specifically designed for the needs of growing young dogs, the best dog food for older dogs is one designed to support decreased activity levels and a slower metabolism. Closeup of an Older Brindle and White Great Dane Face

Hopefully, your geriatric friend has had regular yearly veterinary visits, and if there are any problems with his internal organs, you are aware of them. If not, a thorough physical examination and comprehensive blood test will reveal any health issues and the good doctor can recommend a special dog food for his particular needs.

It’s important to note here that expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better, so if you can’t afford the top dollar bag, don’t feel guilty. You should be able to find a dog food that meets his nutritional needs at a price you can afford.

So, what’s the best dog food for older dogs? One that is tailored to fit you and your dog’s needs.

Hill’s Prescription Diet…special diets for special conditions

Hill’s is a wonderful company that has been devoted to pet nutrition since the 1930s. Over the years the company has evolved and today includes a line of therapeutic pet foods designed to support anything from heart, liver or kidney disease to skin or food allergies, to joint health in arthritic dogs, to sensitive stomach issues. If your veterinarian is concerned about a problem with the vital functioning of one of your dog’s internal organs, he or she will likely recommend a Hill’s diet.

If a Hill’s prescription diet is suggested to you by your dog’s vet, this should be the only thing you offer to your dog at mealtimes; However Hill’s Prescription Diet dog treats are also available, and these are fine too. (Just no more “people food” from the table.) The prescription diets come in both canned and dry form.

Some people think that a Hill’s Prescription Diet plan is a bit on the expensive side, but gone are the days when you had to find a veterinary clinic that carried the Hill’s line, drive there, and pay exorbitant prices for a case of canned or a bag of dry. These days we can order most everything online with free shipping, and most pet sites often offers coupons and specials.

Hill’s motto is: Pets have the power to transform our lives. Nutrition has the power to transform theirs.

My geriatric dog is fine…she’s just getting fat

As your precious pooch ages, she slows down, sleeps more, and her activity level decreases. I remember when my beloved “Toni” was 13 years old (she lived to be 18), we had to cut our mile long walk at the river in half, and I knew my girl was an “old lady” now. Amazingly, at 13 years of age, Toni still passed her yearly checkup at the vet’s office with flying colors; Cartoon Fat Round Brown Dog with a BoneBut she was gaining weight. My fit and trim girl was getting fat.

At first I thought, “So what? She deserves it! She’s loved and protected us for 13 years, now we can pamper her.” Well, Dr. Roger (Toni’s vet) told me that overweight dogs age much faster than normal weight dogs, as much as 2 years faster. This scared me because even though Toni was still healthy, I knew our days together would be cut short if I let her get obese.

I got busy correcting the situation. Dr. Roger said the best dog food for older dogs prone to gaining weight should be well-balanced, low in calories and fat content, high in fiber, with sufficient protein. He recommended a good brand and suggested I stick to feeding her just that and not adding any fatty table scraps. He did say it was fine to give her certain veggies such as green beans or carrots, both of which are nutritious, low in calories and high in fiber. Just stick to either fresh or canned (with no salt added), and offer it only 2-3 times a week to avoid digestive upset.

Well, what do you know? As I closely monitored Toni’s diet, not only did she lose the excess weight, but her activity level increased and her zest for life improved. I matched the length of our walks to how soon she became tired, and we both leisurely enjoyed them. My husband and I had the pleasure of her company for 5 more happy, healthy years.

The dog food that Dr. Roger recommended was Canine Choice Senior Light Dog Food. It’s around $40 (give or take) for a 12 kg. bag (which translates to 26 lbs.). Of course there are less expensive brands out there, but just realize that the geriatric dog prone to weight gain needs less fat and calories and more fiber and protein. Your veterinarian can recommend a good brand, or you can research it yourself online, comparing prices and customer reviews before choosing the one that’s right for you and your dog.

One more word about switching your older dog to a new brand of food: Most vets recommend gradually mixing the new dog food in with the regular brand over a period of 7 days so that you slowly “wean” your dog to her new senior brand. This is less confusing for her sense of smell and taste and helps avoid digestive problems such as diarrhea or constipation.

My dog used to be a chow hound but now he’s finicky

It’s important to note here that a loss of appetite can be a symptom of a more serious underlying problem; Any sudden change in your dog’s appetite warrants a trip to the vet to rule out any other health issues. 

If you’ve noticed that your special guy has a gradual lack of interest in suppertime, this can be very distressing, particularly if it used to be one of his favorite times of day; However, this can be fairly normal in senior dogs as their sense of smell and taste just aren’t what they used to be. His activity level is decreased and he sleeps more, so his inactive canine body needs fewer calories and therefore less food.

Some geriatric dogs slow down on their eating because of dental problems. Eating is painful for him. If your dogs teeth are infected, decayed, or broken, or if he has gum inflammation, this is a condition that can be successfully treated with the help of your veterinarian. If your dog’s teeth are indeed the problem, the vet will schedule a dental appointment, and most likely send you home with antibiotics for you to give your dog both before and after the procedure. Your “chow hound” will be back after his dental issues have been addressed.

Another reason your dog can be reluctant to eat is because of arthritis, or joint pain. This may sound far-fetched but it’s actually not uncommon. He may simply not want to bend down to get to a floor level food bowl. If this is the case, the solution is simple: elevate the food and water bowls. You can put them on a box or low bench, but there are several different elevated feeders available on the market for just this senior dog situation.

Learn more about canine arthritis and how you can treat it safely and effectively.

O.K. If you’ve ruled these things out but you’re still concerned about your dog’s decreased appetite, check his weight. If he’s still maintaining his normal weight despite his reluctance to eat, don’t worry about it. His appetite is adjusting to the nutritional needs of his aging body and decreased metabolism.

However, many pet parents still get concerned or anxious about their dog’s lack of appetite, and this is quite understandable, particularly if he used to eat with gusto. If you get stressed or upset about it, your dog will pick up on your feelings, become nervous himself, and chances are even better that he’ll walk away from the food bowl. But don’t despair; if you would dearly love to make his suppertime a super-fun experience for him again, there are things you can try.

There is a product for finicky, particular canines called Wellness Ninety-Five Percent because it’s 95% meat. That means that it is meant to be a mixer or topper, to be mixed in with a complete and balanced diet, to entice your dog and whet his appetite. It contains no vitamins or minerals so it should only be a supplemental flavorful addition to his ‘ho-hum’ regular food. This tasty mealtime treat comes in canned form and is available in chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, and lamb flavors.

Along the same lines is a product called Tripett which is made with green tripe. Tripe is the stomach lining of a grass fed animal and it is rich in nutrients and essential fatty acids important to any dog’s health. As you can imagine, it is also quite stinky and that’s why most dogs go crazy for it! Tripett is also intended to be only supplemental to quality, well-balanced dog food.

Nothing Like A Home Cooked Meal! You can do some home cookin’ for your picky pet and add it to a nutritionally complete meal just like the two above alternatives. Just make sure all the ingredients are canine safe and healthy. Below is a favorite recipe for older dogs:

Stuff you need:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 8 oz. frozen veggies such as carrots, green beans, broccoli or cauliflower, or a combo thereof
  • 6 cups water

 Cartoon Simmering Cooking Pot

Put the water, rice, turkey and rosemary into a large pot or Dutch oven. Stir mixture on medium heat until the turkey is broken up and the rice and turkey are evenly distributed. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low heat and simmer for 20 more minutes. Then stir in the frozen veggies and continue to simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow cooling. Dinner is served when sufficiently cooled to room temperature. Store unused portion in the refrigerator until ready to use.   Bon Appetit!


Veterinarians’ Top 20 Best Senior Dog Food Brands

First, the top 5 customer rated brands and their affordability: Lady Veterinarian Smiling

  1. Orijen Dog Food for Senior Dogs: {expensive} $5.5/lb.
  2. Wellness Complete Health Senior: {cheap} $1.68/lb.
  3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Longevity: {cheaper} $1.3/lb.
  4. Diamond Naturals Dry Food for Senior:{cheaper} $1.2/lb.
  5. Canidae Life Stages Dry Seniors: {cheapest} $1.16/lb.

15 alternative best relatively cheap dog foods for seniors:

6. Instinct Raw Boost Senior Grain Free Formula: $2.9/lb.

7. Holistic Select Natural Dry Senior Formula: $3.3/lb.

8. Iams Proactive Health Senior Plus: $1.1/lb.

9. Eukanuba Senior Formula: $1.2/lb.

10. Blue Life Protection Formula: $1.5/lb.

11. Wellness Complete Health Natural Senior: $2.2/lb.

12. Nutro Max Senior Farm Raised Formula: $1.2/lb.

13. Ultra Senior Canned Food: $0.15/oz.

14. Blue Homestyle Senior Canned Food: $0.16/oz.

15. Nature’s Recipe Senior Recipe: $1.06/lb.

16. Purina ONE SmartBlend Vibrant Maturity Formula: $1/lb.

17. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ Age: $2.6/lb.

18. Purina Pro Plan Savor Formula: $1.2/lb.

19. Blue Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe: $4.7/lb.

20. Nutro Ultra Small Breed Senior Formula: $3.5/lb.

So What is the Best Dog Food For Your  Older Dog?

The answer to that question is as unique as you and your dog are! There are hundreds of different dog foods available but the one you choose should be tailored to your dog’s specific needs and to your needs as well. If your veterinarian is familiar with your dog’s overall health and any existing medical conditions,  the vet’s recommendation should be a good place to start.

Does your dog have kidney, liver or heart problems? Does he have a full set of teeth, half his teeth or 1 tooth left? Is he prone to gaining weight or still fairly active and fit? Is he a finicky eater or will he eat anything that doesn’t eat him first? Your lifestyle should also be considered. Can you afford the recommended brand or can you find something just as good for half the price? Are you fine with his apathetic attitude toward his food as long as he maintains a normal weight or would you rather cook for him or try tripe? Do you have time to take him for a walk 3 times a week, or is your free time limited?

You are the one who knows your dog better than anyone and I hope this article helps you make the best decision about the Best Nutrition for Your Canine Bestie.

Please leave any comments, questions, or observations in the Comment Section below.. Thanks for stopping by!Rear Headshot of a Man Hugging His Dog