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Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs

Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs

As our dogs age, they are pretty likely to find themselves with different dietary needs and tastes. Here, our Oakland vets answer questions about your pet's geriatric care and what the best dog food for older dogs is. 

At what age is my older dog considered elderly or geriatric?

There is no on-seize-fits-all answer to questions like this. The expected lifespan for your dog will vary based on their breed and size. As a rule, smaller dogs may be expected to live between 15 and 20 years, while larger dogs will often live between 12 and 15. 

Bigger dogs age faster and are considered to be "older" around the time they turn 6, while small dogs generally pass into middle age at around 8 years old.

Do senior dogs have special nutritional needs?

Yes, there are two major things to consider when determining the best dog food for senior dogs. 

The first thing to keep in mind when determining the best food for your senior dog is to try and reduce their calorie intake. A dog's metabolism, just like a person's, slows as they age. In order to prevent obesity in your senior pup, it's important to make sure they aren't eating too much. 

The second is trying to make sure their diet includes high-fiber options. Constipation is painful in its own right, and it can lead to further gastrointestinal issues when it becomes severe enough; maintaining gastrointestinal health is a common obstacle for older dogs, so the best dog food for senior dogs will have lots of fiber to help them stay healthy and regular.  

What health issues will the best dog food for senior dogs help prevent and treat?

Senior dogs that are suffering from diabetes, liver disease, or kidney failure may need special diets that can help to keep their condition under control. At's always best to consult with your veterinarian about your pup's dietary requirements if they are ill and you are concerned about the impact of your pet's diet.

Dogs who have or are at elevated risk for heart disease benefit from lower-calorie senior dog foods that help keep their weight down; low sodium recipes are preferable

At East Bay Veterinary Clinic, our vets recommend that owners of either diabetic or pre-diabetic dogs select food that can slow the absorption of their diet. Special diabetic diets tend to raise blood sugar levels slower and reduce the chance of impactful health complications in dogs suffering from diabetes. These diets are very low in fat and exceptionally high in fiber. We recommend talking to your vet who can provide dietary recommendations for your senior or otherwise diabetic dog.

Many senior dog food brands make a point to include higher-quality protein sources than standard dog food; this helps senior dogs maintain a healthy body weight without putting unneeded strain on their aging kidneys.

As previously mentioned, constipation is a common struggle for older dogs, the high amount of fiber present in the best dog food for older dogs helps to prevent constipation and keep their bowel movements regular.

What should I do if my senior dog won't eat their dog food?

It's relatively normal for older dogs to suffer some amount of appetite loss. The causes for a loss of appetite that onsets quite suddenly are quite varied in scope and seriousness. Your dog could be suffering from simple nausea brought on by gastrointestinal problems, or they could be suffering from the effects of cancer. 

If your senior dog has suddenly begun to demonstrate an unexplained loss of appetite, it is best to speak with your vet and have them rule out any potentially serious causes including dental disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer.

Once any serious medical worries have been ruled out, another avenue for your consideration is a quite simple one: your pet's tastes may have changed. 

Adding chicken broth, some water, or a small amount of canned food to your dog's dry kibble supply may serve to make it more enticing. You could also try preparing a simple meal for your dog of cooked chicken and barley or cooked lamb and rice. These home-cooked meals are both nutritious, and bland enough to sit well with them if your older dog is experiencing some nausea.

Is prescription dog food the best dog food for older dogs?

Prescription dog food may be the right choice for your pup depending on their situation. In some cases, it's true that the best food for your senior dog is prescription. In other cases, switching to a healthier alternative will be more than sufficient.

Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs

The team at East Bay Veterinary Clinic has compiled a list of some of the best dog food brands for senior dogs, all of which are available from our online store and pharmacy. Ask your vet what senior dog food is best for your pet.

Hill's® Science Diet® Dog Senior 11+ Adult Small Paws™

Hill's® Science Diet® Dog Senior 11+ Adult Small Paws™ Dry dog food provides precisely balanced, easy-to-digest nutrition tailored to older small & toy breed dogs. 

Recommended for senior dogs 11+ years of age. This diet contains 4.6 cups of food per pound.

Purina® Pro Plan® Veterinary Diets Dog DH Dental Health Diet Dry

Contains a patented kibble texture, with added antioxidants plus a natural source of glucosamine. Perfect nutrition for adult and senior dogs. Awarded the VOHC ® Seal of Acceptance

Purina Veterinary Diets® DH® Dental Health Canine Formula and DH® Small Bites Canine Formula have been formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition for adult and senior dogs while providing the following characteristics: Optimal kibble size, Patented kibble texture, Added antioxidants A and E, Natural source of glucosamine, Moderate calories, Exceptional palatability, and Perfect solution for everyday feeding of adult and senior dogs.

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition MEDIUM Aging 10+ Dry

Medium-sized dogs are famous for their seemingly endless energy, but as they grow into their senior years, they’ve probably slowed down a bit, and so has their body. With age comes the probability of a dulling coat, and a decrease in energy—sometimes even in appetite. But with a right-sized diet tailor-made for the nutritional needs of senior dogs, your dog can thrive. This Royal Canin Medium Aging Adult 10+ senior dry dog food is made to support your older dog’s vitality.

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition LARGE Adult 8+ Dry for Dogs

 Large breed dogs are treasured for being hard-working animals and loyal family companions. But as they age, their nutritional needs change. Their large bodies can benefit from an age- and size-specific diet that can help keep them happy and healthy. Royal Canin Large Aging 8+ dry dog food (formerly Maxi Aging 8+) is tailored to support your big senior dog’s vitality. 

Hill's® Science Diet® Dog Mature Adult Canned

Hill's Science Diet Mature Adult canned dog food has all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and calories your senior dog needs to help him stay fit and healthy throughout his senior years. Made in the USA with global ingredients you can trust, these foods also use clinically proven antioxidants for a healthy immune system. Open up a can and serve either one of these mouthwatering entrées as a balanced meal, or try on top of Science Diet dry dog food.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you need assistance in navigating food labels in order to find out what the best food for your senior dog is? Our veterinary team is committed to helping your older pup get the nutrition they need to stay healthy and happy. Contact East Bay Veterinary Clinic today to get advice from one of our excellent vets.

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