The Best Senior Dog Food

As dogs get older, you may find their current diet no longer suits them well, in which case, it could be time to switch to a senior dog food. As older dogs tend to put on weight more easily, senior dog foods are lower in calories than regular adult dog foods. They also have high fiber for a feeling of fullness and for digestive health, decent levels of protein and fat, and may contain additives such as glucosamine for joint health.

We reviewed dozens of senior dog foods to identify the best of the best. We considered various factors, such as wet food versus dry, ingredient quality, joint healthy extras, and average customer reviews.

Best Senior Dog Food Overall
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food
A blend of wholesome ingredients plus added glucosamine and chondroitin make this a top choice for seniors.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food stood out to us as the clear best senior dog food overall. Not only is it a healthy and nutrient-dense food in its own right, it has added extras to help with joint health, which can be a serious issue in senior dogs.

The 5 Top-Rated Senior Dog Foods

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best Senior Dog Food OverallBlue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food4.6
Best Wet Senior Dog FoodWag Chicken Pate Wet Dog Food4.0
Best Budget Senior Dog FoodNature's Recipe Senior Dog Food4.6
Best Raw Senior Dog FoodSojos Freeze-Dried Raw Senior Dog Food4.1
Best Small Breed Senior Dog FoodMerrick Lil' Plates Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food4.5

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Best Senior Dog Food Overall: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food

Anyone looking for an exceptional food for their senior dog should put Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food at the top of their list. It contains an ideal blend of protein and carbohydrates to give senior dogs the energy they need to stay lively well into their old age. What’s more, the added glucosamine and chondroitin support joint function and aids mobility, keeping senior dogs on the go. Deboned chicken is the first ingredient, providing the protein your senior dog needs to maintain muscle mass, which some dogs can start to lose as they age.

We love that this food contains a range of whole grains, including brown rice and oatmeal. While grain-free foods have been popular for some time, they can actually be detrimental to heart health in some cases. Whole grains promote heart health, thus keeping that all-important organ beating strongly. The Blue Buffalo exclusive “LifeSource Bits” are tasty moist chunks that contain a blend of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for general health and well-being. This food also contains a blend of healthful fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, cranberries, peas, and sweet potatoes. You can choose from three bag sizes: 6 lb, 15 lb, and 30 lb for between $17 and $50. Though you have to spend out more at once, you get the best value from the 30 lb bag.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food Key Features: 

  • Formulated for muscle and joint health
  • Whole grain formula is beneficial to heart health
  • The contained antioxidants can reduce damage from free radicals and may slow aging

Best Wet Senior Dog Food: Wag Chicken Pate Wet Dog Food

Best Wet Senior Dog Food
Wag Chicken Pate Wet Dog Food
Though not a dedicated senior formula the pate texture is great for old dogs, plus you get 40% off your first subscribe and save order.

The smooth pate texture of Wag Chicken Pate Wet Dog Food is perfect for senior dogs with dental troubles who struggle with dry food or even with large chunks of wet food. Chicken is the first ingredient in this food, so you know your dog is getting a quality source of protein. It also contains nutrient-rich chicken liver and absolutely no grains and starches as filler. It’s also free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

We’ve focused on the chicken pate formula, but you can also buy beef and chicken pate, and turkey and chicken pate, plus a range of chunky stew formulas, which your dog may prefer if she can cope with chunky dog food. At $20 for 12 cans of 12.5 ounces, it’s reasonably priced for wet dog food, but it will still cost a lot to feed your canine companion this food alone unless you have a small breed dog who doesn’t eat much at each meal.

If you still need some enticement to try this food, you get 40% off your first subscribe and save order of either this specific dog food or any Wag products. Follow this link to see all your options.

Wag Chicken Pate Wet Dog Food Key Features: 

  • No added corn, wheat, or soy, which is great for dogs with food intolerances or sensitive ingredients
  • Made in Canada from quality ingredients sourced worldwide
  • The smooth texture is excellent for seniors with dental issues

Best Budget Senior Dog Food: Nature’s Recipe Senior Dog Food

Best Budget Senior Dog Food
Nature's Recipe Senior Dog Food
This affordable food proves you can find great options without spending much.

A quality senior dog food at a reasonable price, Nature’s Recipe Senior Dog Food includes a range of ingredients specifically designed to improve the health and well-being of senior dogs. Protein-rich lamb meal is the first ingredient and helps to maintain muscle mass, keeping your senior dog fit and mobile. The omega-3 fatty acids also help with mobility by supporting joint health. What’s more, the addition of beet pulp provides additional fiber to help the digestive system.

Though there are a few ingredients we could do without, such as poultry fat, all things considered, this is a wholesome food that suits most senior dogs well. The carbohydrates come from wholegrains, which help maintain a healthy heart, something that’s especially important in senior dogs as overall heart health can start to deteriorate. In terms of price, a 30 lb bag costs $32. Although you can find smaller, cheaper bags of food, this works out at around $0.07 per ounce, which is excellent value.

Nature’s Recipe Senior Dog Food Key Features:

  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • Helps maintain muscle health, alertness, and metabolism in senior dogs
  • Free from any animal by-products

Best Raw Senior Dog Food: Sojos Freeze-Dried Raw Senior Dog Food

Best Raw Senior Dog Food
Sojos Freeze-Dried Raw Senior Dog Food
A fantastic option for anyone who wants to feed their dog raw food without the hassle.

Although the jury’s out, some people believe dogs are meant to eat a diet of raw meat, but feeding raw can be messy and time-consuming to prepare. Sojos Freeze-Dried Raw Senior Dog Food, however, makes the whole process much simpler. Each bag contains a blend of freeze-dried raw meat and air-dried raw fruit and vegetables. Simply add water to re-hydrate it and your dog can enjoy a bowl of succulent raw food with very little effort on your part. This formula is meant for senior dogs containing glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. Added omega fatty acids also help with joints, in addition to promoting skin and coat health.

This raw food can help senior dogs maintain a healthy weight, plus some owners find it really helps to boost energy levels in older dogs, too. It has many benefits, but it is expensive. A 7 lb bag costs $90, though it’s worth bearing in mind that it can make up to 35 lbs once re-hydrated. That said, it’s costly to feed to large dogs so some pet parents choose to mix it with kibble to cut the cost.

Sojos Freeze-Dried Raw Senior Dog Food Key Features: 

  • Minimal ingredients, which is great for dogs with food sensitivities
  • Made in the USA from wholesome non-GMO ingredients
  • Re-hydrates in around 15 minutes

Best Small Breed Senior Dog Food: Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food

Best Small Breed Senior Dog Food
Merrick Lil' Plates Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food
The perfect food for small breed senior dogs with healthy ingredients and high levels of protein.

Standard senior dog food doesn’t always suit small dogs, which is where Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food comes into play. Small dogs have a higher energy need per lb of body weight than medium and large dogs do, which means they tend to thrive on a more calorie-dense food. Very small dogs, such as toy breeds, can also struggle with larger pieces of kibble, so small breed dog food has smaller pieces. This formula contains glucosamine and chondroitin to improve joint health, plus high protein levels to avoid loss of muscle mass, which is common in older dogs.

If your senior dog’s digestion is starting to get a bit sluggish, it will get a boost from the addition of prebiotics and probiotics. The formula is quite easy on the stomach in general, too, with sweet potato as the main source of carbohydrate and chicken as the main source of protein. You can buy this food in either 4 lb or 12 lb bags for $20 and $40, respectively.

Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food Key Features: 

  • Added omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Enriched with antioxidants
  • Made in the USA

Who Should Buy Senior Dog Food

If you own a senior dog, you should at least consider buying a senior dog food. Of course, if your dog is thriving on her current food, a change is unnecessary, but if she’s starting to struggle or show significant signs of age, she might benefit from a specific senior formula.

The following signs might indicate that it’s time to switch your canine companion to a senior dog food: weight gain, joint pain or stiffness, lack of energy, loss of muscle mass, digestive troubles, or a dull coat. That said, these can be symptoms of other health issues, so if you notice a rapid change or are at all concerned, it’s worth taking your dog for a checkup at the vet’s office.

Best Senior Dog Food Overall
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food
A blend of wholesome ingredients plus added glucosamine and chondroitin make this a top choice for seniors.

Important Features to Consider

A senior dog food should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a dog food for your senior dog:

  • Needs of senior dogs. When buying a senior dog food, it’s important to understand how the needs of senior dogs differ from those of younger adult dogs, so you can make sure your chosen food meets those needs. It’s common for senior dogs to lose some muscle mass, but you can help lessen or avoid this by choosing a food with a high-quality and easily digestible source of protein. Senior dogs often suffer from digestive issues, too, so a good source of fiber will help keep them regular. As older dogs are more likely to gain weight easily, they have lower calorie requirements. Senior dog foods tend to be less calorie dense so you can drop the number of calories your dog consumes without reducing the volume of food your dog eats so she won’t be left feeling hungry.
  • Wet vs. dry. Senior food might be different in some ways, but you’ll still need to decide whether to feed wet food or dry kibble. Some older dogs thrive on wet food, since it has fewer filler ingredients, plus it’s easier for dogs with dental problems to chew. Kibble is the cheaper option, however, as wet food can cost a significant amount to feed alone, especially if you own a large dog. You can choose to mix wet and dry foods together to get the benefits of both, plus it’s possible to soak kibble to soften it if chewing becomes an issue.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin. A blend of glucosamine and chondroitin is often added to senior dog food to promote joint health. When taken together, these supplements can repair the worn cartilage in the joint and therefore genuinely decreases joint pain and improves mobility. Of course, not all senior dogs have joint issues, so you may not find these additions essential.
  • Overall ingredient quality. It’s still important to look at the overall ingredient quality, even if a product ticks all the boxes for senior dog food. Avoid any foods that include artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. These aren’t necessary in dog food (since there are natural alternatives) and some artificial preservatives have far-reaching health implications. Look out for unnamed meats such as “meat meal” as opposed to “salmon meal” or “animal fat” as opposed to “chicken fat.” These unnamed ingredients could be more or less anything so should be avoided.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is senior dog food necessary? 

This really depends on the individual dog. If your four-legged friend thrives on her standard adult dog food, there’s no reason to change just because she’s getting on in years. But, if she’s started to lack in energy, gain weight, and suffer from digestive issues, it may be time to switch to a senior dog food.

When should I start feeding my dog senior food? 

As we said above, this depends on the individual, but if you’re wondering when your dog is officially classed as a senior, this varies by size. Small breeds are generally considered senior at around 10 to 12 years of age, medium breeds at around 8 to 9 years of age, and large breeds at around 6 to 7 years of age.

Can senior dogs eat dry food? 

Yes, senior dogs absolutely can eat dry food if their teeth are still in good condition, but some senior dogs may have sore or missing teeth and find chewing hard kibble a struggle. In this case, you have two options: either switch to a fully wet food diet or soak the kibble in hot water for an hour or so before eating to soften it.

What should I do if my senior dog won’t eat? 

As senior dogs get older, some can go off their food. This doesn’t mean that they’re knocking on death’s door but they may need some encouragement. Try switching to a wet food, as many dogs find this more palatable than dry. You can also buy extra-tasty dog food toppers to mix with their regular food. Some senior dogs prefer to eat little and often, so try offering three to four small meals a day, if your schedule allows it.

Other Senior Dog Foods We Reviewed

Best Senior Dog Food Overall
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food
A blend of wholesome ingredients plus added glucosamine and chondroitin make this a top choice for seniors.

We looked at 20 other senior dog foods. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best senior dog foods list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your four-legged friend. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Wet Senior Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Basics Turkey & Potato Recipe Senior Wet Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Basics Turkey & Potato Recipe Senior Wet Dog Food

This limited ingredient dog food is ideal for senior dogs with sensitive stomachs. It’s free from chicken (a common allergen) and contains easily digestible carbs.

Key Features: 

  • Added glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Contains omega-3 and -6 fatty acids
  • Pack contains 12 x 12.5 oz cans

Cost: $29

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Senior Wet Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Senior Wet Dog Food

The high protein content helps senior dogs maintain muscle mass while the glucosamine and chondroitin improve joint health.

Key Features: 

  • Chicken and turkey recipe
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • 12 x 12.5 cans

Cost: $22

Dogswell Happy Hips Wet Dog Food

Dogswell Happy Hips Wet Dog Food

Thanks to the added glucosamine and chondroitin, this is an excellent choice for seniors, and for younger dogs with bad joints.

Key Features: 

  • Three flavor options
  • Grain-free
  • 12 x 13 oz cans to a pack

Cost: $32 to $36

Hill’s Science Diet Wet Senior Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Wet Senior Dog Food

Despite containing some subpar filler ingredients, this is a decent enough option for seniors with two flavors on offer.

Key Features: 

  • Easily digestible
  • Promotes heart health
  • Made in the USA

Cost: $28

Nutro Ultra Senior Pate Wet Dog Food

Nutro Ultra Senior Pate Wet Dog Food

The smooth pate texture is ideal for senior dogs having trouble with chunkier food, plus the trio of meat proteins promote muscle health.

Key Features: 

  • No chicken by-products
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • 24 x 3.5 oz trays

Cost: $43

Tiki Pets Aloha Petites Senior Dog Recipe

Tiki Pets Aloha Petites Senior Dog Recipe

This mousse-style wet dog food is ideal for small breed senior dogs, especially those struggling with tougher foods.

Key Features: 

  • Chicken, beef, and pumpkin recipe
  • High-quality proteins
  • 12 x 3.5 oz pouches

Cost: $19

Wellness Complete Senior Formula Dog Food

Wellness Complete Senior Formula Dog Food

The chicken and sweet potato recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients that are beneficial to older dogs.

Key Features: 

  • No meat by-products
  • Promotes a healthy digestive system
  • Pack contains 12 x 12.5 oz cans

Cost: $34

High-Protein Senior Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Senior Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Senior Dry Dog Food

Thanks to the high-protein recipe, this is a great option for helping to maintain muscle mass and keep your senior dog mobile and active.

Key Features: 

  • Contains heart-healthy amino acids
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • 24 lb bag

Cost: $54

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe

A similar option to the above but with red meat, which is better suited to dogs with chicken or poultry allergies.

Key Features: 

  • Contains nutrient-rich LifeSource Bits
  • High protein improves muscle mass
  • 4 lb or 22 lb sizes

Cost: $21 to $57

Instinct Raw Boost Senior Dog Food

Instinct Raw Boost Senior Dog Food

This blend of standard kibble and freeze-dried raw pieces gives a protein-packed boost to your senior dog’s diet.

Key Features: 

  • Made in the USA
  • Cage-free chicken
  • Bags of 4 lbs or 21 lbs

Cost: $20 to $70

ORIJEN Senior High-Protein Dry Dog Food

ORIJEN Senior High-Protein Dry Dog Food

With 85% animal ingredients, this is a high-quality, high-protein option for older dogs, designed to boost energy levels and help maintain muscle.

Key Features: 

  • Contains only fresh, raw, or dehydrated meats
  • Biologically appropriate recipes
  • Available in sizes from 4.5 to 25 lbs

Cost: $27 to $94

Senior Dog Food for Joint Health

AvoDerm Natural Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Senior Dog Food

AvoDerm Natural Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Senior Dog Food

The added blend of glucosamine and chondroitin is beneficial to joint health, which is a bonus as dogs age.

Key Features: 

  • California avocados are great for skin and coat health
  • Wholegrains for heart health
  • 4.4 lb and 26 lb bags available

Cost: $10 to $55

Castor & Pollux Organic Senior Dry Dog Food

Castor & Pollux Organix Grain Free Organic Senior Dry Dog Food

This senior dog food is certified USDA organic, which is an unusual bonus. The added glucosamine and chondroitin boost joint health.

Key Features: 

  • Organic free-range chicken is the number one ingredient
  • Packed with a superfood blend
  • 10 lb bag

Cost: $48

Diamond Naturals Dry Senior Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Dry Senior Dog Food

Made with healthy whole grains and cage-free chicken, this is a wholesome option as is, but the glucosamine and chondroitin are great for joints.

Key Features: 

  • Added probiotics for digestive health
  • Made in the USA
  • 6 lb to 35 lb options available

Cost: $12 to $37

Nulo Senior Grain Free Dog Food

Nulo Senior Grain Free Dog Food

Like others in this section, this food contains glucosamine and chondroitin to help repair worn cartilage in the joints.

Key Features: 

  • Good for weight control
  • Proteins help maintain muscle mass
  • 4.5 lb to 24 lb bags

Cost: $20 to $72

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Senior Dog Food

Thanks to its chicken and barley formula, your dog will be eating quality proteins and heart-healthy whole grains.

Key Features: 

  • Added chondroitin and glucosamine
  • Great for digestive health
  • Package sizes between 5 and 30 lbs

Cost: $17 to $57

Other Senior Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Freedom Senior Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Freedom Senior Dry Dog Food

A grain-free option with potatoes as the main source of carbohydrates and plenty of deboned chicken and chicken meal for muscle health.

Key Features: 

  • Contains omega-3 and -6 fatty acids
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • 4 lb to 24 lb options

Cost: $19 to $54

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Senior Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Senior Dog Food

An alternative to our best overall that’s specifically designed for small breed seniors, with enough energy to keep them active.

Key Features: 

  • Heart-healthy whole grains
  • LifeSource Bits
  • 6 lb and 16 lb bag sizes

Cost: $18 to $22

CANIDAE Pure Senior Recipe

CANIDAE Pure Senior Recipe

With just 9 ingredients (plus a blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and probiotics), this is a simple recipe that’s great for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Key Features: 

  • Great sources of protein for muscle mass
  • Probiotics for digestive health
  • 4 to 24 lb bags

Cost: $20 to $65

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Small Bites Dry Dog Food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Small Bites Dry Dog Food

Another option for senior small breed dogs that’s better suited than standard senior dog food to meet the needs of our little canine companions.

Key Features: 

  • Contains whole grains, which are good for the heart
  • Designed to boost cognitive health
  • 5 lb bag

Cost: $13

Products You May Be Interested In:

Lauren Corona