The 10 Best Senior Dog Foods in 2021

The 10 Best Senior Dog Foods in 2021

Seeing our dogs slow down as they grow old isn’t easy, which is why we want to provide them with the best of everything, including food, to help keep them as happy and healthy as possible. Sometimes, a balanced diet can have positive effects on our dogs’ health.

Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of tried-and-true senior dog foods to help you find the best diet for your senior puppy. There’s also a guide that contains tips for feeding senior dogs, including those with sensitive mouths or missing teeth.

But before we get into all that, let’s talk about how to go about choosing the right option for your furbaby.

What to Consider When Choosing Dog Food

There’s probably nothing more confusing than trying to pick dog food. Knowing that what we choose could directly impact our pet’s wellbeing can be somewhat overwhelming, and there are countless products to choose from. By considering the following factors while shopping, you may be able to take some of the stress out of the experience.

AAFCO Statement

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an authority on pet nutrition. It researches dog nutrition, and publishes guidelines for pet food manufacturers to follow to ensure their food is balanced and provides all the essential nutrients dogs need.

Whenever you’re shopping for dog food, you should always check the label to see if it has an AAFCO statement. The statement is typically located under the guaranteed analysis. All of the foods on our list follow AAFCO guidelines.

Calories

Because old dogs tend to be less active, the caloric content of their food is more important. Even among dog foods marketed to seniors, there will be differences in calorie content. If your dog is prone to gaining weight, then you will want to choose a food lower in calories. If your dog is still relatively active despite her age, then it’s okay to choose a formula with a higher calorie content.

Ingredients

The ingredient list is often the first thing people look at when shopping for dog food. However, unless you are a veterinary nutritionist, it probably isn’t going to tell you all that much about whether or not the food is good for your dog. In fact, veterinary nutritionists feel that dog owners should stop relying so heavily on the ingredient list.

Instead, we should be using the ingredient list to make sure that the food doesn’t contain any ingredients we know our dogs are allergic to. It can also be good to avoid ambiguous ingredients like poultry by-product meal, especially for dogs that have sensitive stomachs.

This is because you have no way of knowing exactly which types of poultry are being used. While poultry by-product meal is not harmful for your dog, should an allergy or intolerance occur, it would be harder to sort out when you don’t know what types of poultry are in her food.

When it comes to senior dog foods specifically, it is beneficial to look for ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin. These are supplements that support joint health by reducing pain and inflammation. Less pain often leads to increased mobility. Some dogs may still require additional supplementation, but these ingredients are definitely a good addition to a senior dog food.

Palatability

The term palatability refers to how satisfying a food is in terms of flavor. Considering our dogs have to eat the same thing every day, it’s important that they enjoy their food. Other factors such as shape, size, or texture can also affect how a dog responds to a food.

Health

Our dogs’ health is our number one priority, and nutrition is a big part of their well-being. If a food is good for your dog, you’ll often be able to see it physically. Her coat will be smooth and shiny, and she shouldn’t have dry, itchy skin. Stools should be firm and regular — the right diet will not cause diarrhea or constipation.

It’s common for old dogs to lay around the house, but sometimes a good food can help give them some extra pep in their step. If your dog seems unusually lethargic, then it may be time to try a different diet.

Now that you know what to look for in senior dog food, let’s check out the best options available in 2021.

Top 10 Best Senior Dog Foods 2021

1. Best Overall Pick: Diamond Naturals Senior Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Senior Dog Food


Editor’s Rating:

Why we like it: This food is great for helping old dogs maintain a healthy weight, and the added chondroitin and glucosamine is enough for some dogs to quit other supplements. Dogs on this diet have beautiful coats and increased energy. Best of all, it’s affordable.

Quick Facts:

  • Calories/cup: 318
  • Available sizes: 6 lb, 18 lb, 35 lb
  • Guaranteed analysis (dry matter basis):
    • Protein: 28%
    • Fat: 12%
    • Fiber: 3%

Ingredients

The first two ingredients in Diamond’s senior formula are cage-free chicken and chicken meal. The recipe includes probiotics and fiber for easy digestion as well as chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health. There are a number of fruits and vegetables in this diet, but there is no corn, wheat, soy, legumes, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. It’s also free of legumes.

Palatability

Dogs love the taste of this recipe and gobble it up without hesitation. It seems to keep them satisfied for longer. The Cheerio-like shape and thinness of the kibble make it easy for old dogs to chew regardless of if they’re big or small. However, some picky dogs may not be a fan of this unique shape.

Health

This food will have your old pup’s coat shiny and sleek. Dogs with mobility issues have seen improvements due to the chondroitin and glucosamine with some even being able to be taken off supplements like Dasuquin. The increase in mobility is great since dogs on this diet seem to have more energy. Not only that, it helps keep senior dogs at a healthy weight.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Dogs may see an increase in mobility
  • Helps maintain healthy weight
  • Dogs may be able to quit supplements such as Dasuquin
  • Easy for old dogs to chew

Cons

  • Picky eaters may not like the shape

2. Best Premium Pick: Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food

Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food


Editor’s Rating:

Why we like it: Nutro Ultra keeps senior dogs playful and alert, making it worth the high price. Dogs love the taste, and the formula helps seniors keep weight off. There are three different animal protein sources and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Quick Facts:

  • Calories/cup: 316
  • Available sizes: 15 lb, 30 lb
  • Guaranteed analysis (dry matter basis):
    • Protein: 29%
    • Fat: 12%
    • Fiber: 4%

Ingredients

This diet uses three different protein sources — chicken, salmon, and lamb — with chicken being the first ingredient. There is no corn, wheat, soy, chicken by-product meal or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The recipe contains legumes.

Palatability

You’re unlikely to see any kibble left in the bowl while feeding this food. In fact, some picky eaters enjoy it even without toppings.

Health

Nutro can help add a little pep back into your couch-potato’s step; your old furbaby may be more alert and playful on this diet. Not only that, it can help our less active seniors maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if necessary.

This food does contain some common allergens, like chicken, as well as a number of fruits and vegetables that may be too much for dogs with allergies or sensitive tummies.

Other

Nutro Ultra does not have a strong smell, so it won’t stink up your pantry.

Pros

  • Helps senior dogs maintain a healthy weight
  • Keeps dogs energized, playful, and alert
  • Free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
  • Doesn’t have a strong smell

Cons

  • Dogs with allergies or intolerances may be sensitive to some ingredients in this food
  • Somewhat expensive

Purina ONE SmartBlend Vibrant Maturity 7+


Editor’s Rating:

Why we like it: Purina has done their homework with this food as they even subjected it to feeding trials. It’s easy for senior dogs to chew, contains glucosamine for joint health, and gives old, lazy dogs the energy to get off the couch. It’s also affordable!

Quick Facts:

  • Calories/cup: 363
  • Available sizes: 8 lb, 16.5 lb, 31.1 lb
  • Guaranteed analysis (dry matter basis):
    • Protein: 32%
    • Fat: 15%
    • Fiber: 5%

Ingredients

Purina ONE SmartBlend has ingredients that naturally contain glucosamine, which promotes joint health in older dogs. It is infused with a blend of botanical oils that may support brain health. The first ingredient is chicken; it also contains peas, corn, and soy.

Palatability

The kibble is a mixture of crunchy bits and tender, meaty morsels. Dogs seem to especially love the tender morsels, so this food could be a great option for picky eaters.

The soft pieces and small kibbles also make it easy for old dogs to eat, though you may feel the kibbles are a bit too small if you have a large breed dog. For large breed dogs, check out IAMS Proactive Health Senior Dog Food.

Health

If your dog has any allergies or sensitivities, then this may not be the right option as some dogs have experienced flare-ups in their symptoms. In general, dogs have shown an increase in activity levels after being switched to this diet. Not only that, they have beautiful coats and no issues with weight management.

Other

This specific Purina ONE diet has undergone feeding trials before being released to the public, so you can feel confident that it is a safe, nutritionally-balanced option for your dog.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy for old dogs to eat
  • Dogs seem more active while on this diet
  • Has undergone feeding trials
  • Tender morsels are highly palatable

Cons

  • Kibble may be too small for large breeds
  • Not appropriate for dogs with allergies or other sensitivities

4. Best Low-Calorie Option: Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Dog Food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Dog Food


Editor’s Rating:

Why we like it: The kibbles in this food are thin and donut-shaped, making them easy for seniors to eat. Dogs on this diet have shiny coats, healthy stool, and may become more energetic.

Quick Facts:

  • Calories/cup: 317
  • Available sizes: 15 lb, 30 lb
  • Guaranteed analysis (dry matter basis):
    • Protein: 25.5%
    • Fat: 13%
    • Fiber: 4%

Ingredients

The first two ingredients are chicken and chicken meal, with the latter being a source of glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which support joint health. Nutro’s ingredients are non-GMO, and this food doesn’t contain chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The recipe does contain peas.

Palatability

Similar to the more affordable Diamond food on our list, Nutro Wholesome Essentials uses thin, Cheerio-shaped kibbles that are easy for dogs to eat. This is true even for seniors with missing teeth. Not only that, even picky dogs seem to love the flavor.

Health

The consistency of a dog’s stool can be an indication of her health. On this food, dogs have firm, regular poops, which is a great sign. Another sign of good health is a shiny coat, which is the norm for dogs eating Nutro Wholesome Essentials. It also seems to increase stamina. Some dogs with allergies have seen improvements in their symptoms while on this diet.

Other

The smallest size this product comes in is a 15 lb bag, which may be too much for owners of small breeds. To reduce waste, you can freeze a portion of the kibble for use at a later date. The food has a strong, fishy smell which may be due to the added fish oil.

Pros

  • Easy for senior dogs to eat
  • Increases stamina
  • Keeps stool firm and regular
  • Free of corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

Cons

  • Does not come in bags smaller than 15 lbs
  • Smells fishy

5. Best for Small Senior Dogs: Hill's Science Diet Adult 11+ for Small Breeds

Hill's Science Diet Adult 11+ for Small Breeds


Editor’s Rating:

Why we like it: This food is a rare find in that it understands small breeds tend to live longer and so hones in on an older age than most senior foods (11+ instead of 7+). It’s easy for dogs to eat even if they have missing teeth, and seniors have seen benefits in mobility, energy levels, and stool quality.

Quick Facts:

  • Calories/cup: 371
  • Available sizes: 4.5 lb, 15.5 lb
  • Guaranteed analysis (dry matter basis):
    • Protein: 21.7%
    • Fat: 15%
    • Fiber: 2.3%

Ingredients

This recipe contains Omega-3 fatty acids for joint health as well as Omega-6 and vitamin E for healthy skin and coat. There is also an antioxidant blend to help support an old dog’s immune system. The first ingredient is chicken meal, which is a dry, concentrated source of protein. This formula contains corn, wheat, soy, and peas.

Palatability

Dogs love the taste, but even better, the size. Many senior dogs, especially small ones, have trouble with kibble because it is too big or too hard for their mouths. This is made more true when they have missing teeth, which is common among small breeds. Hills definitely took that into account with this food, as toothless little dogs have no issue gobbling this down.

Health

This food has worked for dogs with sensitive stomachs who don’t actually have allergies or intolerances (i.e. dogs who are prone to loose stools). Sensitive dogs and iron-stomachs alike can maintain a healthy weight while on this diet. Dogs have also seen improvements in energy, mobility, and even stool quality.

Pros

  • Kibble is easy to eat, even for dogs with missing teeth
  • Helps dogs maintain a healthy weight
  • Improves energy, mobility, and stool quality

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Contains common allergens such as wheat and soy

6. Best for Allergies and Sensitivities: CANIDAE Pure Senior Recipe

CANIDAE Pure Senior Recipe


Editor’s Rating:

Why we like it: This food is perfect for dogs who have bad allergies or sensitive stomachs as it has limited ingredients. It can help reduce irritation of the skin and gut, leading to a healthier coat and firmer stools.

Quick Facts:

  • Calories/cup: 409
  • Available sizes: 4 lb, 12 lb, 24 lb
  • Guaranteed analysis (dry matter basis):
    • Protein: 31%
    • Fat: 11%
    • Fiber: 5.5%

Ingredients

This food is grain-free for dogs who have sensitive stomachs, allergies, or other issues that require such a diet. The formula contains Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat, as well as antioxidants that boost the immune system. It also contains chondroitin and glucosamine for mobility and joint health.

The first three ingredients are all sources of animal protein: chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal. This recipe includes peas.

Palatability

Dogs love the taste of this food and absolutely gobble it down. However, due to the small kibble sizes, especially voracious eaters or large breeds may end up coughing or choking on the kibble. We recommend using a slow-feed bowl for impatient eaters.

Health

Dogs with allergies that cause itchy, irritated skin have found relief while on this diet. Their skin is far less dry, and their coats are soft and shiny. Dogs with especially sensitive stomachs (the kind that can’t seem to handle anything) have also done well on this food. They’re able to eat it without having diarrhea and even have firm stools.

Since we’re talking about old dogs, it’s important to note that this food has increased activity levels in some couch potatoes. However, it is higher in calories (409/cup) than every other food on our list. For a low-calorie option that has also helped some dogs with their allergies, check out Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Dog Food instead.

Pros

  • Reduces itching and irritation from allergies
  • Good for dogs with sensitive stomachs
  • May improve stool quality
  • Increases activity levels in old dogs

Cons

  • Kibble may be too small for large dogs
  • Somewhat high in calories
  • Expensive

7. Best for Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Dog Food


Editor’s Rating:

Why we like it: This food helps senior dogs maintain a healthy weight and a beautiful coat. Some dogs on this diet have experienced a decrease in fecal production and gas, and an increase in mobility.

Quick Facts:

  • Calories/cup: 357
  • Available sizes: 6 lb, 15 lb, 30 lb
  • Guaranteed analysis (dry matter basis):
    • Protein: 20%
    • Fat: 11%
    • Fiber: 8%

Ingredients

The first ingredient in this food is deboned chicken. It also contains fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as chondroitin and glucosamine to support joint health. Blue’s products are free of by-product meals, corn, wheat, and soy. The company also does not use any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. This particular formula is not free of legumes.

Palatability

While dogs love the taste of this Blue Buffalo diet, those with sensitive gums or missing teeth may have a bit of trouble with this kibble. If your dog is missing teeth, check out our tips on softening kibble to make it easier to eat.

Blue’s “Life Source” bits (which contain vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals) seem to be a point of contention; some dogs gobble them up while others spit them out. Also, the size of the kibble is a bit small for large breeds.

Health

It’s common for old dogs to have issues such as arthritis, and some have seen improvement in mobility and an increase in energy while on this diet. Not only that, it helps keep weight in check and coats shiny and lustrous. Some owners have noticed that their dogs poop less frequently while on this diet and are less gassy.

Pros

  • Improves mobility in arthritic dogs
  • Helps dogs maintain a healthy weight and coat
  • Dogs may poop less frequently and be less gassy
  • Free of corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives

Cons

  • Kibble may be too hard for dogs with sensitive mouths
  • Kibble may be too small for large breed dogs
  • Some dogs dislike the Life Source bits

8. Best for Increasing Energy: Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+

Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+


Editor’s Rating:

Why we like it: This diet increases energy, keeps weight off, supports healthy skin and coat, and may even reduce gas. The packaging is also thoughtful as it uses a velcro closure to keep food fresh.

Quick Facts:

  • Calories/cup: 353
  • Available sizes: 5 lb, 15 lb, 33 lb
  • Guaranteed analysis (dry matter basis):
    • Protein: 18.7%
    • Fat: 13.7%
    • Fiber: 2.4%

Ingredients

Science Diet claims that this formula is easy to digest and contains a blend of vitamins and minerals that support heart and kidney health as well as beautiful skin and coat. The first ingredient is chicken meal, which is a concentrated source of protein.

This recipe does contain corn, wheat, and soy, so be careful if your dog has allergies. It’s not pea-free, but peas are at the bottom of the ingredient list. They are likely included for marketing purposes but do not add much to the nutrition of the diet.

This is also true for apples, broccoli, carrots, and cranberries. These ingredients look enticing to customers, but, since labels are listed by weight and these are at the very bottom, the quantities are negligible.

Palatability

Dogs seem to enjoy the taste of this food as they’re known to scarf it down. Even though it is not marketed for small breeds (check out Hill’s 11+ small breed formula if you want one that is), most small dogs do not have any trouble with the size of the kibble.

Health

Senior dogs have seen an increase in energy while on this Science Diet formula. It’s also great for helping mature dogs stay at a healthy weight and for keeping coats soft and shiny. These are nice benefits, but perhaps the best benefit of all is that dogs may fart less and have less stinky farts while on this diet.

Other

The packaging for this food is quite nice because it has a velcro strip at the top to keep the bag closed. This can help keep the food fresher for longer and is a convenient touch.

Pros

  • Increases energy
  • Helps dogs maintain a healthy weight
  • Kibble size is suitable for both small and large dogs
  • Velcro closure on bag keeps food fresher for longer

Cons

  • Not suitable for dogs with wheat or soy allergies
  • Ingredients at the bottom of the list seem like marketing ploys rather than added nutrition

9. Best for Large Breeds: IAMS Proactive Health Senior Dog Food

IAMS Proactive Health Senior Dog Food


Editor’s Rating:

Why we like it: IAMS is affordable, and keeps senior dogs energetic while helping them maintain a healthy weight. Not only that, it may even reduce gas!

Quick Facts:

  • Calories/cup: 346
  • Available sizes: 15 lb, 30 lb
  • Guaranteed analysis (dry matter basis):
    • Protein: 29%
    • Fat: 12%
    • Fiber: 6%

Ingredients

The first ingredient in this product is chicken. It includes fiber and probiotics for healthy digestion as well as antioxidants to support the immune system. IAMS also claims that the added DHA promotes mental sharpness. Caramel coloring is used in this food, and it also contains corn.

It’s important to note that the ingredients listed on Amazon for this product may not be accurate as they are slightly different than what is listed on the manufacturer’s website.

Palatability

Fussy eaters enjoy this IAMS recipe. Because this is for large breeds, the kibbles are larger. If your dog has sensitive gums or missing teeth, it may be difficult for her to chew even if she is a big girl. Check out our guide on making kibble easier to eat for toothless seniors.

Health

When dogs get older, they also seem to get gassier. With this food, you may see (or should we say smell?) a reduction in gas. It’s sad to see our furbabies slow down, but dogs on this diet have shown an increase in energy and mobility. Not only that, it helps senior pups maintain a healthy weight.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • May reduce gas
  • Increases energy and mobility
  • Helps dogs maintain healthy weight

Cons

  • Uses artificial coloring
  • Large kibbles may be difficult for dogs with sensitive mouths

10. Best for Increasing Energy: Purina Pro Plan High Protein Senior Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan High Protein Senior Dog Food


Editor’s Rating:

Why we like it: Purina Pro Plan increases mobility and energy in senior dogs. Dogs love the taste (especially the tender morsels), and it keeps their coat healthy and shiny. This food has also undergone feeding trials, so you can be confident that it’s a safe option for your pet.

Quick Facts:

  • Calories/cup: 366
  • Available sizes: 6 lb,18 lb, 34 lb
  • Guaranteed analysis (dry matter basis):
    • Protein: 33%
    • Fat: 16%
    • Fiber: 3%

Ingredients

Purina Pro Plan has Glucosamine and EPA (an Omega-3 fatty acid) to support joint health and mobility. It also has live probiotics, as well as prebiotic fiber, to help with digestion. The first ingredient is chicken, but this product does contain corn, wheat, and soy, as well as poultry-by product meal, making it a poor choice for dogs with sensitivities.

Palatability

Dogs love this food, especially the tender meaty morsels mixed in with the dry kibbles. The size of the kibble also makes it easy for old dogs to eat.

Health

The glucosamine and EPA in this product seem to work, as dogs eating this have experienced improved mobility. Owners have also noticed an increase in energy in their senior pups as well as smooth, shiny coats.

Other

Purina has conducted feeding trials on this food, so you can feel confident that it is a safe and balanced formula.

Pros

  • Has undergone feeding trials
  • Increases mobility and energy in senior dogs
  • Keeps coats shiny and healthy
  • Tender morsels are highly palatable

Cons

  • Contains common allergens such as wheat and soy
  • Contains poultry-by product meal

Senior Dog Feeding 101: A Guide to Feeding Your Older Pup


old dog takes treat from hand

Now that you’ve got a wonderful selection of dog food to choose from, we’d like to share some helpful tips about online shopping and feeding your senior dog.

A Note on Buying Dog Food Online

Shopping online is incredibly convenient. In a couple of clicks, you can have your dog food purchased and it’ll come directly to your door. With how busy life can be, there’s often nothing more valuable than saving time. However, online shopping isn’t without flaws.

Get a Refund or Replacement for Bags That Arrive Damaged

When it comes to dog food, one of the main issues is that packages are sometimes damaged during shipping. If you ever receive a bag of dog food that is ripped open, you should reach out to the company for a refund.

Once dog food is exposed to air, it loses freshness and will eventually go bad. While the tear hopefully would have happened during transit (because why would an employee think it smart to pack you a ripped bag of food?) you truly have no way of knowing. Do yourself and your dog a favor and get a replacement.

Watch for Expired or Counterfeit Products

On Amazon, in particular, there are a number of curious reviews that describe packages of dog food containing kibble that look different than what they are used to. Sometimes the color or shape of the kibble is different.

If this happens to you, find out if the manufacturer changed their formula in any way (many of them can be called directly). If not, you may want to consider discarding the food and asking for a replacement.

This is because there is a chance that the food is either counterfeit or expired. People who have detailed these strange instances of abnormalities also relay that the unusual kibble caused sickness in their dogs. It certainly is not worth taking chances.

Make sure you always buy dog food on Amazon from the brand that manufactures it rather than from third party sellers.

Tips for Missing Teeth (and Picky Eaters)

Whether it happened due to accidents earlier in life, bad dental hygiene, or genetics (some dogs are prone to having dental issues), it’s common for senior dogs to have missing teeth. This is especially true for small breeds. Unfortunately, this can make it tough for old dogs to eat their food, so we’d like to share some tips on how to make it easier for them.

Choose a Food With Small Kibble

Sometimes, all it takes for your dog to be able to eat comfortably is appropriately-sized kibble. Food that has small, thin pieces of kibble is easier to eat than those with larger, thicker pieces.

Diamond Naturals Senior and Nutro Wholesome Essentials both fit the bill. They have Cheerio-shaped kibbles that are small and thin. In fact, it’s likely that dogs can safely swallow them whole!

Add Water

Let your pup’s food sit in warm water until it gets mushy. This makes it easier to eat and some picky dogs actually like their food better this way, even if it seems disgusting to us. Another added benefit is that your dog will be getting more water in her diet, which is great if she isn’t drinking as much as you think she should be.

Add Broth

This trick is basically the same as the previous, except tastier. The broth will make the food mushy and also add some extra flavor to your dog’s meal. This is a great option for picky eaters with sensitive mouths.

Be careful with the broth you use, though. Many store-bought broths contain ingredients, like onions, that are unsafe for dogs, and they also tend to be very high in sodium. Look for a low-sodium broth with limited ingredients or one that is manufactured specifically for dogs.

How to Make Your Own Broth

It’s also super easy to make your own broth at home. All you have to do is simmer some chicken for a few hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Discard the skin and the bones, and you can use the chicken as a topper on your dog’s meals (or eat it yourself).

Let the broth cool and skim any fat off the top. Store and freeze whatever you aren’t going to use within a week. Now you have homemade broth for your dog’s food! It’s easy to make and your dog will absolutely love it. This method is very simple, but you can always get more creative and add dog-safe vegetables like carrots to your broth.

How Much Should You Feed Your Senior Dog?

Determining how much to feed your dog is more of an art than a science. Just like us humans, every dog is different. Even dogs from the same litter may end up eating different amounts based on their lifestyles and health.

So where should you start? There are a couple ways to determine how much to feed your senior dog.

Follow the Guidelines on Dog Food Packaging

The first and simplest method is to look at the chart on your dog’s food. It’ll usually list recommendations for how much to feed your dog based on weight. Follow these guidelines and keep track of your dog’s weight so you can adjust her portion as needed.

Calculate Your Dog’s Daily Calorie Requirements

The second method is to calculate the number of calories your dog needs based on her lifestyle. The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center describes exactly how to do this on their website, but we’ll give you the rundown here.

Step 1: Calculate Your Dog’s Resting Energy Requirement (RER)

Convert your dog’s weight to kilograms, raise it to the ¾ power, and multiply by 70. So for instance, a 55 lb dog is roughly 25 kg.

Step 2: Multiply by a Corresponding Factor

Next, you’ll multiply by another number that corresponds to your dog’s age, energy level, or needs (such as weight loss) to determine your dog’s daily calorie requirements. We’ve created a shortened version of the table provided on the OSU’s website as theirs includes measurements for puppies, which is not necessary for our purposes.

Neutered adult RER  1.6
Intact adult RER  1.8
Inactive/obese prone RER  1.2-1.4
Weight loss RER for ideal weight  1.0
Weight gain RER for ideal weight  1.2-1.8

Now, let’s take our RER (783) and multiple it by 1.2, since most old dogs can be considered inactive.

As you can see, a 55 lb senior dog should be getting about 940 calories per day. Most senior dog foods are around 350 calories per cup, so that’s a little under 3 cups per day.

While this method can be more accurate than the guidelines on a bag of dog food, you’ll still need to monitor your dog and adjust portions accordingly if you see any unwanted weight loss or weight gain.

Step 3: Don’t Forget to Factor in Treats!

Because older dogs are less active, they already have a higher risk of weight gain. When people feed their dogs, they often forget to factor treats and table scraps into their dog’s daily calorie limit.

Check the labels on the treats you have in your cupboard to see how many calories are in them. Think about how many treats you tend to give your dog per day and reduce your dog’s kibble serving based on that.

A treat jar can also be helpful, especially in households with kids who don’t understand the importance of moderation. You can fill it up with the amount of treats you feel is appropriate for your dog to be having every day. Once the treat jar is empty, that’s it! This can be very helpful for keeping your dog at a healthy weight and preventing yourself or others from giving too many handouts.

Final Thoughts

Even when our dogs are older, they’ll always be puppies in our eyes. We want their remaining time to be filled with happiness, love, and good health.

While it is common for old dogs to suffer from certain health issues like arthritis, we can help them out by providing a balanced, nutritional diet. You’ll know you’ve made the right choice if your dog’s kibble leaves her with a shiny coat, healthy stool, and maybe even some extra energy.

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