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Is Wet Dog Food Good For Senior Dogs?


A senior German Shepherd dog looking off into the distance

As your dog ages, their bodies and their needs change. Like people, they slow down and begin to have various aches and pains. But giving your furry friend the right food will help them to live longer and happier. A change in diet can be a change for the better in your forever friend’s health and longevity.

Wet or dry?

The main thing your dog needs is food that supports their health best. Proper nutrition will help them to live longer, so as your dog ages, you might need to change their food. Generally, you will want to look for healthy wet food for your senior dog because it has many advantages. You will find that:

  • Wet food is easier to eat for dogs with dental health issues, but if they have good dental health, dry kibble can help keep teeth and gums clean and healthy.
  • Wet food contains more moisture, so it helps older dogs stay hydrated.
  • It contains more Omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for older dogs, than kibble because it can be destroyed as the kibble is being processed.

The main thing is to find a quality food that has been designed for the health needs of senior dogs. But just because wet food is labeled “for senior dogs” doesn’t mean that it is good for your older dog.

What’s the AAFCO Have to Say?

According to the American Kennel Club, “Neither the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nor the National Research Council have determined official dietary requirements for aging dogs. It’s partly because senior dogs vary so much in their individual needs. That may explain why commercial foods for seniors vary so widely in nutrient levels.” [1]

To keep your senior dog strong of mind and body, their food should be:

      • High in fiber to help with gastrointestinal system–help food to absorb more slowly, help prevent constipation
      • Higher in omega 3 fatty acids to help with cognitive function
      • Higher in antioxidants to prevent disease
      • Higher in protein to replace lost muscle mass–healthy seniors need more protein, not less, in order to fuel muscle… Older dogs need about 50 percent more protein to maintain muscle mass compared to younger ones. [1]
      • Balanced nutrients to lower strain on various organs
      • Lower in calories to help with weight
      • Lower in salt to maintain cardiovascular health

Feeding your dog the right senior food with proper nutrition can help manage or reduce the following:

      • Dental disease
      • Obesity
      • Cognitive dysfunction (dementia)
      • Kidney disease
      • Arthritis
      • Skin diseases
      • Certain cancers  [2]

In human years, how old is your dog?

An old gray dog with a cupcake

Dogs age at different rates. In general, larger dogs age faster than smaller dogs, so they will need to switch to senior food sooner than their petite cousins. Heavier dogs age faster as well.

But what is old?

On average, you should start thinking about switching to a senior food when your dog reaches:

      • 4-6 years for large dogs 
      • 6-7 years for medium dogs 
      • 8-10 years for small dogs

Signs your dog is aging

You probably won’t see changes in your dog overnight–most changes are gradual, so every few months, ask yourself if your dog has:

      • Become less active
      • Changed behavioral patterns
      • Developed any hearing or vision problems
      • Dryer skin and coat
      • Has more difficulty digesting food
      • Increased in weight
      • Lost of appetite
      • Problems with mobility

These signs can indicate that your dog is aging, so you should consider changing their diet. You might want to schedule an appointment with your vet to see if your dog has any health issues that are causing the changes.

Watch their weight

Because heavier dogs age faster, it is important that they keep thin and trim as a young adult. While you can reduce many problems caused by aging by giving your dog supplements, nothing will help more than maintaining a healthy weight.

So you decided to change your dog’s food?

If you have decided that you need to change the way that your dog eats, there are a few things to remember.

Transition the change gradually–over 3 to 4 weeks–because it will take a while for your dog’s systems to adjust to the new food. Start with a week of 75%-25%, a week of 50%-50%, and a week of 25%-75%. This gives them time to adjust to the changes.

You might want to try a senior version of their current food or a variety of senior food that is similar to their current food. This will make the transition easier.

After the change, you will want to watch for allergies. The new food might contain ingredients that your dog is allergic to, so look for signs of:

      • Diarrhea
      • Facial swelling
      • Hives
      • Itching
      • Vomiting [3]

The most common canine food allergens are beef, chicken, corn, eggs, corn, milk, soy, and wheat.

Since maintaining a healthy weight is important to your dog’s health, check it once a month after you change their food to make sure that they are not gaining or losing weight.

Check with your vet

Your vet can help you feed your dog properly. They can work with you so that your dog is getting the right amount of protein, fats, carbs, and fiber, as well as vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. 

Consulting your vet is especially important if your dog has diabetes, kidney function issues or liver problems.

You will also want to make an appointment with your vet if your dog suddenly becomes lethargic and refuses to eat.

Give them the best!

A black and white senior dog waiting for his wet dog food

At Petzyo, we make our Raw Royalty and Kibble that Counts in small batches so that it arrives at your door at its freshest, using the healthy and sustainable ingredients. Nothing artificial, no flavor enhancers or colorings. What you get is food that your dog will love, and as a responsible pet parent, you will be happy that you are giving your forever friend the healthiest food possible.



[1] Best Dog Food For Senior Dogs – American Kennel Club (akc.org)

[2] Senior Dog Food: When to Switch and Why | PetMD

[3] Dog Allergies: Symptoms and Treatment – American Kennel Club (akc.org)