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What to Look for in the Best Dry Dog Food for Senior Dogs

Senior beagle looking up at owner, waiting to be feed

Your dog deserves the best dog food, right? Well, deciding which food truly is better for your senior dog is easier said than done for most dog owners. The task of picking the perfect food for your dog is complicated by the fact that not all dogs’ needs are the same. Furthermore, your senior dog’s dietary demands change as they age.

So, how can a responsible dog owner choose the best dry dog food for the senior dog? First, it’s vital to choose quality ingredients. Second, it’s important to understand your older dog’s individual needs. Not sure where to start? No problem. This article will thoroughly cover both.

How Does an Older Dog’s Dietary Requirements Change?

Dogs age differently than we do. Furthermore, different dog breeds age at different rates. That’s right. That simple equation of multiplying human years by 7 isn’t accurate.

So, the first thing you need to do if you’re a dog owner is decide when your doggo is a true senior. This will let you know when to switch your dog’s dry food to a “senior” recipe.

When Does Your Dog Become a Senior?

On average, the first two years of a dog’s life equal approximately 10-human years [1] After three years of age, your dog’s life progresses a little more slowly, at the rate of 1 human year equalling 4 dogs years. 

Yet this math doesn’t hold true for every dog since the size, diet, and health history also play a role in your dog’s age.

For small dogs, most are considered seniors between the ages of 10 and 12.
Medium dogs age into seniorhood between 8 and 9 years of age.

Large and giant dogs age more rapidly and are considered senior dogs once they hit the 5 to 6 year mark.

But if your dog has dealt with (or currently has a health condition), this can speed up the age processing. 

Of course you can simply look for the signs that your dog is getting a bit grey around the muzzle, such as:

        • Trouble seeing or hearing well
        • Weight gain
        • Lower energy
        • Joint pain or arthritis
        • Yellowing and worn down teeth
        • Loss of fur
        • Confusion
        • Generally moving slower
        • Sleeping more 

Understanding Changes in Your Senior Dog’s Diet

Senior pug looking confused

Many of the changes you see in your dog are external and obvious. Others are internal and less apparent. However, these changes need to be accounted for in your dog’s dry dog food.

Smaller Kibble Size

Your dog’s teeth naturally become more worn down. Older dogs also tend to experience more dental pain. Switching your senior dog to a kibble that is easier to chew can alleviate these issues, allowing them to chew their food more thoroughly and without discomfort.

Dental Support Kibble

Not only should your senior dog eat small kibble that’s easier to chew, but their food should assist in scrubbing away tartar and plaque. Why? Dental disease can shorten your dog’s life. This is because their body sends white blood cells to fight off bacteria, however, in doing so, these blood cells eat away at your dog’s gums, leaving an opening for bacteria to enter the body. This bacteria then makes its way to vital organs.

Having cleaner teeth also reduces the risk of infection and dental pain.

Lower Calorie Foods

Senior dogs experience a natural slowing of their metabolism. Simultaneously, they become less active. These both mean your dog needs fewer calories per day. If your dog were to continue eating the same amount of calories as they did when they were young, they would begin to gain weight. Most senior dogs need 20% fewer calories than they did in their prime [2]

Higher Protein

To combat muscle loss, senior dogs need high-quality protein-rich diets. This isn’t just about your dog’s muscle tone--it’s about their immune system, too. As dogs lose muscle mass, their immune system cannot function at full capacity. This leaves them more vulnerable to infections, stress, and the inability to heal after trauma. Most senior dogs need a diet of about 25% protein [3]

Does My Senior Dog Need More Fiber?

Fibre can help your senior dog digest their food more easily (reducing the likelihood of constipation). Fibre can also help a senior dog on a diet feel fuller with fewer calories. 

However, not all dogs need increased fibre as they age. Dogs that are naturally thin, for example, may not benefit from a fuller feeling. Furthermore, not all fibre is created equal. Low-quality fibre can actually make food more difficult to digest and harder to pull nutrients from.

Joint Support and Immunity Support

Most dogs need a little extra joint support and immunity support as they age. So, be sure your dog’s food contains Omega 3s and Omega 6s along with vitamins and minerals for healthy cell function. You also want to keep in mind that antioxidants are a dog’s best friend.

How Can the Best Dry Dog Food for Older Dogs Improve Your Buddy’s Life?

With a healthy, well-rounded diet, you can improve your dog’s overall quality of life. Dogs need energy to partake in all the activities they enjoy. They also need vitamins, minerals, and Omega fatty acids for proper cell function and to support their immune systems. 

But the best dry dog food for older dogs will go beyond providing the minimum of what a dog needs. Naturally healthy ingredients that support positive aging can make a major difference in your dog’s long-term cognitive function, vision, and mobility.

What’s the Best Dry Dog Food for Small Senior Dogs?

Small dogs need the same nutritional elements as large dogs. However, they can benefit from even small kibble sizes. Some small dog breeds are more prone to joint issues and obesity, so being proactive about these issues can prevent health problems for your small senior dog in the future.

When it Comes to Kibble, Is Grain-Free Good for Senior Dogs?

A fully grain-free diet is not optimal for any dog, no matter their age. While grains may not have been a major component of your dog’s ancestral diet, most vets agree that it can be dangerous for dogs to go without. This is because preliminary studies suggest a connection between grain-free dry dog foods and heart issues (taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy) [4]

Asking Your Vet About Your Dog’s Specific Needs

As for tailoring your senior dog’s diet to their specific needs, you will need to consult your vet. Because many senior dogs experience health issues, such as kidney disease, it’s best to ask your vet if there are any dietary restrictions or concerns you should account for in your dog’s diet.

Choosing the Best Dry Dog Food for Your Senior Dog

Happy senior dog lying in the grass

It's all about knowing how much dry food to feed as well as feeding them the best when it comes to your dog feeling their finest. High-quality ingredients without dangerous preservatives can extend your dog’s joy and active years. At Petzyo, our Kibble That Counts is made in small batches from the freshest ingredients, and we tailor your dog’s portion size to their age and activity level.