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As our dogs age, they will likely develop changing tastes and dietary requirements. In this article, our veterinarians in Anaheim address questions regarding the care of senior dogs and recommend the best dog food for older dogs. 

At what age is my dog considered elderly or geriatric?

There's no universal answer to this question because the expected lifespans of dogs depend on their breed and size. Generally, smaller dogs can live between 15 and 20 years, whereas larger dogs typically live from around 12 to 15 years.

Larger dogs age more quickly and are considered "older" by the time they reach 6 years old, while smaller dogs usually enter middle age around 8 years old.

Do senior dogs have special nutritional needs?

Consider two crucial factors when determining the best dog food for senior dogs.

Firstly, ensure your dog's diet remains low in calories. Just as in humans, a dog's metabolism slows down with age. It's essential to prevent our senior pets from overeating to avoid obesity.

Secondly, prioritize high-fiber options in your pet's diet. Constipation can cause pain and potentially worsen gastrointestinal issues in older dogs. Senior-specific dog food contains extra fiber to maintain gastrointestinal health and overall well-being.

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

Senior dogs with diabetes, kidney failure, or liver disease require special diets to manage their conditions effectively. To ensure your sick dog's diet has the desired impact, consult with a vet.

Dogs at an elevated risk of heart disease benefit from lower-calorie senior dog foods to maintain a healthy weight. Therefore, prioritize low-sodium recipes.

Our Anaheim hospital's veterinary team recommends owners of diabetic or pre-diabetic dogs choose foods that slow their absorption in their companion's body. These specialized diabetic diets gradually increase your dog's blood sugar, reducing the risk of health complications.

These diets are also low in fats and high in fiber. Consult your vet to understand their dietary recommendations for your senior or diabetic dog.

Many senior dog food brands emphasize higher-quality protein sources compared to standard dog food. This helps senior dogs maintain a healthy weight without straining their aging kidneys.

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

Aging dogs commonly experience a decreased appetite. The reasons for sudden appetite loss can range from minor gastrointestinal issues causing nausea to potentially serious conditions like cancer.

If your senior dog is showing unexplained appetite loss, consult your vet immediately to rule out serious causes such as dental disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer.

Once medical conditions are ruled out, consider a simple solution: try enhancing your dog's dry kibble with chicken broth, water, or a small amount of canned food to make it more appealing.

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

The best dog food for your senior dog will depend on your pup's exact situation. In some cases, yes, the best option will be prescription dog food. In other cases, simply switching to a healthier alternative may be enough.

Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs

The team at Anaheim Animal Care & Pet Hospital 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 have 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. An exclusive blend of antioxidants supports healthy aging and overall cellular health. 

Royal Canin Medium Aging 10+ dry dog food is precise nutrition specifically made for senior medium-sized dogs 10 years and older weighing 23–55 lbs. Supports healthy aging with an exclusive blend of antioxidants for overall vitality. It helps support bones and joint health in medium-breed dogs. Nourishes with Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA for healthy skin and coat. Easy to eat, rehydratable kibble is explicitly designed for senior medium-sized dogs' jaws.

Size Health Nutrition Medium Aging 10+ is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.

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. An exclusive complex of antioxidants supports cellular health to help reduce the signs of aging. Precise nutrients keep large bones and joints healthy and strong to help your dog stay active. High-quality proteins and a balance of fibers help your dog digest food easily for digestive health. This highly palatable kibble is rehydratable: Mix in warm water for an easy-to-chew meal your dog will love to eat. Add some variety to their bowl with Royal Canin Mature 8+ wet dog food.

Royal Canin Large Aging 8+ dry dog food (formerly Maxi Aging 8+) is precise nutrition specifically made for large dogs 8 years and older weighing 56–100 lbs. Supports long-life vitality with an exclusive blend of antioxidants made for healthy aging. It helps keep bones and joints healthy in senior large-breed dogs. Promotes healthy digestion with easy-to-digest proteins and a balanced supply of fiber. Large-sized rehydratable kibble is easy to chew and ideal for senior dogs' jaws.

Size Health Nutrition Large Aging 8+ is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.

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 dry dog food on top of Science Diet.

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.

Need assistance navigating food labels to determine the ideal diet for your senior dog? Reach out to Anaheim Animal Care & Pet Hospital now to schedule an appointment and gain insights into your aging companion's nutritional requirements.

New Patients Welcome

Anaheim Animal Care & Pet Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Anaheim companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Book Online (714) 527-9292