Dogs vary at which age they reach the senior stage. The general rule of thumb, according to the UK Kennel Club, is that a dog is considered senior at around seven years old. However, while smaller dog breeds might not be considered senior until it is nine, the larger dog breeds are already senior by the time they are five or six. Medium-sized breeds fit somewhere in between.
An older dog undergoes some changes in terms of how they digest and metabolise their food, as well as to their immune system, so they may be best suited to a senior dog food diet, which is designed specifically to support dogs in later life. Senior food tends to vary in its nutrient and ingredient profiles in order to influence or manage certain diseases. If your dog is visibly showing signs of ageing, such as weight changes, sleeping, exercise, behaviour and drinking patterns, or any deterioration, and is over five years old, it might be time to take a look at his diet.
Senior dogs tend to become less active, which may be due to joint problems and their metabolism slowing down. Food designed for senior dogs therefore tends to contain fewer calories and fat, to prevent the dog putting on weight, which will exacerbate the joint issues. It will often contain the anti-inflammatories glucosamine and chondroitin which will help creaky joints, alleviate pain and assist mobility.
Not all dogs need to switch to a senior food, and each dog will have different needs at different stages. If your dog has a specific condition common to ageing dogs, such as dental disease, obesity or arthritis, a senior food may be beneficial. Be guided by how he looks and feels and consult your vet if you have any concerns. Always remember to make any changes to the diet gradually over at least a week, to prevent any digestive upsets.
If your dog has been thriving for most of his life on a certain brand, the obvious choice is to use the senior version of that brand. The other decision you have to make is whether to feed wet or dry food. Wet (or raw) is obviously advantageous for dogs that have few or no teeth, and it is palatable for fading appetites, but on the other hand kibble can be helpful in cleaning the teeth and thereby keeping tooth decay at bay.
The best senior dog food: take your pick
Forthglade Complete Natural Wet Dog Food
Stage: Senior 7yrs+ | Flavour: White fish, lamb or turkey | RRP: £31.50 for pack of 18 x 395g |
Made using natural ingredients including 75% gently steamed white fish, with added vitamins, minerals and botanicals. This wet food has high levels of chondroitin and glucosamine for joint support, and contains 15% less fat than adult recipes.
IAMS for Vitality Complete Dry Dog Food
Stage: Senior 7+ (large breeds); Senior 8+ (small & medium breeds) | Flavour: Fresh chicken | RRP: From £30.95 for 12kg pack|
Designed to nourish your dog’s vitality, this tailored fibre blend includes prebiotics and beet pulp for healthy digestion, as well as high-quality animal protein and essential minerals to maintain strong muscles.
Omega 3 and 6 support healthy skin and a shiny coat, while essential minerals and vitamin D maintain strong bones. Antioxidant vitamins C and E boost the immune system.
Comes in a crunchy kibble to help reduce tartar-build up.
Acana Heritage Senior Dog Food
Stage: Senior 7yrs+ | Flavour: Fresh chicken | RRP: From £18.99 for 2kg pack|
Designed to nurture the senior dog, this recipe is rich with 65% quality animal ingredients including Canadian chicken, nest-laid eggs and raw flounder, balanced with 35% fruit, vegetables and botanicals. Enticing-sounding fruit and veg include fresh whole saskatoon berries, blueberries, milk thistle, burdock root, rosehip and pears. The raw ingredients used are frozen at peak freshness, with fewer calories (than adult food) to support a healthy weight.
Skinner’s Field & Trial Light & Senior Complete Dry Food
Stage: Light & Senior | Flavour: Chicken | RRP: From £35.07 for 15kg |
A nutritionally complete food formulated for dogs requiring a less energy-dense diet, typically older dogs or those predisposed to weight gain.
It has enhanced levels of glucosamine and chondroitin to help support the joints. Contains no artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives and uses locally sourced ingredients from Suffolk.
The oval-shaped kibble is said to help dogs feel full despite being lower in calories. It has reduced protein and fat levels to support weight loss.
It is also wheat gluten-free and made with highly digestible chicken to suit sensitive stomachs.
Burns Adult & Senior Dog Food
Stage: Adult & Senior | Flavour: Hearty Lamb | RRP: £48.99 for 24 395g |
Developed by veterinary surgeon John Burns, this award-winning wet food is made from natural ingredients and a single-source protein. It is hypoallergenic and suitable for dogs with sensitive skin and digestion. It contains a minimum of 25% lambs’ hearts along with seasonal veg and organic brown rice, plus minerals and vitamins. Very palatable; elderly dogs love it.
Vitalin Dry Senior Lite Dog Food
Stage: Senior/Lite | Flavour: Salmon & Potato | RRP: £54.99 for 12kg |
Contains 20% British salmon, a high-quality protein to aid the growth, development and maintenance of body tissues, which gives off a palatable aroma dogs adore.
Potato offers a gluten-free carbohydrate source, while the natural botanicals provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Popular with dogs and helps them to lose necessary weight.
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