Benefits of Senior Dog Food

Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS
By Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS
Updated: 5/9/20242-4 minutes
Senior dogs eating purina healthy aging dog food

Dogs change as they age. Their muzzle may go gray, and they may become less active. Their nutritional needs may change as well.

A senior dog food can help you manage those changes. With proper nutrition, your dog can continue to live a happy and healthy life through his golden years.

Benefits of Feeding a Senior Dog Food Formula

A senior dog food may offer numerous benefits to aging dogs, including:

  • High-quality protein sources in greater amounts than adult maintenance formulas to support lean muscle mass
  • Appropriate caloric balance from fat and protein
  • Additional nutrients, like glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids to support joint health and mobility
  • Vitamin A and linoleic acid to support healthy skin and coat

Some senior dog food formulas may also include enhanced vegetable oils to promote alertness and mental sharpness in geriatric dogs.

Is Senior Dog Food Necessary?

Feeding a formula designed for adult maintenance is appropriate for your senior dog; however, your dog may benefit from a senior dog diet.

Additionally, it’s important to note the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) does not include a senior life stage. This means senior dog foods are adult maintenance formulas that meet AAFCO’s requirements, with adjustments made to accommodate aging dogs.

When to Switch to a Senior Dog Food

The general recommendation is that a dog is considered “senior” around the age of seven. The rate at which dogs age varies, though based on their breed, life expectancy, genetics and overall health.

For example, some small breeds may live up to 20 years, so they aren’t considered seniors until about age 10. Large breeds, on the other hand, may only live 12 to 15 years, so they’re considered seniors by age 6 or 7.

Your veterinarian can help you determine the right time to switch to a senior dog food based on your dog’s health, breed size and other factors.

How to Choose the Best Senior Dog Food for Your Dog

It’s always a good idea to see your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet. They can evaluate your dog’s health and diagnose any problems that may impact the type of food your dog needs.

They can then make a recommendation for a senior dog food formula to help address his specific needs, like weight management or joint health.

When comparing different senior dog foods, ensure they are complete and balanced and they meet AAFCO’s guidelines for adult maintenance formulas. You can compare calories, protein, and additional nutrients to decide which formula supports your dog’s needs.

If you need help choosing a Purina senior dog food, try our Pet Food Finder.

Visit our Pet Expertise page for more expert tips on senior dog nutrition, health and more.  

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