The dog food industry has been growing tremendously fast recently. Dog owners have been a lot more willing to spend large amounts of money to get the best quality food for their dogs. While they are more meticulous when it comes to food for puppies and young dogs, senior dogs are given much love as well.
You may want to give your aging dogs the best senior dog food that there is. It helps them live their lives as peaceful as possible. With proper nutrition, their bones will continue to be strong and they will remain healthy for a long time.
If you want to know more about the best senior dog foods, you can continue reading the article as we further discuss everything that you need to know about them.
The dog foods – Puppies vs adults vs senior dogs
People who are new to taking care of dogs may be confused as to why dog foods are segregated into foods for adult dogs, senior dogs, and puppies. Naturally, this has something to do with their bodies. Different bodies mean that they require different nutrients to be healthy.
1. Nutritional requirements
One fact to remember about puppies is that they are still growing. Due to this, more nutrients are necessary to sustain this growth. For example, they need more protein so that their muscles and bones can grow properly.
They also need more calories in their diet. Puppies are generally rowdier and more playful than their adult counterparts. Because of this, they have more energy consumption. Having more calories in their diet ensures that the energy spent is all replenished.
Meanwhile, even though adult dogs are larger than puppies, they actually require less in their diet. This is simply because they do not have to grow any larger, and they tend to have less activity as well. Hence, the nutritional value of their food is somewhat lessened.
Lastly, senior dogs are largely different because they will have more potential health problems. Their diets will need to contain more fiber and less protein and fats.
2. When to switch between them
There is no correct answer to the question of when to switch between different dog foods. The best action is to simply consult a veterinarian.
However, if you cannot afford to go to a vet, there are also some general guidelines. Small breeds like chihuahuas and terriers are considered seniors when they reach 10 years old or more. Particularly large breeds, on the other hand, can be considered seniors as early as 5 years.
When in doubt, the best thing to do is to watch the condition of your dog. If their condition is not deteriorating in any way, there is no problem in continuing to feed them adult food.
Protein in dog food – What is it for?
Even though the amount that senior dogs require is less, the kinds of nutrients they need are roughly the same. Each of these vitamins and minerals serves their own purpose for the betterment of the dogs. Protein, in particular, is a staple nutrient that should be found in any dog food.
1. The role of protein
Protein is the primary nutrient necessary for a dog’s health. This goes not only for senior dogs but also for all dogs of any age.
According to Wikipedia, proteins are long chains that are made up of various amino acids. Dogs need more than twenty amino acids to stay healthy, but only half of them can be produced on their own. Hence, the remaining necessary amino acids should come from the protein in dog food.
In particular, protein is mainly for tissue and muscle repair. It is inevitable that due to a dog’s daily activities, some muscles will tear, and protein is necessary to compensate for it. Aside from this, protein also helps in fur growth, skin cell replacements, immune system boosts, and more.
Sadly, for senior dogs, protein is also somewhat hard to digest. Furthermore, a high amount of protein is bad for a senior dog’s liver. Hence, it is recommended to have a little bit less protein in their diet so they can handle it easier.
2. Other nutrients found in dog food
Naturally, dog food should not only contain protein but also other nutrients as well. Fiber, phosphorus, calcium, and fat are the more notable ones among these.
Phosphorus and calcium are mainly responsible for bone growth. Senior dogs do not need much of these, but their diet should still contain some of them. An adequate amount of phosphorus and calcium will ensure that your dog will not suffer from bone problems.
Fat is also a necessary component in a dog’s diet. It is their main source of energy, outcompeting carbs. Additionally, it also helps in various aspects of body development
Dog owners may think that fat is bad for dogs because of the negative stigma that it has among humans, but this is actually not true. It only becomes unhealthy when you give your dogs too much of it.
Unfortunately, like protein, fat and calories are also considered bad for the liver. Since senior dogs are more prone to liver problems, their diet should contain less fat.
Fiber is actually important in a senior dog’s diet. Fiber will help them ease their digestive system and go against constipation. Hence, senior dog foods typically contain more fiber compared to others.
What to be careful of – Dangers of improper feeding
As mentioned before, people are getting pickier when it comes to dog food as time goes by, and rightfully so. This is because inappropriate or improper feeding of dogs can lead to some issues.
If your dogs have less appetite compared to when they were younger, that is okay. It is only to be expected since they require fewer nutrients anyway. However, you need to compensate for this with a senior dog food brand with excellent nutrient contents.
Furthermore, malnutrition does not only come from eating less food, but also from an imbalanced or inappropriate diet. Some kinds of dog food, especially the ones meant to be dog treats, do not actually nourish the dogs much. If you give your dogs too much of these low-nutrient foods, they may accumulate bad fats but not anything else.
In conclusion, to deal with malnutrition, the first thing to do would be to give your dogs less treats. Instead, give them high-quality dog food with sufficient and appropriate nutrients.
2. Too much fat
If malnutrition is a problem, the opposite side of the spectrum also is. If your dogs accumulate too much fat, their bodily functions will not work as great as before. Your dogs need a balanced diet of fat, protein, calcium, fiber, and more.
Thankfully, obesity is less of a problem in senior dogs since they generally have less appetite. Regardless, you should consult a vet if possible.
Best senior dog food in 2020 reviews
In this section, we recommend the best senior dog food that you can find in the market. All of these have complete nutrients for the betterment of your senior dogs.
1. PEDIGREE Active Senior Roasted Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Flavor Dry Dog Food
The first product in our list comes from a very familiar brand name. Pedigree has been around for the longest time, and their products are as high-quality as expected. This senior dog food from them is no exception.
The main ingredient for this dog food is chicken. Chicken is popular among dog owners because poultry is easier for dogs to digest, and they are also deemed to be more delicious. It is also very reliable as a protein source, ensuring that your dogs get an adequate amount.
Other ingredients of this dog food include rice and corn. These are great sources for fiber for senior dogs. The PEDIGREE Active Senior Dog Food contains 4% fiber because of these ingredients.
2. Taste of The Wild Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
The Taste of The Wild Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is an excellent-quality dog food that is great for adults and seniors alike. It is one of the popular and highest-rated products among its competition.
This dog food has roasted bison and venison as its main source of protein. Furthermore, the animals themselves all come from reliable sources. The company itself is USA-based, and all animals are grown from there.
Aside from the protein source, it naturally contains adequate amounts of fiber. The fiber source, in this case, comes from potatoes, peas, and more. Furthermore, potatoes and peas are also protein sources, so they serve two purposes.
The unique part of this dog food is that it does not have grains. If you want a product with grain-free fiber sources, this dog food from Taste of The Wild is an excellent choice.
3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Dry Dog Food
This dog food product from Blue Buffalo is another popular one that is excellent for both adult and senior dogs. It has concentrated protein sources from all sorts of animals, while still having enough dietary fiber for dogs that have trouble in their digestive system.
The Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Dry Dog Food has animal proteins from beef and chicken. The beef is deboned, and its red meat is concentrated in its current form. The chicken is also concentrated into a meal, which is highly efficient for senior dogs.
The product contains at least 6% fiber in its formula. This helps senior dogs tremendously. Naturally, it also contains other nutrients necessary for dogs. Some other notable ingredients include peas, fish meal, potatoes, deboned venison, deboned lamb, and more.
4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Dry Dog Food
The last featured product in this list is another one from Blue Buffalo. This is unique from its counterpart due to its protein source.
The main protein source of the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Dry Dog Food is chicken. The product contains deboned chicken, chicken meal, chicken fat, and other chicken parts in its formula.
Another unique part of this product is the brown rice ingredient. As long as you are not afraid of any carbs in your dog’s diet, brown rice is a legitimate source of protein and fiber for senior dogs.
Other notable ingredients of this product include peas, flaxseed, potatoes, alfalfa meal, pea starch, oatmeal, and a lot more.
Blue Buffalo is a reputable brand and there should be no problems in the quality of the dog food.
Best dog food buying guide – Things to consider
If you are new to buying senior dog food, you may find it hard to pick out the best dog food among so many choices. But that is okay! This section is here to help you find the most appropriate food for your dog.
1. Nutrient content
The first thing to look for in dog food is naturally the nutrients that it has. You should remember that the best diet for senior dogs includes an adequate amount of fat and protein (but not too much), sufficient fiber, some calcium and phosphorus, and more. Naturally, your dog food should contain a balanced amount of all these.
Priority-wise, protein should still be the first. In all stages of a dog’s life, it simply is just too important. Only, the amount will vary depending on whether your dog has liver problems or not.
The next priority should depend on the condition of your dog. If your dog has no liver problems, more fat and calories are naturally beneficial to make them more active. If your dog has some trouble in pooping, then you may want to prioritize having more fiber in their diet.
Lastly, you should remember that going to the vet is always an option. Then, you can reliably find a brand that follows the suggestion of the vet.
2. Protein source
When we say ‘protein source’, we generally refer to the ingredients of the dog food brand. Due to the importance of protein, it is also necessary to scrutinize where it comes from. Some protein sources are much better than others in nourishing the dogs.
- Animal Protein – This is the most common protein source found in dog food. This refers to the protein found in the animals’ meat from the different parts of their body. This may even include their organs such as liver, heart, and kidneys. Sometimes, the proteins are made into meals, which are more concentrated.
The next question now is as to what animal the protein comes from exactly. They are commonly from chicken, lamb, pig, cow, turkey, fish, and more. If you are switching from adult to senior dog food, it is generally recommended to simply find a brand with the same main ingredient as the adult dog food that your pet was previously having.
- Grains – Some brands have protein-giving grains in them. Soy and brown rice are the more common ones. This is important to note since they also give carbs. If you want to avoid carbs and gluten, you may want to avoid these.
3. Dog food type
There are actually a few dog food types. Each of them naturally has its own pros and cons.
- Dry Dog Food – This is the best senior dog food type. Not only is it cheap, but the nutrients are also more concentrated. Considering that senior dogs have less appetite in general, dry food will help them gain sufficient nutrients even when eating less food.
- Wet/Canned Dog Food – Wet dog food is not recommended for senior dogs. They are less concentrated, so the dog would need to eat more to get the required nutrition. Additionally, wet food can cause tartar and gum problems for older dogs.
However, even though it is not recommended for senior dogs, canned dog food is actually excellent for puppies and adult dogs. It satisfies their appetite while not giving them too much fat.
Read more: Best Canned Dog Food
- Semi-Moist Dog Food – These are dog foods that contain very few nutrients, if any at all. They are shaped like regular meat and are only mostly used as treats. This type of dog food can be given to younger dogs, but giving it to older dogs is highly discouraged.
Should you buy expensive dog food?
Dog food prices nowadays are absolutely crazy. What’s even crazier is that people dog owners are actually willing to buy these ridiculously expensive brands. However, this begs the question – “Is expensive dog food really worth it?”
Vets and animal experts agree that there is no clear answer to this question. However, like most other problems, there is a general guideline for it. Basically, if you can afford it, and you are willing to pay for it, it is worth it.
This may seem like crude advice, but sometimes, the simplest answers are the best. The fact of the matter is that more expensive brands tend to have higher quality foods. Hence, buying them definitely benefits your dog. However, it is also stupid to compromise your life for it.
In conclusion, you should try to buy the best senior dog food that you can afford, but without impacting your life negatively.
Senior dogs deserve as much love as the cute young ones. They may be old, but their heart remains strong and loving. Hence, it is only appropriate that you buy them the best senior dog food that you can find. After all, they are our family, and we hope that they live their lives in the best way possible.