Many veterinarians (and dog lovers) recommend soft dog food for senior dogs since their teeth can become less sturdy as they age. In some cases, senior dogs may experience tenderness in their teeth and gums or have dental problems that make it painful for them to chew. Whether your senior dog needs soft dog food for their comfort, or just because they prefer it, we’ve found six options that range from high-end to affordable.
Why Do Senior Dogs Need Special Food?
As dogs age, their dietary needs change a little bit. Older dogs have a more difficult time processing complex carbohydrates, and their caloric needs go down since they naturally become less active. Older dogs can also experience muscle loss and joint weakness, so it’s important that their diets include plenty of lean protein and fat to retain strength and flexibility.
Senior dog foods are specifically formulated to be easily digestible, high in protein, and lower in calories to keep your pooch healthy and well-fed as they age.
1. Best Fresh-Frozen Dog Food for Senior Dogs
Fresh-frozen dog food is basically the closest you can get to cooking for your senior pup at home without actually cooking for your dog at home! Pre-made and ready to feed after thawing, fresh-frozen food is especially good for senior dogs with dental issues, digestive difficulties, or poor appetites since it tastes almost like human food.
Fresh-frozen food also has a high moisture content, which is good for seniors who may be drinking less water in their golden years.
High-End: Spot & Tango Turkey & Red Quinoa Fresh-Frozen Dog Food
Spot & Tango is made fresh and then frozen into convenient, easy-to-store packaging, Spot & Tango dog food contains whole ingredients like turkey, quinoa, and spinach. Choose from three delicious recipes, all of which are high in protein and include lots of healthy veg for dietary fiber. With the added carrots, this formula is particularly good for seniors who may have declining vision.
For senior dogs, we like the Turkey & Red Quinoa recipe, since turkey is a delicious but lean protein, and the added quinoa adds an extra dose of protein in addition to healthy fiber, easy-to-digest carbohydrates, and essential nutrients.
|First 5 Ingredients||Turkey, Red Quinoa, Spinach, Carrots, Peas|
|Guaranteed Analysis||13.69% Protein – 5.86% Fat – 1.44% Fiber – 68.5% Moisture|
|Food Type||Fresh-frozen, grain-inclusive without wheat|
|Starting Cost Per Meal||$2 per day; custom plans created based on your dog’s info|
Affordable Option: Hill’s Adult 7+ Roasted Chicken, Carrots, & Spinach Stew
There are some fresh-frozen foods sold at chain pet stores and major grocery stores, but if cost, storage, or other factors are a concern, we recommend an alternative with similar ingredients like this canned formula from Hill’s. Made with lean protein from chicken, easy-to-digest rice, and carrots to protect your senior dog’s vision health, this canned stew is also super delicious and feels a lot like a canned soup you might buy for yourself.
This formula is specifically designed for seniors and adult dogs 7+, and Hill’s brand is available in most major pet stores and online retailers like Amazon.
|First 5 Ingredients||Chicken Broth, Chicken, Carrots, Pork Liver, Rice|
|Guaranteed Analysis||3% Protein – 2% Fat – 2% Fiber – 85% Moisture|
|Food Type||Wet, grain-inclusive without wheat|
|Starting Cost Per Meal||$3.49 per 12.5 oz. can – $41.88 for 12 x 12.5 oz. cans at PetCo|
2. Best Raw Dog Food for Senior Dogs
Raw food is easier to digest than processed and cooked foods, making it a great option for senior dogs who need a diet that will be gentle on their tummies. Naturally high in protein and typically blended with finely ground fat and bone, raw diets are one of the most “natural” ways to feed your pooch.
Like fresh-frozen food, raw food is also high in moisture and a good option for seniors who need a big of extra hydration.
High-End: We Feed Raw Turkey Patty Recipe
Some raw foods are formulated with vegetable fiber and other added ingredients, but We Feed Raw uses pure animal protein for their recipes. We’ve chosen the Turkey Patty recipe as our recommendation for seniors since it’s a leaner protein and contains a lower ratio of protein to fat than their other recipes. To ensure your pooch is getting a complete nutritional diet, We Feed Raw also includes a carefully formulated vitamin blend in their recipes.
For senior dogs with loose, painful, or missing teeth, raw food is a fantastic option since it takes little to no chewing, and doesn’t include sugary carbohydrates that can contribute to dental decay.
|First 5 Ingredients||Turkey Gizzards, Turkey Tails, Turkey Wings, Turkey Liver, Vitamin Mix|
|Guaranteed Analysis||12.8% Protein – 6.6% Fat – 1% Fiber – 73.7% Moisture|
|Food Type||Raw, grain-free|
|Starting Cost Per Meal||Cost varies enormously based on dog size. Cost to feed a 10 lb dog starts at around $4.88 per day.|
Affordable Option: Blue Buffalo Blue Wilderness Senior Turkey & Chicken Grill
While it’s very difficult to find a canned food that is free from non-animal protein ingredients, options like this pick from Blue Buffalo Blue Wilderness are about as close as you can get! Formulated specifically for seniors and made to be high protein, Blue Buffalo products are widely available at grocery stores, pet stores, and online.
If you’ve got a dog who gets constipated, this option may be even better than the raw option, since the addition of fibrous potatoes can help to aid digestion.
|First 5 Ingredients||Turkey, Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Potatoes|
|Guaranteed Analysis||8% Protein – 6% Fat – 1.5% Fiber – 78% Moisture|
|Food Type||Wet, grain-free|
|Starting Cost Per Meal||$3.89 per 12.5 oz. can – $46.68 for 12 x 12.5 oz. cans from Amazon|
3. Best Air-Dried Dog Food for Senior Dogs
Air-dried dog food is a great alternative to raw or fresh-frozen if you prefer to store your dog food at room temperature. High-protein like the other categories, air-dried food is a more versatile option since it can be fed dry or rehydrated. To hydrate air-dried food, just add some warm water or chicken broth to the dish 15-30 minutes before feeding to soften the pieces and give your senior pup some extra hydration.
High-End: Sundays Food For Dogs Chicken Recipe
Sundays Food For Dogs is an air-dried formula with most of its moisture removed. Because of this, it can be a little tough for older dogs with fewer teeth to eat and is slower to digest. However, this high-protein formula is well worthwhile to feed your senior dog, even if adding moisture requires a little extra work. To make air-dried food easy for your senior pup to eat, add warm water or broth to their dish and allow the pieces to plump up and soften.
One of the things we love most about Sundays is the addition of turmeric to their air-dried formula. Naturally anti-inflammatory, turmeric is a fantastic ingredient for protecting your senior pup’s joints.
|First 5 Ingredients||Chicken, Chicken Liver, Egg, Millet, Oat|
|Guaranteed Analysis||38% Protein – 15% Fat – 2% Fiber – 15% Moisture|
|Food Type||Air-dried, grain-inclusive without wheat|
|Starting Cost Per Meal||Cost varies enormously based on dog size. Cost to feed a 10 lb dog starts at around $1.20 per day.|
Affordable Option: IAMS Healthy Aging Slow Cooked Chicken & Rice in Sauce
If you’re looking for canned dog food with a texture similar to what you get when you soak air-dried dog food in water, check out IAMS! This formula, made for seniors, is slightly granular and moist, and super easy for dogs with sensitive teeth and gums to eat. Skip the mixing and grab the can opener, this food is ready to go right out of the cupboard!
IAMS is a widely available affordable dog food brand, and a fantastic option for dog owners on a budget.
|First 5 Ingredients||Water, Meat By-Products, Chicken, Chicken By-Products, Brown Rice|
|Guaranteed Analysis||7% Protein – 3% Fat – 1% Fiber – 84% Moisture|
|Food Type||Wet, grain-inclusive|
|Starting Cost Per Meal||$1.79 per 13.2 oz. can from Amazon|
Does your senior pooch have diabetes? Check out these low-calorie diabetic dog treats you can make at home!