Food for Older Dogs

Older dogs may need a different type of diet to maintain their health and have a better quality, longer life. The type of diet may vary according to each dog's health, size, activity level or breed. Dogs that are over 8 years old are considered senior dogs and their diet should be altered.

Diet for Older Dogs

An older dog needs a balanced diet, but the calorie intake should be lowered, as compared to his youth diet. Senior dogs are less active and spend more time sleeping; consequently they require less energy.

Older dogs need protein, which should be up to 20% of their diet, fat and fibers.

Healthy senior dogs may get the same dog food as before, but you need to cut down on the portions.

If the dog has a medical condition, you might need a prescription diet. You may purchase prescription dog food in pet stores or your vet may tell you to prepare the food yourself.

A dog with kidney disease should get wet food and a lower percentage of protein: up to 14%.

Increased Amounts of Fibers

Older dogs are more prone to constipation, so the fiber intake should be increased if the constipation is chronic. There are special dog foods with increased fiber content. Wheat bran is a great source of fibers.

Dry Food

Dry food is recommended for dogs, as it helps preventing plaque and tartar, so the dog is less exposed to gum disease. The problem with dry food is that older dogs may have a hard time chewing. Opt for smaller sized kibble. You may also moisten the food by adding some water, carrot juice or the sauce from a tuna can.

However, if the dog has kidney or digestive problems, wet food might be better. You can still feed a few dry treats that will help your dog's gums and teeth.


Senior dogs can get dietary supplements, especially if they suffer from an illness. A dog with arthritis will need supplements of vitamins and minerals.

Even if your dog is healthy, the vet may prescribe a few supplements to prevent diseases and add more quality to their life. Older dogs are more susceptible to diseases, having a weaker immune system, just like puppies.

Senior dogs may also have a decreased appetite, so some supplements may solve the problem.

How to Feed Older Dogs

Older dogs may have defective vision or smell, so you will need to help your dog find the food and eat it, otherwise he will lose weight and become ill. When feeding the dog, put a bit of food on your finger and bring it closer to the dog's mouth. Once he tastes the food, he should be motivated to eat more.

If your dog refuses to eat, visit the vet to see what causes this behavior.

Senior canine nutrition is essential to keep up the good health of your pet and to ensure a higher life expectancy.