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The 9 Best Dog Foods For Small Senior Dogs In 2024

As our furry friends enter their golden years, it's important to address their changing needs, such as arthritis and weight management. Discover specialized dog foods for small senior dogs that cater to their unique health concerns, allowing them to age gracefully and comfortably.

Even though not all the changes that come with getting older can be seen, there is evidence that a balanced diet for older dogs can help stop these changes from happening.

Senior dogs can't digest food as effectively as they previously could, so it's crucial to pick food with easily absorbable, high-quality nutrients.

Most small breeds don't need as many calories to stay the same weight, but some dogs have trouble keeping their weight steady.

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) provides an assessment of the best dog foods for small senior dogs. These nutritious diets will maintain your dog in peak condition well into old age.

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icon Reviewed & Fact - Checked by

Deborah R. Fletcher (DVM)

Veterinarian

The information provided is current and up-to-date, in line with the latest research conducted in the field of veterinary medicine.

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Image Product View on Amazon
1 Iams Healthy Aging Dog Food Iams Healthy Aging Dog Food View on Amazon
2 Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Small Breed Adult 7+ Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Small Breed Adult 7+ View on Amazon
3 Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites View on Amazon
4 Blue Buffalo Lifeguard Formulation Small-breed Elderly Blue Buffalo Lifeguard Formulation Small-breed Elderly View on Amazon
5 ORIJEN Grain-Free Dry Dog Food for Seniors ORIJEN Grain-Free Dry Dog Food for Seniors View on Amazon
6 Wellness Small Breed Senior Complete Health Food Wellness Small Breed Senior Complete Health Food View on Amazon
7 Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Adult Dry Food for Small Dogs Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Adult Dry Food for Small Dogs View on Amazon
8 Nutro Natural Choice Dry Dog Food for Seniors Nutro Natural Choice Dry Dog Food for Seniors View on Amazon
9 Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Food for Small Dogs Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Food for Small Dogs View on Amazon

Reviews

Iams Healthy Aging Dog Food – Lowest Price

IAMS Healthy Aging Adult Dry Dog Food

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Iams Healthy Aging Dog Food is a nutritious and cost-effective option for senior dogs, although it may not be specifically formulated for small breeds.

This dry dog food contains an optimal balance of essential nutrients, such as antioxidants, fiber, prebiotics, glucosamine, and chondroitin, which are crucial for supporting the immune system, digestive system, and joints of senior dogs.

Moreover, this food includes vitamins that help with fat burning and support a healthy metabolism. The real, farm-raised chicken used as the main ingredient in this recipe provides high-quality animal protein, ensuring your senior dog receives a complete and balanced diet.

Veterinarians recommend IAMS because of its wholesome blend of fiber, prebiotics, and antioxidants, which promote healthy digestion and a strong immune system.

This premium dog food contains no artificial preservatives, flavors, or fillers and is tailored to your dog’s unique needs, from infancy to maturity and from small to large breeds.

However, it is important to note that this formula is only available in chicken flavor and may not be suitable for dogs with poultry allergies or preferences.

Iams Healthy Aging Dog Food is an excellent option for senior dogs that require specific nutrients to maintain their health and well-being.

Pros

Poultry is the primary ingredient

Excellent value for the money

Contains glucosamine as well as antioxidants

Cons

Just one taste is available

No breed-specific small-scale formula


Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Small Breed Adult 7+

Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Senior Dog Food

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Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Small Breed is a popular choice among veterinarians due to its extensive selection of recipes and ability to meet the dietary requirements of various dog breeds.

Designed for senior dogs of small breeds, this formula is rich in essential nutrients that promote senior health. It features ingredients specifically formulated to support your dog’s cognitive health and mental acuity, as well as their physical well-being.

One key feature of this formula is the inclusion of botanical oils that promote alertness and mental sharpness in dogs aged 7 and above. Additionally, the primary ingredient is chicken, a high-quality source of animal protein for your senior dog.

The bite-sized kibble is designed to facilitate chewing for small breed dogs, ensuring that they can enjoy their food comfortably.

One notable disadvantage of Purina Pro Plan foods is their cost, as they tend to be more expensive than competing brands. However, the added health and well-being benefits for your senior dog may justify the extra expense.

Scientifically formulated, Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Small Breed is an excellent choice for senior dogs of small breeds, as it promotes cognitive health, physical wellness, and mental sharpness.

This product was formerly known as BRIGHT MIND Small Breed Formula and is available in various flavors to suit your pet’s preferences.

Pros

Cognitive, musculoskeletal, and digestive health supplements

Poultry is the primary ingredient

Small breed cooking

Cons

Limited flavor availability

Expensive


Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites — Vet’s Selection

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food

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Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites is specially formulated to meet the unique nutritional requirements of small breed dogs, which differ from those of larger breeds.

Designed for dogs aged seven years and older, this formulation features kibble that is smaller and easier to manage for tiny mouths. It is also available in the form of wet food, which can be added for improved flavor or digestive comfort.

The formula is rich in easily digestible ingredients that support energy levels and a healthy immune system.

It includes balanced minerals to promote heart and kidney health, while the high-quality protein in the small kibble helps to maintain lean muscle, which is essential for small breed dogs.

It is important to note that Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites is only available in chicken flavor, which may not be suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

This dry food is made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients that pet owners can trust. It comes as no surprise that Hill’s Science Diet is the most recommended brand by veterinarians.

Overall, Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites is an excellent option for small breed dogs aged seven years and older. Its scientifically formulated composition supports their unique nutritional needs and promotes optimal health and well-being.

Pros

Made for tiny breed dogs

Consists of glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-6 fatty acids

No artificial additives

Cons

Exclusivity to chicken flavor


Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Senior Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Senior Small Breed Dry Dog Food

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Blue Buffalo Lifeguard Recipe Small Breed Senior's diet is an all-inclusive source of nutrition for older canines.

This recipe contains no artificial additives, preservatives, or by-products, making it a safe and nutritious option for your furry companion.

The formula is intended to promote the overall health of your companion. It comes in both dry and wet varieties, allowing you to combine them for picky eaters or canines with dental issues.

LifeSource Bits are kibble bits containing a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals chosen by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support immune system health, life stage requirements, and a healthy oxidative balance.

While most dogs appreciate these additions, some may pick them out of their kibble, which can reduce the nutritional value of the meal.

The first ingredient in Blue Buffalo Lifeguard Recipe Small Breed Senior’s diet is real meat, providing high-quality protein from chicken to help your dog build and maintain healthy muscles. Additionally, it contains nutritious whole grains, garden vegetables, and fruits.

These dog foods for small senior dogs contain glucosamine and chondroitin to promote joint health and mobility. It also provides the necessary proteins and carbohydrates to meet the energy needs of a healthy lifestyle.

Enhanced with vitamins and minerals, Blue Buffalo dry dog food is made with the finest natural ingredients. It is free from chicken by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, and preservatives.

Overall, Blue Buffalo Lifeguard Recipe Small Breed Senior’s diet is an outstanding option. Its scientifically formulated composition supports the specific dietary requirements of small breed senior dogs and promotes optimal health and well-being.

Pros

Poultry is the primary ingredient

Added joint, immunological, and digestive health supplements

No synthetic substances or derivatives

Cons

Some canines select the LifeSource Bits


ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

ORIJEN Dog Senior Recipe

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Orijen Senior Dry Dog Food is an exceptional product in the dog food industry because of its remarkable ingredient list.

With 85% animal protein, this diet provides a complete source of essential vitamins and minerals through a combination of poultry and fish.

This product is distinguished by its use of organ meats, which are typically absent from senior dog food. As a freeze-dried raw meal, it is highly palatable, and even the pickiest eaters will enjoy it.

However, the strong fish odor may not be suitable for all owners, particularly those who allow their dogs to free-feed. Those who feed their pets at specific mealtimes may not find this factor significant.

Fresh, whole animal ingredients from free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs are abundant in ORIJEN Senior dog food.

It contains fresh and raw animal ingredients, including meat, organs, cartilage, and bone, to nourish dogs in accordance with their natural, biological requirements.

This grain-free, Biologically Appropriate diet is what dogs have evolved to eat. The Fresh Regional Ingredients are sourced from reputable suppliers and delivered to the kitchen fresh or raw, in their most natural and nourishing form.

Despite its higher price, Orijen Senior Dry Dog Food is a worthwhile investment for pet owners who want to provide their senior dogs with the best possible nutrition.

Pros

The first thirteen components are meat-based

Excellent protein content

Cons

Strong scent of fish

Expensive


Wellness Small Breed Senior Complete Health Food

Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Dry Dog Food with Grains

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Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior is a highly beneficial diet for arthritic or joint-challenged senior dogs, as it is rich in glucosamine and chondroitin.

These supplements safeguard the cartilage in your dog’s joints and can prevent further joint capsule degeneration as they age. The kibble in this formulation is smaller than many others, making it easier for small dogs to consume.

Although Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior is a natural diet developed by nutritionists, veterinarians, and animal lovers, it may not be suitable for all dogs and is often mixed with wet food.

This can reduce the cost-effectiveness of the diet, as wet foods are typically more expensive.

This high-protein diet contains turkey and peas, among other ingredients, to promote overall health. It is formulated with an optimal balance of nature’s finest ingredients, carefully selected to nourish and sustain your dog’s health.

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior is formulated to support a healthy body weight and strong joints, containing glucosamine to promote joint health, antioxidants to boost the immune system, probiotics for digestive health, taurine for a healthy heart, and omega fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat.

This diet is free from common allergens such as poultry by-products, wheat, wheat gluten, corn, soy, artificial colors, and preservatives. Each recipe is crafted with nutritious, non-GMO, and minimally processed ingredients.

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior is prepared in a state-of-the-art facility using the finest ingredients sourced from around the world. It is a high-quality diet that provides optimal nutrition for your senior small breed dog.

Pros

Comprises dietary supplements for joint health

Meat is the primary element in this dish

No preservatives or additions

Cons

Disfavorable to choosy eaters


Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Adult Dry Food for Small Dogs

Royal Canin Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

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Royal Canin Size Nutritional Health Small Adult Dry Dog Food provides breed- and size-specific formulations that are specially created for senior small breed dogs weighing between 9 and 22 pounds and over 8 years old.

This formula contains easily digestible proteins that won’t irritate your dog’s stomach and is designed to promote healthy aging.

The compact kibble design is ideal for dogs with small jaws or missing teeth, making it easy for them to consume. The formula contains a variety of nutrients that support healthy aging, including optimal levels of fatty acids like EPA and DHA to promote skin and coat health.

Additionally, L-carnitine helps maintain a healthy weight, meeting the high energy needs of small dog breeds.

However, it is important to note that meat is not the primary component of this dog food, and instead, it is made with chicken byproduct meal.

While the protein amount is acceptable, carbohydrates appear to be the primary element, potentially making it nutritionally inadequate for some dogs.

Royal Canin Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food is a great option for picky eaters, with enhanced palatability to satisfy the finicky appetites of small dogs.

The exclusive kibble design is adapted for miniature jaws, ensuring that your small breed dog can easily consume and digest the food.

In summary, Royal Canin Size Nutritional Health Small Adult Dry Dog Food is precisely formulated for small breeds, offering a variety of nutrients that promote healthy aging and weight maintenance, with a kibble size and formulation tailored to their specific needs.

While it may not be suitable for all dogs due to its chicken byproduct meal content, it is a great option for picky eaters and dogs with small jaws or missing teeth.

Pros

Small breed recipe

Encourages healthy aging

Easy to absorb

Small kibble size

Cons

Includes meat derivatives

The initial component is a carbohydrate-based filler


Nutro Natural Choice Dry Dog Food

NUTRO NATURAL CHOICE Senior Dry Dog Food

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Nutro Natural Selection Senior Lamb & Brown Rice is an excellent option for senior dogs of small breeds seeking a unique protein source.

Unlike most senior diets that use poultry, this formula is made with lamb, a less common protein source that is less likely to cause stomach irritation in sensitive senior dogs.

Additionally, this formula contains additional calcium to support bone health and is exclusively formulated for dogs over the age of seven.

While this kibble is nutritionally balanced and made with high-quality, non-GMO ingredients without chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy, dogs with missing teeth may find it difficult to chew.

This issue can be resolved by soaking the food before feeding, although it may require a bit more effort.

Nutro Natural Choice Senior Lamb & Brown Rice supports your senior dog’s immune system with antioxidants and promotes healthy digestion with natural fiber.

This dry dog food is made in Nutro’s U.S. facilities with the finest ingredients from around the world, providing a delicious and nutritious meal for your senior companion.

In conclusion, Nutro Natural Choice Senior Lamb & Brown Rice is an excellent option for senior dogs of small breeds seeking a unique protein source with additional calcium to support bone health.

While dogs with missing teeth may find it difficult to chew, this food is made with high-quality ingredients and provides antioxidants and natural fiber for healthy digestion.

Pros

Genuine meat is the primary component

Provides a unique protein

Less calories than several competing brands

Cons

Unchewable for certain dogs


Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Food for Small Dogs

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food Small Breed Recipe

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Merrick does not offer a specific senior dog food, but their Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Dry Food provides a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet that can support the health of senior dogs.

Glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega fatty acids are essential nutrients for maintaining joint health and promoting healthy aging in dogs.

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Dry Food is formulated with ancient grains and quinoa instead of conventional grains, which can improve digestion in some dogs.

However, dogs with sensitive digestive systems may struggle to digest this food, leading to a common complaint of excessive flatulence.

This dry dog food is made with real deboned chicken as the first ingredient, providing high-quality protein to support healthy muscle maintenance.

Additionally, this formula includes whole grains that support healthy digestion and provide essential nutrients for overall health.

In conclusion, Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Dry Food is an excellent option for senior dogs of small breeds, providing a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet that promotes healthy aging and joint health.

This food may be difficult for some dogs with sensitive digestive systems to digest, but it contains ancient grains and quinoa, which can improve digestion in some dogs.

Made with high-quality ingredients, this dry dog food is a great choice for pet owners who want to give their dogs a nutritious and delicious meal.

Pros

Small breed recipe

Easy to absorb

Excessive amounts of supplements

Cons

May induce flatulence

Not a senior dog recipe

How to Choose the Finest Dog Food for Senior Small Dogs

Adult dogs have different dietary requirements than senior dogs. While many dog foods are marketed as senior foods, it is important to choose the best food for your dog.

1. Here are some things to look for when selecting an older dog food:

  • AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement: Look for dog foods with an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Statement, which indicates that the food has undergone laboratory testing and feed trials to ensure it provides complete and balanced nutrition for the appropriate life stage.
  • Senior dog foods often have fewer calories than regular adult foods because senior dogs are typically less active and have a slower metabolism. However, some older dogs have difficulty maintaining their weight and require food with a higher calorie content.
  • Most senior dog diets are high in protein to help maintain muscle mass. If your dog has a medical condition that requires a low-protein diet, consult with your veterinarian to determine the optimal diet.
  • Nutrients: Most senior dog diets contain supplements that promote digestive and immune system health. They also include ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint mobility.

2. When should you start feeding your dog senior food?

Dogs are typically considered “senior” or “mature” at around 7 years old, and many senior dog diets are labeled “7+.” However, some older dogs remain active and may not need senior food.

Senior dog food is intended for dogs with reduced mobility and activity levels. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if it is time to switch your dog to a senior diet.

3. Consider senior dog food when:

  • Your dog has joint or mobility issues, as senior dog food often contains additional vitamins to promote joint health.
  • Your dog has skin problems and may benefit from omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.
  • Your dog has a lower activity level and may require a lower-calorie diet to prevent obesity.

4. Standard Ingredients

Many senior dog foods contain ingredients specifically added to meet the needs of senior dogs. Check the label and consult with your veterinarian to determine which ingredients may be beneficial.

  • Fiber – to promote easier digestion
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin – to support joint health
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – for skin and coat health

Unlock the essential knowledge about nutrition for senior dogs at BestForPets.org. Explore our guide for expert insights.

FAQs

1. When is a dog considered a senior?

Canine companions reach a stage of maturity at varying ages, contingent upon their breed and size. For small dogs, this milestone is often recognized around the age of seven, while larger breeds may be deemed mature around five to six years old. However, individual dogs may age differently depending on their health and the quality of care they receive.

2. Do older dogs need less protein in their diet?

No, older dogs require a higher protein diet to minimize muscle loss and preserve their health. A diet rich in meat-based protein does not strain the kidneys of healthy senior dogs.

3. Is it necessary for all older dogs to eat senior food?

No, it is not necessary for all older dogs to eat senior food, especially if they are healthy and have a well-balanced diet that provides sufficient amounts of meat-based protein and moderate calories.

4. What’s the #1 cause of food-related illness in senior dogs?

Obesity is the leading cause of chronic disease and premature mortality in senior dogs, especially if they already have arthritis, hip dysplasia, or a luxated knee cap, as it can contribute to joint problems.

5. How much food should I feed my senior dog?

Start with the feeding instructions on the package or use a dog food calculator to determine an appropriate portion size for your senior dog. Adjust the portion size up or down, as necessary, to achieve and maintain your dog’s ideal weight.

6. What can I do to satisfy my picky eater?

Adding tasty toppings, such as high-quality canned food or freshly prepared chicken or beef, can stimulate the appetite of a finicky dog. Eggs can also be used, but be sure to remove any salt, oil, or seasonings. Keep in mind that toppings should make up no more than 10-20% of your dog’s diet and monitor their calorie and nutrient intake.

Conclusion

We hope that these evaluations and buyer’s guides have provided you with a comprehensive overview of how to pick a dog food for young breeds.

IAMS Healthy Aging Dog Food offers the finest value. This high-quality food is much cheaper than most other brands, but it has all the nutrients your dog needs to grow up well.

The Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Small Breed Formula  is our third suggestion. In addition to meeting their physical requirements, this dog food promotes cognitive wellness.

The Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+ Tiny Bites Chicken Meal, Barley, and Rice Recipe is what your vet recommends for small dog breeds.

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) would like to thank our visitors for visiting our site to learn about and consult the best dog foods for small senior dogs.

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher

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