While we don’t like to think about it, our pets can face all sorts of health problems as they age, including arthritis and weight gain. While not all age-related changes are obvious, evidence suggests that maintaining a healthy diet for senior dogs can help delay the onset of these changes.
Senior dogs don’t digest food as well as they once did, so it’s important to choose food with high-quality nutrients that are easy to absorb. Small breeds often need fewer calories to avoid weight gain, but some dogs have difficulty maintaining weight.
Our reviews overview the best dog foods for small senior dogs. These quality foods will help keep your dog in tip-top shape well into their golden years.
A Quick Look at Our Favorites of 2023
|Best Overall||Ollie Beef Recipe (Fresh Dog Food Subscription)||
||Click Here to Save 50%|
|Best Value||Iams Healthy Aging Dog Food||
|Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Dry Food||
|Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Dog Food||
|Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Food||
The 9 Best Dog Foods for Small Senior Dogs
1. Ollie Beef Recipe (Fresh Dog Food Subscription) — Best Overall
|Main Ingredients:||Sweet potatoes, peas, blueberries, chia seeds, beef|
Ollie Fresh Beef With Sweet Potatoes Recipe is our choice of the overall best dog food for small senior dogs. This food is appropriate for all life stages and packed with vitamins and nutrients to maintain overall health. Ollie contains high-quality protein that is easy for your senior to digest. It promotes skin and coat health and prevents joint problems as dogs age.
Since this food is fresh, you will have to take extra care to prevent spoilage. It can be frozen and thawed in the refrigerator overnight before feeding. We’re confident that the quality of Ollie food far outweighs the small amount of extra work required to feed it to your dog and that you’ll be thrilled to see the extra energy that your dog has.
2. Iams Healthy Aging Dog Food — Best Value
|Main Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken by-product meal, barley, corn|
Iams Healthy Aging Dog Food is the best dog food for small senior for the money. While it isn’t specifically a small breed formula, it is made for aging dogs. This recipe contains all the ingredients that you want in senior dog food, including antioxidants, fiber, prebiotics, glucosamine, and chondroitin. These supplements support your dog’s immune system and digestive system and promote joint health. There are also supplements that aid in fat-burning and keep your dog’s metabolism functioning at its best.
Unfortunately, Iams Healthy Aging is only available in chicken flavor. If your dog has a sensitivity to chicken or simply doesn’t like it, this won’t be the food for you.
3. Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Small Breed
|Main Ingredients:||Chicken, rice, poultry byproduct meal (source of glucosamine), whole-grain corn|
Vets often recommend Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Small Breed due to its wide variety of recipes and tendency to cater to the unique needs of different dogs. Purina offers its Bright Mind Adult 7+ Small Breed Formula for small breed senior dogs, which is packed full of supplements for senior health. This recipe has ingredients designed to maintain your dog’s cognitive functioning and mental sharpness, along with their physical health.
The biggest downside to Purina Pro Plan foods is the cost. They are significantly more expensive than other brands. However, the added benefits for your dog will be well worth the cost.
4. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites
|Main Ingredients:||Chicken meal, pearled barley, brewers rice, whole-grain wheat|
Small dogs have different needs than large dogs, and Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites addresses this by providing different recipes for different sizes of dogs. This recipe is designed for dogs aged 7 years or older. It has smaller kibble to make it easier for tiny mouths to chew. It is also available in wet food, which can be mixed in for added flavor or ease of chewing.
Like many senior foods, Hill’s only offers this particular recipe in chicken, so it isn’t ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Senior
|Main Ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal|
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Senior offers complete nutrition in its senior food. This recipe contains all-natural ingredients with no artificial fillers, preservatives, or byproducts. It is well-supplemented to support your dog’s whole health. Small Breed Senior Recipe is available in both dry and wet food if you need to mix it for picky eaters or dogs with dental issues.
Most of Blue Buffalo’s supplements are included in kibble pieces called LifeSource Bits. While most dogs love these tasty additions, some dogs don’t and will pick them out of their kibble. If you have one of these dogs, they won’t get the full amount of nutrition out of this food.
6. ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
|Main Ingredients:||Chicken, turkey, flounder, whole mackerel, turkey giblets|
Orijen Senior Dry Dog Food stands out from other brands of dog food because of its ingredient profile. About 85% of this food comes from animal protein. It includes both poultry and fish for an exceptional offering of essential vitamins and minerals. It also contains nutrient-rich organ meats, which aren’t common in senior dog foods. As a freeze-dried raw food, it’s unlikely that even the pickiest dogs will turn their nose up at the flavor of this one.
This food smells strongly of fish, which can be a huge negative to some owners, especially if you free feed your dog. If your dog eats at specific meal times, though, this might not matter. It is also one of the more expensive senior foods available.
7. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Dry Food
|Main Ingredients:||Deboned turkey, chicken meal, ground brown rice, peas|
For dogs that have arthritis or joint issues, Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior has high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin. These supplements protect the cartilage in the joints and can prevent further deterioration of the joint capsule as your dog ages. This kibble is smaller than many other recipes to make for easy eating for small dogs.
The flavor of this food isn’t well-liked by picky dogs and often has to be mixed with wet food. This takes away the cost-effectiveness of the food because wet food is more expensive.
8. Nutro Natural Choice Senior Dry Dog Food
|Main Ingredients:||Deboned lamb, chicken meal (source of glucosamine and chondroitin), rice bran|
If you’re looking for a small breed senior food with a novel protein, Nutro Natural Choice Senior Lamb & Brown Rice may be just what you need. While most senior foods are made with chicken, this one has lamb as the first ingredient, which is less likely to upset sensitive tummies. The recipe has added calcium to support bone health and is specifically designed for dogs over 7 years of age.
For dogs with missing teeth, this kibble is hard to chew. This problem is usually fixed by wetting down the food before feeding, but this is extra work.
9. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Dry Food
|Main Ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley|
While Merrick doesn’t make senior dog food, its Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Dry Food contains more than enough nutrition to keep your dog healthy as they age. This food has high levels of glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega fatty acids. Instead of traditional grains, Merrick uses ancient grains and quinoa to promote healthy digestion.
Dogs with sensitive digestive systems seem to have trouble with Merrick food. The most common complaint is excessive gas.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick the Best Dog Food for Small Senior Dogs
What to Look For in Senior Dog Food
- AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement: Dog foods that contain an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Statement have been evaluated through laboratory testing and feed trials to ensure that they offer complete and balanced nutrition for the appropriate life stage.
- Calorie content: Senior foods often contain fewer calories than regular adult food. Senior dogs usually aren’t as active as younger dogs, and their metabolism slows down as they age, making it easier for them to gain weight. But some senior dogs have difficulty keeping weight on and need food with a higher caloric value.
- Protein: Most senior foods contain high amounts of protein to aid in maintaining muscle mass. If your dog has a medical condition that requires a low-protein diet, you should speak with your vet about what is best to feed your dog.
- Supplements: Most senior foods contain supplements to promote your dog’s digestive and immune health. They also contain glucosamine and chondroitin to maintain joint mobility.
At What Age Should a Dog Start Getting Senior Food?
Dogs are usually considered “senior” or “mature” dogs at the age of 7. That’s why many senior dog foods are labeled as “age 7+.” However, some dogs remain highly active into their senior years, and it’s not necessary to feed your dog a senior food if they don’t need it. Senior dog food is formulated for dogs with decreased activity levels and mobility limitations. It is always best to speak with your veterinarian about whether it is time to switch your dog to senior food.
We hope that these reviews and buyer’s guide have given you a good overview of what to choose for a small breed senior dog food. Our best overall small breed senior dog food recommendation is Ollie Fresh Beef Recipe. This fresh food is packed with nutrition for your aging dog, and since it’s fresh food, you can be certain that you are providing the highest quality of ingredients. The best value for the money is Iams Healthy Aging Dog Food. This senior food still contains all the nutrition that your dog needs to age gracefully, but it’s available at a lower price than many other brands. Our third recommendation is Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Small Breed Formula. This dog food targets your dog’s cognitive health, along with their physical needs.