As dogs get older, they often end up dealing with the aches and pains of aging, just like humans! Achy, painful joints caused by arthritis are often at the top of the list of physical conditions that make life difficult for senior canines. While it can be difficult to watch your canine companion slow down, achy joints don’t have to mean the end of your dog’s ability to move around since there are things you can do to improve your canine companion’s comfort.
While medication and surgery are always options, most veterinarians recommend taking the conservative approach first, which means providing your senior dog with high-quality food that helps keep joint conditions under control. Read on for our reviews of the best senior dog food for arthritis to help keep your buddy active and pain-free.
A Quick Look at Our Winners in 2023
|Best Overall||Nutro Natural Choice Senior Dry Dog Food||
|Best Value||Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Dry Dog Food||
|Premium Choice||Diamond Naturals Senior Formula||
|Hill's Science Diet Adult 11+ Dry Dog Food||
|Merrick Healthy Grains Senior Recipe||
The 10 Best Senior Dog Foods for Arthritis
1. Nutro Natural Choice Senior Dry Dog Food — Best Overall
|Main ingredients:||Deboned lamb, chicken meal, rice bran, split peas|
|Crude fiber:||4 %|
Nutro Natural Choice Senior Lamb & Brown rice Recipe is one of the best overall senior dog foods for arthritis. It hits all the high nutritional high notes, providing 24% protein to support strong muscles and 12% fat for optimal energy production. It’s fantastic for aging dogs since it has a moderate 307 calories per cup to help keep your dog’s weight down. It contains calcium to help your older dog maintain strong bones and teeth. The formulation also has vitamins A for vision and immune system support and E to fight free-radical cellular damage.
The kibble features chondroitin and glucosamine, nutrients many veterinarians suggest can improve your dog’s overall joint health and reduce painful inflammation. It has a nice amount of selenium, which is a vital microelement essential for proper DNA synthesis and thyroid function. Unfortunately, the product contains split peas, and recent research suggests that legumes may contribute to heart disease1 in some dogs.
2. Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Shredded Blend — Best Value
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, rice, poultry by-product meal, soybean meal|
Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food is our pick for the best senior dog food for arthritis for the money. It has a ton of healthy protein, with whole chicken listed as the product’s primary ingredient. With a fat content of 14%, the formulation provides more than enough of the essential nutrient to maintain your aging dog’s energy needs and keep their muscles nice and healthy. It contains probiotics to keep your pup’s digestive tract and immune system running smoothly. The formula’s mixture of crunchy kibble and tasty shredded bits creates a canine-friendly texture that encourages finicky dogs to eat.
It provides a nice amount of glucosamine, which some studies suggest can encourage cartilage regrowth. Veterinarians commonly recommend it to help relieve arthritis-associated inflammation and pain. Purina Pro Plan has a legume in the first four ingredients, which some studies suggest can contribute to canine heart disease.
3. Diamond Naturals Senior Formula Dry Food — Premium Choice
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley|
Diamond Naturals Senior Formula Dry Dog Food is a high-quality choice that won’t break the bank but will provide your aging dog with protein, fat, and fiber. The kibble consists of 25% protein, which is well over the recommended minimum of 18%. It’s also a great choice if you’re concerned about legume content since it doesn’t have substantial amounts of peas, soybeans, or lentils. While not a grain-free food, it doesn’t contain corn or wheat. It’s also free of artificial colorants.
The formulation is appropriate for dogs of all sizes, making a great choice if you have a few senior pets at home. It features glucosamine and chondroitin to reduce joint pain, support cartilage regeneration, lower inflammation, and improve mobility. Phosphorus, vitamin D, and calcium are included to help strengthen your aging dog’s teeth and bones. It even features blueberries, kale, and coconut to provide fiber and vital nutrients, including vitamins C and K.
4. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ Small Paws Dry Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken meal, cracked pearled barley, brewers rice, whole grain wheat|
Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ Small Paws Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is the best option for small dogs with arthritis. It’s specifically formulated for dogs older than 11, making this a wonderful product for elderly but active dogs. It has 18% protein, which is precisely in line with Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. The protein is formulated to be easily digestible, making it easy on your older dog’s tummy and increasing the amount of protein your dog is able to use for energy.
The kibble contains sufficient fat to ensure your companion gets everything they need for healthy muscles and optimal energy production, and the fiber content is in the correct range to support canine digestive health. It includes a selection of healthful nutrients to support your dog’s overall health, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to boost skin health and immune system function. It features cranberries, apples, broccoli, and carrots, which are incredibly healthy sources of fiber and micronutrients not available in meat or complex carbohydrates like rice and barley. It also contains antioxidants such as vitamin E to support cellular function.
5. Merrick Healthy Grains Senior Recipe Dry Food
|Main ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, oatmeal|
Merrick Health Grains Senior Recipe Dry Dog Food is an outstanding choice that’s appropriate for most senior dogs. It features tons of healthy crude protein, 27% to be exact, and loads of high-quality fat to help your four-footed companion convert food to energy. It’s formulated with ancient grains such as barley, providing a tasty source of essential and highly-digestible carbohydrates. It also features DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, to help support your dog’s brain health and cognitive function.
The healthy formulation also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to give your arthritic pup the nutritional support they need to stay active. It is corn, soy, and wheat-free, but it has grains. Keep in mind that most food allergies aren’t caused by grains but by sensitivities to specific animal proteins. Dogs, as omnivores, actually need the amino acids, minerals, and vitamins provided by grains to properly digest all of the healthy proteins.
6. Wellness Complete Health Senior Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, oatmeal, ground barley|
Wellness Complete Health Senior Deboned Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food provides a wonderfully balanced option for your aging dog. While it has chicken meal, the manufacturer explicitly states the formulation is made without animal by-products. It also provides a nice amount of fiber, 4.5% crude fiber by content, which will help keep your older companion from suffering from conditions such as constipation and anal sac issues.
The formulation is free of GMO grains and vegetables and doesn’t contain artificial preservatives. It provides glucosamine and chondroitin to reduce joint pain, fight inflammation, and support cartilage regeneration. Chondroitin and glucosamine are natural substances that stimulate cartilage regeneration and are safe for long-term use. The kibble contains essential antioxidants, including vitamins A and E, to help reduce the cell-destroying impact of free radicals. Wellness Complete Health Senior Deboned Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog also features probiotics to support your dog’s digestive health and immune function.
7. Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain sorghum, whole grain oats, whole grain brown rice|
Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food is another excellent choice that consistently delivers high-quality dog food featuring healthy ingredients such as whole-grain brown rice. This formulation is appropriate for dogs of all sizes and provides a whopping 26% crude protein with whole chicken as the product’s primary ingredient! It also includes tons of superfoods such as kale, coconut, blueberries, and chia seeds to provide the vitamins and antioxidants your dog needs to stay healthy as they age. The kibble doesn’t contain any artificial colors or preservatives.
You also don’t have to worry about corn, soy, or wheat, but it’s not a grain-free recipe. Remember, however, that healthy grains such as brewer’s rice and whole grain barley provide essential nutrients for your dog’s health, including fatty and amino acids required for optimal digestive function. The kibble also features natural sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, such as salmon, to ensure your buddy’s coat stays soft and shiny as they age.
8. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Large Breed
|Main ingredients:||Chicken meal, brewers rice, whole grain sorghum, brown rice|
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Large Breed is a fantastic option for large dogs as it features tons of healthy protein and fiber. While the kibble uses chicken meal, it doesn’t have protein from other animal sources, making this an ideal choice for dogs with allergies. Most canine allergies are not caused by grain but instead by animal proteins. Veterinarians often recommend single and novel protein source foods for dogs with food sensitivities.
The kibble has Vitamin D and calcium to support bone strength, which is vital to maintaining activity levels in older dogs. It contains omega 6-fatty acids to help optimal skin health and vitamin E to fight free radicals and encourage cellular health. Science Diet also has minerals such as copper sulfate to support healthy red blood cell production.
9. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Deboned chicken, brown rice, barley, oatmeal|
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food offers an outstanding option for those searching for a food that’s high in fat and designed for aging dogs. It features 18% protein, and its primary ingredient is whole, deboned chicken. It delivers 7% crude fiber, making it a fantastic choice for dogs with digestive issues. It’s appropriate for dogs of all sizes, which is ideal if you have more than one older dog at home.
Blue Buffalo includes calcium to help maintain bone strength and nutrients like l-carnitine to boost your four-footed companion’s ability to convert food into energy efficiently.
10. Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Large Aging 8+ Dry Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, wheat, corn gluten meal|
Royal Canin Size Healthy Nutrition Large Aging 8+ Dry Dog Food is an excellent choice for dogs that are getting older but who don’t quite qualify as elderly. The kibble features protein from easily digestible sources to promote muscle mass maintenance. It contains 15% fat to provide the nutrients your buddy needs to convert food into energy and stay active during those critical years between late adulthood and seniority. With 4.2% crude fiber, it provides the digestive support aging canines require.
Royal Canin includes vitamins A and E: critical antioxidants that can help your dog fight off several aging-related diseases. It also has vitamin D and calcium to strengthen your dog’s teeth and bones.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Senior Dog Food for Arthritis
While many dogs suffer from joint and mobility issues as they age, it’s not a problem that all companion animals experience. Nor do all pets arthritis suffer to the same degree. Remember that not all senior dog foods are explicitly geared towards dealing with joint problems.
What Should I Look for in a Senior Dog Food
Here are some of the most important things to consider when selecting a senior dog food.
Most senior dog foods provide a bit more protein than the required 18% minimum on a dry matter basis, as aging dogs frequently need more of the vital nutrient to feed aging muscles. Look for products featuring easy-to-digest proteins to make it easy for your dog to absorb all that healthy chicken, lamb, or salmon.
You may want to look for a formulation with fewer calories since older dogs tend to slow down and expend less energy running around and playing, predisposing them to weight gain, which can, in turn, exacerbate joint issues. Some senior dogs, struggle to maintain their weight due to metabolic problems, so it’s not always a given that senior pets benefit from reduced caloric intake. Pay attention to your pet’s weight and determine how much they need to consume based on their physical appearance, energy levels, and what your veterinarian recommends.
Just like older humans, senior pets sometimes have trouble with their digestive systems. Foods with high levels of fiber from healthy sources such as pumpkin can help keep your pet’s digestive system in working order.
Older dogs often benefit from a few additional antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which is important due to the detrimental effects the uncharged molecules have on your dog’s body. Studies show that free radicals contribute directly to cancer and heart disease and speed aging. Look for a brand that contains antioxidants such as vitamins E, A, and C as well as cell-protecting nutrients such as beta-carotene and selenium.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
These powerful chemicals are found in fish oil and do wonders for aging dogs regarding skin and coat health and immune function. They also help keep inflammation in check, support heart health, and boost nervous system functioning.
What about Joint Health?
When it comes to joint health, the stars of the show are glucosamine and chondroitin. Glucosamine is a chemical that’s naturally found in the cartilage of dogs, humans, and many other animals. Supplementation with the nutrient is thought to reduce arthritis-related pain, support cartilage regrowth, and reduce inflammation. Chondroitin stimulates cartilage production and increases the body’s ability to produce new joint fluid.
According to our reviews, Nutro Natural Choice Senior Lamb & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is the best overall option for senior dogs, featuring joint-protecting glucosamine and chondroitin. Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food is a great choice if you’re on a limited budget. Diamond Naturals Senior Formula Dry Dog Food is a premium option full of healthy free-range chicken. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ Small Paws Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is the best choice for small dogs, and Merrick Healthy Grains Senior Recipe Dry Dog Food is our vet’s choice selection.