Feeding a Senior Dog: Seven Functional Foods

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Like humans, as a dog ages, their body will be less able to fight off disease and recover from daily physical and mental stress.  As a result, it is crucial that a senior dog is fed a healthy and functional diet, so that they will live a long and high quality life.


From a macro perspective, most normal senior dogs should be fed less carbohydrates and more protein than the typical ‘senior diet’ food would provide.  For this reason, I don’t recommend commercially available senior food.  Rather, I recommend choosing dog foods that are full of whole animal and fish based proteins and that contain multiple ‘super’ food ingredients.
Maggie_feeding a senior dog

The senior dog will also be less active than their younger self, and protein can help minimize muscle loss associated with reduced activity.  Of course, as a dog’s activity declines, so too will their daily calorie needs.  Pay attention to portion sizes and treats so that your senior doesn’t become supersized.


From a micro perspective, there are a whole host of super foods that can provide a plethora of health benefits to a senior dog.  Below are seven of my favorite functional foods to include in a senior dog’s diet.



Seven Healthy and Functional Foods for Senior Dogs

  1. Apples– one of my favorites, apples can help with joint and heart function, and help keep the digestive system healthy.
  2. Berries– full of antioxidants, berries can help with brain health and protect against cancer.
  3. Coconut Oil– this somewhat controversial medium chain fat can help to keep a senior dog’s brain sharp.
  4. Cranberries– great for the elimination systems (overall bladder health) and full of antioxidants.
  5. Sweet Potatoes– helps support eye health and strong bones.
  6. Turmeric (Curcumin)– an antioxidant that might prevent cancer, helps reduce inflammation, and can help the digestive system.
  7. Wild Caught Fish– a source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and can help with arthritis, support the immune system, and protect the heart.  Wild Salmon, Halibut and smaller fish like sardines are the best choices.


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  1. I agree with you… we saw that at our huskies… and it happens faster than we can imagine that our best friends become supersized when their activity slows down…. I started to write down our activity and reduced the treats for lazy days. It wasn’t exact, but it was a good reminder for me to find a balance between activity&food.
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog SHOP TILL YOU DROPMy Profile

  2. Katie included a lot of these foods into her diet. I guess I’m a senior dog too, but I’m a picky eater and don’t like many of those foods. I know Mom does try to keep me on a good diet, but it’s hard when I refuse to eat many healthy things.
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  3. The boys eat all of these and love them. They are big fans of green beans too.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…How To Protect Your Dog’s Paws This SummerMy Profile

  4. As Sam ages, I’ve seen first hand how his recovery time is now just a tad slower. We monitor any changes to see if anything is a tell on overall health. 🙂

  5. Seven great foods, easy to get and use.
    Sand spring chesapeakes recently posted…Nothing But Norman #142My Profile

  6. OK.

    I was looknig for something else before coming here. I’ve been reading some kindle books about feeding a senior dog but these 7 tips knocks it all off for me.

    I’ll surely try it.

  7. I cannot get Harley to go anywhere near anything “fish” – not sure why. I’m currently giving him Ultra Oil (Omega 3,6&9 – Sardine, Anchovy and hempseed oil.) Everything else on your list is a hit here in Doodleville.

  8. Time to add apples! I am a huge believer about the coconut oil; it did wonders with my mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s.

  9. Thank you for the advice! I do have a question on this matter: is the Taste of the Wild brand a reliable source of protein for my dog? He is turning 9, is still active (we walk/run everyday Louisiana weather permitting), and his body weight is at a healthy level. I will most certainly give your recommendations a shot. Thank you!

    • TOW is fine. It really depends on your budget and inclination to feed wet or custom prepared foods. In a perfect world where there are no financial constraints, options like Just Food For Dogs can provide the best nutrition for a dog of any age.
      steve recently posted…Feeding a Senior Dog: Seven Functional FoodsMy Profile

      • Thank you! I’ll have to look into JFFD… is that what you feed Jack, among other means?

  10. YES, I love that you encourage fresh food as an optimal diet. It’s also important to consider the cognitive health of our senior pets. Coconut oil and Omega fats are amazing for this, I would also add the Milk Thistle plant. It has shown to help with memory and anxiety.

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