furry dog next to a bowl full of food

5 Best Senior Dog Food for Small Breeds (Updated for 2022)

• Updated on November 17, 2022

  • This review contains affiliate links. Read more here.
  • Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best senior dog food for small breeds is, then we recommend the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food as the best one.

Your dog loves you unconditionally, and you love them right back. They are your best friend, and you want what’s best for them. But while many people look to make their dog feel love by giving them attention or buying them toys, far too often, those same people buy cheap dog food packed with unhealthy fillers and additives.

The fact is, dogs have a wide array of health and nutritional needs that many typical dog food brands simply fail to meet. That is particularly true for older dogs. As your dog ages, what they need to remain healthy becomes more extensive and complex.

Thankfully, for just a few dollars more, there is a multitude of much healthier options that can help keep your best friend healthy and active. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy choice. There are countless options out there that market themselves as healthy dog food for senior small breeds. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, and some are certainly better than others.

Sorting through all these varieties can undoubtedly be a challenge. How do you know which is the best senior dog food for small breeds for you? No need to worry, we’ve done the work for you. Read on, and we’ve ranked the five best senior dog foods for small breeds.

Best Senior Dog Food for Small Breeds

Now that you know what to look for let’s take a look at our five favorite senior dog foods for small breeds.

Our pick

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula was created for the health and well-being of dogs. All formulas start with real meat, whole grains, garden veggies and fruit, plus added LifeSource Bits, a precise blend of nutrients that have been enhanced with a Super 7 package of antioxidant-rich ingredients. This Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe features delicious, protein-rich deboned chicken and features the ingredients to support the overall health and well-being of senior dogs.

An excellent recipe that emphasizes exclusively real ingredients, Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is healthy and appealing. The main ingredient is deboned chicken, and it also has high-protein chicken meal and chicken fat for sustainable energy. There are no meat by-products, wheat, corn, or soy.

The rest of the ingredients are all real ingredients as well. The carbohydrates are derived from brown rice, barley, and peas. The recipe also includes L-Carnitine to maintain muscle mass, glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support, and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids from a diverse array of sources.

On the downside, there is minimal fiber derived from natural fruits and veggies. But overall, this is a high-quality product with excellent reviews. The average rating on Chewy is 4.7 out of 5 stars, and 95% of users would recommend it to someone else.

  • Pros
  • Healthy whole ingredients
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Joint support and coat health
  • Cons
  • Minimal fruits and vegetables
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Joint support and coat health

Runner-up

As your small breed dog reaches his golden years, it’s important to feed him a dry dog food formulated to meet his particular senior needs. Eukanuba Senior Small Breed dry dog food is created specifically for older, smaller breed dogs.

Eukanuba Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food is an excellent all-around dog food designed specifically for senior small breed dogs. The first thing you should look for in any dog food is a whole protein as the first ingredient. Eukanuba certainly meets that standard, leading with whole chicken as a source of lean, muscle-building protein.

Carbohydrates are derived from wheat and whole-grain sorghum. Specifically designed for older small-breed dogs, Eukanuba Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food includes glucosamine and chondroitin for joint and cartilage support. The recipe also includes DHA and an antioxidant blend for optimum brain health.

The Eukanuba formula has a lower amount of calories, and a healthy fat ratio optimized to create sustainable energy for your senior small breed dog.

None of these options are perfect, however, and Eukanuba Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food is no exception. Chicken by-product meal is a major ingredient, and the only source of omega fatty acids is vegetable oil. But overall, this is a good, popular dog food. On Chewy, it has an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars, and 90% of users say they would recommend it to another.

  • Pros
  • Lower calorie diet
  • Lean protein for muscle mass
  • Immune support
  • Cons
  • Contains chicken by-products
  • Minimal omega fatty acids
  • Immune support

Also great

Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites Chicken Meal, Barley & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food provides your pup with precise nutrition for a healthy lifestyle. Made with wholesome ingredients such as savory chicken meal, rice and barley, this nourishing recipe is balanced to meet your pet’s needs, maintain an ideal weight, and promote healthy skin and coat.

Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites Chicken Meal, Barley, and Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is carefully designed to support the general health of senior small breed dogs. The primary ingredient is chicken meal, which is richer in protein than typical whole chicken. That’s perfect for senior dogs who need to maintain muscle health.

The complex carbohydrates are derived from whole grain sorghum, cracked-pearl barley, and brewer’s rice. An interesting aspect of Hill’s Science Diet 7+ Small Breed is that it comes in a very small kibble size, which is easier to chew and digest.

The recipe is designed to promote healthy weight and sustainable energy. It also has Omega-6 fatty acids for coat health.

Unfortunately, this recipe doesn’t have any glucosamine or chondroitin for joint and cartilage support, so you’ll need to look for supplements if your dog needs joint support. Overall, though, it is rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Chewy, and 98% would recommend it to others.

  • Pros
  • High-protein chicken meal
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Small-size kibble for easier chewing and digestion
  • Cons
  • No joint support
  • Some dogs don’t like the smell
  • Small-size kibble for easier chewing and digestion

Also great

Help your older guy age gracefully with Wellness Complete Health Chicken & Sweet Potato. This natural, canned wet food for senior dogs is packed with premium protein and nutrient-rich vegetables.

American Journey Chicken and Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog Food is a solid all-around option with several unique features. It has a variety of protein sources, leading with deboned chicken and also including protein-rich chicken meal and turkey meal. It also includes healthy chicken fat for sustainable energy.

The carbohydrates are also diverse, including peas, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and chickpeas. These complex carbohydrates should help your dog maintain a steady weight, compared to the simple carbs in other options.

There is a wide variety of healthy supplements in this recipe, including L-Carnitine, taurine, vitamin A and E, and even mineral-rich marine algae. Real blueberries add an antioxidant boost for immune health, glucosamine, and chondroitin support joints and healthy cartilage, and flaxseed and coconut oil add omega fatty acids for a healthy, lustrous coat.

There are minimal vegetables for healthy high fiber content, so if that’s what you’re looking for, this might not be the food for you. Otherwise, though, it is an excellent all-around dog food that accounts for many other senior small breed dog health needs. Chewy users rate it at 4.8 out of 5 stars, and 95% would recommend it.

  • Pros
  • Diverse lean protein sources
  • Diverse complex carbohydrates sources

  • Muscle, immune, and joint supportDiverse sources of complex carbohydrates
  • Cons
  • Minimal fiber for digestion
  • Shipping times may take longer
  • Muscle, immune, and joint supportDiverse sources of complex carbohydrates

Also great

When it comes to goofy pets, age doesn’t always bring wisdom. It does bring a yummy new diet, though! Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 7+ Beef & Rice Entree Morsels in Gravy Canned Dog Food is a balanced, savory meal made just for the pups over 7 years old.

The first canned dog food on the list, Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Senior Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables Canned Dog Food is perfect for senior dogs with appetite issues. The recipe isn’t just healthy, but it’s delicious and appealing.

The recipe is made from whole chicken, chicken liver, carrots, peas, cranberries, blueberries, brown rice, and barley. That provides an excellent blend of lean protein, natural fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Just like all Blue Buffalo recipes, this one consists of exclusively real ingredients and vitamin supplements, with no additives or fillers.

The natural ingredients are enhanced with antioxidants for immune health, glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support, and flaxseed, which contains omega fatty acids.

On the downside, canned dog food typically has a higher unit price than dry dog food; you’ll need to invest a bit more in this option than some of the others on the list. But if it’s within your budget, it’s an excellent overall dog food that covers nearly every need of most senior dogs. Chewy users rate it 4.7 out of 5 stars, and 97% say they would recommend it.

  • Pros
  • Extra delicious; great for dogs with lesser appetites
  • Wide array of natural ingredients
  • Immune, joint, and coat support
  • Cons
  • Pricier than dry dog food
  • Wide array of natural ingredients
  • Immune, joint, and coat support

Everything we recommend

Our Pick
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog FoodEukanuba Small Breed Senior Dry Dog FoodHill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small Bites Chicken Meal, Barley, and Rice Recipe Dry Dog FoodAmerican Journey Chicken and Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog FoodBlue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Senior Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables Canned Dog Food
For the health and well-being of dogsMeet his particular senior needs.Precise nutrition for a healthy lifestyle.Feed your senior sidekick a meal that’s crafted just for him.Take care of your older amigo.
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Table of Contents

Senior Dog Food 101

small old dog next to bowl

Just like humans, no two dogs are the same. Even once you’ve narrowed it down to senior small breed dogs, there is a wide array of factors to consider. Let’s discuss a few of them one by one.

At What Age is My Dog Considered Senior?

Different dogs age at different rates, based on a wide variety of traits and characteristics. In general, though, small breeds age lower than large breeds. Where large breeds typically only live to be 10-15 years old, small breeds live to be 15-20.

As a rule of thumb, dogs are considered seniors when they reach about half their natural life. So small breed dogs would be regarded as senior around 7 to 10 years old.

That will vary for each individual, though. Watch for changes to your dog’s energy level, weight, or behavior, and consult with your veterinarian as to when it’s time to switch to senior dog food.

What are the Nutritional Needs of Senior Dogs?

Just like humans, dogs’ metabolisms slow, and their health needs change as they age. As dogs first enter their senior years, one of the main concerns is obesity. The same amount of calories that used to maintain your dog’s weight and fitness may start to cause them to gain weight. So for early senior dogs, you’ll want to look for lower-calorie options.

Protein

However, as your dog advances further into the senior stage of life, the opposite may be true. Dogs may start to actually lose weight, and they will definitely be at risk of losing muscle mass.

Many people don’t know that loss of muscle mass for senior dogs isn’t just about losing strength. Loss of muscle fibers can tax on immune health, stress response, and response to physical strain. In fact, a study showed that 13-year-old Beagles need 50% more protein than two-year-old Beagles.

So, protein intake is vital for senior dogs. However, before you give your dog a high-protein diet, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian to see if your dog is showing any signs of kidney disease. Kidney disease can be a relatively common issue for older dogs, and if your dog is struggling with it, then a high-protein diet can put extra strain on their kidneys.

Carbohydrates

Many dog foods are packed with high-glycemic simple carbohydrates that can lead to weight and blood sugar fluctuations. Especially with older dogs, you should definitely look for low-glycemic complex carbohydrates like brown rice or sweet potatoes. That will help promote consistent energy and stave off weight fluctuation.

Fiber

Another factor to check for is fiber content. Dogs that are battling weight control issues will want a high fiber content, as that can help prevent overeating. But even if your senior dog isn’t dealing with weight issues, fiber has several vital attributes. It can help promote digestive health, and also controls blood sugar fluctuation.

Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

small old dog eating

You’ll also want to look for certain vitamins and minerals that will address other specific needs of senior dogs. Glucosamine and chondroitin are amino acids that help support joint and cartilage health. One of the most significant issues facing many senior dogs is hip dysplasia or other forms of joint deterioration, so you’ll definitely want to look for them in your dog’s food.

Just like humans, senior dogs can be vulnerable to hypertension and high blood pressure, so you’ll want to avoid diets that are too high in sodium. However, they’re also susceptible to dehydration, so you won’t want to eliminate sodium or other minerals altogether.

Omega fatty acids are a versatile nutrient that promotes heart health and a healthy coat as well. Like glucosamine and chondroitin, you can look for omega fatty acid supplements for your senior dog independent of their food. But if you can include these supplements right there in the food, that can be tremendously helpful.

Types of Dog Food

When deciding on a dog food, you’ll need to choose between canned food and dry food, as well as grain-free vs. whole grain dog food.

Dry dog food is the most common variety. It is generally less expensive, stores longer, and is crunchier, which is perfect for dogs who like to chew. Canned food, on the other hand, is more fragrant and flavorful. Some senior dogs begin losing weight because their reduced sense of smell and taste leads to a loss of appetite. For these dogs, canned food is a perfect option.

Meanwhile, grain-free dog food has become very popular in recent years. However, there isn’t necessarily an inherent benefit to grain-free dog food in comparison to whole-grain dog food. That’s just a matter of individual preference. Take note of how your dog responds to specific formulas.

Still Trying To Decide On The Best Senior Dog Food For Small Breeds?

close up of dog eating

Senior small breed dogs have several unique health needs, which many common, cheap dog food brands fail to meet. But for a few dollars more, you can give your dog the nutrition that they need to stay healthy and energetic in the later years. All five options above have their own strengths and weaknesses, but depending on your needs, you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Overall, though, we believe Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is the best option. While it has marginally less fiber than some competitors, Blue Buffalo is low-calorie, high-protein, with complex carbohydrates all from whole ingredients. Plus, it is packed with vitamins and minerals that are great for senior dogs.

About Alex Vicente

Dog Lover, Founder & Chief Editor at Paws Insider

I’ve been rescuing dogs since a very early age. I got my first dog when I was 9 years old and I remember how he, out of a litter of 6 puppies, started running towards me. He’d just chosen me. Ever since then, my love for dogs only grows stronger and I want what’s best for them. My mission is to let our readers know about the best products in the market for our best friends, as well as providing guides and tips on how we can take better care of them.