If you’re considering putting your dog on a grain-free diet, please speak to your vet first. But if your vet has sent you on a quest to find grain-free food for your senior dog, you’ve come to the right place. While grains tend to be lower on the scale of allergens, if your older dog needs to have a diet change, there are many products to choose from.
Here are reviews of the best grain-free dog foods formulated for senior dogs. We hope that this helps you settle on the right dog food for your best friend.
A Glance at Our Winners in 2023
|Best Overall||Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dry Dog Food||
|Best Value||Blue Buffalo Freedom Senior Dry Dog Food||
|Premium Choice||Orijen Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food||
|Vet's Choice||Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Senior Dry Food||
|Now Fresh Small Breed Weight Management Dry Food||
The 10 Best Grain-Free Senior Dog Foods
1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dry Dog Food — Best Overall
|Main ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas|
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dry Dog Food is the overall best grain-free senior dog food. It’s high in protein and has deboned chicken as the main ingredient, giving your older dog extra energy. It has a blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in the form of LifeSource Bits, which are small, dark crunchy bits of kibble. This blend gives senior dogs a boost to their immune systems, and it also includes ingredients for your dog’s joints and for maintaining a healthy weight. It doesn’t have fillers or artificial ingredients.
However, this food is expensive, and the kibble is fairly small. It should be fine for small dogs but not so great for large ones.
2. Blue Buffalo Freedom Senior Dry Dog Food — Best Value
|Main ingredients:||Deboned chicken, potatoes, peas|
The best grain-free senior dog food for the money is Blue Buffalo Freedom Senior Dry Dog Food. It’s well-priced, particularly for premium dog food. Deboned chicken is the main ingredient, giving your dog high-quality protein, and has added omega-3 and -6 for healthy skin and silky coat. Like all Blue Buffalo products, it features LifeSource Bits, a small crunchy kibble containing a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Added chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health and taurine for a healthy heart all work together to keep your senior dog in overall good health. It doesn’t contain any fillers or artificial ingredients.
However, some dogs might not like it.
3. Orijen Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food — Premium Choice
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, turkey, flounder|
Orijen Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is our premium choice pick. While it is expensive, it is a high-quality recipe, with the first five ingredients being raw or fresh whole animal protein. In fact, 85% of the recipe consists of animal ingredients, including fish and poultry that are free run and wild caught. It works to maintain a healthy weight and supports lean muscles with added nutrient-rich bone and organs. It doesn’t contain fillers or artificial ingredients, and it has a freeze-dried coating for a burst of flavor.
It’s pricey and the kibble size is quite large, which might not work for small dogs.
4. Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Senior Dry Food — Vet’s Choice
|Main ingredients:||Organic chicken, organic chicken meal, organic sweet potatoes|
Our vet chose Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Senior Dry Dog Food for its use of organic products and free-run chicken. The ingredients are USDA-certified organic, with chicken that’s only fed produce grown without pesticides. It also contains superfoods like flaxseed, blueberries, and sweet potatoes, all organic. There’s added chondroitin and glucosamine to keep your older dog’s joints and hips healthy. There are no GMOs or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Unfortunately, it is quite pricey, and the kibble is fairly small, so large breeds might not want to eat it.
5. Now Fresh Small Breed Weight Management Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Deboned turkey, potatoes, peas|
Now Fresh Small Breed Weight Management Dry Dog Food contains over 20 superfoods, including blueberries for the antioxidants and pumpkin for fiber and healthy digestion. It includes L-carnitine to keep your senior dog’s heart healthy and has a natural source of chondroitin from New Zealand green mussels to support the hips and joints. All fresh ingredients are cooked only once at low temperatures to preserve the nutrients and freshness, and there are no artificial ingredients. The kibble is also small in size for small breeds.
The cons are that it’s expensive and that picky dogs might not like it.
6. Nulo Freestyle Senior Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Deboned trout, turkey meal, salmon meal|
Nulo Freestyle Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food is quite protein-rich, with 82% of the protein coming from animal sources. It has the beneficial glucosamine and chondroitin for a senior dog’s joints and hips and L-carnitine to help older dogs metabolize fats. There are also probiotics for digestion and phosphorus and calcium to maintain teeth and bones.
But this dog food is expensive, and while Nulo states that there’s no chicken in the food, there actually is. It contains turkey meal and chicken fat, so if your dog has allergies to poultry, you’ll need to find another food.
7. Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal|
Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food only has nine ingredients — if you don’t include the added vitamins and minerals. It contains high-quality proteins and a blend of antioxidants, probiotics, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. There are added veggies for extra vitamins and minerals for overall health, and it doesn’t have any artificial ingredients or fillers.
The problem with this food is that it’s expensive, and in some bags, there seems to be a great deal of residue or “food dust.” While it is a limited-ingredient dog food, poultry is included, which tends to be high on the list of food allergens for dogs.
8. Merrick Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, sweet potatoes|
Merrick Chicken & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food features 77% of protein from animal sources, but it is also low in calories and fat to help promote a healthy weight. Deboned chicken is the main ingredient and as the ideal portions of fat and proteins, as well as supporting fiber, minerals, and vitamins. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin for hips and joints and omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.
However, this is an expensive dog food, and the kibble is large, so small dogs might have more difficulty with it.
9. Instinct Raw Boost Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken meal, salmon meal, chicken|
Instinct Raw Boost Dry Dog Food is high in protein and has kibble mixed with freeze-dried raw bites. It has a natural source of DHA for eye and brain health and natural sources of chondroitin and glucosamine for the hips and joints. There are no added fillers or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
It’s expensive, though, and many dogs tend to only eat the freeze-dried bits, which some bags arrive with very few of.
10. Wellness CORE Senior Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Deboned turkey, chicken meal, lentils|
Wellness CORE Deboned Turkey Dry Dog Food starts with deboned turkey and contains prebiotics, probiotics, antioxidants, and taurine. Your dog can have a shiny coat and healthy skin with the omega fatty acids, and the included vitamins and minerals are for overall immune system support. It doesn’t contain any fillers or artificial ingredients.
However, picky dogs might not like it, and it might cause stomach upset in other dogs. Additionally, the kibble is large and quite hard, so it might prove too difficult to eat for senior dogs with teeth issues.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Grain-Free Senior Dog Food
Here are a few points for you to consider when shopping for a new food for a senior dog.
You should only give grain-free food to your dog if your vet has told you that this is a necessary diet change. When a dog food leaves out grains, legumes are typically substituted, which are suspected to potentially cause dilated cardiomyopathy. Without grains, your dog also misses out on protein, fatty acids, and fiber. Speak to your vet before changing your dog’s food.
When you start getting into specialized diets, such as grain-free food for senior dogs, you’re looking into a market that tends to feature high-quality ingredients, so you can expect to pay more.
Animal meal is essentially a meat concentrate that includes many different parts of the animal. It’s also a high-protein source, so it’s not a filler ingredient. When purchasing premium dog food, you typically won’t be getting any fillers or artificial ingredients.
Some senior dog foods are low in calories to ensure that your less-active dog won’t start packing on the pounds. But others might be high in calories because some senior dogs have trouble keeping the weight on as they get older. This situation requires a visit to your vet, who can advise you on how many calories your dog needs.
Many senior dog food brands include extra protein, which helps older dogs maintain their muscle mass; senior dogs tend to lose muscle as they get older. However, some senior dogs might have a health condition that requires a low-protein diet. This necessitates a conversation with your vet.
Speak to Your Vet
Before switching your dog’s food, always speak to your vet. They can advise you on the right food for your dog and give you their own recommendations. It’s also crucial that you slowly transition your dog to the new food, and your vet can also advise you on the best way to do this.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dry Dog Food is our favorite grain-free food for senior dogs. It boosts the immune systems and includes ingredients for your dog’s joints and for maintaining a healthy weight. Blue Buffalo Freedom Senior Dry Dog Food is an affordable premium dog food with the high-quality protein of deboned chicken as the primary ingredient.
Our premium choice pick is Orijen’s Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food. About 85% of the recipe consists of animal protein, including free-run and wild-caught fish and poultry. Our vet’s choice goes to Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Senior Dry Dog Food for using USDA-certified organic products, including free-run chicken and superfoods like flaxseed, blueberries, and sweet potatoes.
We hope that these reviews have helped you learn more about your senior dog’s dietary requirements. Hopefully, you’ll find your best friend something that they enjoy and helps them stay with you for longer.
Featured Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock