Senior Dog Food Vs Regular Dog Food - What's The Difference?

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the differences between adult dog food, and senior dog food, such as the ingredients included in the food, as well as the nutrients each one provides your dog. We’ll also help to outline exactly how senior dog food can help your pooch in their senior years too.

Senior Dog Food Vs Regular Dog Food - What's The Difference?

“Although it depends on my age and breed, my human’s vet often recommends changing up my food, which means switching me to senior dog food. But as a human, you might be wondering why exactly my food needs to change!”

Key Points

There are many differences between regular dog food and senior dog food. The biggest one is that senior dog food contains fewer calories and carbohydrates than adult dog food to keep senior dogs from gaining too much weight.

Older dogs experience a reduced metabolism, so reducing their calorie intake is vital. Senior dog foods are also fortified with vitamins and minerals to keep them fighting fit for longer.

Many senior dog foods are also formulated with an old dog in mind. Kibble might be softer to be eaten easier with fewer teeth, and wet food will be full of nutrients to ensure your dog is eating everything they need to keep healthy in smaller portions.

Senior Dog Food Versus Regular Dog Food

Senior Dog Food Vs Regular Dog Food - What's The Difference?

So, let’s take a look at the differences between senior dog food and adult dog food. It’s important to understand more about these differences to know what food you should be giving to your dog, don’t worry if you don’t know already, as that is precisely what this section is all about.

“We’ll sniff out the ingredients, the nutritional value of the food, what supplements are added, and more! Woof!”


Typically, regular dog food uses a range of different proteins, (sometimes) grains, vegetables, and fruits.

Of course, there are some more unusual ingredients that can often be included in regular dog food, which include things such as salmon, venison, quinoa, oats, or duck. These can make for an exciting and tasty meal, but as a dog, I’m usually just happy to have something to chew on!”

With regular dog food, you can also find formulas created for dogs who suffer from sensitive stomachs or with more protein if they’re working dogs.

Senior dog food is all about providing your elderly dog with everything they need to be healthy. As a result, many of the core ingredients found in senior dog food will be the same as you find in normal dog food. 

This is because dog food brands will utilize the same recipe for both but slightly change the formula for the senior dogs out there.

One important thing to sniff out about senior dog food is that while regular dog food can come in a variety of different smells, with options like beef, chicken, or fish all available, this kind of variety is unfortunately usually off the table for us senior pups. There isn’t as much variety for us.”


Another area where regular and senior dog food differs is nutrition. While all dog food on the market has to comply with the same minimum requirements, the nutrition can change depending on the formula and what dogs the food is intended for.

Because us senior dogs are less active and do less exercise than our younger counterparts, our metabolism is also slower. As a result, senior dog foods will tend to contain less fat and calories than you would typically find in regular dog food. That way, we can still enjoy our meals without packing on the pounds!”

Not all senior dog foods make these adjustments to their formulas, so it’s always worth checking the nutritional information on the packaging to ensure that your dog is eating the food right for them.

Added Vitamins And Minerals

Many of the usual formulas for regular dogs won’t contain additional supplements apart from protein and carbohydrates. If the food is fortified with vitamins and minerals, they tend to be things like antioxidants, which are all intended to help your dog’s health.

As us senior dogs grow older, we can develop several different medical issues, which is why a lot of our food contains helpful supplements.

Things like glucosamine and fatty acids are particularly useful for strengthening our joints and helping with arthritis. Some may even contain additives to aid our mental sharpness so that we can stay on top of our game!”

Do You Need To Switch To Senior Dog Food?

Knowing when you should be feeding your dog regular dog food and when you should be switching to senior dog food is more important than you might think.

As a dog, I usually begin eating adult dog food once I stop eating puppy food at around one year old. However, some dogs like me don’t ever switch to senior dog food until a medical condition forces a diet change. So, it’s something that should be sniffed out on a case-by-case basis.”

If your dog is in good health and isn’t experiencing a drop in energy, you might not need to change their diet at all. Instead, it might be more beneficial to give your dog a multivitamin along with their adult dog food.

If you change your dog’s food to a senior formula, you must get their stomachs used to it slowly. Start by mixing a little of the new food with their old food, and gradually increase the amount until they have been successfully weaned onto the senior dog food.

The Pros And Cons Of Regular Dog Food And Senior Dog Food

If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not your dog should be switched to senior dog food, then it’s always worth weighing up the pros and cons of each dog food first, as you’ll be able to get a better understanding of whether or not it is worth it.

Adult Dog Food



There are many different specialised formulas and recipes, which means that if your dog has specific requirements, then they should be able to cater to them. 

For example, sensitive stomach formulas, vegan formulas, no grains or filler formulas, and for specific health conditions. 

The many options available are also the biggest downside to regular dog food, as it’s often hard to know which option will be best for your canine companion! 

All dog food brands make food for adult dogs, but it’s not guaranteed that they’ll make senior dog food in the same formula.

The wider range of adult dog food means that there are more options out there full of filler ingredients, such as grains, which don’t add any nutritional value to your dog’s diet.

A wider number of flavors for your pup to enjoy! 

Mass-produced dog food might have lower standards than senior dog food because it isn’t as specialized for specific ailments. 

Senior Dog Food



The formulas are often designed to have reduced amounts of calories and fats, which is good for helping to ensure that your senior dog is fit and healthy. 

The lack of strict rules around when you should switch your dog over to senior dog food makes it difficult to understand when exactly you’re meant to change the food. 

Often packed with several nutrients to help senior dogs fight off some of the common aspects of ageing, such as joint pain, allowing them to stay healthier for longer.

Can lack the variety of different flavors and specialized formulas you can usually find in regular dog food.

Might be prescribed by your vet, so you’re getting professional advice with the food, and you can rest assured that it is vet-safe and approved. 

More difficult to purchase, as you might not be able to find a specific brand of senior dog food in your local pet store. And it may be more expensive too.

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