Vet Reviewed

By The Farmer's Dog | May 24, 2024


Key takeaways:

  • The Farmer’s Dog is an excellent nutritional choice for senior dogs.
  • Our food has many benefits that are especially relevant to seniors. It’s highly digestible, pre-portioned for weight maintenance, and easy to eat. The high-quality protein in our recipes can help your senior maintain lean muscle mass and stay at a healthy weight.
  • While many pet foods are marketed as “senior” formulas, there is no official AAFCO standard for senior diets.
  • The Farmer’s Dog is formulated to meet AAFCO standards for dogs in all stages of life, and meets senior dogs’ nutritional needs.

A high-quality, balanced diet is the best foundation for a senior dog’s health—so, if you’re feeding your senior The Farmer’s Dog, you’ve made a great choice for them. Our fresh, gently cooked food is formulated to meet AAFCO standards for dogs in all stages of life, and has benefits that are particularly relevant to seniors. Here are the details about when dogs become seniors, what they need in their diets, and why The Farmer’s Dog can help them thrive well into their golden years.

When does a dog become a senior?

Contrary to folk wisdom, figuring out a dog’s age in “human years” isn’t as simple as multiplying their chronological age by seven. According to the American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) guidelines on life stages, the “senior” stage of life is from maturity to life expectancy (approximately the last 25% of expected lifespan). So, if your dog’s breed is predicted to live 12 to 14 years, they’re a senior at about age nine to ten-and-a-half. 

Ultimately, any changes you make as your dog gets older—whether to their diet, the type or amount of exercise they get, or anything else—should be about their individual needs rather than their chronological age. Some people assume that dogs who reach “senior” status require special food that’s labeled as being for that stage of life, but there is no official AAFCO standard for senior food and no reason that dogs who are thriving on their current diet should make a switch based on age alone. Companies’ “senior” formulas depend on their philosophies about senior dogs’ nutritional needs, but there’s no guarantee that those changes will make sense for a particular dog. In fact, there are many reasons that seniors can benefit from being on The Farmer’s Dog.

“About five years ago, Checkers, [21] started slowing down. She didn’t want to get up anymore, and nothing was working. It got to the point where she wasn’t eating anymore. I spent countless nights sleeping on the floor next to her bed, just hoping that she would make it through the night. When we saw The Farmer’s Dog commercial on TV, I thought, ‘Why not?’ And then she started eating it. She loved it. And from there, it was off and running. Every day got a little better. Her energy level was back up as if she was 10 years old again—such a transformation.”
– Patty, Checkers’ person

The Farmer’s Dog has major benefits for seniors

Our food is made with fresh meats and vegetables that are lightly cooked so they retain their vital nutrients—which can help support seniors’ immune-system function. Research shows that fresh, gently cooked food is more digestible than heavily processed kibble. And our own multi-year feeding study shows that our food is bioavailable—meaning your dog’s body is absorbing and using its nutrients. 

Our food has some other benefits that are especially relevant to seniors:  It’s soft, and easy to eat for dogs who may be missing teeth. It has been clinically shown to be more palatable than kibble (it tastes better), which is a huge plus for older dogs—who may become pickier eaters. It contains more moisture than dried, ultra-processed pellets—kibble is around 10% moisture, and our food is around 70%—helping to keep your dog’s body hydrated, aiding digestion and elimination. And its high-quality omega-3 fatty acids can help support your senior dog’s joint, brain, heart, and coat health.

It’s critical to feed your dog the right amount of food—at any age. Excess weight is a  serious, and all too common, health issue for dogs—around 60% of American pet dogs are overweight or obese. Carrying extra weight can put strain on senior dogs’ joints, and is linked to diseases like diabetes and cancer. Research has shown that dogs in ideal body condition can live an average of 2.5 years longer than those who are overweight or obese. Knowing exactly what your dog is eating, and being precise about how many calories they’re consuming each day—as you can do when they’re on a pre-portioned fresh-food plan—makes it easier to control their weight. 

While some older dogs may become overweight, others are prone to losing weight due to sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle tissue even when there is no other disease present. Pre-portioned food can make sure that these dogs get enough nutrition—and the high-quality protein sources used by The Farmer’s Dog can help senior dogs maintain lean muscle mass.

Whether your senior needs to lose, gain, or maintain weight, staying on a fresh-food plan from The Farmer’s Dog takes the guesswork out of determining their correct daily caloric intake. A dog’s caloric requirements can vary so much, based on so many factors, that it’s impossible to make a recommendation based on age or weight alone. That’s why the vague portion suggestions on kibble bags often lead to overfeeding (one study shows up to 152% overestimation of portions by dog owners). The Farmer’s Dog pre-portions each dog’s food based on their individual needs, factoring in weight, activity level, spay/neuter status, and more. As your dog’s needs change—for reasons including but not limited to their age—it’s easy to make adjustments.

“Our recipes are specifically formulated to help dogs thrive at every stage of life—supporting normal growth as puppies, an active adult lifestyle, and keeping them eating and performing at their very best in their senior years. Maintaining consistent calorie and high-quality protein intake with The Farmer’s Dog is a great way to help keep your senior dog healthy.”
— Dr. Rae Sires, On-Staff Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist at The Farmer’s Dog

The Farmer’s Dog is a good choice for many dogs with health issues

Every dog is an individual. The Farmer’s Dog is a healthy choice for dogs from the moment they start weaning through their senior years, but dogs with particular medical conditions may require specialized diets. Many dogs with health conditions thrive on The Farmer’s Dog—but the person who’s most qualified to talk about your senior’s specific needs is your veterinarian. So check with them and our customer-service team to see which recipes are appropriate for your dog.

If you’re interested in the benefits of fresh food, but your senior has never eaten it before, it’s never too late to make the switch to The Farmer’s Dog—and it only takes a few minutes to sign up.