Shiny coat! Strong bones! Boundless energy! The superlative benefits of puppy food can tempt you to give your senior pal a few scoops of what seems like the really good stuff. But hold up.

If you catch yourself thinking “Can I feed my senior dog puppy food to fatten him up?” it’s time to check yourself before you compromise your dog’s health.

We know you know your senior dog isn’t a puppy. We also know you may see changes in your senior dog that spur you to want to “do something.” But there’s a reason puppy food is called “puppy food.” Stop and think before filling an old dog’s bowl with new dog num nums. 

Puppy food can actually be bad for senior dogs

Those furry bundles of joy we call puppies do an incredible amount of growing in a short period of time. That’s why puppy formulas are super calorie-dense and high in fats — to keep up with all that growth! 

Senior dogs have done the growing they need to do, already. Feeding a senior dog puppy food isn’t a good idea, because it will only make them “grow” in all the wrong directions. Excessive weight gain is no bueno, as it can cause older dogs to develop health problems like joint issues, diabetes, and heart troubles. 

Some research even shows that overweight dogs can expect a lifespan of up to 2.5 years less on average than healthy weight dogs. And reducing your senior dog’s lifespan is the exact opposite of what you wanted, right?

Even if an older dog could stand to put on weight — like if an older eater seems less in love with the food bowl — there are healthier ways to help senior dogs get excited about eating than feeding puppy food to fatten him or her up. Interest piqued? Read on, friend! 

Here are some senior-riffic supper solutions you can try

It’s not just a bad idea to be feeding puppy food formulas to senior dogs - it can also be hard on your pocketbook. Puppy food is often pricey. We can think of LOTS of ways to invest in your beloved pet’s well-being that are better than spending extra on chow that does more harm than good. 

But let’s look at why you’re asking if you can feed your senior dog puppy food in the first place — it’s because you are longing for the energy, vitality, and health your dear dog had in the past, right? Well, whatever you’re after in terms of improving your senior dog’s health, go for those goals with food more suited to an older canine’s needs and metabolism. Here’s the 4-1-1.

Goal: Fatten up your skinny senior.

Challenge: As dogs get up in years, sometimes they lose their appetites and lose weight. Sensitive teeth and gums, ebbing mental sharpness, and deteriorating senses such as smell can all diminish excitement at mealtime — even for dogs who used to chow down.

Solution: A switch to soft, fragrant and flavorful food can bring back eating excitement. You want something that smells good, tastes good, and is easier to chew. Gently cooked, fresh meat-forward foods like A Pup Above are sure to tempt picky eaters. 

Goal: Shiny up your senior dog’s coat.

Challenge: As dog’s age, their digestion may become less effective. This reduces a dog’s ability to absorb nutrients. Patchy hair loss and dandruff are often a result of poor nutrition.

Solution: A fresh, whole foods diet is not only super nutritious, it’s also easier to digest. Both canned foods and kibble are highly processed, which makes them harder on a dog’s digestive system. Gently cooked foods like A Pup Above are more bioavailable — meaning your dog’s digestion can leverage more nutrients for the body. A shinier coat is one beautiful result.

Goal: Ease a senior dog’s joint pain.

Challenge: A bouncing puppy has lots of healthy cartilage to protect their joints as they jump, race, and play the days away. Time puts wear and tear on a dog’s cartilage, and aging makes it harder for your dog’s body to repair or build that cartilage.

Solution: A boost in collagen can help joint health by supporting cartilage. How do you get it into your dog’s diet? Forget powders and pills — choose a meat-forward food that gives your dog collagen naturally. See how your senior dog responds when you open up a batch of our slow-cooked meat stewing in naturally collagen-rich gravy. Yummers!

Goal: Boost a senior dog’s focus and energy levels.

Challenge: If your former Olympic-caliber sprinter seems to be slowing down, don’t despair. Your dog will need more sleep and rest in the golden years. But sometimes, both dogs and their humans develop a habit of inactivity in the brain and body that can “age” an older dog more than necessary. 

Solution: First, put your dog on a low-carb, high protein diet to maintain a healthy metabolism. Lots of dog foods are higher in carbs than you think. Get savvy about reading ingredients lists, learn how to calculate carbs, and choose a food that’s no more than 20 to 25% carbs. A Pup Above recipes are just 4 to 5% carbs! Next, get your dog moving and grooving with a little fun. Bring in new toys, take on new adventures, and literally keep teaching that old dog new tricks! 

Make the right switch for your senior dog

Is your dog showing signs of lackluster appetite, poor nutrition, joint pain, or low energy? You are right to think about changing your older dog’s food. Feeding puppy food to your senior dog isn’t a good fix, but a whole foods, fresh meat diet can definitely help!  

By all means, switch away from canned food and kibble that can exacerbate the impacts of aging in your dog. If you’re making a switch to a proper, fresh, wholesome, meat-forward food like A Pup Above, remember to transition slowly by adding just a bit of the new food each day for about a week, and keep your eye on how your senior sweetie is adjusting.

Bottom line, it’s just not ok to feed your senior dog puppy food. It’s a shortcut to nowhere but weight gain. Instead, look at the reasons you’ve been tempted to pick up a puppy food formula. Then, make a switch that can truly benefit your slobbery old sweetheart.