Did you know that dogs become seniors around age six for larger breeds and eight for smaller breeds? Being aware of the changes that may take place in your dog’s body as she ages, including her changing nutritional and care needs, and understanding how to approach them are key to helping her live a long, healthy life.

  • Immune Support
  • Joint
  • Health
  • Vitality & Energy
  • Weight Management
  • Cognitive Function
  • Sensory Reduction
  • Dental Health
  • More Articles

Immune Support

The immune system protects the body from invading organisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. It also distinguishes between the bad organisms and good organisms as well as its own healthy cells and tissues, so the body knows which organisms to fight off and which unhealthy cells should be discarded. As dogs age, their immune systems naturally weaken, and they become more susceptible to age-related conditions.

How to help maintain a healthy immune system

Proper nutrition is one way to help support your dog’s immune support. Starting at around age six for large breeds and eight for small breeds, begin feeding your dog senior specific food that’s rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants, such as beta carotene and vitamins C and E, help keep your dog’s immune system strong and help prevent oxidative damage to cells. In fact, supplementation with beta carotene and vitamin E have been shown to maintain or even boost immune function in senior dogs back to that of healthy adult levels.1 California Natural®, EVO® and Innova® Senior dog foods include increased levels* of many of these important antioxidants.

How to help keep the immune system strong

The signs of a compromised immune system vary widely and should be treated on a case by case basis. See your veterinarian regularly for preventative health checkups and whenever your dog shows any sign of health problems. It’s also never too late to start feeding your senior dog the nutrients her aging body needs. There’s evidence that supplementation with antioxidant nutrients combined with environmental enrichment, such as training and exercise, can help some measures of immune function in older dogs to that of healthy adults.1-2 See Cognitive Function and Weight Management for training and exercise suggestions.


1. Case, Daristotle, Hayek, Raasch. Canine and Feline Nutrition Third Edition: A Resource for Companion Animal Professionals. Mosby Elsevier 2011; 263-272

2. Hall JA, Picton RA, Finneran PS, and others : Dietary antioxidants and behavioral enrichment enhance neutrophil phagocytosis in geriatric Beagles, Vet Immunol Immunopathol 113:224-233, 2006.

3. Dietary Considerations for Joint Health Sally Perea, DVM, MS, DACVN, Senior Nutritionist for Natura Pet Products, & Sean Delaney, DVM, MS, DACVN, Chief Nutrition Officer for Natura Pet Products

4. Johnson KA, Helse DA, Hart RC, Kochevar D, Chu Q. Effects of an orally administered mixture of chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and manganese ascorbate on synovial fluid chondroitin sulfate #B# and &D4 epitope in a canine cruciate ligament transaction model of osteoarthritis. OsteoArthritis and Cartilage 2001; 9: 14-21.

5. McCarthy G, O’Donovan J, Jones B, McAllister H, et al. Randomised double-blind, positive-controlled trial to assess the efficacy of glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate for the treatment of dogs with osteoarthritis. Veterinary Journal 2007; 174: 54-61.

6. Senior Pets and Nutrition Sean Delaney, DVM, MS, DACVN, Chief Nutrition Officer for Natura Pet Products and Kari Liu, MS, Core Brands Managing Nutritionist for Natura Pet Products

7. Advanced Nutrition for Active Seniors Kari Liu, MS, Core Brands Managing Nutritionist for Natura Pet Products for Natura Pet Products