What is the best oil for senior dogs

What is the Best Oil for Senior Dogs? Safety, Benefits, and More

Discover the best oil supplements to support your senior dog's health

We love our old dogs! Right? The longer they’ve been with us, the more we love ‘em! Choosing the right oil for your senior dog can help improve their quality of life as they age, keeping them happier and healthier for longer – something every older Good Boy or Girl deserves.

As our four-legged friends age, dietary considerations become increasingly important to maintaining their well-being. This article will explore the importance of selecting a suitable oil (or oils) for your pal, as well as helping you understand the nutritional needs of your senior dog. So, what is the best oil for senior dogs?

Nutritional Needs of Senior Dogs

Senior dogs need to eat differently to younger dogs – that’s simply a fact. For starters, the majority of older dogs require less calories daily, to prevent excessive weight gain. On the flip side, a minority will require more densely calorific foods in order to prevent them from becoming too thin! It depends on the dog and your vet is best placed to advise in regards to this, based on conducting a physical examination of your pet.

Senior dogs also typically require lower protein diets than younger dogs. It’s even thought that dietary protein levels which are too high may contribute to the development or progression of kidney disease in senior pets.

Finally, as senior dogs are less good at “metabolic cleaning” and detoxifying, it’s also really important that your older pooch is receiving adequate vitamin C, vitamin E, and plenty of antioxidants on a daily basis. 

Key nutrients essential for senior dog health

Especially don’t skimp on the following!

  1. Omegas 3 and 6 – more on these nutritional powerhouses later on.
  1. B-complex vitamins – these should already be present at suitable levels in complete, commercially available dog foods, so most pet owners won’t have to worry too much about B-complex vitamins. However, if you’re feeding something else, be sure to supplement.
  1. Fibre – not a glamorous one, but older pets are more prone to constipation. Make sure your senior Good Boy or Girl is getting enough of it, and supplement if required!

Overview of ageing-related health issues in dogs

Senior dogs are plagued by health issues that their younger counterparts evade. The most common ageing-related health issues that I see in senior dogs in my role as a veterinarian are:

  • Osteoarthritis – in fact, around 80% of dogs over eight suffer with this painful and potentially debilitating condition! And some dogs can be affected even younger.
  • Dental disease – I’m afraid there’s no oil to fix this one! If you’ve noticed smelly breath, messy eating or teeth that aren’t sparkly white, best to see your vet so that they can help.
  • Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) – causes behavioral changes and often confusion, increased anxiety and sleep disturbances in senior dogs due to age-realted brain changes. More on this later.
  • Skin issues – the skin barrier of an older dog is often less effective than that of a younger pooch, and requires greater care, attention and maintenance. Therefore, older dogs can be more affected by skin disease. Both oral supplementation and topic treatments containing oil can be useful here.

Vet’s Picks: the Best Oils for Your Senior Dog

Native Pet Omega 3 Fish Oil Skin & Coat Health Dog Supplement

native pet omega


The thing I love about Native’s Omega oil is that it doesn’t just promote skin and coat health, but takes things a step further and ticks the “joint support” box, too; a crucial consideration given that 80% of dogs over the age of eight (and – prepare to be shocked – 20% of dogs over the age of one) suffer from some degree of arthritis.

The level of omega recommended by veterinary dermatologists to improve skin health and reduce inflammation, is significantly lower than the level of omega recommended by canine osteoarthritis experts to provide anti-inflammatory relief for sore, arthritic joints. So, if you want to target both concerns (which will be the case for many older pets), you need a product that really packs a punch.

Unlike most available salmon and omega oils, Native’s formula meets the target levels of omegas for supplementary support of dogs suffering from osteoarthritis, meaning it could just be the perfect two-in-one product your older pooch has been waiting for.

Others Bits

I’m a stickler for detail, and I couldn’t help but notice that the suggested dose of this oil for very small dogs is higher than the recommended daily maximum. In fact, the serving suggestion of 2 pumps (providing 920mg of omega fatty acids) is about twice the maximum recommended dose for a 5lb dog, and around four times the maximum daily intake for a 1lb dog.

Since it is possible to overdose on omega oil products with chronic use, I feel justified in recommending a cautious approach for owners using Native’s oil. I still feel it’s an absolutely fantastic product, but I would certainly advise my clients with small dogs under 10lb to only give 1 pump, and would recommend picking a “less strong” product if your dog weighs less than 5lb. 

Pet Wellbeing Life Gold

vitamin oil dog


As your pet ages, “waste” products such as amyloid and advanced glycation end products (AGEs) begin to build up in their body. Production of free radicals (tiny, unstable molecules that can cause harm to cells) within the body increases, and simultaneously your dog’s body becomes less good at producing antioxidants. The result? An increased propensity to developing age related diseases including canine cognitive dysfunction, kidney disease and diabetes.

This is unfortunately an inescapable fact of life, but there are things we can do – and things we can supplement – to slow the decline. Making sure your senior dog is receiving a generous daily dose of antioxidants (including flavenoids and phytochemicals) as well as vitamins C and E can really help. Life Gold is a natural, herb-based and vet formulated product that I would certainly recommend to help meet the increased need for metabolic “damage-control” that our senior pets have.

Other Bits

Paraphrasing from Life Gold’s own instructions, if your dog’s condition worsens whilst using this product, you should stop (and consult a vet). You should also consult your pet before starting this product, especially if your pet takes any medications, since some medications may interact with the active ingredients in Life Gold.

Coconut Oil

Used topically in the form of a medicated shampoo such as  Burt’s Bees Manuka Honey Oatmeal Coconut Oil Dog Shampoo

burts bees oatmeal shampoo


When applied topically as a component of a medicated shampoo, coconut oil is one of the best oils for senior dogs. As many dogs age, their skin becomes drier, flakier and possibly itchier (as the skin cells become less good at conducting their normal turnover).

Coconut oil shampoo moisturizes and nourishes, helping to alleviate dryness and irritation. Coconut oil is a rich source of medium chain fatty acids (MCTs), which have antimicrobial properties which will help stave off fungal and bacterial infections now that your dog’s skin barrier might not be quite as youthfully unassailable as once it was! Coconut oil shampoos also tend to be very gentle and are often hypoallergenic, meaning they are suitable even for senior dogs with sensitive skin.

Note: if your senior dog develops thin, itchy skin and hair loss, you also need to see your vet and have him/her checked out for hypothyroidism.

Other Bits

Of course, the other well known use of coconut oil is to take it orally, but personally I don’t recommend this for senior (or other) dogs. Some online sources suggest that feeding coconut oil may be helpful for senior dogs with pancreatic issues (such as chronic pancreatitis, or pancreatic insufficiency) as the medium-chain triglycerides found in abundance in coconut oil require very minimal involvement from the pancreas to facilitate their absorption into the bloodstream (unlike longer chain triglycerides which must first be broken down into ‘smaller pieces’).

This is a valid point to some extent; however, I would much rather that a patient with chronic pancreatitis stick to a low fat diet, than switch to coconut oil! As for pancreatic insufficiency, it’s actually been found that – so long as an appropriate pancreatic supplement is being taken – there isn’t any advantage to replacing your dog’s usual dietary fat sources with MCTs. Conclusion? Coconut oil stays on the outside, please!

What is Considered a Senior Dog?

As we discuss the importance of choosing the right oil for senior dogs, it’s essential to define what constitutes a senior dog. According to veterinary experts, a dog is considered senior at the age of 7 years or older, depending on its breed and size.

Breed-Specific Guidelines:

  • Small breeds (under 20 pounds): 10-12 years old
  • Medium breeds (21-50 pounds): 8-10 years old
  • Large breeds (51-90 pounds): 7-9 years old
  • Giant breeds (over 90 pounds): 6-8 years old

Factors Influencing Aging:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Health conditions
  • Genetics

Understanding the age and health status of your dog is crucial in determining the best oil to support their joint health, skin health, and overall well-being. By consulting with your veterinarian and considering your dog’s individual needs, you can make informed decisions to improve their quality of life.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Oil

oil supplement for dogs

When it comes to choosing the best oil for your senior dog, you need to start by asking yourself exactly what concern (or concerns) you are aiming to treat. If joint health is your priority, you need to select an oil with appropriately high levels of omega fats. If skin health is a priority, an oil with a lower omega levels, in combination with a topical coconut oil shampoo used regularly may be a better choice. Ultimately, the best oil for your dog depends on your dog!

How to Introduce Oil into a Senior Dog’s Diet

Your senior dog probably likes to do things more slowly now than he or she used to, and you should base the introduction of a new oil into their diet around this principle!

For edible oils, start by mixing a very small amount into their daily food ration. Do this for a couple of days and check there are no adverse reactions such as vomiting or diarrhea. Once you’re confident that the oil is being tolerated well by your dog, you can start to gradually increase the amount up to the recommended daily dose outlined by the oil manufacturer.


Following this whistlestop tour of the best oils for senior dogs, I hope you are feeling more confident to go out into the great wide world (or web!) and pick an oil or oils that will improve your older dog’s quality of life for years to come.

Don’t forget too that many other forms of supplementation aside from oils exist, and some of these may also be helpful for your senior pet. Ultimately, vet-written articles and discussions with your dog’s own vet are your best and most reliable source of information, and the former at least is free, so be sure to take advantage of it! 

“Oil” see you in another article soon!

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