Pugs are an extremely popular dog breed, and it’s clear to see why. Their small size and low-activity levels make them ideal for apartments and owners who don’t fancy a three-hour trek every day like with more athletic pups. In addition to these aspects, pugs are playful, amusing, and lovable little companions that are the perfect size for human laps. Did I mention that they’re also incredibly cute?
However, pugs are susceptible to an array of health issues. A proper and well-balanced diet is crucial for this breed to keep them healthy. Feeding low-quality dog foods that don’t meet your pug’s dietary needs can lead to problems in the long run.
To help you learn more about the nutritional needs of pugs and the issues that can arise from low-quality foods, I’ll be going into detail about everything you need to know about their diet. I’ve also provided seven of the best dog foods for pugs if you’re simply looking for recommendations.
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Pug Nutrition – Everything You Need To Know
Pugs require a diet that is fairly high in protein and low in fiber. For adults, at least 30% protein and 4% to 7% fiber are ideal. Fats should be the healthy kind and be at levels between 15% and 20%. Lastly, carbohydrates should be in the range of 30% to 40%.
Pug puppies, on the other hand, require a diet with higher protein and fat levels to help them develop and grow properly. You should aim to use dog foods targeted for puppies as they typically contain omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and extra nutrients, which are great for your young dog’s health.
Due to genetics, pugs are predisposed to an array of health issues, including corneal ulcers, PDE (Pug Dog Encephalitis), and brachycephalic airway syndrome. Although some of these health problems are unrelated to poor diet, the one that you can significantly reduce the likelihood of occurring is brachycephalic airway syndrome.
Brachycephalic airway syndrome is common in short-nosed breeds and is made a lot worse by obesity, which pugs are prone to. Brachycephalic airway syndrome affects your pug’s respiratory system and makes it very difficult for them to breathe. It can cause a lot of complications, such as tracheal collapse and collapsed nostrils.
Ensuring your pug receives a high-quality dog food with the correct amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, etc. can help prevent obesity as well as these conditions from happening. Additionally, portion control is also key.
The amount of food you give your pug depends on their age, weight, activity levels, and overall health. It also depends on the brand of food you choose to feed your pug as different brands will suggest different portion sizes.
Adult pugs typically need 40 to 50 calories for each pound of body weight, whereas puppies typically need about 55 calories for each pound of body weight. Senior pugs generally don’t require as many calories, with around 40 calories for each pound of body weight being adequate.
You should aim to feed your adult pug twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. Puppies under the age of six months should be fed three times daily with each meal split up over the course of the day.
Quick Links For The Best Dog Food For Pugs
Good And Bad Ingredients
Before feeding your pug commercial dog food, you should check the ingredients it uses first. The protein should be from a reputable animal source, such as real chicken or chicken meal. Preferably, it should also be listed as the first ingredient. You should avoid dog foods that contain by-products or meats whose protein sources are not named.
Gluten-free grains are also advised if you decide to feed your pug grains. Grain-free dog foods also work well. This is especially true for pugs with allergies or food sensitivities.
Flavors from natural sources and natural preservatives are also recommended. Supplements like glucosamine for joint health, alongside probiotics and antioxidants, are also advantageous for your pug.
Lastly, zero fillers (like soy and corn), artificial colors, and flavors should be avoided.
Best Dog Foods For Pugs – Reviews
Here are seven of the best dog foods for pugs that tailor to their specific dietary needs. These products have been selected as they are nutritious, nourishing, and are all-round healthy foods for pugs.
First 5 Ingredients
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Turkey, Turkey Meal
Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes
Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Dried Ground Potato
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Peas, Tapioca Starch
Venison, Lamb Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Lentils
Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chickpeas, Pea, Pea Protein
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chickpeas
1. Merrick Classic Small Breed Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food
Containing 30% protein and 15% fat, this dry dog food from Merrick is one of the best dog foods for pugs. Real, deboned chicken is used as the first ingredient, followed by peas, carrots, and quinoa.
The recipe is packed with vitamins and minerals, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and a glowing coat. Glucosamine and chondroitin are also used for joint health.
Targeted for small breeds, the size of the kibble is small to make it easier for little dogs to chew. This dry food is potato-free, so it is a lower-glycemic index choice, making it ideal for keeping your pug in good shape.
No corn, soy, wheat, meat by-products, or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives are used in this dog food. It is manufactured in the USA in Merrick’s Texas facility.
As well as being a healthy food for pugs, dog owners have found their pooches enjoy the flavor of the formula. The ingredients are high-quality too, which is a plus!
The only downside with this dog food is that a larger bag is not currently available. Depending on how much your pug eats, this dog food might not last too long (especially due to its great taste!). Some dog owners have also found their picky eater pooches are a bit fussy with this food.
2. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
American Journey’s grain-free food is one of the best dry dog foods for pugs as it contains 35% protein. Real, deboned salmon is used as the first ingredient and provides your pooch with essential amino acids that help support their muscles.
Sweet potatoes and chickpeas in the recipe ensure your pug has the energy they need to thrive. Fruits and vegetables like carrots and blueberries give your furry friend antioxidants, fiber, and phytonutrients that are great for their overall health.
To support your pug’s brain and eye development, omega fatty acids like DHA are added. Other sources of omega come from salmon oil and flaxseed. Both of these keep your dog’s skin and coat in tip-top condition.
This dog food is grain-free and doesn’t contain corn, soy, wheat, or other unnecessary fillers. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives are used either. These aspects make it one of the best dog foods for pugs with allergies or a sensitive stomach.
Reviews for this dry dog food are mostly positive, and a lot of pooches seem to do very well on this product, particularly those with digestive issues. A lot of owners have praised this food for its high-quality and nutritious ingredients.
However, a few owners have found that their dogs prefer other flavors from American Journey’s grain-free range a little more. If your pug is not a fan of fishy tastes then this is something to keep in mind.
3. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food
Targeted for small dogs, the Wellness Core grain-free dry dog food is a healthy food for pugs. It contains 34% protein overall and uses real turkey as the first ingredient.
High-quality animal protein and vitamin-enriched superfoods are used to make sure your furry friend is getting a delicious and nutritious meal. This dog food is a reduced-calorie diet, so it is ideal for pugs who are on the larger size.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are included in this dry dog food to keep your pug’s bones and joints healthy. As well as being grain-free, no corn, soy, meat by-products, artificial flavors, or colors are used in the formula.
A great feature about this dry dog food from Wellness is its effectiveness at controlling weight in dogs. Various owners have mentioned that this diet has helped their chubby dog lose some weight. If your pug is on the larger side, this dog food could help them slim down to a good weight, whilst also providing them with the nutrition they need to be healthy.
The only downside with this food is that some dogs are not too keen on the flavor, particularly those who are fussy eaters.
4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Blue Buffalo Wilderness grain-free puppy food is the best food for pug puppies as it contains 36% protein and 16% fat. Puppies require a little more protein and fat in their diets to help them develop, so this food meets your pug puppy’s nutritional needs.
Real deboned chicken is the first ingredient, alongside other protein sources and eggs. High levels of protein help support your pug puppy’s muscles. DHA is also added to ensure your furry friend’s brain and eyes develop properly.
Good levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids keep your pup’s skin and coat healthy, whilst calcium and phosphorous added into the recipe ensure your pooch’s bones and teeth grow strong.
Other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables like spinach and blueberries are also included in this puppy food for your young dog’s overall health.
The size of the kibble is specifically tailored for small breed puppies, so it is a good size for young pugs. In addition to being grain-free, no corn, soy, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives are used in this puppy food.
A lot of puppy owners have found this food from Blue Buffalo has worked well for their pups, especially those who suffered from digestive issues from another brand of puppy food. As this puppy food is grain-free and doesn’t contain possible allergens like corn and soy, it is worth giving a go for pug puppies with allergies or a sensitive stomach.
Even though a good number of picky eater pooches enjoy the flavor of this puppy food, some customers have noted that their pups are not overly keen on the taste. This is especially true for the dark-colored kibble pieces in the food.
5. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
This dog food from Taste of the Wild contains 32% protein and 18% fat, making it one of the best dry dog foods for pugs. Real venison is the first ingredient, with other protein sources from lamb, egg, ocean fish, and duck. All of these provide your pug with plenty of amino acids to keep them at peak performance.
The recipe is made with easily-digestible ingredients and uses probiotic and prebiotic fiber to support your pug’s digestive system. This food is also grain-free and does not contain corn, soy, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. If your pooch has digestive issues, this food is ideal.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are added to make sure your pug’s skin and coat always look their best. Due to this dog food being targeted for small breed dogs, the size of the kibble is good for pugs.
Additionally, vitamins and minerals from a variety of fruits and vegetables are included in the formula to boost your pug’s overall health.
A lot of small dog owners seem to agree that this food is great for their furry friends’ digestive health, whilst also being incredibly healthy and nutritious. A fair number of reviews also state that this food works well for picky eaters.
However, some owners have found that their dogs take a while to warm to the taste of this dry food. The size of the kibble is also a bit too large for especially small breeds like chihuahuas, but this should not be an issue for pugs.
6. Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
This grain-free dry dog food from Zignature contains 31% protein, 18% fat, and is made with limited ingredients to make it easier to digest. This dog food is suitable for both adult pugs and puppies, which is a bonus!
Real farm-raised turkey is used as the first ingredient, followed by peas, chickpeas, and flaxseeds. These give your pug the protein and energy they require to blossom. The recipe is grain-free and doesn’t contain chicken, dairy, corn, wheat, soy, or potatoes, so it is both a low-glycemic and hypoallergenic food for your pug.
Chicken, corn, dairy, soy, and wheat can be problematic in pugs with allergies as they can be common triggers. No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives are used in the formula either.
This dry dog food contains a good balance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep your pug happy and healthy. The inclusion of turkey in the recipe is a good source of protein, riboflavin, selenium, and phosphorus, whilst also being low in saturated fat.
There are a high number of positive reviews for this dry dog food, with a lot of owners praising the high-quality and hypoallergenic ingredients. A lot of dog owners have found this food worked well for their pooches with allergies, so it’s a good choice if your pug has similar issues.
However, some dogs are not as fond of the taste of this food as other flavors. Additionally, picky eaters may take some time to get used to this food.
7. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Puppy Grain-Free Recipe
With good levels of protein (34%) and fat (18%), this food from Nature Variety’s Instinct range is one of the best dog foods for pug puppies. It’s high in protein and has freeze-dried raw meat mixed into the kibble to add flavor and extra protein.
The inclusion of freeze-dried raw meat provides your pug puppy with all the advantages of a raw diet without all the hassle and stress of preparing one.
Real cage-free chicken is listed as the first ingredient, and there is a good level of natural DHA from chicken eggs to help develop your puppy’s brain and eyes. Zero potatoes, corn, soy, wheat, by-product meal, or grains are used in the recipe.
Additionally, this puppy food is also free from artificial colors and preservatives.
Plenty of dog owners have noted that this dog food is very well-liked by their puppies. It is also praised for its high-quality and wholesome ingredients.
However, some owners have found that the size of the kibble pieces is a bit large, so this is something to bear in mind before feeding it your pug puppy. In addition to this, some puppies may develop digestive issues when first switched to the food.
To help make the transition easier on your puppy, you should gradually switch their diet by mixing in their old food with their new one. Puppies who have never eaten freeze-dried raw meat before might experience loose stools at first, but this should eventually pass with time.
Keeping your pug healthy and nourished with high-quality dog foods is vital for ensuring they don’t run into health issues later down the line. The best dog foods for pugs contain appropriate levels of protein, fat, carbs, and fiber, as well as other extra nutrients and vitamins.
Obesity is a common health concern for pugs, but as long as you feed your pooch a nutritious diet and remain vigilant with portion control, then you will have a much better chance at making sure they maintain a good weight.
The products listed above are great examples of healthy foods for pugs as they all meet the dietary requirements for this breed. A lot of these foods use hypoallergenic ingredients, so they are ideal for pugs with allergies or a sensitive stomach.
Whether you own an adult pug or puppy, one of these dog foods is worth giving a go! A large number of dog owners (and their pooches!) are very satisfied with the quality of these foods, so hopefully, you will be too.
Our Top Picks
- DOG FOOD: The Farmer’s Dog - We’re feeding all of our dogs fresh dog food. It’s not cheap, but Raven loves it! Get 50% off your first order.
- PUPPY TOY: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack - Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
- CHEW TOY: KONG Extreme - Great toy for heavy chewers like our Labrador Retrievers.
For more of our favorites check out all of our Dog Product Reviews.