With his big eyes and wrinkled face, the Pug is an easy breed to identify. These little dogs are full of personality and charm, making them a popular family pet and companion. Pugs love to spend time with people, and they are very dog-friendly as well. It also doesn’t hurt that they have low exercise needs and a low-maintenance coat.


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Though you don’t have to spend a lot of time grooming your Pug or taking him for long walks, you do need to be mindful of his diet. Pugs are highly prone to obesity, so it is important to help your Pug maintain a healthy body weight. You also need to keep in mind that Pugs are small-breed dogs weighing up to 18 pounds at maturity, so they may require a more calorie-dense diet than larger breeds. Choose a small-breed formula that is designed for little dogs like your Pug and follow the feeding recommendations carefully to keep your dog from gaining too much weight.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Pug breed and explore some of its unique nutritional needs. We’ll also provide some tips for choosing the best food for Pugs and give you our top 10 picks.

What Do You Need to Know About Pugs?

The Pug is a friendly, fun-loving breed that absolutely loves spending time with family. These dogs are highly affectionate with their people, and they get along well with cats and other dogs. This breed is very apartment-friendly due to its size, though they do tend to bark a fair bit. They are popular among urban dwellers as well because they can be indoor housetrained.

Pugs were originally bred for their friendly dispositions, and they are the ultimate companion pet. They are technically a small breed because they usually weigh less than 20 pounds at maturity, but they are at the higher end of the weight range for this category. Because they are a bit bigger than other small-breed dogs, Pugs can handle a bit of rough play, and they can hold their own against rambunctious children. This being said, they aren’t ideal for dog sports and are definitely not the best jogging buddies.

Though Pugs are very people-oriented, they make good watchdogs because they are very alert and never hesitate to sound the alarm. These dogs love to stay at home and generally do best indoors because, as a brachycephalic breed, they have a very low tolerance for heat. For this same reason, Pugs tend to snore and snort quite a bit. You should also be aware that their wrinkled skin comes with a risk for certain issues like skin infections, so learn how to properly clean and care for your Pug’s skin to keep him healthy and happy.

Do They Have Any Special Dietary Needs?

Unfortunately, Pugs are not one of the healthiest dog breeds out there. As a toy breed, they have an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, but even something as simple as gaining a few pounds can drastically shorten their lifespan. The biggest problem these dogs are affected by is brachycephalic syndrome. This is an assortment of anatomical abnormalities that make it difficult for the Pug to breathe properly and to tolerate heat and exercise. Pugs need to be kept cool on hot days, and their body weight needs to be controlled to prevent these issues from becoming more significant.

Here are some of the other health problems to which the breed is prone:

  • Pug dog encephalitis
  • Hemivertebrae
  • Patellar luxation
  • Dental problems
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eye injuries
  • Epilepsy
  • Demodectic mange
  • Legg-Perthes disease

Pugs are also more prone to allergies than other breeds. They can experience a variety of different allergies, including skin allergies, contact allergies, inhalant allergies, and food allergies. Food allergies in dogs tend to present with a combination of skin and digestive symptoms, so if your dog frequently has an upset stomach or develops recurrent skin problems or ear infections, it could be an allergy. Limiting the number of ingredients in your dog’s food can reduce the risk of triggering an allergy, and limited ingredient diets are a good way to treat food allergies as well.

Generally speaking, you need to be mindful of what kind of food you give your Pug and how much you feed him. Even if your Pug begs for food, it doesn’t mean he’s hungry. His metabolism may be faster than larger dogs, but he doesn’t have high enough exercise requirements to require extra food. Simply choose a high-quality small-breed recipe and follow the feeding recommendations, keeping an eye on your dog’s body weight and condition.

What to Look for in a Good Pug Dog Food

Choosing a high-quality dog food is essential for your Pug’s health. All dogs require a diet rich in protein to support lean muscle mass with healthy fats for energy as well as skin and coat support. In addition to these essential nutrients, your Pug needs certain vitamins and minerals in specific quantities to achieve complete and balanced nutrition. To make sure these needs are met, we recommend a small- or toy-breed dog food made with wholesome, natural ingredients.

Here are some things to look for in a good Pug dog food: 

  • Rich in animal protein. Puppies require at least 22% protein in their diets, and adult dogs need at least 18%. The majority of your Pug’s protein should come from animal sources because they are more biologically valuable and contain all essential amino acids.
  • Moderate fat and calories. Fat provides your dog with a concentrated source of calories, which is particularly important for small breeds with fast metabolisms. Because the Pug is prone to obesity, however, you should look for a dog food with moderate fat and calories.
  • Highly digestible. Whole-food ingredients are the most digestible for dogs. Whole grains are highly nutritious, but if your dog can’t tolerate them, starchy vegetables and legumes are an acceptable alternative. Just keep the digestibility of your dog’s diet as high as possible.
  • Complete and balanced. If the dog food you’re looking at carries in AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy, you can rest assured that it will meet your Pug’s minimum requirements for essential nutrients. From there, it’s up to you to determine the quality of the recipe.

Now that you know more about your Pug’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping for the best food for Pugs. Keep reading to see our top 10 picks.

The 10 Best Pug Dog Foods

The best Pug dog food will feature a high-quality source of animal protein as the main ingredient with supplemental protein as needed and moderate fat and calorie content. Look for a small- or toy-breed recipe to start then choose a formula that meets your dog’s unique requirements. If you’re not sure where to start, try one of our favorites. Here’s our top pick for the best Pug dog food:

NomNomNow Fresh Food Delivery

Overall Best Pug Dog Food: Many pet nutrition experts agree that fresh food is best for dogs, regardless of their breed. Fresh dog food is typically made in smaller batches from fresh, natural ingredients which increases the nutritional value and bioavailability. If you want your Pug to receive the best nutrition possible, consider a fresh dog food brand like NomNomNow. This company prepares fresh pet food in small batches using wholesome natural ingredients to deliver premium-quality nutrition. Simply provide some basic information about your dog’s breed, age, and size, and they will calculate your Pug’s calorie needs and send you monthly supplies of pre-portioned pet food. Choose from several different recipes according to your Pug’s preferences, knowing that each one is made from premium ingredients in a complete and balanced formula to deliver optimal nutrition with each bite.

  • Pros: Fresh food delivered monthly, pre-portioned packages, prepared in small batches, wholesome natural ingredients, several recipes to choose from, complete and balanced
  • Cons: Very expensive compared to traditional kibble

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small-Breed Dry Food

Most Popular Pug Dog Food: With so many options out there, choosing a single dog food recipe can be tough. When you’re not sure where to start, consider a popular brand like Taste of the Wild that uses premium roasted meats and fresh fruits and vegetables in every recipe. This Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small-Breed Dry Food is a great option for your Pug because it is formulated for small-breed dogs to deliver a concentrated source of energy and nutrients. This formula features novel proteins like venison, duck, and ocean fish for a total of 32% crude protein. It is loaded with healthy fats as well from both plant and animal sources to ensure the ideal blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This recipe contains supplemental fiber and probiotics to ensure complete and regular digestion, plus it is grain-free so it won’t upset your Pug’s sensitive stomach. Overall, it contains 18% fat and 4% fiber with 370 calories per cup, making it a great option for your Pug.

Pros: Novel animal proteins, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, plenty of omega fatty acids, supplemental fiber and probiotics, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals

Cons: Contains plant protein as a main ingredient (pea protein)

American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe

Most Affordable Pug Dog Food:Top shelf dog food can be quite expensive, but price isn’t always equated with quality. If you’re looking for an affordable brand of dog food, consider American Journey, Chewy’s in-house brand. This brand is highly affordable but still uses wholesome natural ingredients to deliver high-quality nutrition. This American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe might be a good option for your Pug because it is designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs and food allergies. This formula contains a limited number of main ingredients to reduce the risk of triggering an allergy and is made with a single source of novel animal protein. It is supplemented with plenty of fiber for healthy digestion with a rich blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat support. It contains chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption and is complete and balanced for dogs in all life stages. Plus, it is protein-rich with moderate fat and calories to support your Pug’s healthy body weight.

  • Pros: Limited number of ingredients, single source of animal protein, supplemental fiber for digestion, chelated minerals, complete and balanced for all life stages, moderate fat and calories
  • Cons: Contains plant protein as a main ingredient (pea protein)

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Puppy Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe

Best Dog Food for Pug Puppies: Pug puppies grow very quickly, and they are likely to reach their adult size well before 12 months of age. To support your Pug puppy’s rapid growth, you need a diet rich in protein with extra fat for calories. Our top pick for the best dog food for Pug puppies is Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Puppy Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe. This formula features fresh chicken as the main ingredient with chicken meal as a concentrated source of supplemental protein. It contains highly digestible whole-grain carbohydrates like oatmeal and barley with supplemental fiber and probiotics to ensure healthy and regular digestion. This recipe features menhaden fish meal, chicken fat, and fish oil as rich sources of omega fatty acids, helping to support your Pug’s skin and coat. It also contains fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients with vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure complete and balanced nutrition. Plus, it has LifeSource bits which contain a proprietary blend of nutrients including antioxidants for healthy immunity.

  • Pros: Highly digestible, real chicken main ingredient, whole-grain carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, supplemental fiber and probiotics, LifeSource Bits
  • Cons: Some puppies may be sensitive to grains

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Deboned Turkey & Peas Recipe

Best Pug Dog Food for Seniors: As your Pug gets older, his metabolism may start to slow down, which increases his risk for obesity even more. Your senior Pug still needs a healthy diet rich in protein with moderate fat content, but it is important to control his calorie intake to avoid weight gain. Our top pick for the best Pug dog food for seniors is Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Deboned Turkey & Peas Recipe. This formula is designed specifically for small-breed seniors, made to support lean muscle mass as well as healthy bones and joints. It features fresh turkey as the main ingredient with supplemental protein from lean sources like chicken meal. It contains digestible whole-grain carbohydrates like brown rice and oatmeal as well as fresh fruits and vegetables like carrots, spinach, and apples. This formula contains plenty of fiber with probiotics to support healthy digestion. It is also complete and balanced for small breeds.

  • Pros: Formulated for small breed seniors, rich in lean protein, digestible whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, blend of omega fatty acids, supplemental fiber and probiotics, complete and balanced
  • Cons: Some dogs may be sensitive to grains

Canidae Grain-Free PURE Petite Chicken Formula LID Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Recipe

Best Food for Pug with Allergies: Pugs have a slightly higher risk for developing allergies than other dog breeds. If your Pug has shown signs of digestive issues or recurrent skin problems, it could be that allergies are to blame. A limited ingredient diet made with a novel source of protein and carbohydrate is a great way to give your Pug’s body time to recover from the allergy. Our top pick for the best dog food for Pugs with skin allergies or food allergies is Canidae Grain-Free PURE Petite Chicken Formula LID Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Recipe. This recipe is made with just 8 main ingredients, featuring fresh chicken as the first. It is a single-protein recipe for maximum digestibility, made with grain-free carbohydrates like peas, lentils, and tapioca. You’ll also find this recipe supplemented with fiber and probiotics for healthy digestion with a rich blend of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It is complete and balanced for small-breed dogs, providing 24% protein and 12% fat at 525 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Just 8 main ingredients, real chicken first ingredient, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, supplemental fiber and probiotics, chelated minerals, complete and balanced nutrition
  • Cons: May be too high in calories for some dogs

4 More Top-Rated Pug Dog Foods

If the dog foods reviewed above don’t seem like the perfect fit for your Pug, don’t worry – there are still plenty of other options out there! Here are four more top-rated Pug dog foods we recommend:

Halo Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Grain-Free Healthy Weight Small Breed Dry Food

As a small breed, Pugs have faster metabolisms than bigger dogs. You need to keep in mind, however, that this breed is also highly prone to obesity – especially if they don’t get enough exercise. If your Pug is overweight or obese, helping him achieve a healthy body weight is extremely important. Our top pick for the best dog food for overweight Pug dogs is Halo Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Grain-Free Healthy Weight Small Breed Dry Food. This formula is holistic and all-natural, so you can rest assured that it will more than provide for your Pug’s nutritional needs in a healthy, highly digestible way. It features lean proteins like whole salmon and whitefish with no rendered meats or meat meals. It contains non-GMO fresh fruits and veggies to provide natural sources for key nutrients and offers a rich blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Overall, it provides 27% protein with 12% fat at 383 calories per cup to help your pug maintain a healthy body weight.

  • Pros: Healthy weight recipe, rich in lean animal proteins, omega fatty acids for skin and coat, wholesome natural ingredients, highly digestible, rich in protein, moderate fat and calories
  • Cons: Contains plant protein as a main ingredient (pea protein)

Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Small Breed Turkey Recipe

If the limited ingredient diet reviewed above isn’t quite the right fit for your Pug, there are plenty of other options. Another great choice in the best food for Pugs with allergies is Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Small Breed Turkey Recipe. This formula features a single source of premium animal protein, and a lean one at that – turkey meal. Turkey meal is a concentrated protein source as well as a natural source of joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin. This recipe features digestible grain-free carbohydrates like peas and tapioca with a rich blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. This formula is supplemented with fiber for healthy and regular digestion as well as vitamins and chelated minerals for complete and balanced nutrition. You’ll also find that it contains freeze-dried pieces of turkey for a boost in nutrition and natural flavor. Overall, it contains 35% protein with 14.5% fat and 434 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Concentrated source of animal protein, highly digestible, rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, freeze-dried pieces of turkey, rich in protein and flavor, complete and balanced
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

Nutro Ultra Small Breed Adult Dry Food

If you’re looking for a simple dog food formulated for small breeds like your Pug, try this Nutro Ultra Small Breed Adult Dry Food. It features real chicken as the first ingredient and is made with a rich blend of superfoods to deliver high-quality, highly digestible nutrition from natural sources. It contains supplemental protein from pasture-fed lamb and fresh salmon with targeted levels of omega fatty acids for skin and coat support. You’ll find that this formula contains highly digestible whole-grain carbohydrates. This recipe also contains dried fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources of key nutrients with supplemental fiber for healthy digestion. It also contains chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption and is rich in antioxidants for healthy immunity. This formula provides 26% protein with 15% fat and 348 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Trio of premium animal proteins, superfoods for natural nutrition, highly digestible, whole-grain carbohydrates, supplemental fiber for digestion, omega fatty acids for skin and coat
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), contains brewers rice (somewhat questionable)

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Farm-Raised Chicken Recipe

If you want to provide your Pug with a wholesome diet, you have to start with high-quality ingredients and that’s exactly what you’ll find in this Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Farm-Raised Chicken Recipe. This formula features farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient to support your Pug’s lean muscle mass. It is also rich in highly digestible whole-grain carbohydrates like brown rice and oatmeal for fiber, energy, and essential nutrients. This recipe provides a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat with plenty of supplemental fiber for healthy digestion. It contains dried fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients with vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure balanced nutrition and optimal nutrient absorption. Plus, it is rich in protein with moderate fat and calories, containing 24% protein and 15% fat with 377 calories per cup.

  • Pros: Farm-raised chicken first ingredient, digestible whole grains, dried fruits and vegetables, rich in omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, complete and balanced, moderate fat and calories
  • Cons: Not a grain-free recipe (some Pugs may be sensitive to grains)

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How much should I feed my Pug? The amount you feed your dog depends on his age, weight, and activity level. For small breeds like the Pug, you may need to feed your dog a calorie-dense diet to keep up with his fast metabolism without going overboard. Generally speaking, you’ll be feeding your Pug about 1 cup of food per day, depending on the brand you choose and its calorie content. Start with a small-breed formula and follow the feeding recommendations on the package to determine the right amount.
  2. How often should I feed my Pug? Most dogs do well with two meals per day, but small breeds like the Pug may need an additional meal to support their fast metabolism. It is important to remember, however, that you are just dividing the total recommended amount into three meals – you’re not giving your Pug an extra meal. Start with a small-breed dog food to determine the daily amount your Pug should be eating according to his age and body weight. From there, divide the amount into three meals and space them evenly throughout the day.
  3. Do Pugs have food allergies? Unfortunately, Pugs are prone to a wide range of health problems, including allergies. Pugs can develop a variety of different allergies, including skin allergies, contact allergies, inhalant allergies, and food allergies. Food allergies tend to present with a mixture of skin and digestive symptoms, so if your dog frequently has an upset stomach or develops recurrent skin problems or ear infections, it could be an allergy. Put your Pug on an elimination diet to see if his symptoms resolve – if they do, it’s a good chance that allergies are the issue.
  4. When should I switch my Pug puppy to adult food? Most veterinarians recommend keeping a puppy on puppy food for about 12 months. In a small breed like the Pug, however, your puppy may reach his full size before he hits 1 year. Puppy food is very nutrient- and calorie-dense to support growth and development, so even if your Pug stops growing before 12 months, you may want to keep him on puppy food until that age. Talk to your veterinarian to see what’s right for your puppy and be sure to choose a high-quality recipe formulated for small breeds.
  5. Is a grain-free diet good for Pugs? Many people mistakenly assume that grain-free diets are inherently healthier for dogs. The fact is that whole grains are a nutritious source of carbohydrate energy, fiber, and nutrients for your dog. The only reason you might consider a grain-free diet is if your Pug develops an allergy or sensitivity to grains. You should already be avoiding wheat and corn products, but some dogs become sensitive to grains like rice, oats, or barley. Talk to your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet, especially if you’re considering a grain-free recipe.

Conclusion

Pugs are an adorable breed with a loving temperament and goofy personality. These little dogs are always happy to spend time with family, and they get along with just about anyone. Unfortunately, they are prone to a number of health problems that can shorten their lifespan. Providing your dog with a healthy and nutritious diet is one of the best ways to prevent health problems and to maximize the dog’s lifespan as much as possible.

If you’re not sure where to go for a high-quality Pug dog food, check out the 10 recipes we’ve reviewed here. You won’t be disappointed!

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