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The Best Dog Food for Pugs (Puppies, Allergies, + More)

Your cheat-sheet for the best dog food for pugs. In-depth pug dog food analysis for puppies, allergies, seniors & more.

And remember:  Pugs, not drugs!

My lively four-legged best friend, Roy (a beautifully bouncy Border Collie) has a number of equally loveable doggy friends.

One being the most adorable Pug, called Pippin. My friend, Jan, collected her when she was a tiny bundle and it was puppy love at first sight.

Pugs are instantly recognizable, small and compact with round heads and noses that give the impression they were literally squashed onto the front. They have deep wrinkles on their foreheads (not from worry – Pugs are easy going and far too pampered for that 🙂 ) and large, prominent eyes.

Pippin is no exception, she has the unique appearance only a Pug can carry off, but “beauty” comes at a price:

  • Pug heads are large compared to the rest of their body (they have wide, short skulls) and their short muzzles can result in breathing issues.
  • Pugs can be prone to excessive weight gain.
  • Pugs can struggle to eat large kibble due to their flat face and thick lips.

Pugs do have a reputation for being a bit spoilt and I must admit Pippin is no exception. She has a few designer coats that Anna Wintour would give a nod to and her own monogrammed cushion where she rests her perfectly double curled tail. When she’s not enjoying a jaunty gait in the great outdoors or snoozing contentedly, Pippin loves to eat.

How Should I feed My Pug?

As a general rule of thumb try to adhere to the following dog food rules:

Wag that tail. (Look for the following ingredients in your dog food):

  • Natural is best: Think a short list of high-quality ingredients.
  • Nutrient rich: Containing protein, carbohydrates and fiber.
  • Whole animal products: Think chicken or salmon, actual products from animals.
  • Natural oils and fats: Help give your canine energy and a shiny coat.
  • Healthy grains: Carbs like rice and buckwheat.
  • Essential minerals and vitamins: For vitality and general good health.

In the dog-house. (Try to avoid the following ingredients):

  • Cheap fillers: Bulk out food, no nutritional value e.g. wheat and corn – contaminants can lurk in the grains during storage and this can cause allergies in dogs.
  • By-Products: Can include animal left-overs or products from sick animals.
  • Added chemicals: Say no to artificial flavors, preservatives and colorings.

Let’s keep the general doggy food rules in mind as we explore the best type of food for your Pug at each life-stage (puppy, adult or senior).

We can also look to alleviating health problems that your pup may be suffering from, such as allergies and sensitive stomachs, by presenting him or her with the most appropriate dog food.

What is the Best Dog Food for Pug Puppies?

Impossibly cute, your Pug puppy needs food that will leave him or her happy and content, full of bounce and producing relatively solid and brown puppy poops (hopefully not all over your floor whilst the inevitable toilet training takes place)!

The right food will help your puppy maintain a shiny coat, which should be dense to the touch. As well as the doggy food rules (see above), protein is very important to a puppy and should come from a natural and high-quality source.

Here are some good tips on how to feed your pug puppy:

Here are our top 3 best pug puppy food picks featuring a handful of the healthiest puppy brands on the market:

1. Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe

Directly from the manufacturers own kitchen this dry puppy food is described as “formulated to meet the nutritional requirements for ALL puppies.” Suitable for large and small breeds, it has a wide appeal.

Wag that tail

  • Contains industry leading levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
  • A whole animal product is top of the ingredient list, deboned chicken.
  • The top five ingredients listed are all natural produce e.g. sweet potato and peas.
  • Home-cooked appeal.

In the dog-house

  • A bit more expensive, but remember:  you get what you pay for!
  • Can give your pup a little gas.

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2. Wellness Complete Health Puppy – Chicken, Salmon & Oatmeal

Dry puppy food, described by the manufacturer as offering complete and balanced everyday nutrition. We are well aware that development is of utmost importance to your puppy during these early stages and this product is lauded for its added DHA (for healthy brain and eye development).

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Wag that tail:

  • The first ingredient listed is a whole animal product – deboned chicken.
  • Other ingredients are described as “natural” and “premium.”
  • This has a re-sealable bag, great for keeping the product fresh.

In the dog-house:

  • Can be quite rich for a pup’s delicate tummy.

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 3. Purina Pro Plan Focus Classic Puppy (Wet) – Chicken & Rice Entrée

Specially formulated for puppies this wet food proffers to provide complete and balanced nutrition. The manufacturers state that this food “helps promote lean body mass for ideal body condition.”

Wag that tail

  • The first ingredient listed is a whole animal product (chicken).
  • We like the assurance that it’s of high quality and great tasting.
  • Seems to help your pup gain a noticeably shinier coat.
  • Helps to improve bowel movements.

In the dog-house

  • We would rather see a shorter list of ingredients.

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Best in Show:

Our top pick is Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe for its natural and healthy ingredients, a great way to give your puppy the best start in life.

What is the Best Dry Dog Food for Pugs? (Healthy Adult Pugs)

It is recommended that Pugs are fed a similar amount of food at a similar time each day, keeping things consistent and prevent tummy upsets. Like all dogs, Pugs require a well-balanced diet, with plenty of nutrients. They have a tendency to be a little greedy and to avoid excessive weight gain you should provide adequate exercise and the right diet for your beloved pet.

Here are our top 3 best dry dog food for pugs, featuring a handful of the healthiest brands on the market for adult pugs:

1. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Small Breed Health

A turkey and chicken recipe dog food which has been formulated by Wellness especially for small breeds dogs. This food is grain free, which is great news for dogs that may have a sensitive tum.

Wag that tail

  • Natural ingredients including deboned turkey, chicken meal and vegetables.
  • No by-products, fillers, grains or artificial preservatives to worry about.
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals to help maintain a shiny coat and care for bones.
  • Small kibble, great for smaller mouths.

In the dog house

  • Follow the storage instructions to the letter or it doesn’t stay fresh for long.

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2. Taste of the Wild

Taste of the Wild is a grain-free dog food that is taking the pet food world by storm.  Many flavors to choose from, including bison, lamb, salmon, and wildfowl.

Pro Tip: Make sure to check the protein content across the flavors.

Wag that tail

  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals to help maintain a shiny coat and care for bones.
  • Awesome for your pug’s coat. No more dry/flaky fur!
  • Small kibble, great for smaller mouths.
  • No by-products, fillers, grains or artificial preservatives to worry about.

In the dog house

  • Test to find the right amount of kibble to feed so your pug doesn’t pack on the poundage.

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3. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient Formula

A dry dog food product formulated especially for small breed adult dogs.

Blue Buffalo  Basics -Turkey Recipe is made in the USA and the company tag line is very appealing:

“Love them like family, feed them like family.”

Wag that tail

  • The natural ingredients stand out – high quality and full of nutrients.
  • Contains a limited number of ingredients, makes it good for sensitive tums too.

In the dog house

  • The bag is not re-sealable, high quality products surely deserve that!

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Best in show:

Our top pick is Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Small Breed Health. We like that it is formulated especially for small breed adult dogs and that it has natural high-quality ingredients.

Also, your fellow pug owners are going nuts for this dog food.

What is the Best Dog Food for Senior Pugs?

You may find your little four-legged friend begins to experience a decrease in the sharpness of their senses (hearing and sight may become impaired) and they may develop problems relating to internal organs such as the heart.

Mobility-wise, they might become less agile and slow down a little (don’t we all as we get older)? If they are moving less they will burn less calorie wise, so should need to consume less.

Don’t let your Pug’s twilight years be blighted by the bloat – keep your pet healthy and happy by feeding him the right amount, a lean dog will be able to move more easily and exercise is still important.

To keep joints healthy its worth considering dog food containing glucosamine and chondroitin and omega-3 fatty acid is thought to aid mobility and the healing process.

Nutrition and a well-balanced diet remains essential, especially as the immune system may not be quite what it was. A reduced level of immunity can lead to increased risk in terms of heart problems, diabetes, arthritis etc. Antioxidants are credited with enhancing the immune system.

During their senior years, the dietary needs of your Pug will be partly determined by his or her health issues. Veterinarians are able to offer advice on the health status of your precious pet and can offer guidance on how best to meet their dietary needs.

As the old adage goes:

There’s life in the old dog yet and we owe it to our faithful friends to make their sunset years some of their best.

There’s life in the old dog yet & we owe it to him to make his sunset years the best! Click To Tweet

There are a number of specialized brands of senior food on the market. Here are our top 4 picks featuring a handful of the healthiest brands:

1. Canidae Life Stages Platinum Senior & Overweight (Wet)

This chicken, lamb and fish formula dog food has been produced in the U.S.A with senior dogs in mind and those carrying a little too much extra weight.

Canidae also include their own special ingredient – HealthPLUS which promotes a healthy immune system.

Wag that tail

  • Fabulous high quality ingredients. Whole animal product and natural all the way.
  • Cooked in broth so should be nice and tasty.
  • You won’t find any wheat, corn, soy or fillers.

In the dog house

  • There’s a fishy pong to this food (but, it does contain whitefish).

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2. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free (Wet) Senior Dog Food

This dry dog food is formulated with senior dogs in mind, so it’s great for your more mature pooch.  We particularly like the fact that it’s all made in the USA and their tag line is very appealing “Love them like family, feed them like family.”

Wag that tail

  • A healthy ingredient list including chicken, broth, pea protein and carrots.
  • Plenty of high quality protein.
  • No by-products and grain free, great news if your dog has allergies/sensitivities.

In the dog house

  • Can make your dog a bit gassy (but then pongs and dogs tend to go hand in hand)!

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3. NUTRO Ultra Senior Holistic Superfood Wet Dog Food

Produced in U.S. facilities, this food is especially formulated for senior dogs. The texture of this food is quite soft and moist, which may suit your senior canine well.

Wag that tail

  • Natural and high-quality ingredients -plenty of proteins, whole grains and veg.
  • Helps to maintain a healthy immune system.
  • Nutrients to shiny coat, good eyesight and a healthy heart.

In the dog house

  • Big chunks, rather than ground food, not necessarily a negative but worth bearing in mind if your canine is a picky eater.

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4. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Active Longevity Dog Food

This chicken meal, rice & barley dry dog food recipe has been specially formulated by Hill’s with senior dogs (small breed) in mind. They are confident in their product and offer a 100% money back guarantee if you are not happy.

Wag that tail

  • Lots of nutritional value that helps maintain energy levels.
  • Natural ingredients with plenty of vitamins and minerals.
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints.
  • Great for small breeds with little mouths as the kibble is small too.

In the dog house

  • Kibble can be a bit dense and you may need to moisten it for your aged pet.

Check Price

Best in show

Our top pick is Canidae Life Stages Platinum Senior & Overweight Dog food.

We like that it is formulated especially for dogs in their twilight years and that it uses natural high-quality ingredients. 

What is the Best Dog Food for Pugs with Allergies or Sensitive Stomach?

Sometimes a dog will eat food that its body takes a dislike to, when this happens the dog’s immune system kicks in (believing that the food may hurt the dog).

Antibodies are then produced.

This happens each time the dog eats that particular food – hence they are “allergic” to it.  They may develop an itchy skin rash, nibble at their own paws or lick their fur repeatedly or suffer bouts of sickness.

If your Pug is experiencing similar symptoms it may be that they are suffering from an allergy. There are many ingredients that can trigger an allergy, some common allergens include:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Yeast
  • Dairy
  • Chicken
  • Beef

However, it may be that it is not the actual ingredient that your Pug is allergic to but contaminants within the grains of the dog food. Contaminants are not pleasant – they refer to mold, mites and insects that may have contaminated the grain whilst it is being stored.

If a manufacturer is using cheap grain filler in their dog food it may be causing an allergic reaction in your Pug. There are other things (such as pollen, detergent and ragweed) that can also trigger an allergic reaction.

Trial and error may play a large part in finding what it is that is upsetting your Pug, but I would suggest that a visit to a qualified veterinarian is a must. He or she will be able to assist you in finding the triggers –  you can then work on eliminating them.

Pugs can also have an intolerance to certain ingredients, due to a sensitive stomach.  When a dog eats a food that they are intolerant to, their digestive system, rather than their immune system fires off the response.

If your Pug is suffering from sickness, diarrhea, bloating or excessive gas it may be that they have an intolerance to an ingredient in their food.

Sick pug? Diarrhea, bloating or excessive gas may signal an ingredient intolerance in their food. Click To Tweet

There are a number of specialized brands of dog food on the market that are aimed at dogs that have allergies, digestive problems or sensitive tums. You have to be careful when choosing the most suitable dog food for your pet.

Here are our top 4 picks for best dog food for pugs with allergies:

1. Merrick Grain Free Real Duck + Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food Recipe

Merrick manufactures this grain free dry food and states that it is suitable for all life-stages and breeds. This brand is appealing due to the fact that it is “home-grown,” made from natural, real whole foods that are sourced from local farmers.

If your Pug has been suffering from symptoms associated with grain contaminants this may be the dog food for you (or rather your Pug)!

Wag that tail

  • Natural/real whole food ingredients, the first ingredient listed is deboned duck.
  • Contains 70% quality meat protein and 30% quality fruits and vegetables
  • No soya, wheat, corn, or gluten to be found in this dog food.
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin (promotes healthy hips and joints).
  • Plenty of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids (help your dog to have a healthy coat).
  • Merrick’s state that their kitchens are not only upholding the strict guidelines of the FDA, but they are also five-star. Are they hiding Gordon Ramsey in there? Pretty dog gone good stuff.
  • Also, this:
Best dog food for pugs with allergies
(click to embiggen)

In the dog house

  • Watch out for some rather smelly gas from your dog’s rear end after din-dins.

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2. Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

A turkey meal recipe dog food aimed at pets with sensitivities – states that it is made with one animal protein and no gluten or grain. The great selling point of this product is the fact that it contains just a few ingredients – all of which are easy to digest.

Nature’s Variety also add their own Raw Boost in the form of freeze dried raw pieces that are a great source of nutrition. The food has been produced in accordance with the needs of small breed dogs – so it should be ideal for Pugs.

Wag that tail

  • Primary ingredient is turkey meal and the food is rich in nutrients to aid digestion.
  • No grain, gluten, dairy, eggs, chicken, beef or fish (the main foods that can cause an allergy). Oh, and there are no preservatives or artificial colors either.
  • Small kibble size, small breeds like Pugs will find it easier to eat this food.

In the dog house

  • Not the cheapest option, fewer ingredients but more expensive, however you are paying for premium quality.

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3. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food, Whitefish & Sweet Potato

Wellness complete is a brand which promises to offer a dog food that contains a limited number of ingredients – all of which are natural and authentic. The food therefore should suit Pugs with intolerances and sensitivities.

Wellness likes to point out that they are a family-owned company and that they are really are interested in providing delicious food that your pet will crave. This is backed up when you hear that even fussy dogs seem to be enjoying it.

Wag that tail

  • A good balance of vitamins and minerals will help maintain health and well-being. Whilst helping to keep energy levels high.
  • The first ingredient listed is a whole animal product, whitefish.
  • No by-products, fillers, wheat, corn, soy, or artificial colors and flavors.
  • Good tasty food – even picky eaters should enjoy this.

In the dog house

  • Doesn’t appear to be the best dog food for helping to control weight.

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4. CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Fields Small Breed Dog Formula – Fresh Chicken

Canidae is an independent, family-owned company that use simple recipes and utilize a limited number of ingredients.

A feed with simple and limited ingredients is less likely to cause problems for dogs with sensitive tummies, so could be suitable for your Pug is they have a food allergy or intolerance.

Canidae also adds a Health Plus Solution” to its food to boost your dog’s immune system.

Wag that tail

  • Chicken, a whole animal product is listed as its primary ingredient.
  • Contains peas, lentils and dried whole egg (good for digestion).
  • Grain free – you won’t see any corn or soy etc. on their ingredient list.
  • Cooked with probiotics (promoting a healthier immune system and better skin).

In the dog house

  • Extra fiber means initially there may be an increase in poop, but this should settle once your pup gets used to the food.

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Read more about the role that dog food can play for your pug’s allergies.

Conclusion: Make Sure Your Voice / Bark is Heard!

Pippin the Pug is now content and enjoys her two meals a day. Her owner Jan has based Pippin’s feed on life stage (she started on puppy food and moved onto adult food).

However, Pippin unfortunately suffers from some itching and digestive issues so Jan now feeds her a grain free natural dog food.

There is a myriad of information out there relating to dog food brands suitable for dogs with food allergies and intolerances and also on dog food for different life stages (be it puppy, adult or senior).

We think that no amount of research can substitute for the views and opinions of you as Pug owners.

We want to know what you think!

Have you tried a particular brand already? If so, what did you and your four-legged friend think of it? Share your comments and views with us or ask your fellow dog lovers a question.

We all share one common trait here:

We ❤ our dogs and want the best for them!

Best Dog Food for Pugs

Merrick Grain Free Recipe Dry Dog Food
Nature's Variety Instinct L.I.D. Grain-Free
Wellness Complete Health Natural
Canidae Grain Free PURE for Small Breeds

Check Also

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