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 (but not from worry – Pugs are easy going and far too pampered for that) and large, prominent eyes.
...but with great Pug beauty comes great Pug responsibility. Their unique features require uniquely-suited foods. Here are our picks for the best dog food for pugs:
Best for Pug Puppies
Dry puppy food, described by the manufacturer as offering complete and balanced everyday nutrition.
Development is the most important thing in your puppy’s life and this product is lauded for its added DHA (for healthy brain and eye development).
Best Pug Dog Food
Perfect kibble size for your Pug’s flat face and thick lips.
That’s a compliment…right?!
Wellness Core also keeps gas and weight in check.
Best for Senior Pugs
This stuff is the best of the best.
Natural and high-quality ingredients help maintain your senior Pug’s immune system, shiny coat, good eyesight and a healthy heart.
Best for Pugs with Allergies
This Canidae dog food is stripped down to 9 ingredients.
Less ingredients = more likely that your Pug’s allergies will disappear.
How Should I Feed My Pug?
Pugs have a unique appearance only a Pug can pull 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.
Adhere to the following dog food rules whenever possible.
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.
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 dog 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 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
- Grain-Free Nutrition With No Gluten Ingredients For Easier Digestibility
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.
- 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.
- A bit more expensive, but remember: you get what you pay for!
- Can give your pup a little gas.
2. Wellness Complete Health Puppy – Chicken, Salmon & Oatmeal
- Complete Health: Complete And Balanced Everyday Nutrition For Your Small Breed Puppy
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).
- 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.
- Can be quite rich for a pup’s delicate tummy.
3. Purina Pro Plan Focus Classic Puppy (Wet) – Chicken & Rice Entrée
- Twelve (12) 13 oz. Cans - Purina Pro Plan Pate Wet Puppy Food; FOCUS Classic Chicken & Rice Entree
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.”
- 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.
- We would rather see a shorter list of ingredients.
What is the Best Dry Dog Food for Pugs? (Healthy Adult Pugs)
We recommend that you feed your Pug 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
- Grain Free: 100% Grain Free, Complete And Balanced Everyday Nutrition For Your Small Breed Dog
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.
- 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.
- Follow the storage instructions to the letter or it doesn’t stay fresh for long.
2. Taste of the Wild
- A taste of the wild with SMOKED SALMON; REAL SALMON is the #1 ingredient; optimal amino acid profile, PROTEIN rich for LEAN, STRONG MUSCLES
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.
- 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.
- Test to find the right amount of kibble to feed so your pug doesn’t pack on the poundage.
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.”
- The natural ingredients stand out – high quality and full of nutrients.
- Contains a limited number of ingredients, makes it good for sensitive tums too.
- The bag is not re-sealable. Let Blue Buffalo know, because high quality products surely deserve that!
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 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. NUTRO Ultra Senior Holistic Superfood Wet Dog Food
- Discontinued by Manufacturer RECOMMENDED REPLACEMENT: NUTRO ULTRA Senior Pate Dog Food, Chicken, Lamb & Salmon Entrée With Pieces of Vegetables & Fruits 3.5 oz. (Pack of 24), B004VRFMBK
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.
- 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.
- Big chunks, rather than ground food, not necessarily a negative but worth bearing in mind if your canine is a picky eater.
2. 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.
- 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.
- There’s a fishy smell to this food (but, it does contain whitefish).
3. 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.”
- 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.
- Can make your dog a bit gassy (but then pongs and dogs tend to go hand in hand)!
4. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Active Longevity Dog Food
- Hill'S Science Diet Adult 7+ Active Longevity Small Bites Natural Dog Food Helps Restore Youthful Energy In Dogs Age 7 And Older
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.
- 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.
- Kibble can be a bit dense and you may need to moisten it for your aged pet.
Does My Pug Have a Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?
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.
Pippin developed noticeable symptoms that were distressing for her and upsetting for Jan. She developed an itchy skin rash, would nibble at her own paws and lick her fur repeatedly. She also suffered bouts of sickness.
If your Pug is experiencing symptoms like an itchy skin rash, nibbling paws, licking fur repeatedly, and/or bouts of sickness – it may be that she is suffering from a food allergy.
Like any breed, Pugs can also have an intolerance to certain ingredients. 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.
Both allergies and intolerances are equally upsetting and can have severe consequences for your pet.
If your Pug is showing the symptoms above, it’s important to ascertain if it IS being caused by their diet.
There are other things (such as pollen, detergent and ragweed) that can 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. He or she will be able to assist you in finding the triggers – you can then work on eliminating them.
What Should I do if My Pug has a Food Allergy or Intolerance?
If you find that your Pug is allergic or intolerant to a food product, then you should look to eliminate that ingredient from his or her diet.
There are many ingredients that can trigger an allergy. The most common include:
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.
Once you have found out what the problem is you need to control your Pug’s diet, you should be looking for dog food that does not contain the problem ingredient – there are a number of Hypoallergenic dog foods on the market and if your Pug is suffering from an intolerance to grain there are a number of grain free options too.
If you are changing your dog’s diet do it slowly and gradually to prevent additional digestive problems.
Best Dog Food for Pugs with Allergies
There are a vast range of dog food brands on the market, but when it comes to a dog with food allergies you have to be even more careful when trying to choose the right one for your pet.
If you have determined the cause of the allergy you can seek the right food to meet your Pug’s needs.
To give you an idea of what’s out there I have explored a small selection of some of the available brands on the market. These have been formulated to meet the needs of dogs that have sensitive digestive systems.
1. Canidae Grain Free Pure Fields Small Breed Dog Formula with Fresh Chicken
- Limited Ingredients: 7-10 simple ingredients for sensitive dogs Grain free: variety of proteins and solutions for your unique dog Real meat #1: high in animal protein for the taste your dog will love
Independent and Family-Owned Since 1996
Canidae are another independently owned brand that promote the fact that their recipes are simple and utilize a limited number of ingredients. This particular product has chicken listed as its primary ingredient, a whole animal product listed first is always a great plus point.
It also includes peas, lentils and dried whole egg (good for digestion).
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.
Obviously, its “grain free” status falls in line with this and you won’t see any corn or soy etc. on their ingredient list.
Canidae also adds a “Health Plus Solution” to its food and state that this, along with the fact that their ingredients are cooked with probiotics, results in a healthier immune system and better skin for your dog.
I do like the fact that this brand’s tag line is nice and straightforward -they want you to know that they use simple recipes for sensitive dogs, their key message that they use whole foods to aid gentle digestion, exactly what you are looking for if your Pug has problems like this.
The fact that Canidae are independent and family owned since 1996 adds to their charm – USA dog food from a family business.
2. 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)
Its natural/real whole food tag is supported by the fact that it’s first ingredient listed is deboned duck.
In fact, all of the Merrick Grain Free recipes start with deboned meat as the first ingredient. That, along with the notion that they claim to offer quality protein (70% meat protein in recipes) and fresh fruits and vegetables (30% fresh produce) makes this dog food extremely appealing.
Hey, I even fancy a bowl now and then!
There is no soy, wheat, corn, or gluten in this dog food, so this grain-free solution should be great to prevent upset to digestive systems that are sensitive.
As a bonus, you also get generous amounts of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids (these help your dog to have a healthy coat) and also glucosamine and chondroitin (which helps to promote healthy hips and joints).
I also like the fact that Merrick’s tell you about their kitchens.
Ok, I know it’s not likely that we will see a Gordon Ramsey type throwing pots and yelling about the state of the back of the fridge at a dog food manufacturing facilities but it is important.
I want to know that my dog’s food is being prepared in sanitary conditions and Merrick’s state that their kitchens are not only upholding the strict guidelines of the FDA, but they are also five-star.
To sum up we like this brand a lot – it tastes good, it’s “home-grown” and it has high-quality, naturally nutritious ingredient.
The only negative seems to be that a couple of owners have experienced some rather smelly gas from their dog’s rear end after din-dins, news flash:
That said, if my Pug was more content and their tummy was settled I think I could live with that.
3. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food, Whitefish & Sweet Potato
- Complete Health: Complete And Balanced Everyday Nutrition To Support Your Dog'S Healthy Weight
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 dogs with intolerances and sensitivities.
The manufacturer states that the food provides a good balance of vitamins and minerals and will assist in the maintenance of the health and well-being of your faithful friend (in particular the maintenance of digestive system, coat, eyesight and oral health).
This brand also promotes its ability to boost energy and immunity.
The first ingredient on the list is whitefish – a whole animal product, which is encouraging. It’s good to see that there are no meat by-products, fillers, wheat, corn, soy or artificial colors, preservatives or flavors listed.
I really like that this brand seems to give the taste of its food a lot of thought – and owners and dogs alike seem to be in agreement, that it tastes good!
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.
We have touched on the fact that pugs can have a tendency to carry excessive weight and I’ve heard mixed reviews about how well this brand fares in regards to this issue.
Some feel their Pug has gained weight despite following the feeding guidelines. Others feel that the food has assisted in addressing a weight issue and that their Pug is more muscular and lean since moving to Wellness.
WE could argue that food alone cannot be held responsible for a Pug’s weight – it will also be dependent on his or her level of activity throughout the day.
4. Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
A food aimed at dogs 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.
It does not have any grain, gluten, potato, dairy, eggs, chicken, beef or fish – the majority of foods that are known to be common in regards to allergies.
The primary ingredient in this product is turkey meal and Nature’s Way state that their food is rich in nutrients to assist with digestion. Alongside the absence of grain there are also no artificial colours or preservatives.
Nature’s Way 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. They have also looked at making their kibble size smaller, another plus point for Pugs, they may find it easier to eat this food.
This product seems to have been a hit with consumers seeking a good quality food that will aid digestion and dogs like the taste.
It is deemed as “not a cheap option.”
But perhaps here the adage is correct – you get what you pay for. This product really does seem to do what it says and is a real find for dogs that have very sensitive tummies.
If your Pug is suffering it is definitely worth a try.