Pugs are a distinct looking breed, easily identified by their short snout, squashed faces, bug-like eyes, and piggy tail. Beloved not only for their looks, but Pugs also have happy-go-lucky natures and loyal personalities.
However, being a Pug owner also means being aware of the variety of health issues that plague this breed. Due to this, a high-quality diet is essential for keeping your dog healthy and well.
Table of Contents
Top 6 Picks for Best Dog Food for Pugs in 2021
|Dog Food Recipes||Our Rating|
|Best Overall||Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food Small Breed Healthy Weight
|Best for Pug puppies||Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
|Best for Adult Pugs||Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Small Breed Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
|Best for Senior Pugs||Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small Aging 12+ Dry Dog Food
|Best for All Life Stages||Taste of the Wild High Protein, Real Fish, Premium Dry Dog Food with Real Salmon, Superfoods, Probiotics, and Antioxidants
|Best Budget Food for Pugs||Eagle Pack Original Adult Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Formula Dry Dog Food, 30-lb bag
The best dog food brands for Pugs by stage
When choosing the right dog food for your Pug, it’s essential to bear in mind his life stage. Puppy food is crafted differently from adult dog food, which is different from formulas designed specifically for senior dogs, as well.
That’s why we created a list to help you see the top brands and recipes for Pug puppies, adults, and seniors. Check it out!
Best puppy foods for Pugs
Pug puppies require more calories because of their small bodies that grow quickly. So they’ll need more food to sustain this.
A good pug puppy diet should contain at least 22% protein and 8% fat. They’ll also need a range of supplements to assist with muscle and bone growth, such as calcium and phosphorus.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best food for Pug puppies:
1. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Turkey, Oatmeal & Salmon Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal
Designed with small kibble size for easy eating, this natural dry dog food features premium proteins and wholesome grains for whole-body nutrition while supporting the healthy growth and development of puppies.
- Fortified with omega fatty acids, including DHA, for brain development
- Free of any meat by-products, fillers, or artificial colors, and preservatives
- Dry dog food can be more challenging for puppies to digest
- Not grain-free
- Some owners said that their little doggos didn’t like this food even when mixed with wet food
2. Royal Canin Pug Puppy Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn
This explicitly-designed formula is recommended by vets for Pug puppies that are between the age of eight weeks to ten months old.
It’s made with essential nutrients, prebiotics, and antioxidants to build skin and coat health, and immunity.
- Cloverleaf-shaped kibble primarily shaped for the Pug’s short muzzle
- Helps maintain a balanced intestinal flora and supports digestive health
- Has grain as the main ingredient
- Contains meat by-product meal as the second ingredient
3. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes
Offering natural antioxidants from real fruits and vegetables, this high-protein dry kibbles is perfect for puppies’ high-energy needs.
It’s also suitable for sensitive pups because it’s grain-free and has no artificial additives.
- Contains dried chicory root to aid in healthy digestion
- Aids muscle development with real buffalo as the first ingredient along with several other protein-rich ingredients
- Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids promote healthy skin and coat
- Some dogs do not like the taste and smell
- Some reviewers complained of a runny or loose stool
Best dog food for Pug adults
Once your Pug reaches adulthood, it’s essential that you switch to a calorie-dense adult dog food that will help manage his weight.
Discover the best dog foods for adult Pugs here:
1. Royal Canin Pug Adult Breed Specific Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Brown Rice
Scientifically designed for Pugs over the age of ten months, this cloverleaf-shaped kibble will be easier for your flat-faced pooch to eat and chew.
- Exclusive blend of nutrients to maintain the skin health of this wrinkly breed
- Contains L-Carnitine for maintaining muscle tone
- Contains little natural ingredients – grain and poultry by-products are the main ingredients
- On the more expensive side of the market
2. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food Small Breed Healthy Weight
First 3 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Salmon Meal
Specifically formulated for small breed dogs, this dog food has reduced-calorie content to help manage weight and support weight loss.
- Fortified with omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics, and taurine
- It does not contain any GMOs, meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives
- Tiny kibble size which can get crushed easily
3. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Small Bites, Chicken & Barley Recipe
First 3 Ingredients: Chicken, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Wheat
Precisely balanced with an exclusive blend for small breed adults. With chicken as its yummy main ingredient, this will help with your fido’s body condition and for lean muscles.
- It contains omega-6 fatty acids for building a shiny coat in just 30 days
- Small kibble size for tiny mouths, and natural, highly digestible ingredients
- Clinically proven antioxidant blend for a healthy immune system, including vitamins C and vitamins E
- High yeast content can lead to skin allergies
- All dogs do not like the chicken flavor
4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Small Breed Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice
This dry dog food mixes natural meat, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains to provide well-balanced nutrition.
It has high-quality protein for healthy muscle development and carbs specifically made for small breeds.
- Includes LifeSource Bits, which is a blend of nutrients and antioxidant-rich ingredients
- Small breed kibble that helps with tartar removal and is specific for small jaws
- It contains glucosamine for joint health and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for a luscious skin and coat
- A heavy aroma can put some dogs and owners off
- Some vets warn this food is tied to an increase in renal stones
5. Taste of the Wild High Protein, Real Fish, Premium Dry Dog Food with Real Salmon, Superfoods, Probiotics, and Antioxidants
First 3 Ingredients: Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes
Does your Pug have food allergies? This grain-free recipe is suitable for canines with sensitive stomachs and is made of easily-digestible natural ingredients.
- High protein content, including real smoked salmon as the first ingredient
- Contains antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables for building an excellent immune system, including tomatoes, blueberries, and raspberries
- Some reviewers complain of a strong fishy smell on the food and their dog’s breath
6. Purina Beneful IncrediBites for Small Dogs with Farm-Raised Beef Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Beef, Chicken By-Product Meal, Whole Grain Corn
This dry kibble contains calorie-smart nutrition, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, to help your pooch get a healthy weight.
- Farm-raised beef as the main ingredient.
- No added sugar, potatoes, or artificial flavors and preservatives
- It contains real apples, carrots, and green beans
- Contains poultry by-product meal as the second ingredient
- High corn content
7. Eagle Pack Original Adult Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Formula Dry Dog Food, 30-lb bag
First 3 Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Brown Rice
This dry dog food’s specific blend of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats will cater to the needs of your energetic adult Pug.
- Contains glucosamine for joint health and omega fatty acids for a shiny coat
- Full of antioxidants
- No corn, wheat, or meat by-products
- Only available in a bigger bag size
8. Holistic Select Adult Health Lamb Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Oatmeal, Peas
Picky eaters and food allergy-sufferers, this single-protein dry dog food is expertly crafted for you!
- Healthy blend of probiotics, antioxidants, and fiber for good digestive health
- It contains Omega 3 fatty acids for a healthy coat
- Tiny kibble
- Pure meat not listed in the first three ingredients
9. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Lamb & Brown Rice Formula Small Breed Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice
Looking for a gluten-free dog food for your Pug? This might be it. This recipe provides a well-balanced diet for adult dogs and contains amino acids for healthy muscles.
- Healthy grains that are full of fiber to aid in digestion
- Single-source protein with limited carbohydrate sources for dogs with food sensitivities
- The product has a high carb content with approximately 50 percent carbs
- Some reviewers complain of gassy dogs when on this diet
10. Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Small Breed Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Sweet Potatoes
Made with bit-size kibble, this small breed dog food has high-quality ingredients and is USDA-certified organic.
- Contains guaranteed levels of probiotics and prebiotic fiber for digestion
- Organic ingredients mean no added growth hormones or antibiotics
- No grain for sensitive stomachs
- Some pet owners complained of weight gain
- Tiny kibble can be a struggle for some dogs to eat
- Pricey food option
11. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey & Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food (Grain Free)
First 3 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal
This grain-free dog food may have small kibble size, but it sure is packed with protein!
Grain-free dry dog food for small dogs.
- Fortified with antioxidants, probiotics, glucosamine, chondroitin, taurine, and omega fatty acids
- Free of meat by-products and fillers
- Can lead to bad breath
Best dog food for Pug seniors
If your fur baby is older, you may have noticed that moving around is becoming challenging for him and he has decreased activity level.
At this stage, he also has slower metabolism. This can lead to too much weight gain, which is not good for old dogs.
Here are some foods that have been specifically formulated with senior Pugs:
1. Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small Aging 12+ Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Brown Rice, Corn, Corn Gluten Meal
This diet is specially formulated for small senior dogs. It’s suitable for picky eaters and can help fidos live a bit longer.
- Contains EPA, DHA, and antioxidants to support the aging process
- Has phosphorus for maintaining kidney health
- Kibble is designed explicitly for tartar removal
- Does not contain added Glucosamine
- It does not contain meat in the first three ingredients
2. Solid Gold Holistique Blendz with Oatmeal, Pearled Barley & Ocean Fish Meal Sensitive Stomach Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Oatmeal, Pearled Barley, Peas
Has healthy whole grains and ocean fish meal for dogs with sensitive stomachs. It’s also specially formulated with high fiber to aid digestion.
- Blend of superfoods for building a healthy immune system and aid gut health
- It contains acceptable levels of calcium, phosphorus, and sodium
- Square kibble can be difficult for small dogs to eat
Best dog food for Pugs with health issues
Pugs are brachycephalic dogs, which means they have a short, squashed snout that can lead to breathing problems.
It is one of the reasons why exercising Pugs should be limited, but this also puts them at risk of obesity, which can lead to skeletal issues such as Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease or hip dysplasia.
Brachycephalic breeds are also subject to several eye diseases like inverted eyelids, dry eyes, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), and corneal ulcers.
Foods that contain blueberries, such as the Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, will help support your pet’s eye health.
Choosing the best food for your dog can help prevent these health problems.
We also recommend getting bowls made specifically for flat-faced dogs. It can either be tilted or elevated so that your Pug’s nose won’t have to press hard against the bowl’s walls which makes breathing while eating difficult.
You can also get a slow feeder so that it’s shallower and it will keep your pup from eating fast.
Best for Pugs with sensitive skin
Dogs with sensitive skin require plenty of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamin A to boost their skin and coat’s health. These are typically found in diets with fatty fish content.
Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula
First 3 Ingredients: Salmon, Barley, Rice
Highly digestible recipe with rice and oatmeal, and fish as the main ingredient.
- Real salmon for a protein-rich meal
- Easy to digest carbohydrates with oatmeal
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- Can give your pup fishy breath
- Contain a range of other ingredients and proteins that may cause allergies in susceptible dogs
Best for Pugs with sensitive stomachs
Pet food specifically formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs usually includes prebiotic fiber to aid digestion. Grains are also mostly avoided as these can perpetuate digestive issues.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Grain-Free Chicken & Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Chicken, Yellow Peas, Potatoes
Great-tasting and nutritious for canine companions, this diet has balanced ingredients suitable for dogs with sensitive tummies.
- Highly digestible protein with fresh chicken as the main ingredient
- Beet pulp offers a natural prebiotic which assists with digestion
- It contains apples and cranberries with are rich in antioxidants and vitamins E and C
- Costly product
Best for Pugs with allergies
The folded, wrinkly skin of the pug is prone to irritation. Certain foods can further aggravate it and cause itchiness, redness, or even sores.
To avoid skin allergies from developing, it’s best to stay away from artificial flavors, additives, and preservatives.
Stick with dog food made with limited ingredients so you can work out precisely what is causing your dog’s allergies and avoid it in their diet.
Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Limited Ingredient Recipe Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Ground Rice
Contains just six ingredients for dogs that are prone to allergies, but it’s still full of vitamins and minerals!
- No by-product ingredients, fillers, or artificial flavors
- Available in three different size bags
- Safe for dogs with chicken allergies with no chicken fat included
- Strong smelling odor
- Some dog owners complained of a greasy coat when their dog was on this diet
Best for weight management
Pugs are prone to diabetes, weight gain, and joint problems. Due to their stocky build, it can be difficult to tell if your Pug is overweight.
Adult Pugs should weigh between 14 and 18 pounds (6 and 8 kg). Any heavier than this, then your pup needs help.
Luckily, there are dog food recipes that help canines manage or lose that excess weight.
Natural Balance Fat Dogs Chicken & Salmon Formula Low Calorie Dry Dog Food
First 3 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Salmon Meal, Chickpeas
With fewer calories, this lean and healthy diet for overweight adult dogs will help them lay off those few extra pounds.
- High in fiber for easy digestion
- Good protein blend for building lean muscle
- Designed to make your dog feel full to prevent begging
- Some pet owners complain of a foul smell and that their dogs simply won’t eat the food
Your buying guide for the best dog food for Pugs
Before purchasing any dog food, the first thing you have to consider is quality ingredients, mainly the protein content.
Look for a high-quality, wholesome protein source like beef, turkey, salmon, or chicken.
Since skin allergies are prevalent in Pugs, opting for a limited ingredient diet or an organic, natural ingredient list is often the way to go.
Next is the size of the kibble. It’s challenging for flat-faced dogs to eat because they can choke on kibble that’s too large or have difficulty picking them up, so you need to find one that’s just right for your dog.
We also recommend going for low-calorie diets to help your Pug stay fit and healthy.
On average, a Pug will require about 40 calories per pound of its body weight.
Puppies will need a bit more, around 50 calories per pound, to support growth. Give or take, an adult Pug needs 700 to 900 calories every day.
You can use a dog calorie calculator to find out the daily caloric intake for your Pug.
Pug nutritional requirement: Finding the best diet for Pugs
Protein is an essential part of any dog’s diet. But since Pugs aren’t as muscular and active like other breeds, they’ll do fine with a minimum of 18% protein. If your pooch is actually an energetic furball, 30% is more than enough.
We couldn’t emphasize more that this purebred is susceptible to weight gain, especially during senior years where they’re less active, so go for dog food with low crude fat levels — around 5%.
Choose a diet that consists of complex carbs, like sweet potatoes and pears, as these break down slowly and will supply your dog with a steady supply of energy minus the sugar spikes.
Ingredients to avoid when feeding your Pug
After discussing what to look for when feeding Pugs, let’s move to what should you NOT feed them.
Those include any unspecific mystery meat, overly processed by-products, synthetic preservatives, artificial coloring dyes, and artificial flavoring.
Soy products are also best avoided, and look for ingredients with minimal corn, wheat, and other cereal grain.
Are grain-free diet options preferable for Pugs?
Grain-free diets are all the rage because grains are notorious for triggering allergic reactions.
As Pugs are a particularly allergy-prone breed, this is probably a good option. Pugs can also struggle to digest grain.
However, grain-free dog food has also been linked to a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy developing in dogs.
So we understand that it’s every owner’s choice whether their Pug should eat a grain-free diet, but it’s also best to consult a vet because every dog is different.
Though, many vets are likely to suggest a diet with whole grains or gluten-free grains for your pet.
Should you give your Pug dry kibbles, wet food, raw diet, or homemade?
When considering the perfect food for your pup, you may struggle to decide between wet food, dry kibble, a homemade or raw food diet.
Dry kibble is the choice of many owners. Not only is it the most convenient, but it also helps with healthy teeth and removing tartar build-up.
Dry kibble is also said to lead to fewer stomach issues, with many dogs experiencing runny or loose stools while on wet food. Wet food can also lead to an increased weight gain.
That said, many dogs have difficulty eating dry kibble, for instance, if they have bad teeth. In this case, kibble can be moistened with warm water or a low-sodium broth, or you can add a little bit of wet kibble to the mix.
Some pet owners however prefer to opt for a raw diet or homemade diet. Cooking for your dog means you know exactly what ingredients are going into your dog’s food.
This can be particularly helpful if you have a pet with intolerances or allergies. Home-made food is also often preferred by picky eaters.
Fruits and vegetables your Pug can and cannot eat
Your Pug can eat healthy fruits and veggies rich in antioxidants such as the following:
- Green beans
- Peaches (without the pip)
- Plums (without the pip)
- Nectarines (without the pip)
- Apples (without the pip and seeds)
Your dog can also eat cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli but never raw and in moderation, as they can lead to gas and decreased thyroid function. Fruits and vegetables you should stay away from include:
A homemade recipe you can try for your Pug
Homemade recipes should include a good protein content, which can come from deboned chicken or turkey, which can be baked or boiled without the skin.
Lean beef, lamb, venison, liver, and fish also serve as a healthy protein source. This protein can be mixed with vegetables, fruits, oatmeal, brown rice, or eggs to create a healthy and nutritious meal.
Here is an easy recipe you can try at home:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 1/2 pounds raw boneless meat of choice
1 pound vegetables of choice
1 pound complex carbohydrates, cooled
- Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat
- Cut the meat into 1 inch pieces and add to the skillet. Saute on both sides until fully cooked.
- Coarsely chop the vegetables into 1-inch chunks and cook.
- Cook your complex carbohydrate. Brown rice or legumes can be left whole while starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes should also be chopped into 1 inch pieces.
- Add the meat and vegetables together pulse until fine.
- Add the cooked carbs and pulse a few times to combine but taking care not to make mushy.
- Serve and refrigerate or freeze for later eating.
Pug Feeding Chart
Other than finding out what’s the best dog food or diet for your Pug, you should also keep an eye on how much and how many times you’re feeding him.
Pug puppies would need to eat three to four times a day, while adult Pugs can be fed twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.
This feeding chart can serve as a guide on how frequent Pugs should be fed:
|Under 3 months||¼ cup||4 times a day|
|3-6 months||⅓ cup||3 times a day|
|6-12 months||¾ cup||2-3 times a day|
|1 year old||½ – 1 cup||2 times a day|
Pugs that are also only given one meal can get over-excited and eat too quickly, leading to indigestion.
Never leave food unattended or a bowl of food out all day for your Pug, as he is likely just to scoff the whole lot.
Also, keep an eye on your Pug to ensure he is not stealing snacks, as this can lead to tummy issues, behavioral problems, and weight gain if a habit is developed.
Transition: How to switch from puppy to adult dog food?
Puppies can switch to adult dog food by the time they’re ten to twelve months old. This change of diet should be done gradually to avoid disrupting your canine friend’s digestive system.
Whether your pooch is transitioning to adult dog food or a different diet, do it on an incremental basis.
First, change 25% of your fido’s old food with the new one. You can observe your Pug for the first two to three days, then increase the amount of the new dog food to 50%, then 75% on the fifth or seventh day.
You don’t have to follow this schedule strictly. You can add less or go slower with the transition because it will depend on how your Pug reacts. The point is to introduce the new food gently.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do Pugs need supplements?
A range of supplements should be included in your Pug’s diet to ensure a healthy, happy life. But if needed, you can purchase supplements for that extra boost.
Omega fatty acids, which are found in flaxseed and fish oil, helps keep skin supple and irritation-free, promotes healthy coat, improves cognitive function, and helps with cardiovascular health.
Antioxidants help build a healthy immune system by fighting off free radicals and other signs of aging.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are good for joint health and reducing pain from arthritis as your dog ages. Probiotics should also be included in your dog’s food to assist digestive health and support the immune system.
The best dog treats for Pugs
Hold that french fry! There are better and healthier options to keep your Pug from begging for table scraps.
You can also go to your pantry or fridge and slice it up to bite-size pieces like apples and cheese.
You would want to still limit these nom noms, though. They’ll add up to your dog’s daily caloric intake, so low-calorie snacks are a good idea, too.
What makes dog food good for Pugs?
No two dog foods are the same, and each one comes with its pros and cons.
The right dog food for your Pug will not only meet your dog’s nutritional needs but should also be easy to source regularly and easy to include in your weekly budget.
Before choosing a new food for your dog, be sure to discuss the options with your vet.