Last Updated on March 18, 2023
Like pregnant women, pregnant dogs have specific nutritional requirements to maintain their health and the fetuses they are carrying.
They need more calories from their food to cater to them and their unborn pups and a specific set of vitamins and minerals to promote growth.
And if you have a pregnant pooch, you’ll undoubtedly be looking to supply your mommy dog and her pups with the best food possible.
But with so many dog food options available, it can be challenging to pick the perfect one for your dog.
That is why we’ve researched and examined the pros and cons of the best dog foods for pregnant dogs so that it’s easier for you to pick the perfect one for your dog and your budget. Keep reading to see our comparison.
A Quick Look at the Top Picks
|Dog Food Recipes||Our Rating|
|Best Overall||VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food||4.8|
|Best Value||Instinct Be Natural Real Lamb & Oatmeal Recipe Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Dog Food||4.2|
|Best Premium Choice||Nutrisource Performance Dry Food For Dogs||4.4|
|Best Budget Dog Food||Purina Pro Plan Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food||4.4|
The 13 Best Foods for Pregnant Dogs
1. VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula
Our rating: 4.8
Top Ingredients: Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols)
The VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food is a high-protein food made from premium beef, chicken, pork, and fish.
It has also been fortified with all the vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids your pregnant dog needs.
- Contains selenium yeast which helps boost the immune system and improve metabolic function and cellular regeneration
- Contains probiotics and prebiotics to aid digestion
- Made to support healthy skin and coat
- This food caused digestive problems for some dogs
2. Instinct Be Natural Real Lamb & Oatmeal Recipe
Our rating: 4.2
Top Ingredients: Lamb, Menhaden Fish Meal, Oatmeal
The Instinct Be Natural Real Lamb & Oatmeal Recipe Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Dog Food is a great affordable choice for pregnant dogs.
This formula contains no by-products or artificial ingredients that could harm your dog and is made from real lamb and oatmeal.
- The recipe features several fruits, veggies, and natural omegas to supply your dog with all the nutrients she needs
- High in protein and fat to support the growing needs of your mommy dog and her puppies
- The ingredients used are minimally processed to retain maximum nutrient value
- Some dogs simply refused to eat this formula or it caused digestive problems for dogs with sensitive stomachs
3. Nutrisource Performance Dry Dog Food
Our rating: 4.4
Top Ingredients: Lamb meal, peas, salmon meal (a source of fish oil)
Nutrisource Performance Dry Food For Dogs is a great choice for pregnant dogs as it is packed full of omega 3 and 6 as well as DHA which supports development.
The food is made from easily-digestible chicken protein to give your pregnant pooch plenty of energy.
- Enhanced with probiotics and prebiotics for supporting good gut health and digestion
- Contains Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and selenium to boost the immune system and improve the skin and coat
- Fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin to help support the joints through the added weight of pregnancy
- This food is quite expensive
- This food only comes in a large 40lb bag
4. The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe
Our rating: 4.1
Top Ingredients: Dehydrated Chicken, Organic Barley, Dehydrated Potatoes
The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food is high in protein and high in calories making it a good choice for pregnant pups.
The recipe features free-range chicken and organic whole grains to give your dog the best quality ingredients.
- This food meets the FDA standards for human quality
- It contains no by-products, preservatives, artificial ingredients, or GMOs that could harm developing pups
- This dog food is quite expensive
- Some dogs experienced digestive upset on this diet
5. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula
Our rating: 4.2
Top Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice
Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food is made from high-quality protein-rich ingredients such as pasture-raised lamb as well as a number of superfoods.
It contains all the essential nutrients that developing puppies and pregnant dogs need, including fatty acids and DHA.
- Smaller kibble size can be easier to chew and digest
- Supplement with chondroitin to support your dog’s joints
- Features probiotics to aid digestion
- Some dogs experienced skin issues on this diet
- Some pets didn’t seem to like the taste of this food
6. Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe
Our rating: 4.6
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes
Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food is made from high-quality ingredients full of wholesome, delicious flavors your dog will love.
It also offers all the nutrients your pregnant dog needs and is packed full of protein and fiber.
- Contains DHA, which is needed for the brain development of the puppies
- Includes glucosamine which will help support your dog’s bones and joints
- 76% of the protein is from animal sources
- Some pets simply did not want to eat this food
7. ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food
Our rating: 4.6
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard)
ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food is a biologically appropriate food with a high protein and a high-fat content.
This high-calorie food is packed full of natural, healthy ingredients that are also highly digestible to maximize the absorption of all the vitamins and minerals your pet needs to stay healthy.
- It features good levels of DHA and EPA for the healthy development of the features
- It features high levels of omega fatty acids to boost the health of your dog’s skin and coat
- Supplement with glucosamine and chondroitin to support your dog’s hip and joints
- Some pet owners said this food proved to be too rich for their dogs
8. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Lamb & Rice Formula
Our rating: 4.6
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Ground White Rice
Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food offers pet owners of pregnant dogs a nutrient full kibble at an affordable price.
It offers a reasonable calorie count for pregnant dogs with a nutrient profile that suits your pet’s needs.
- High-quality pet food for a lower price
- This food is high in DHA and omega fatty acids
- Some pet owners said their dogs simply did not like this food
9. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is a grain-free, high-protein dry dog food that mimics what canines would naturally consume in the wild.
t features 32% protein from venison and bison, making it an excellent choice for pregnant dogs. This is a highly digestible formula featuring plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
- This food contains no grains, or artificial ingredients that could irritate your dog’s digestive system
- Formulated with omega fatty acids and DHA for development
- Includes probiotics for digestibility and better nutrient absorption
- This food is very expensive
10. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Sweet Potato & Venison Formula
Our rating: 4.4
Top Ingredients: Sweet Potatoes, Venison, Potatoes
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Sweet Potato & Venison Formula Dry Dog Food is a simple, limited ingredient diet that supplies sensitive pets with all the nutrition they need.
Venison is the primary protein source, with highly digestible sweet potato serving as the primary carbohydrate.
- Includes flaxseed in the recipe as a source of essential fatty acids and DHA
- Features a single source of novel animal protein for dogs with digestive troubles
- Some pet owners complained that the food was very powdery
11. Wellness Chicken Stew with Peas & Carrots Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
Our rating: 4.4
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water Sufficient For Processing, Chicken Liver
Wellness Chicken Stew with Peas & Carrots Grain-Free Canned Dog Food is tasty comfort food for dogs.
This wet dog food is grain-free and features tender chicken in a delicious gravy with plenty of vegetables such as carrots, peas, and celery.
- This canned dog food is very easy to digest and will tempt even the pickiest of pups
- Features no by-products or ingredients that could be harmful to the wellbeing of your pregnant pooch
- This food is made in the USA with the best ingredients sourced from North America, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, and Chile
- Some pet owners said that this food contained large deposits of fat that their dogs did not want to eat
12. Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula
Our rating: 4.6
Top Ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chickpeas
Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food offers your pregnant pet 32% protein with turkey as the sole protein source.
This limited ingredient diet is grain-free and free from any ingredients that could irritate the digestive system of your sensitive dog.
- Contains plenty of selenium, riboflavin, and phosphorus to cater to the nutritional needs of your mommy dog
- This food avoids the five top common allergens for canines and thus is perfect for picky eaters and sensitive dogs
- This is quite a high priced dog food
13. Bully Max High-Performance Super Premium Dog Food
Our rating: 4.4
Top Ingredients: Chicken meal, pearled barley, oatmeal
Bully Max High-Performance Super Premium Dog Food is a dry dog food specifically designed for Bully breeds such as Bulldogs, American Pit Bull Terriers, Mastiffs, and American Bullies.
It is thus a very calorie-dense, high-protein formula made from high-quality ingredients.
- Features highly-digestible protein sources to give your pregnant pooch all the amino acids she needs
- Contains a full blend of prebiotics and probiotics to aid digestion
- Some pet owners complained that the food was very powdery
About the Canine Gestation Cycle
A typical pregnancy for dogs lasts about nine weeks or 63 days. Each stage of your dog’s pregnancy, from estrus to pregnancy, lactation, and weaning, stresses your dog’s body.
She will have various nutritional concerns at these different points in her pregnancy.
The First Trimester
For the first 50 days of your dog’s pregnancy, your pet can stay on their ordinary diet, provided it is of high quality.
After that, you’ll need to switch your pet over to a high-calorie diet until the puppies have been weaned off the mommy dog. Be careful not to overfeed your dog in the first stages of her pregnancy, as this could lead to obesity.
The Second Trimester
You can start increasing your dog’s meals incrementally during the second trimester. Keep a watchful eye on her to ensure she doesn’t lose body mass or condition over this time.
By around six weeks, your mommy’s energy requirements will increase, and you can up her food to 25% of her usual amount.
The Third Trimester
After 40 days of pregnancy, the puppies will experience rapid development during the third trimester, which can be a significant burden on your pregnant mommy.
Your dog will need the most energy between six and eight weeks of pregnancy.
What is the Best Diet to Keep Your Pregnant Dog Healthy?
The best diet for pregnant dogs is a high-quality maintenance diet, typically a high-performance food or puppy food specifically formulated for growing dogs.
How often and how much should you feed your pregnant dog?
During the final stages of pregnancy, digestion can become harder, so during this time; you’ll want to supply your pet with a moisture, protein-rich diet that is highly digestible.
You may also want to consider giving your small dog meals more often.
The exact amount of food you should feed your pregnant dog will depend on her size, the number of puppies she is carrying, and the stage of pregnancy.
During the later stages of your dog’s pregnancy, she should be eating between 35% and 50% more food than usual.
How many calories should a pregnant dog eat?
Once you’ve switched to a high-calorie, high-protein, and high-fat diet, you should continue feeding your dog the exact amount you always have or the amount recommended on the bag.
From five weeks into her pregnancy, you can increase this amount so that your dog is eating between 35% and 50% more dog food than she usually does.
Dietary Requirements and Nutrition Summary
It would help if you’re looking for certain things when buying the right dog food for pregnant pups. For instance, pregnant pooches should eat 30% glucosamine and chondroitin-based protein and 20% fat food.
|Protein||30% animal protein|
|Fat||20% healthy fat content|
|Supplements||Glucosamine and chondroitin as well as probiotics and prebiotics|
|Omega Fatty Acids||DHA and EPA|
|Carbohydrates||Highly digestible options like sweet potato|
High-quality animal protein
Your pregnant dog’s food should feature high-quality animal protein as the first ingredient on the list. Real meat and meat meals should provide the bulk of your dog’s protein, with plant proteins working as additional ingredients.
Pregnant dogs require more energy for milk production and to support their growing puppies. Thus, they need a diet packed full of calories. They need four to eight times more calories than normal dogs.
One way to supply these extra calories is to look for a diet full of healthy fats.
Digestible complex carbs
Carbohydrates are crucial in your pregnant dog’s diet as they help absorb nutrients. Some highly digestible carbs that are good to include in your pregnant dog’s diet include beans, sweet potatoes, and lentils.
As these complex carbs are digested slowly throughout the day, they will help prevent hypoglycemia.
The high fiber content of complex carbs can also help with the digestibility of your dog’s food, and the fiber content will help prevent diarrhea which is quite common during pregnancy.
Vitamins and minerals
Your dog’s food should be well balanced and supply your dog with all the vitamins and minerals she needs to support a healthy pregnancy. This means your dog’s food should be full of antioxidant-rich ingredients and calcium.
As your dog progresses through her pregnancy, she will need more calories in her diet as she will be burning much more energy than the average canine.
DHA is an essential nutrient for development. It helps with eye development and brain function, and nervous system development.
Adding DHA to your pregnant dog’s diet will help supply this nutrient to your puppies before they are even born. Your dog’s food should also contain EPA and plenty of omega-three and omega-6 fatty acids.
Calcium and phosphorus
Whichever food you choose for your lactating dog, it should contain at least 1-1.8% calcium and 0.8-1.6% phosphorus, which will help support milk production and bone formation.
Your dog needs to digest all the nutrients in her food sufficiently. To maximize this calorie intake, it’s essential to look for a highly digestible formula for your pregnant pooch.
As your dog nears the end of her pregnancy, the puppies will take up a lot of space, and she won’t be able to eat as much, so it is vital that she can absorb as much of her food as possible.
It is good to look for food with natural ingredients sourced from countries with strict regulations for dog food production.
The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the Scandanavian and Western European countries all have strict regulations about what ingredients can go into your pet’s food.
What is the Best Food to Help Your Dog Produce More Milk?
New mommies should still be fed the same diet they were on when they were pregnant until it is time to wean the puppies off their milk.
However, at this point, you may need to increase the amount of calories your dog gets daily as well as keep a close high that they are getting sufficient calcium and phosphorus in their diet.
Dry Kibbles, Wet Food, Raw Diet, or Homemade?
While dry kibble is acceptable for your dog to eat towards the end of pregnancy, she may benefit from being given a wet diet as it contains more moisture and is easier to digest.
Homemade diets are also a possible option for pregnant dogs as you can control the quality of the ingredients. Still, you’ll need to research to ensure that you provide your dog with adequate protein and calories.
Grain-free diets can be easier to digest and thus can be a good choice for pregnant dogs, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.
Dogs with sensitive digestive systems or allergies can also benefit from eating grain-free dog food.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are puppy foods recommended for pregnant dogs?
Yes, puppy foods are higher in calories than regular dog food and contain more protein and fat to build muscles and support the high energy levels of little puppies.
These foods are also typically supplemented with DHA and EPA to support the growing needs of puppies, and feeding your pregnant dog puppy food will help supply the pups with these essential nutrients while they are still in the womb.
Puppy foods should, however, be reserved for the later stages of pregnancy when your dog needs the extra calories.
Can you give them homemade food?
As your pregnant dog needs extra nutrition, you may find that a homemade recipe is better to provide your pet with all the nutrients she needs.
When compiling a diet for your dog, it is best to do so under the guidance of a vet or pet nutritionist to ensure your homemade food caters to all the nutrient requirements of your pregnant dog.
What are good homemade food recipes for pregnant pups?
If you’re looking for a great homemade recipe to make for your pregnant dog, here is one that you can try at home.
- 1 pound of lean ground beef
- 12 eggs
- 1 cup of ground flaxseed
- 1 cup of raw oatmeal
- 1 cup of all-natural peanut butter
- 8 ounces of cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon of molasses
- Combine the beef, eggs, and oatmeal in a bowl, mixing thoroughly. The consistency should be similar to hamburger meat.
- Brown the mixture in a large pan, using a spatula to break up the meat into small chunks
- Once the meat is cooked and cooled, add it to the other ingredients in a bowl until it forms a dough-like texture.
- Form the mixture into small balls and put them in the fridge.
- They will then harden into bite-sized treats for your pooch.
Are there nutritional issues that cause problems leading up to pregnancy?
Malnourishment during pregnancy can have devastating consequences for both mommy dog and her puppies.
Believe it or not, obesity is one of the most common problems for pregnant dogs, often caused by overfeeding before and during pregnancy. Obesity can lead to a decreased number of eggs and thus small litter sizes.
Obesity also increases the risk of a condition known as dystocia, which can lead to difficulty during delivery while also playing a part in milk production. A healthy dog should gain about 15 to 20% of its weight during pregnancy.
Conversely, malnourished dogs that are too thin may experience problems with fetal development, embryo loss, stillbirths, and low-weight puppies.
Is it true that lactation is even more energy-intense than pregnancy?
Yes, this is true. Just before delivery and during lactation, your dog’s energy needs will be even greater than during pregnancy, and she will require two to four times the amount of calories as a standard adult dog.
Simply increasing your dog’s food will not be enough to sustain her during this time; she will need high-energy food that can sustain her weight, milk production, and condition.
You may also decide to free-choice feed your dog during this time so that there is always food available to her when she needs it.
That said, free-feeding a dog that doesn’t have a lot of puppies can be dangerous as she could overproduce milk, leading to mastitis.
Do you need to change how you feed your dog as she weans her puppies?
The puppies will begin to eat solid food from about three weeks old. The puppies will be fully weaned from the mommy dog at around eight weeks old.
At this point, your dog’s energy requirements will decrease and slowly return to normal.
You would gradually decrease your mommy dog’s meal sizes by about 20% over 4 or 5 days until the quantities return to normal.
So, What is the Best Dog Food for My Pregnant Dog?
As you can see, there are many options for feeding your pregnant dog. You’ll want your mommy-to-be to eat a diet full of healthy natural ingredients that supply her with plenty of protein and healthy fats.
You’ll also want to steer clear of foods that contain artificial ingredients or by-products that could be potentially dangerous for your dog.
Hopefully, the above reviews have helped you pick the perfect pet food for your pregnant dog and her developing puppies.
Do you have a selection not mentioned above that you would love to tell us about? Please let us know more about the foods you love in the comments below.
- How to Tell If Your Dog is Pregnant?
- 12 Signs a Dog is Going Into Labor Soon
- How to Help Your Dog Give Birth
Janine is an experienced content writer and travel journalist based in Cape, Town, South Africa.
Raised by a bundle of botanists, researchers, and biologists, she is passionate about things related to the animal kingdom, including, our furry friends. However, as a terrible allergy sufferer, she is limited in her pet selection and so has grown up surrounded by curly-haired Poodles.