Best Dog Food For Pugs 2024 — Vet Recommended

Best Dog Food For Pugs

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This content was reviewed and fact-checked by veterinarian Dr. Sandra Tashkovska, DVM.

This is the ultimate guide to finding the best dog food for Pugs. Any responsible Pug owner must ensure their pet receives optimal nutrition. The market is flooded with dog food options, but not all suit this unique breed. That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide on finding the best, backed by extensive research and expert opinions. We also cover everything you need to know about your Pug’s dietary requirements, common health concerns, and how the right dog food can help address these issues. Rest assured, the brands we recommend are top-of-the-line and specifically tailored to meet the needs of your beloved Pug. Let’s get started!

Best Dog Food For Pugs — At A Glance

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What Is The Best Food For Pugs?

As a small and charming breed, Pugs have distinct nutritional needs that require careful consideration. The best food for a Pug is balanced and appropriate for their life stage, health, activity levels (energy needs) and weight (size). This will ensure your Pug is healthy, develops appropriately, and can sustain daily activities and bodily functions.

When deciding the best diet for a Pug, it’s essential also to consider individual preferences such as taste and food type. Some Pugs may thrive on high-quality commercial kibble, while others may do better on a human-grade fresh diet or a professionally formulated home-cooked diet.

How to Pick The Best Dog Food For Pugs

1. Consider The Pug’s Nutritional Requirements

The optimal Pug diet for nutrition typically includes a combination of the six nutrients they need to thrive: High-quality protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats (fatty acids and omegas), vitamins, minerals, and water.

Protein plays a vital role in your Pug’s diet, providing essential amino acids necessary for bodily processes, including the creation of blood glucose for energy. Protein also helps build and repair muscles and other body tissues. It’s needed to make new skin cells and grow hair, hormones, and enzymes. The proteins in your dog’s diet must have a balanced amino acid profile and be provided in appropriate amounts.

Protein dietary recommendations for Pug food:

  • Adult Pugs. 18% dry matter protein (45.0g for every 1,000 kcal ME).
  • Puppies & Pregnant or Lactating Pug. 22.5% dry matter protein (56.3g for every 1,000 kcal ME).

Protein sources for Pug food include:

Fats play a crucial, multifaceted role in a Pug’s diet. Fats come in two forms: saturated and unsaturated. Both are important in a Pug’s diet, but it’s essential to maintain the right balance. Saturated fats, derived from animal sources, enhance the palatability, flavor and texture of your dog’s food and facilitate the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. On the other hand, essential fatty acids, which are unsaturated fats, include Omega-3 (EPA, DHA, and ALA) and Omega-6+9 (LA and AA). These fats are crucial for the body’s cells’ development, structure, and function.

When balanced correctly, they promote healthy skin and coat, support eye health and the nervous system function, regulate hormones, fuel the brain and learning processes, help reduce inflammation, offer insulation and organ protection, support reproductive health, and serve as a reserve for energy storage. Fats are a dense energy source.

Fat dietary recommendations for Pug food:

  • Adult Pug. 5.5% dry matter fat (13.8g for every 1,000 kcal ME).
  • Puppies & Pregnant or Lactating Pug. 8.5% dry matter fat (21.3g for every 1,000 kcal ME).

Fat sources for Pug food include:

  • Meats fats
  • Fish oils
  • Olive
  • Sunflower oil
  • Canola oils

Dogs need energy for daily activities, growth, pregnancy, lactation, and exercise. This energy, measured in calories, comes from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Omnivorous animals, including dogs, derive some energy from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates supply glucose needed by the brain, nervous system, and other critical organs for normal function in dogs. Carbohydrates should also include 2.5-4.5% fiber. You can use our dog calorie calculator to find the exact caloric needs of your dog based on his weight. Ensure you follow the 10% rule if feeding treats to your dog. Food would equal 90% of the total calories and treats the remaining 10%.

Carbohydrate sources for Pug food include:

  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole wheat

Minerals in a dog’s diet are indispensable for bone and dental health, nerve function, enzymatic reactions, fluid balance, oxygen transport, and maintaining the body’s pH level, making them essential for overall health and metabolic processes. Proper mineral balance is crucial and should be carefully managed to avoid deficiencies or excesses.

These 12 minerals are known to be essential nutrients for dogs:

  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Magnesium
  • Iodine
  • Chlorine
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Selenium
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorus

Mineral sources for Pug food include:

  • Sweet potatoes and pumpkin (Magnesium)
  • Fish (Iodine)
  • Beef, eggs, and liver (Zinc)
  • Poultry, nuts, and legumes (Copper)
  • Bananas and carrots (Potassium)
  • Chicken and duck (Iron)

Vitamins in a dog’s diet are integral for maintaining overall health and bodily functions. They support vision, immune health, aid in energy metabolism and nervous system function, provide antioxidant benefits, reduce inflammation, prevent diseases and ailments and more. Dogs require vitamins, but only in small amounts, and excessive doses of specific vitamins, like vitamin D, can harm them.

These 12 vitamins are known to be essential nutrients for dogs:

  • Vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, D, E & K
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Folic Acid
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Choline

Vitamin sources for Pug food include:

  • Sweet potatoes and spinach (Vitamin A)
  • Eggs, chicken, and beef (Vitamin B)
  • Broccoli (Vitamin C)
  • Kale and parsley (Vitamin K)
  • Vegetables (Vitamin E)
  • Meats and fish (Vitamin D)

Water is vital in a dog’s diet to maintain hydration, support body functions such as digestion, nutrient absorption, and waste excretion, lubricate joints, regulate body temperature, ensure proper organ function, and facilitate metabolic processes. Continuous access to clean water is as crucial as providing nutritious food for overall health and well-being. Generally, Pugs should drink 2 to 3 times the amount of their dry food intake daily. However, if water is readily available from various sources, Pugs can naturally regulate water consumption daily.

2. Consider Your Pug’s Health Conditions

Nutrition is crucial in managing and preventing common health issues in Pugs. Talk to a veterinarian if your Pug is dealing with a health condition. They can recommend the most suitable diet for them. Below are some general dietary tips to help you choose the best dog food or supplement for addressing the most common Pug health problems.

Food allergies

Certain ingredients in their food can cause allergies in Pugs. This occurs when a dog’s immune system identifies a specific protein, carbohydrate, or other ingredients in their diet as foreign and reacts to it as if it were a harmful substance. Food allergies in Pugs may present as dry, itchy skin, ears, or paws. It’s important to note that food intolerances can also occur. However, intolerances do not involve the immune system but can lead to vomiting or diarrhea.

To manage or prevent food allergies in Pugs, consider these diet tips:

  • Avoid common allergens such as corn, wheat, chicken, and beef.
  • Conducting a dog food allergy test or at-home dog food allergy tests like the 5Strands kit (test for up to 255 ingredients) may help determine food allergies or intolerance in your dog. Use the results to avoid food formulas that contain potential allergens.

Sensitive stomach

Pugs can have sensitive digestive systems, a condition where a dog has difficulty digesting certain foods or experiences frequent digestive upset. This can manifest in various symptoms and may be caused by various factors.

To manage or prevent sensitive stomachs in Pugs, consider these diet tips:


Mast cell tumors (MCTs), a type of skin cancer, are common in middle- to senior-aged Pugs, with cancer being the leading cause of death for the breed.

To manage or prevent cancer in Pugs, consider these diet tips:

Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS)

Due to their compressed noses and flat faces, Pugs are prone to breathing difficulties and an inability to cool down easily. While BOAS often requires surgical intervention and cannot be completely managed or prevented through diet alone, certain dietary strategies can help minimize the risk of exacerbating symptoms and improve overall well-being.

To manage BOAS in Pugs, consider these diet tips:

  • Prevent weight gain
  • Soft, moist foods
  • Slow feeding (slow-feeder bowl or puzzle)
  • Limit exercise around mealtime
  • Smaller, more frequent meals

Eye conditions

Pugs are at risk for various eye health issues, such as distichiasis, cataracts, dry eye, entropion, corneal ulcers, progressive retinal atrophy, and more.

To manage or prevent eye problems in Pugs, consider these diet tips:

  • Vitamin A, C & E
  • Beta-carotene
  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Patellar luxation

This is a common orthopedic condition in which the kneecap dislocates or moves out of its normal position. It can cause lameness, pain, and arthritis.

To manage or prevent patellar luxation in Pugs, consider these diet tips:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Low-impact exercise
  • Glucosamine
  • Chondroitin


Pugs are prone to obesity, leading to joint problems, diabetes, and other health issues.

To manage or prevent obesity in Pugs, consider these diet tips:

  • Portion control
  • Limit treats
  • Low-calorie diet

Skin infections

Pugs, with their distinctive skin folds and sensitive skin, can be prone to various skin issues. Skin fold dermatitis is common in breeds with wrinkled skin, such as Pugs.

To manage or prevent skin infections in Pugs, consider these diet tips:

  • Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Fish oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Vitamin E


Pugs are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, a condition where the body cannot effectively regulate blood sugar levels.

To manage or prevent diabetes in Pugs, consider these diet tips:

  • Low-glycemic food
  • Limit table scraps
  • Limit treats
  • Consistent feeding schedule
  • Weight management

Ear infections

Pugs have narrow ear canals and deep skin folds around their face, making it easier for debris and bacteria to accumulate, leading to ear infections. While infections cannot be managed or prevented through diet alone, a healthy diet supports the immune system and reduces inflammation, which can help minimize the occurrence of infections.

To manage or prevent ear infections in Pugs, consider these diet tips:

  • Vitamin D
  • Probiotics
  • Avoid allergens

3. Consider Your Pug’s Activity Level

Provide a diet that suits your Pug’s activity level. This is crucial in maintaining overall health, energy levels, and quality of life.


Inactive Pugs may be older, have mobility issues, or have a naturally low energy level. They require a diet lower in fat and calories to avoid weight gain. Excess weight can lead to health issues such as diabetes, joint problems, and more.

Moderate Activity

These Pugs enjoy daily walks, regular playtime and occasional vigorous activities. They need a balanced proportion of calories, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Recipes for “adult maintenance” are usually appropriate.

High Activity

These are working dogs (herding), sports dogs (competition), or those with high energy engaging in strenuous daily activities. They require higher calories and a diet higher in proteins, fats & carbs for muscle recovery & sustained energy.

4. Consider Your Pug’s Life Stage

Pugs have specific nutritional needs at different stages of their life. Provide a diet that meets their life stage.

The Reviews
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Best Dog Food For Pugs

Best Overall Dog Food For Pugs


The Farmer’s Dog

Who It’s For: Ideal for those who want the most optimal nutrition and potential health benefits.

Recipes: Turkey, chicken, beef & pork

Nutrition: AAFCO

Life Stage: All ages

Manufactured: USA

Ingredients: Human-grade

Why we picked and recommended it: The Farmer’s Dog fresh dog food recipes win the spot for the best dog food for Pugs. This brand uses human-grade ingredients to craft pre-portion recipes delivered directly to your doorstep. Feeding your dog The Farmer’s Dog comes with numerous scientifically-supported health benefits of fresh dog food, including longer lifespans, better digestibility, higher energy levels, and more. Fresh recipes are also ideal for dogs with food allergies, sensitive stomachs, or other dietary concerns because they avoid cheap fillers, additives, and harmful chemicals. Unlike traditional kibble, The Farmer’s Dog is gently cooked from scratch, ensuring all nutritional integrity is retained — this means that your Pug will receive the healthiest and most nutritious meal with every serving.

What sets it apart from competitors: The Farmer’s Dog stands out from other dog food brands by taking a personalized approach to nutrition. Many dog food brands offer one-size-fits-all recipes, but The Farmer’s Dog takes the time to create a custom formula for each dog, considering factors like age, health, weight, and activity level to ensure your dog gets the perfect balance of nutrients for their unique needs.

Key Features

  • Caters to health-specific. Recipes are formulated to address your dog’s health concerns, such as food allergies, tear stains, bad breath, joint issues and more.
  • Vet-designed. Formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists that comply with AAFCO standards.
  • Excellent sourcing. Ingredients are sourced from reputable food suppliers, local farms, and other human food purveyors that meet USDA standards.


  • The level of customization is unmatched
  • Packaged as daily portions for easy serving
  • Never use feed-grade ingredients
  • Cooked in human-grade kitchens


  • It’s on the expensive side

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Best Dry Dog Food For Pugs


Spot & Tango

Who It’s For: For those who want to provide the benefit of fresh dog diet with the convenience of kibble.

Recipes: Beef, chicken & salmon

Nutrition: AAFCO

Life Stage: Adult

Manufactured: USA

Ingredients: Premium

Why we picked and recommended it: Spot & Tango Unkibble dog formula is our top pick for the best dry dog food for Pugs. Unlike traditional dry dog food, Unkibble is less processed and has half the cost of fresh dog food. Think of Unkibble as freshly homemade dog food with the convince of kibble without the nasty preservatives, additives, and cheap fillers. It’s perfect for Pugs because it’s been formulated to surpass the specific nutritional requirements of most dry dog foods.

What sets it apart from competitors: UnKibble recipes are gently dried using our unique process, which gently dries out whole foods to preserve nutrients and flavor and maximize nutritional integrity. Some recipes use organ meats, one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can give your dog. In fact, entrails contain as many (or more) vitamins, minerals, and other valuable nutrients as lean muscle meat.

Key Features

  • Limited ingredients. Use radically simple ingredients ideal for a picky eater or dog with food allergies.
  • Superherbs. Boosted with super herbs for join, immunity, digestive support and more.


  • Exceeds industry standards
  • Cheaper than fresh dog food
  • Crunchy texture
  • GMO and hormone-free
  • Custom plans and scoops


  • It’s a bit more expensive than traditional kibble. NUTRO Ultra dry dog food is another great alternative if you want a more traditional dry dog food that’s less expensive.

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Best Pugs Puppy Food


Open Farm

Who It’s For: Made specifically for Pug puppies. It has all the nutrients for proper puppy development.

Recipes: Blend of chicken, pork & salmon

Nutrition: AAFCO

Life Stage: Puppies

Manufactured: USA

Ingredients: Human-grade

Why we picked and recommended it: The Gently Cooked Open Farm puppy recipe is the best dog food for Pugs. This puppy-specific formula provides the necessary nutrients for the optimal growth and development of Pug puppies, including prebiotic fiber like pumpkin and chicory root, supports healthy digestion and calcium iodate as a source of energy production, and also promotes muscular and cognitive development in puppies.

What sets it apart from competitors: This formula is designed specifically for Pug puppies and has a purposeful blend of three proteins to help prevent allergies. It also has added collagen for healthy joint development.

Key Features

  • Human-grade meats. High-quality meats are raised without antibiotics or added hormones.
  • Superfoods. Boosted with chia seeds, kale, flaxseed and other wholesome ingredients.


  • Made with non-GMO fruits and veggies
  • No potatoes, rendered poultry or meals
  • Serve as a topper or complete meal


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Cheapest Dog Food For Pugs


Royal Canin

Who It’s For: Great if you are looking for the most affordable dog food for Pugs.

Recipes: Chicken

Nutrition: AAFCO

Life Stage: Adult

Manufactured: USA

Ingredients: Natural

Why we picked and recommended it: Royal Canin Pug Food has a slightly lower price than other brands. It’s formulated to provide your Pug with sustained healthy energy from high-quality animal-based proteins. This dog food helps build strong, lean muscles and maintain optimal body conditions. It is made with wholesome ingredients that are easily digestible and provide a balanced diet for adult dogs.

What sets it apart from competitors: Designed to meet the nutritional needs of purebred Pugs 10 months and older. The kibble is designed with a specific shape, size, and texture for the Pug’s facial and jaw structures and biting patterns to aid with chewing and digestion.

Key Features

  • Omega 3. Packed with vitamin A, as well as EPA and DHA (omega-3 fatty acids) from fish oil, to provide skin support and nourish healthy skin and a silky coat.
  • Cardiac support. Promotes heart health with taurine and L-carnitine for healthy cardiac function.
  • Bone and joint health. It also contains Glucosamine and chondroitin for strong bones and joint development. 


  • Formulated for small breed, with the specific nutrients to help them thrive


  • It may not be suitable for dogs with severe food allergies or sensitivities, as it is not specifically designed for these conditions
  • The inclusion of brewer rice and chicken meal and fat may be higher in carbohydrates than some dogs need, which could be a concern for overweight or diabetic dogs

Best Food For Senior Pugs



Who It’s For: Great senior Pug who need the appropriate nutrients to support them through their older years.

Recipes: Chicken, turkey & fish

Nutrition: AAFCO

Life Stage: Senior

Manufactured: USA

Ingredients: Fresh

Why we picked and recommended it: Most veterinarians consider a dog a senior once it reaches seven years old. If your Pug is in that stage of his life, it might be time to switch to a high-quality senior dog food diet. If you’re concerned about keeping your Pug healthy during his older years, Orijin Senior dog food will support long-life vitality. It’s crafted specifically for your senior Pug to help them stay healthy by supporting lean muscle mass and weight maintenance.

What sets it apart from competitors: With rich inclusions of a whole prey diet, ORIJEN dog food is made with the most nutrient-dense, succulent parts of the prey to deliver the nutrition dogs need.

Key Features

  • Wholeprey diet inclusions. It uses fresh and raw animal ingredients, including meat, organs, cartilage, and bone, nourishing dogs according to their natural and biological needs. Note“ “r”w” in this context means that the ingredients are super-fresh when they arrive at the factory/kitchen. The kibble is cooked by the time it is in the bag. This is high-quality cooked pet food, not raw food.
  • Bones and joint support. Enhanced with Glucosamine to aid with cartilage wear and tear as your pet ages.


  • Protein, including poultry, fish and organs
  • Freeze-dried coated for a burst of raw flavor
  • 85% quality animal ingredients
  • Great feedback from senior dog parent 


  • A bit expensive

Raw Food For Pugs



Who It’s For: Good for those seeking to provide a more biologically appropriate, natural diet for dogs that offers several health benefits.

Recipes: Chicken, lamb & beef

Nutrition: AAFCO

Life Stage: All ages

Manufactured: USA

Ingredients: Raw

Why we picked and recommended it: As more dog parents opt to raw feed their dogs, it’s essential to understand the ins and outs of a raw diet for dogs. If you are in the market for raw dog food for Pugs, Instinct Frozen Raw Bites Real Beef Recipe formula is one of our top picks for the best raw dog food delivery brands. This formula is protein-packed with 85% meat and organs and 15% wholesome non-GMO fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals to give your Pug a complete BARF diet. It’s minimally processed, never cooked, pure, natural nutrition to keep your best friend strong. 

What sets it apart from competitors: Raw dog food may benefit your dog with a shinier coat and skin, cleaner teeth, more energy, smaller stools and more. Instinct Raw states that raw dog nutrition can promote strong, lean muscles and energize your pup.


  • Helps with allergies and weight management
  • Ingredients are frozen to maintain the highest nutritional profile
  • Cold-pressure processing to keep the nutrients and taste intact


  • Needs to be kept frozen until it’s your pet’s mealtime
  • Not as convenient as feeding dry dog food. Open Farm freeze-dried raw dog food is an excellent alternative for a more convenient way to feed raw
  • It’s slightly more expensive than traditional kibble, but you can buy raw food budget

Best Food For Pugs With Sensitive Stomach



Who It’s For: If you are looking for the best food for Pugs with sensitive stomachs.

Recipes: Chicken & Barley

Nutrition: AAFCO

Life Stage: Adult

Manufactured: USA

Ingredients: Natural

Why we picked and recommended it: Hill’s Science Diet For Sensitive Stomach & Skin is formulated to protect Pugs with sensitive tummies and skin. It’s made with easily digestible ingredients, including barley, beet pulp, and brown rice and contains no soy, wheat, or artificial that can cause upsets or skin flare-ups on your Pug. 

What sets it apart from competitors: Specialized formula fortified with prebiotics fiber for healthy digestion, sensitive stomachs and immune health. Prebiotic fiber nourishes healthy intestinal bacteria.

Key Features

  • Omega-6. Excellent source of omega-6 fatty acids to nourish your dog’s skin and help maintain a healthy, shiny coat. 
  • Highly digestible. The food is gentle on the stomach.


  • Supports a balanced gut microbiome in your grown dog
  • No artificially colored, flavored, or preserved


  • Not recommended for puppies and pregnant or nursing dogs
  • 15% may still be sensitive to this diet. Another option is going fresh with a more premium option like JustFoodForDogs Balanced Remedy. Its plain composition of a single protein source, single starch source, and low-fat levels make it perfect for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Best Food For Pugs With Allergies


Royal Canin

Who It’s For: Excellent for Pug suffering from skin allergies, food allergies, or food intolerance.

Recipes: Natural

Nutrition: AAFCO

Life Stage: All ages

Manufactured: USA

Ingredients: Hypoallergenic

Why we picked and recommended it: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein is the best hypoallergenic dog formula you feed an allergic Pug. This vet-exclusive prescription formula helps dogs with itching, hair loss, skin allergies and digestive upset. It’s also highly digestible and supports gastrointestinal and dermatological health.

What sets it apart from competitors: This formula uses hydrolyzed soy protein (non-animal protein). Hydrolyzed protein is made by a process known as hybridization, which breaks down proteins to a size less likely to be recognized by the immune system, effectively stopping allergic reactions.

Key Features

  • Limited ingredients. Its limited ingredients also make it great against allergies. They use one single source of carbohydrates.
  • Supports GI health. Contains a special blend of fibers and prebiotics.


  • Specially designed for canines with food intolerances or allergies
  • Helps to reduce skin and GI reactions caused by proteins
  • Support healthy skin and help reduce inflammation


  • A bit expensive
  • Requires vet authorization. While we recommend Royal Canine Veterinary for the best results, unfortunately, it requires a prescription. If you can’t wait to visit your vet or don’t have the budget to afford it, ACANA Lamb & Pumpkin Limited Ingredient Diet can also help with allergies and does not require a prescription.

Best Grain-Free Food For Pugs


Open Farm

Who It’s For: Ideal for Pugs with grain allergies or sensitivities.

Recipes: Chicken & turkey

Nutrition: AAFCO

Life Stage: All ages

Manufactured: USA

Ingredients: Human-grade

Why we picked and recommended it: Open Farm grain-free small breed dry dog food is your best grain-free kibble for Pugs. We picked it because they skip the grain, corn, soy, and wheat in favor of science-backed superfoods like non-GMO pumpkin, carrot, leafy greens, and coconut oil for a balanced and complete diet that provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support Pug nutritional needs.

What sets it apart from competitors: It’s made responsibly from ethically sourced, humanely raised meats and sustainable ingredients free from antibiotics, hormones, and artificial preservatives, making it one of the most sustainable dog food brands.

Key Features

  • Small breed-specific. Formulated for higher metabolic rates in smaller breeds
  • 100% traceable ingredients. Instantly trace the origin of every ingredient in your bag via their website.