The Best Dog Foods for Pregnant Dogs

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November 6, 2022 / Dog Food / By: Krystine Therriault

A pregnant dog expecting a litter of puppies

Looking for good, nourishing dog food for pregnant dogs?

A pregnant dog's energy requirements and diet will need to be slightly adjusted for a while to ensure that she and her puppies get all the nourishment they need throughout conception and gestation, all the way up until the puppies are weaned from the mother.

To help you find these nourishing recipes, we've analyzed various dry and wet dog food formulas and found the following 4 and 5-star pregnant-friendly dog food brands at exceptional quality at an affordable price.

Diet & Nutrition: What To Feed a Pregnant Dog?

According to Woodhaven Labs, dogs used for breeding or who may get pregnant should be on a diet with roughly 30% animal-based protein, 20% fat. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids should also be included in their diet.

These nutritional guidelines will ensure that the dog is in optimal health to increase the chances of conception and more live births.

A study by Cornell University suggests that dogs who may become pregnant should be fed a high-quality maintenance food

These dogs should be at a healthy weight for conception, meaning they may have to gain or lose weight beforehand. Owners shouldn’t try to make their dog lose weight while pregnant.

NOTE: Pregnant dogs can stay on the same food as usual until about day 50 of their pregnancy, if they are being fed a quality diet to begin with.

Towards the end of the pregnancy, she should be switched to a high calorie diet until the pups are weaned.

For owners who use commercial dog food, this usually means premium performance or puppy food (but not for large breeds, because the nutrient profiles are different).

This food should be gradually mixed and switched out until the new food is being fed exclusively around the final week of pregnancy.

Best Food for Pregnant & Nursing Dogs

Here are our top-rated pregnant and lactating dog foods.

1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy (Best Overall Dog Food for Pregnant Dogs)

what is the best grain free dog food for pregnant bitches

High Prairie Puppy with Roasted Bison and Roasted Venison is a grain-free, high protein dry dog food great for pregnant dogs or nursing mothers who need to eat a high nutrient-dense diet.

This puppy food formula will help your nursing dog get the nutrition it needs. It contains 28% protein, 17% fat, and 5% fiber and meets the nutritional levels established by AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages. 

The top three ingredients in this premium dog food are named protein sources (buffalo, lamb meal, and chicken meal).

The next few ingredients are sweet potatoes, peas, and potatoes which are healthy complex carbohydrate sources for energy.

The recipe also contains roasted bison, roasted venison, beef and ocean fish meal - all highly digestible proteins with a roasted flavor your dog will love. It also uses Canola oil - which is a good source of omega-6 fatty acids for optimal coat and skin health.

Your pregnant dog also has all the vitamins it needs during this important growth phase: vitamins E, A, B1, B6, B12, D in addition to folic acid. 

Pet parents can feel confident feeding their pregnant dog Taste of the Wild, since it's made in the USA by a family owned and run company.

In addition, the company uses only ingredients that are trusted and sustainable. They also have scientifically advanced food safety protocols in place.  

This recipe is perfect for pregnant and nursing mothers in addition to growing puppies.

2. American Journey Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Puppy Dry Dog Food (Most Affordable)

Grain-free dog food for puppies

American Journey Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain Free Puppy Dog Food is our overall best value food to feed a pregnant dam (and her growing pups). This is Chewy's private label house brand.

This AAFCO approved recipe is formulated to meet the nutritional levels for growth and reproduction. It is high in protein and is both grain and gluten free, has no corn, soy or wheat.

Deboned lamb is a lean protein meat that provides all the required amino acids.

This recipe has added salmon oil and flaxseed for those essential omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. Fiber and carbs come in the form of chickpeas and sweet potato which are easy to digest and packed with fiber.

The first three listed ingredients are Deboned Lamb, Chicken Meal and Turkey Meal, so you know your lactating dog is getting lots of good and quality meat protein.

This recipe is also free from any artificial dyes or flavors. This blend has 380 kcal/cup, min. 30% crude protein, 12% crude fats and max 5% crude fiber.

Good for pregnant dogs of all sizes and growing puppies and sold at a very reasonable price.

American Journey is available in 4 pounds, 12 pounds, and 24 pounds bags. Overall this high-protein puppy food is great for nursing mothers and packed with nutrient-dense veggies, fruits, vitamins and minerals.

3. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets® Potato & Duck Dry Puppy Formula (Most Popular)

what's the best puppy and nursing dog food

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Potato and Duck is a grain free option that provides puppy quality dog food with a limited number of protein and carbohydrate sources.

This formula contains min 22.5% protein, 11% fat, and max 4% fiber, and has 370 calories per cup.

It is formulated to meet the (AAFCO) Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.

This formula is good for pregnant dogs with sensitivities, and has above average levels of protein and below average levels of fat when it comes to feeding for pregnancy - however lower levels than our first choice.

A look at the top five ingredients (Potatoes, Duck Meal, Duck, Potato Protein, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols). Generally high-quality foods have meat as the first ingredient.

Duck meal is a great and lean protein source that is easy to digest and a great alternative to the troublesome chicken - the usual protein found in dog food formulas - which many dogs have developed an allergy to.

So this formula is better suited for dogs with a sensitive digestion. It also contains an array of vitamins and minerals including Folic Acid. 

Natural Balance is a highly rated dry dog food suitable for all dogs breeds. Each production run is safely tested nine times by highly qualified microbiologists and chemists.

 The results are posted on the company’s website to give dog owners peace of mind. The company has been making dog and cat food since 1989.

Overall, this recipe is made with high-quality ingredients your nursing dog needs to thrive with no artificial additives or non-nutritive fillers.

4. The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Organic Grain Dog Food (Best Natural Dog Food)

best chicken dry dog food brand for pregnant dogs

For some dog owners, even premium commercial dry dog foods just don’t cut it.

The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Recipe offers human grade dehydrated organic dog food that is made for active adult dogs of all breeds and sizes.

This dog food is made in the USA without any preservatives, by-products, or GMO ingredients. All owners need to do is add warm water and stir to give their dogs a warm and delicious meal. 

This dehydrated dog food contains a minimum of 24.5% protein, 15.3% fat, and max 3.4% fiber. The top five ingredients are dehydrated chicken, organic barley, organic oats, organic flaxseed, and dehydrated potatoes.

All of these are quality, nutritious ingredients. It has 485 kcal per cup. 

Honest Kitchen is recommended by holistic veterinarians and meets the nutrient levels established by AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.

This formula uses only human grade ingredients (no animal feed products) - which is a huge plus when it comes to feeding your furkid and is made in an FDA inspected facility.

This is an excellent product and it is expensive but well worth it, given the quality of the ingredients and the quality assurance checks. Also important to note is that a 10lb bag give you 40lb worth of dog food.

5. Bully Max (Most Protein-Rich Food)

the highest protein food for pregnant dogs

Bully Max is a high performance, super premium dog food that is the only 5-star rated, meat-based formula of its kind.

This food contains no corn, wheat, or soy and has a minimum of 30% protein, 20% fat, and maximum 3.8% fiber.

In terms of the protein and fat levels recommended for dogs who are pregnant, this performance dog food meets those requirements.

Another important thing to consider when choosing a dog food for pregnancy are the top 5 ingredients.

For this formula they are chicken meal, brown rice, chicken fat, dried plain beat pulp, and ground grain sorghum. 

Chicken meal and brown rice are healthy sources of protein and carbs, while chicken fat provides essential omega 6 fatty acids. Ground grain sorghum is like corn but somewhat healthier.

Bully Max has had no dog food recalls. This all-natural dog food is formulated for puppies and adult dogs. With 535 calories per cup, your dog may eat less but still get the nutrition they need.

The directions on this dog food say to feed a pregnant dog the amount needed to maintain her ideal body condition, keeping in mind that her food intake may double (or even quadruple!) during lactation.

6. I and Love and You Naked Essentials Grain-Free Dog Food (Best Wet Dog Food)

Best wet dog food for pregnant dogs

I and Love and You is a grain free canned dog food offered in five different recipes - Lamb, Venison, Beef, Turkey & Chicken.

This Lambarama Stew Grain-Free recipe contains no grains, corn, wheat, soy, rice or artificial preservatives, flavors or colors.

It is formulated by holistic veterinarians and all their ingredients are purchased and produced in the USA with added zinc, copper, and iron to provide dogs with balanced nutrition.

The first five ingredients in this food are lamb, lamb broth, vegetable broth, lamb Liver, dried egg whites - all quality ingredients.

This wholesome food contains min 8% protein, 4% fat, and max 1% fiber, which makes it a good supplement to a pregnant dog’s diet but not sufficient on its own.

Best Nutrition for Pregnant Dogs: The Takeaway

Feeding a pregnant dog can be a delicate balance. Before becoming pregnant, a dog should be brought to her ideal weight and then fed a maintenance diet with high fat and protein.

There are several dog food brands that fit this description, but Taste of the Wild, The Honest Kitchen, and Bully Max stand out as some of the better options.

Owners who choose to feed their pregnant dog a food with lower protein and fat may want to supplement their dog’s diet with a canned food like Wild Calling, which offers high quality protein sources that dogs love.

This might be the case if your dog is on a limited ingredient diet like Natural Balance due to allergies and sensitivities but isn’t getting quite enough protein and fat.

Pregnant dogs may need to be switched from a maintenance food to a puppy or performance formula towards the end of gestation and after the puppies are born.

Keep in mind that your dog will need to eat a lot more during lactation, up until her puppies are weaned.


Krystine Therriault

Krystine Therriault is an accomplished writer. With a passion for all creatures cute and furry, Krystine's life has been touched by many beloved dogs over the years. She is also a loving mother of two boys and an avid yogi.

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