10 Best Dog Food For Pregnant Dogs (The 2020 Buying Guide)

Mike PowellEdited by: Mike Powell
Abby TexasReviewed by: Abby Texas

Last Update:

Being a pet parent is an awesome experience, and for many of us, our fur babies are as much a part of the family as our human kids are.

An even more exciting occurrence, though, is becoming a pet grandparent – when our fur babies have babies.

If you have a pregnant dog in your life, it’s essential to make sure she gets the best dog food for pregnant dogs to keep herself and her puppies healthy, even before they are born.

Sources researched
33
Sources researched
Customer reviews
24,000
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
35
Hours spent testing
Products tested
10
Products tested
Product Name
Best Overall For Most Pregnant Dogs
Best High Protein & Fat
Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food Recipes
ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Puppy, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Real Chicken Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Our Rating 91 / 100
Our Rating 91 / 100
Pro 1
Good nutrients for pregnant pups
Great levels of DHA and EPA
Quality is on-par with higher-priced foods
Pro 2
Both flavors contain DHA and glucosamine
High levels of Omega fatty acids
Good calorie count for pregnant & nursing dogs needing to eat more
Best Overall For Most Pregnant Dogs
Product Name
Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food Recipes
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Good nutrients for pregnant pups
Pro 2
Both flavors contain DHA and glucosamine
Best High Protein & Fat
Rank
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Puppy, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
Rating
Our Rating 91 / 100
Pro 1
Great levels of DHA and EPA
Pro 2
High levels of Omega fatty acids
Best Budget Option
Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Real Chicken Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food
Rating
Our Rating 91 / 100
Pro 1
Quality is on-par with higher-priced foods
Pro 2
Good calorie count for pregnant & nursing dogs needing to eat more

10 Best Dog Food For Pregnant Dogs

1. Merrick Puppy Recipe

Best Dog Food For Pregnant Dogs: ​​Perfect pregnant nutrition

Overall Rating92%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality85%
Digestibility90%
Contains DHA94%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Good nutrients for pregnant pups
  • Chicken or beef flavor
  • Both flavors contain DHA and glucosamine

CONS

  • Slightly pricey

Here we have a quality dog food filled with plenty of wholesome, nutritious ingredients. It comes in two flavors, so your pooch can avoid chicken if they are sensitive to it, or beef if they need to steer clear of red meat.

This is our pick for the best dog food for pregnant dogs.

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Chicken Or Beef 

The chicken flavor comes out on top in terms of nutrients, with 30% protein and 16% fat. Beef is only slightly behind, with 28% protein and 15% fat. The chicken also contains a higher amount of DHA, although the beef flavor does contain it too. 

Both have significant levels of Omega fatty acids, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin, which goes a long way towards helping your pregnant dog body and joints stay strong. 

2. Orijen Puppy Dry Dog Food

Best High Protein & Fat Food For Pregnant Dog: Great levels of DHA and EPA

Overall Rating91%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality95%
Digestibility90%
Contains DHA95%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Great levels of DHA and EPA
  • High levels of Omega fatty acids
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Fairly high in calories

CONS

  • One of the more pricey options

Orijen is known to be high-protein, and this dog food is high in fat too which makes it great for dogs who may be expecting little ones. It’s filled to the brim with healthy, natural ingredients, making it highly digestible and packed with vitamins and minerals.

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High In Necessary Nutrients 

This is one of the higher protein foods, at 38%, which is great for pregnant dogs who are still fairly active or large breeds who need even more protein. The fat count sits around 20%, which is super and is made up of quality sources.

This dog food is biologically-appropriate, meaning it contains ingredients such as chicken heart, ground chicken bone, and chicken cartilage. All of this contains an awesome mix of nutrients that is natural and supremely healthy.

3. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Food

Best Value For Money: Very affordable

Overall Rating91%
Protein Count & Quality93%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Digestibility89%
Contains DHA92%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Very affordable
  • Quality is on-par with higher-priced foods
  • High in Omega fatty acids and DHA
  • Good calorie count for pregnant needing to eat more

CONS

There’s really no reason not to go for this dog food unless your pregnant or nursing dog happens to be intolerant of chicken or chicken fat. It’s incredibly priced for its quality, and the nutritional profile is just about perfect for a pregnant or nursing dog. Best pregnant dog food for pup and budget-conscious owner! 

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Great Omegas For Health 

The Omega fatty acid levels are among the highest we see on a dog food label, which is unexpected from a dog food that is so well-priced. This helps with digestion and keeping your pup’s joints lubricated and keeps her coat and skin healthy. 

Of course, part of the Omega content is made up of DHA, which is necessary to help your pup’s puppies develop well as they are growing and being nourished by mom.

4. Acana Singles Range Dry Dog Food

Best Limited Ingredient: Helps reduce food allergies

Overall Rating92%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Digestibility95%
Contains DHA95%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Limited ingredient to reduce food allergies
  • Various flavors available
  • High in protein and fat
  • Gluten, potato, and tapioca-free

CONS

  • A little on the expensive side

If your pregnant dog or nursing dog was allergic to or intolerant of certain ingredients before and needed a limited ingredient diet, the same will be true now. This option from Acana is the best dog food we’ve come across in terms of a limited ingredient dog food.

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Premium Nutrition 

Although it varies very slightly by flavor, each one contains around 31% protein and 17% fat, which will work really well for a pup who is supporting a bunch of little ones.

Each one contains a single protein source and a few carefully selected vegetables. The protein includes things like organ meat, bone, and cartilage.

Everything is on-point here, from the calcium/phosphorus level to the high Omega numbers (which vary by flavor but are high in each). DHA and EPA make this the perfect limited ingredient dog food for a pregnant dog. 

5. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Dinner Patties

Best Raw Option: Natural, organic ingredients

Overall Rating90%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality95%
Digestibility95%
Contains DHA80%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • High-quality, natural, organic ingredients
  • Contains muscle meat, organ meat, bone, and fruits and vegetables
  • Variety of flavors available
  • Very high in protein and fats

CONS

  • Doesn’t contain DHA

If you’ve been raw-feeding your pooch, you can carry on through her pregnancy. These dinner patties from Stella & Chewy are super high in both protein and fat, and the only thing you’ll need to do is make sure to supplement with DHA to give both mom and pups the best head start you can.

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High Protein And Fat Counts  

There are many flavors available, and the protein and fat counts vary with each. All are high in protein, with the highest being chicken (48%) and the lowest being venison (36%). The fat counts are similar, with the highest at 38%, while the lowest is 28%.

You will simply need to add a supplemental dose of DHA to your fluff’s diet, which shouldn’t be hard to hide in this delicious patty.

6. Taste Of The Wild High Prairie Puppy Food

Best Lower Protein: Perfect for dogs who need lower protein

Overall Rating89%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Digestibility90%
Contains DHA90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Good levels of fats and proteins
  • Perfect for dogs who need lower protein
  • Good Omega fatty acid levels, including DHA
  • Superfood ingredients contribute vitamins and minerals

CONS

  • Lower protein may not be suitable for all dogs

This kibble is all-goodness. The protein and fat levels are more than adequate, although not as high they could be.

If you’re looking for something well-rounded and healthy, this dog food would be a great choice for your pregnant pooch, especially if they are on a low-protein diet. 

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Lower Protein 

Dogs who suffer from chronic kidney or liver disease may be recommended a lower protein diet by their vet. When it comes to pregnancy, though, your pooch will need more of it as her body will be preparing for the delivery of a bunch of little pups.

This level of protein should work well for the duration of her pregnancy and until the puppies are weaned.

7. Wellness Complete Health Canned Food

Best Wet Food: ​​Helps digestion

Overall Rating89%
Protein Count & Quality85%
Fat Count & Quality85%
Digestibility95%
Contains DHA95%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Contains a small amount of DHA
  • Chelated minerals help digestion
  • High in calories

CONS

  • Contains carrageenan

Adding a wet dog food is a quick and easy way to up your pup’s calorie count, which is necessary for the last 5 or so weeks of pregnancy.

Not only does it add an extra dose of vitamins, minerals, and energy, it also helps make kibble a little tastier.

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DHA & Chelated Minerals 

This canned dog food offering is loaded with real meat and vegetables and also contains chelated minerals for quick and easy absorption, and a small amount of DHA. It’s rare to see DHA in a wet dog food, so this is an added bonus! 

It contains carrageenan, which is considered to be a lower quality filler. Considering you will only likely be feeding it to your pup for a few weeks, this is really nothing to worry about.

8. American Journey Landmark Trailhead Blend

Best High Protein: Highest protein level

Overall Rating87%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Digestibility85%
Contains DHA85%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Highest protein on this list
  • Good fat level for a high protein food
  • Low fiber helps digestibility
  • Good levels of DHA and EPA

CONS

  • Not suitable for pups who are sensitive to poultry

This dog food is big on the protein and less so on the fat. It’s great for pregnant dogs who already have a bit more body weight than normal and need to be careful not to put on more, or if your large breed pooch is not very active and can use less readily-available energy

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High Protein, Moderate Fat 

40% protein is a high number and is best suited to large breeds. This recipe keeps the fat count moderate, at 15%.

This is right in the zone for dogs who may be slightly overweight already and trying to lose some pounds (although bear in mind they will put some on during pregnancy), or for dogs who are not active and don’t need the extra energy. 

9. Solid Gold Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Formula

Best For Sensitive Stomachs: Sensitive stomach formula 

Overall Rating87%
Protein Count & Quality85%
Fat Count & Quality85%
Digestibility90%
Contains DHA90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Sensitive stomach formula
  • Holistic
  • Grain-free
  • Great vitamins and minerals

CONS

  • Slightly lower in protein than preferred

Just because your dog is now pregnant it doesn’t mean she is going to eat anything and everything. If she was sensitive to certain things before, she is likely to be just as sensitive to them now.

This dog food is specially formulated to counter tummy sensitivities and keep your pup as comfortable and well-nourished as possible.

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Holistic Food  

The quality of this dog food is high and health-promoting, and they make sure to include only the best in their recipe. It’s all-natural, gluten-free, contains a single-source protein, and is packed with superfoods to provide as nutritious a formula as possible, that soothes your pup’s stomach as she eats. 

10. Bully Max High-Performance Premium Dry Dog Food

Best Dog Food Without DHA: High-quality protein & fat

Overall Rating86%
Protein Count & Quality85%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Digestibility85%
Contains DHA80%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • High in protein and fat
  • High-calorie
  • 54 servings per bag
  • Easy to digest

CONS

  • No real meat (contains meat meal)
  • No DHA

This is a good high protein, high-fat formula and is specifically named as a “performance dog food”.

It’s perfect in terms of protein, fat, and calorie count, as well as containing the highest number of servings per bag in comparison to others. All that you’ll need to add on is a DHA supplement. 

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Supplement With DHA 

There is no added DHA on the guaranteed analysis list here. Menhaden fish meal will provide some, but likely not enough.

It may be wise to check with your vet, but we recommend using a DHA supplement to ensure your girl is getting enough for herself and her puppies.


Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation

Criteria 1 – Protein Count & Quality

Pregnancy is hard on the body, and as such, you need to make sure your pooch is getting the most nourishing dog food.

A high quality animal protein is essential and should be the first ingredient on the list. Real meat or meat meal are good choices. Plant protein isn’t recommended unless it’s in addition to an animal protein.

The protein count should be 30% and upwards, which may sound high but your pup isn’t just nourishing her own body at this point. She has a bunch of little pups that are being nourished through the dog food she is eating, so it’s crucial that she gets enough protein in.

Criteria 2 – Fat Count & Quality

A pregnant pup will require quite a high fat count – upwards of 20%. High-quality fats are the primary source of energy in a dog food, and when your fluff is growing little fluffs, she is going to be expending more energy than usual.

Omega fatty acids are super helpful too, and you’ll see a specific one further down the criteria list. Apart from DHA and EPA, the Omega fatty acid numbers should be fairly high. 

Criteria 3 – Digestibility

Digestibility means the percentage of the dog food that is actually absorbed by the dog’s body after being eaten. This number measures the dog food’s ability to provide more nutrition for less kibble. 

This is important for a pregnant dog because she needs as much good stuff as possible, in as small an amount of food as possible. There’s less space than usual in her stomach, and she’s feeding herself and a brood of puppies, so the more nutrition she can get in for less actual kibble, the better. 

We’ve made an effort to find the actual digestibility numbers, but if we haven’t been able to, we’ve assessed the dog food and made a judgment based on the ingredient quality and manufacturing processes.

Criteria 4 – Contains DHA

DHA is an Omega fatty acid that is usually found in puppy food. It’s an essential part of a puppy’s diet as it helps the brain tissue and eyes to develop properly.

It’s not often found in adult food, which is why many pregnant dogs go onto a puppy food in the later stages of their pregnancy. It will start to have an effect on the puppies already, even before they are born, and when they’re nursing as mom’s milk production will be full of it.

Criteria 5 – Affordability

Although this shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of which dog food we choose, it’s an important factor that we cannot ignore. 

A pregnant dog will need vet’s visits, possibly medication, vitamins, and then you’re going to end up with a litter of puppies to feed as well, so the affordability of the dog food you choose is more important than one may realize initially. 

We have made sure to include a good mix of prices in this list, so that your pregnant dog can be well-fed with quality pet food no matter what your budget looks like.


Questions & Answers

What are the nutritional needs of pregnant dogs?

Just like any other dog, a pregnant dog needs a balanced diet that meets all the nutritional needs to keep her and her puppies healthy and strong.

The best dog food for a pregnant dog should contain 30% or more high-quality animal protein. Fat is the next most important nutrient (chicken fat or pork fat being best). A pregnant dog needs 20% and upwards (15% minimum).

Omega fatty acids are great, and it’s imperative that your pregnant dog gets a dose of DHA as well.

You should keep feeding your pup the same amount of food you have been, and the American Kennel Club recommends increasing the amount of food slightly from about 5 weeks into her pregnancy until she is eating between 35 and 50% more than usual. 

Why is best for a pregnant dog to eat a high-fat dog food?

Pregnant or nursing dogs expend a lot more energy than the average dog – between 4 and 6 times the energy, to be precise!

Fat is the most easily accessible, quickly metabolized source of energy in a dog food, so a high fat count is important for a nursing dog’s energy requirements, and for the puppies she is carrying too.

Puppy foods are generally higher in calories than adult dog foods, as well as being higher in protein to build strong muscles, and higher in fat to provide for a puppy’s high levels of energy. 

In addition to these factors, the presence of DHA in food makes a huge difference to pregnant dogs, in particular, the development of her puppies while still in the womb.

Mothers pass nutrients on to their unborn puppies, and if a puppy is getting a dose of DHA before it’s even born, it’s getting a head start on brain and eye development. The DHA will remain in mom’s milk production system for a bit, so it’s great for nursing dogs too.