10 of the Best Dog Food For Pregnant Dogs (2021 Top Picks)

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

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall for Pregnant Dogs: Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe
“Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe is a quality dog food with wholesome, nutritious ingredients that’s packed with DHA, glucosamine, and Omega fatty acids – essential nutrients for a pregnant dog to keep her healthy and strong during and after pregnancy.

Best High Protein & Fat: Orijen Puppy Dry Dog Food
“Give your little one all the nutrients and supplements necessary during pregnancy with the Orijen Puppy Dry Dog Food. It’s a well-balanced diet with optimum protein and fat levels and has DHA and EPA, bringing your pregnant pup all the necessary nutrients that she needs.”

Best Budget Option: Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Food
“Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Food gives your pregnant dog a healthy, nutritious meal that’s loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. It helps with digestion, healthy joints, and nice skin and coat – all for an affordable price.”

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Pregnant and dogs need more care and attention, especially when it comes to the food they eat. You need to make sure they’re getting the proper nutrition that supports not just their own health and well-being but that of their babies as well.

On top of that, their condition makes them more susceptible to harmful elements in their environment which may cause serious health concerns. A well-rounded diet that covers their nutritional requirements while making sure that they’re protected from various diseases is what they need.

To help you take care of your pregnant pooch, we’ve gathered the best dog foods for pregnant dogs based on their nutritional value and added supplements.

Sources researched
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24,000
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Hours spent testing
35
Hours spent testing
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Product Name
Best Overall For Pregnant Dogs
Best High Protein & Fat
Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
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Merrick 38569 Grain Free Dry Puppy Food Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe - 22.0 Lb Bag
ORIJEN Puppy Dog Food, Grain Free, High Protein, Fresh & Raw Animal Ingredients, 25lb
Diamond Naturals Small Breed Dog Real Lamb Recipe Premium Dry Dog food, 18 lb
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 Pregnant Dogs
Product Name
Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
Merrick 38569 Grain Free Dry Puppy Food Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe - 22.0 Lb Bag
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Good nutrients for pregnant pups
Pro 2
Both flavors contain DHA and glucosamine
Custom Button
Best High Protein & Fat
Rank
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
ORIJEN Puppy Dog Food, Grain Free, High Protein, Fresh & Raw Animal Ingredients, 25lb
Rating
Our Rating 91 / 100
Pro 1
Great levels of DHA and EPA
Pro 2
High levels of Omega fatty acids
Custom Button
Best Budget Option
Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Diamond Naturals Small Breed Dog Real Lamb Recipe Premium Dry Dog food, 18 lb
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
Custom Button

10 Best Dog Food For Pregnant Dogs

Here are our top picks for the best dog food for pregnant dogs on the market:

1. Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe

Best Overall For Pregnant Dogs: ​​Complete and balanced diet for pregnant dogs

Merrick 38569 Grain Free Dry Puppy Food Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe - 22.0 Lb Bag
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Overall Rating92%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality85%
Digestibility90%
Contains DHA94%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Premium quality ingredients with nutrients for pregnant dogs
  • Available in delicious chicken and beef flavors
  • Excellent DHA and glucosamine addition

CONS

  • Slightly pricey

Packed with plenty of wholesome, nutritious ingredients, the Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe is a complete and balanced meal that is loaded with protein and fiber. The DHA in this food is excellent for brain development, especially for the puppies still developing inside your dog’s womb.

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It has significant Omega levels keeping your dog’s skin and coat at its best condition. The added glucosamine and chondroitin provide your pregnant dog’s hip and joints the support it needs. 

The chicken flavor is right on top in terms of nutrients, with 30% protein and 16% fat. Beef is only slightly behind, with 28% protein and 15% fat.

2. Orijen Grain Free Puppy Dry Dog Food

Best High Protein & Fat: Biologically appropriate food with high protein and fat content

ORIJEN Puppy Dog Food, Grain Free, High Protein, Fresh & Raw Animal Ingredients, 13lb
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Overall Rating91%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality95%
Digestibility90%
Contains DHA95%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Great levels of DHA and EPA for improved brain function
  • High Omega levels that boost skin and coat health
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for hip and joints
  • Fairly high calorie content

CONS

  • One of the more pricey options

The Orijen Puppy Grain Free Dry Dog Food is a high-protein and high-fat dog food, filled to the brim with healthy, natural ingredients, that are highly digestible and packed with vitamins and minerals.

This grain free dog food is biologically-appropriate, which means it contains ingredients such as chicken heart, ground chicken bone, and chicken cartilage – all of which make up an awesome mix of nutrients that is 100% natural and supremely healthy, especially for pregnant dogs.

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High In Necessary Nutrients 

This food has one of the highest protein contents on the market at 38%. The fat content coming from high quality sources sits around 20%. It is ideal for pregnant dogs who are still fairly active or medium to large breeds like American bullies, Catahoulas, American bulldogs, Dobermans, German Shepherds, etc who need more protein and fat in their diet.

3. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Food

Best Value For Money: Most affordable option for pregnant and nursing dogs

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Dog Real Lamb Recipe Premium Dry Dog food, 18 lb
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Overall Rating91%
Protein Count & Quality93%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Digestibility89%
Contains DHA92%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Nutrient-packed kibble at a very affordable
  • Quality is on-par with higher-priced foods
  • High in Omega fatty acids and DHA
  • Good calorie count for pregnant dogs

CONS

The Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Food is incredibly priced for its quality and the nutritional profile it has that is just perfect for a pregnant or nursing dog – especially for small breeds like pugs, maltipoo, chihuahuas, chiweenies, etc. 

The Omega-3 fatty acids content is unusually high for a dog food in this price range and is made up of DHA which is necessary to help your dog’s puppies develop well as they are growing and being nourished inside your dog’s womb.

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High Amino Acid Content

The high quality protein sources for this food makes up its optimal amino acid profile that’s responsible for developing lean and strong muscles. There’s also a good amount of vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and Omega-3 which helps with digestion.

4. Acana Singles Range Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Best Flavor Range: Variety of available options for lesser allergy risks in dogs

ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Lamb & Apple, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
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Overall Rating92%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Digestibility95%
Contains DHA95%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Limited ingredient to reduce food allergies
  • Various flavors your dog will definitely enjoy
  • High protein and fat content ideal for most dogs
  • Gluten, potato, and tapioca-free

CONS

  • A little on the expensive side

If your pregnant dog or nursing dog is allergic to certain ingredients, a limited ingredient dog food should provide an optimum amount of major nutrients while avoiding common allergens. The Acana Singles Range Grain Free Dry Dog Food is the best dog food we’ve come across in terms of a limited ingredient formulation.

Although it varies very slightly by flavor, each variant contains around 31% protein and 17% fat, which should be enough for a pup who is supporting a bunch of little ones. Each flavor contains a high quality protein source which includes organ meat, bone, and cartilage. It also has a few carefully selected vegetables.

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Premium Nutrition 

Despite its limited ingredient formulation, everything is on-point in this dog food – from the calcium/phosphorus level to the high Omega numbers (which vary by flavor but are high in each). The added DHA and EPA makes this the perfect limited ingredient grain free dog food for a pregnant dog. Not only for pregnant dogs, the Acana Singles Range Grain Free Dry Dog Food is also great for Golden Retrievers.

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

Best Raw Option: Natural, organic ingredients

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Raw Simply Venison Dinner Patties Dog Food, 25 oz. Bag
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Overall Rating90%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality95%
Digestibility95%
Contains DHA80%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • High-quality, natural, organic, grain free 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 even during her pregnancy. The Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Dinner Patties is an all-natural recipe that is super high in both protein and fat. It’s free from added antibiotics, hormones, grains and even fillers with no nutritional value so it’s extremely safe for your pregnant little pooch.

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High Protein And Fat Counts  

There are many flavors available for this food and the protein and fat content vary in each variant. 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 grain free patty.

6. Taste Of The Wild High Prairie Puppy Food

Best Lower Protein: Ideal for dogs with kidney problems

Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Real Meat Recipe High Prairie Puppy Premium Dry Dog Food, 5lb
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Overall Rating89%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Digestibility90%
Contains DHA90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Good levels of fats and proteins
  • Perfect grain free food for dogs who have kidney troubles
  • Good Omega levels, including DHA
  • Superfood ingredients contribute vitamins and minerals

CONS

  • Lower protein may not be suitable for all dogs

The Taste Of The Wild High Prairie Puppy Food offers a complete and balanced nutrition for pregnant dogs with protein and fat content that are present in optimum amounts.

If you’re looking for something well-rounded and healthy, this dog food would be a great choice for your pregnant pooch, especially if she has a history of kidney issues.

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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.

The level of protein in this grain free dog food should work well for the duration of her pregnancy and until the puppies are weaned.

7. Wellness Complete Health Canned Food

Best Wet Food: ​​Great moisture content and ideal for dogs with digestive issues

Wellness Complete Health Natural Wet Canned Puppy Food, Puppy Chicken & Salmon 12.5-Ounce Can (Pack of 12)
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Overall Rating89%
Protein Count & Quality85%
Fat Count & Quality85%
Digestibility95%
Contains DHA95%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Contains DHA for improved vision and brain function
  • Chelated minerals to help in digestion
  • High in calories, providing your dog the energy it needs to get through the day

CONS

  • Contains carrageenan

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

This nutrient-packed dog food has a delicious flavor and an enticing texture that appeals to even the pickiest eaters among dogs.

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DHA & Chelated Minerals 

This canned dog food is loaded with real meat and vegetables and also contains chelated minerals for quick and easy absorption. It has a good amount of DHA which is rare to see in a wet dog food, intended for improved vision and brain function not just for your dog but for its developing puppies as well. 

8. American Journey Landmark Trailhead Blend

Best High Protein: Supports muscle development and builds muscle mass

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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 improve digestibility
  • Good levels of DHA and EPA

CONS

The American Journey Landmark Trailhead Blend is big on the protein and less so on the fat. It’s great for pregnant dogs who need essential amino acids to support normal growth and development of their puppies.  

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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%. There’s also added pre and probiotics to help your dog if she’s having any digestive troubles, which can be pretty common in pregnant dogs. The antioxidant levels in this food is more than enough to support your dog’s immune system.

9. Solid Gold Sensitive Stomach Dry Dog Food

Best For Sensitive Stomachs: Specially formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs

Solid Gold - Leaping Waters with Cold Water Salmon & Vegetable Recipe - Grain Free & Gluten Free for Sensitive Stomachs - Holistic Adult Dry Dog Food - 4lb Bag
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Overall Rating87%
Protein Count & Quality85%
Fat Count & Quality85%
Digestibility90%
Contains DHA90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Easily digestible, safe formula for dogs with sensitive stomachs
  • Holistic dog food packed with superfoods
  • Grain free, gluten-free dog food
  • Great vitamins and minerals from premium quality ingredients

CONS

  • Slightly lower in protein than preferred

The Solid Gold Leaping Waters Dry Dog Food is specially formulated to counter tummy sensitivities and keep your pup as comfortable and well-nourished as possible, especially during her pregnancy.

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Holistic Food  

This grain free dog food has premium quality ingredients that are all-natural, gluten-free, contains a single-source protein, and are packed with superfoods to provide as nutritious a formula that soothes your dog’s stomach as she eats. 

10. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Puppy Food

Best Limited Ingredient: For reduced risks of any allergies

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Puppy Food, Duck & Potato Puppy Formula, 24 Pounds
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Overall Rating84%
Protein Count & Quality85%
Fat Count & Quality75%
Digestibility85%
Contains DHA90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Limited ingredient for reduced chance of allergies
  • Contains DHA
  • Single source protein also reduces allergies
  • Free from grains and artificial ingredients

CONS

  • May be too low in protein for some, so best only by vet’s recommendation
  • Pregnant dogs often need more fat than this food contains, so we recommend feeding them a high-fat treat between meals

The Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Puppy Food is highly recommended if you need to switch your pregnant pup to a bland diet for a few days to treat acute diarrhea.

Dogs with allergies can benefit from a limited ingredient diet and this dog food has been developed with the help of veterinarians and dog nutrition experts to make sure your pup is getting all the nutrition she needs without risking allergies.

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Supplement With DHA 

Despite the reduced, high-quality ingredients, you’ll find the all-important DHA and a good calcium/phosphorus ratio in this grain free food. 

If your dog happens to be less active, then the 11% fat could work for them but in general it may be a good idea to feed your lady a couple of high-fat treats in between meals to keep her energy up. Remember, she’s feeding growing pups as well as herself! 


What to Look for in the Best Dog Food for Pregnant Dogs

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 source 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.

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 levels should be fairly high. 

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.

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.

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 it 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.

Mike Powell

Mike is an avid dog lover and writer. He’s based in Los Angeles, CA where he grew up in a household surrounded by pets. He’s been a dog owner all his life and he uses this extensive experience of having dogs as part of his family to share valuable, practical tips to improve other people’s dog parenting experience.