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11 Best Dog Foods for Nursing Dogs in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

Litter of Small Breed Newborn Puppies Nursing on Their Mom

Feeding a nursing dog the best food possible is important for their health and the long-term well-being of their puppies. Nursing dogs require special food that is designed to meet their nutritional needs while they are nursing. Some of the best foods for nursing dogs include those that are high in protein, higher in hydration, lower in carbohydrates, and filled with healthy fats. They should also be enriched with omega fatty acids and other nutrients to help support lactation and the nourishment of puppies.

Choosing the best food for nursing dogs can be tricky, but with a little research, and our reviews, it’s easy to find the right food for your furry friend.

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A Quick Look at Our Favorites in 2023

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Ollie Lamb Recipe Fresh Dog Food Subscription Ollie Lamb Recipe Fresh Dog Food Subscription
  • Human grade
  • Limited ingredient list
  • Customizable
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Nutro Natural Choice Adult Dry Dog Food Nutro Natural Choice Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Its first ingredient is chicken
  • Non-GMO ingredients, no corn, wheat, or soy
  • Natural fiber and antioxidants
  • Third place
    Wellness CORE High Protein Wellness CORE High Protein
  • Dogs love the savory flavor
  • Replenishes overall health
  • Fiber-rich grains and nutrient-dense superfoods
  • Kinetic Performance Ultra Dry Dog Food Kinetic Performance Ultra Dry Dog Food
  • Specially designed for highly active adult dogs
  • Great source of nutrition for nursing dogs and puppies
  • Natural source of glucosamine promotes healthy hips and joints in puppies
  • Vet’s Choice
    Nulo Frontrunner Adult Dry Dog Food Nulo Frontrunner Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Contains essential amino acids
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids improve coat and skin health
  • Probiotics for digestive and immune system health
  • The 11 Best Dog Foods for Nursing Dogs

    1. Ollie Lamb Recipe Fresh Dog Food Subscription – Best Overall

    mastiff-dog-with-pink-bowl-eating-fresh-beef-ollie-dog-food

    Weight: Customizable
    Lifestage: All
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Wet, fresh
    Special diet: Natural, human-grade
    Calories:  1804 kcal ME/kg

    Our overall pick for best dog food for nursing dogs is Ollie Fresh Dog Food Lamb recipe. It is essential that your dog receives the proper nutrients to nourish her own body all while maintaining a consistent and rich milk supply. Ollie’s fresh lamb recipe offers its highest kcal per serving and is made up of whole, natural ingredients, with real lamb as the first. Cranberries and butternut Squash are high in fiber and are rich in antioxidants, promoting good digestion. It also includes the superfood kale, providing your new mother with the vitamins and minerals she needs to stay on top of her health.

    A dog food delivery service like Ollie ensures that you never run out of food, a welcomed perk during such an exciting and busy time for both you and your dog. You can choose the frequency of your deliveries and customize the meal plans based on your nursing mother’s weight, age, breed, and dietary restrictions.

    Pros
    • Human grade
    • Limited ingredient
    • Delivered straight to your door
    • Customizable
    • No additives, byproducts, or fillers
    Cons
    • May be more expensive than store-bought options

    2. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food – Best Value

    Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 30 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: Large breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: High fiber, high protein, molasses-free, natural, sensitive digestion, with grains, but with no corn, wheat, or soy, non-GMO
    Calories: 335 kcal/cup

    Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice is the best food for nursing dogs for the money. The food is made with complex carbohydrates and proteins that can help dogs sustain energy throughout the day. Additionally, the food contains omega fatty acids that promote healthy skin and coats for nursing dogs. The first ingredient in this dry dog food is succulent chicken, a source of high-quality protein which is important during lactation.

    Your dogs’ immune system will be strengthened by the antioxidants, and the natural fibers will help the digestion process for puppies and natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin support their joint health. This product is recommended for large-breed dogs, but this range also offers formulations meant for smaller breeds.

    Pros
    • Its first ingredient is chicken
    • Non-GMO ingredients, no corn, wheat, or soy
    • Natural fiber and antioxidants
    • Provides glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints
    Cons
    • Suitable for large breed dogs
    • A little lower in calories per cup than some other brands

    3. Wellness CORE Dry Dog Food

    Wellness CORE Wholesome Grains Original Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 24.05 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: High-protein with grain
    Calories: 422 kcal/cup

    Wellness CORE Wholesome Grains Original Recipe High Protein Dry Dog food is another food suitable for nursing dogs. The food contains complex carbohydrates and high-quality protein to help meet the nutritional needs of nursing dogs. The food is also enriched with vitamins and minerals to help support the health of nursing dogs. Dogs will waste no time enjoying its savory taste! It’s perfect for lactating dogs because it is designed to support their entire bodies.

    Protein, fiber-rich grains, and nutrient-dense superfoods nourish and replenish nursing dogs. Omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics, and taurine are included to support body mass retention in your dog as well as keep her puppies healthy too.

    Pros
    • Dogs love the savory flavor
    • Replenishes overall health
    • Fiber-rich grains and nutrient-dense superfoods
    • Omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics, and taurine
    • Great nourishment for milk supply
    Cons
    • A little lower in fiber than some other brands

    4. Kinetic Performance Formula Dry Dog Food, 35-lb bag

    Kinetic Performance Ultra 32K Formula Dry Dog Food, 35-lb bag

    Weight: 35 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: No corn, wheat, soy, or peas, and contains grain
    Calories: 477 kcal/cup

    Kinetic Performance Ultra 32K Formula Dry Dog Food is suitable for nursing dogs because the complex blend of nutrients helps to ensure that the nursing dog is getting the sustenance they need. The food is also calorie-rich, helping puppies to put on weight quickly and support their high energy levels. This is because Kinetic Performance Ultra 32K Formula Dry Dog Food is made with complex ingredients that provide the nutrients puppies need to grow and develop properly. The food is also fortified with minerals and vitamins to support the puppies’ immune systems.

    Although the product is specifically formulated for highly active dogs that exercise for 3–4 hours at a time, this makes it perfect for the high caloric needs of nursing dogs. It includes a prebiotic blend that supports healthy digestion and is manufactured in the United States. Some owners may be put off by seeing chicken by-product meal so high in the list of ingredients, which is rendered from the ground-up bones, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines of chickens.

    Pros
    • Specially designed for highly active adult dogs
    • Great source of nutrition for nursing dogs and puppies
    • Natural source of glucosamine promotes healthy hips and joints in puppies
    • Made in the USA
    Cons
    • Second ingredient is chicken by-product meal

    5. Nulo Frontrunner Adult Dry Dog Food – Vet’s Choice

    Nulo Frontrunner Ancient Grains Turkey, Trout & Spelt Adult Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 25 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: High-protein, low-glycemic, with grains
    Calories: 431 kcal/cup

    Vets recommend this food because it is suitable for nursing dogs and contains a blend of complex carbohydrates like ancient grains, along with turkey and trout protein. The high fiber content helps to regulate digestion, while the antioxidants support overall health. The spelt in the formula also helps to improve skin and coat condition. This formula can provide sustained energy for nursing dogs and their puppies. The food also contains turkey and trout, which are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are beneficial for nursing dogs and puppies.

    Additionally, the food is supplemented with probiotics to support a healthy digestive system. Proteins derived from animal sources provide amino acids that support lean muscle mass and a healthy heart in puppies. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids contribute to their healthy coat and skin. For additional reassurance, this product has been designed to meet the nutrient profiles established by AAFCO for dog food.

    Pros
    • Contains essential amino acids
    • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids improve coat and skin health
    • Probiotics for digestive and immune system health
    • Based on the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles
    Cons
    • As a trout-based food, it smells slightly fishy
    • Not a hit with picky eaters

    6. Purina ONE Natural SmartBlend Dry Dog Food

    Purina ONE Natural SmartBlend Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 40.4 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: Natural, high-protein food with grains
    Calories: 380 kcal/cup

    The Purina ONE Natural SmartBlend Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food is another great food for nursing dogs. The food contains all of the nutrients that nursing dogs need to stay healthy and grow properly. The complex blend of ingredients helps to ensure that dogs get the right balance of nutrients, which can be difficult to achieve with just one product. Additionally, the food is easy to digest, which is important for nursing dogs who are constantly feeding puppies. A blend of real lamb and other high-quality protein sources helps support milk production and quality calories for mothers and puppies.

    Lamb is combined with grains and other ingredients to create a complete protein profile. While omega-6 contributes to a healthy coat and skin for nursing pups, natural sources of glucosamine help promote the healthy development of their joints.

    Pros
    • Many dogs seem to love the taste
    • Real lamb is the first ingredient
    • Lamb and grains combine to create a complete protein profile
    • Omega-6 promotes skin and coat health
    • Glucosamine supports healthy joints development
    Cons
    • Some owners say this product has a strong smell

    7. Annamaet Original Adult Formula Dry Dog Food

    Annamaet Original Adult Formula Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 40 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: High-protein, natural, with grains
    Calories: 365 kcal/cup

    Annamaet Original Adult Formula Dry Dog Food is particularly suitable for nursing dogs. It is made with complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to keep your nursing dog healthy and ensure that puppies get the nutrients they need to grow and develop properly. The formula also contains important vitamins and minerals to support healthy growth and is fortified with essential fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins to support the puppies’ immune system and overall health.

    This US-made, grain-inclusive formula is crafted with super-premium chicken and marine microalgae, which delivers omega-3 fatty acids. Probiotics and prebiotics are added to help support your buddy’s gut health.

    Pros
    • Complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
    • Good for nursing dogs and their puppies
    • Essential vitamins and minerals
    • Omega-3 fatty acids, prebiotics, and probiotics
    Cons
    • Some people find the 40-pound bag difficult to handle
    • A few dogs seem to develop digestive issues with this formula

    8. Royal Canin Size Small Starter Mother & Babydog Dry Dog Food

    Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small Starter Mother & Babydog Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 2 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: Small breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: Contains grains
    Calories: 364 kcal/cup

    This Royal Canin food isn’t just a great choice of nutrition for lactating mothers; its formula is also suitable for nursing puppies. A great feature is that it supports both the mother and puppies’ immune systems. Additionally, it is packed with vegetable protein, animal fats, and rice—each of these nutrients is essential to the health of adult dogs and puppies.

    These qualities make it one of the best dog foods for nursing dogs because it is easier on their digestive system. However, the manufacturers designed this formula specifically for smaller dogs, and the kibble pieces dissolve into a sludge that not all dogs will enjoy.

    Pros
    • Balance of animal and vegetable proteins
    • Fits the needs of nursing dogs and their puppies
    • Formulated for high energy needs of pregnancy and nursing
    Cons
    • Quite expensive
    • Rehydrated kibble has a porridge-like consistency
    • Lower in calories than some other brands reviewed

    9. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food

    The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Beef Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food

    Weight: 10 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dehydrated
    Special diet: With grain
    Calories: 441 kcal/cup

    The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Beef Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food is a great food for nursing dogs that contains complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and protein. The food is designed to provide the nutrients that dogs need to support their growth and development and is made with human-grade ingredients, so it is perfectly safe for dogs.

    The food also includes high-quality protein to help build and maintain muscle mass, as well as essential fatty acids for a healthy coat, so it’s a wonderful source of nourishment to pass along through the milk to puppies too.

    Pros
    • Recipe uses ranch-raised beef, organic oats, carrots, and apples
    • Nutrition for nursing dogs of all breeds and sizes
    • 100% human-grade recipe
    Cons
    • Lower in protein than some other brands

    10. Pedigree High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food

    Pedigree High Protein Beef & Lamb Flavor Adult Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 40 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: High-protein, with grain
    Calories: 315 kcal/cup

    The Pedigree High Protein Beef & Lamb Flavor Adult Dry Dog Food is a wonderful food for lactating dogs. The complex blend of ingredients helps to provide the mother with the protein and nutrients she needs to produce milk for her puppies. The food also has a flavor that most dogs enjoy, making it easier for them to eat. This formula has quality ingredients, and high protein levels help to ensure your dog gets the nourishment she needs to nurse well and is made in the United States.

    One issue some people have is with the 40-lb bag size, which some owners find difficult to dispense from. The kibble may also be too large for small dogs.

    Pros
    • Good nutritional profile
    • Keeps weight on a lactating dog
    • Dogs like this flavor
    Cons
    • The 40-lb bag is difficult for some owners to manage
    • Lower in calories per cup than most other brands reviewed
    • Smaller dogs may find the kibble too large

    11. Dog Chow Dry Dog Food

    Dog Chow High Protein Recipe With Real Lamb & Beef Flavor Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 20.3 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: High-protein
    Calories: 424 kcal/cup

    Lactating dogs need a diet that is high in protein to provide them with the nutrients they need to produce milk. Dog Chow’s High Protein Recipe With Real Lamb & Beef Flavor Dry Dog Food is great for lactating dogs because it contains complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that can help meet their unique nutritional needs. The food also features real lamb and beef flavor to provide a palatable meal and provides your dog with essential proteins.

    The food also contains other nutrients that are important for lactating dogs, such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and probiotics. It’s free from artificial flavors and made in the United States, though not all owners will love that the first ingredient is corn.

    Pros
    • Complete and balanced for adult dogs
    • Contains lamb, beef, peas, and carrots
    • Free from artificial flavors
    • Made in the USA
    Cons
    • Some dogs refuse to eat it
    • Large bag size is inconvenient
    • Corn is the first ingredient

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    Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick the Best Dog Food for Nursing Dogs

    Dogs have a number of specific nutritional needs while nursing. One is that they need a diet that is high in protein to help them produce milk. They also need plenty of water, as nursing dogs can consume up to three times more than usual. Nursing dogs should be fed a high-quality diet to support their health and the health of their puppies.

    Do Dogs Need More Calories While Nursing?

    Dogs, just like humans, need more calories while nursing in order to sustain milk production. A lactating dog will burn more calories per day than a non-nursing dog. In order to ensure that your dog is getting the nutrients they need, you can provide them with a high-quality diet specifically designed for nursing dogs. In addition, puppies who are being breastfed also need more calories than puppies who are being fed formula or solid food.

    While Nursing, Does a Dog Need More Protein?

    The needs of nursing dogs vary depending on their age, activity level, and overall health. However, dogs who are nursing do require more protein than those who are not. This is because puppies need protein to help them grow and develop properly, and nursing mothers need extra protein to produce enough milk for their puppies. Dogs, like all mammals, produce milk to feed their young, and the mother’s diet determines the nutrient composition of this milk.

    While pregnant and lactating, dogs require more protein than usual to meet the needs of their growing puppies. Most commercial dog foods contain enough protein to meet the needs of nursing mothers and their puppies.

    Are Dogs More Thirsty While Nursing?

    The mammary glands of nursing dogs produce milk, which is composed of approximately 87% water. Dogs require plenty of fresh, clean water to keep hydrated, especially while nursing puppies. Puppies may nurse up to eight times per day and consume up to 60 milliliters of milk each time, so nursing dogs need plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

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    Conclusion

    In conclusion, feeding nursing dogs a diet of high-quality dog food is important for their health and the health of their puppies.

    We love Ollie Fresh Dog Food Lamb Recipe because it has balanced nutrition suitable for nursing mother dogs. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is another great choice as it is high in protein with a good ratio of fiber. The rich, savory flavor of Wellness CORE Wholesome Grains Original Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food comes with an excellent nutritional profile.

    Not all dog foods are created equal, so it is important to do your research and find a food that is appropriate for nursing dogs. By choosing one of our favorites, you can help ensure that your dog has a healthy litter of puppies and stays healthy while nursing.


    Featured Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

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