Congratulations, you have a pregnant dog! Now, this is where the hard work really starts, which includes making sure she’s getting the right nutritionally balanced diet. After all, she’s eating for six or maybe even seven puppies! She needs food with higher calories and the right balance of minerals and vitamins, but there are so many types of dog food out there. Your expectant dog will need to be fed as usual until about day 40 of pregnancy when her calorie requirements go up and continue while she is suckling her pups.
If you’re looking for the right food for your pregnant dog, we’re here to help. We have compiled a list and researched the 10 best dog foods for pregnant dogs according to reviews. There’s also a buyer’s guide that can further help inform your decision and assist you in your search for the best food for your pregnant dog.
A Quick Look at Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Food||
|Best Value||Rachel Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Dog Food||
|Premium Choice||Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula||
|Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Canned Food||
|Purina Pro Plan Puppy Formula||
The 10 Best Foods for Pregnant Dogs
1. Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Food — Best Overall
|Sizes:||2 or 15 lbs.|
|Calories per cup:||364 kcal/cup|
Royal Canin’s Starter Mother & Babydog Food is specifically made for pregnant dogs. It helps support the mother through her pregnancy, lactation, and her puppies’ growth. It is high in calories for much-needed energy and is easily digested. The kibble mixes quite well with liquid and makes an oatmeal-like consistency. It also contains minerals, vitamins, and DHA for overall health. This is a well known brand and vet approved. It is the only specific food for pregnant and nursing dogs and has a feeding guide on the packet to help with portion size.
This is our best overall choice for food for pregnant dogs even though it is a little expensive and contains corn and gluten, which may not suit some dogs.
2. Rachel Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Dog Food — Best Value
|Flavor:||Chicken and brown rice|
|Sizes:||6 or 14 lbs.|
|Calories per cup:||390 kcal/cup|
The best food for pregnant dogs for the money is Rachel Ray’s Nutrish Bright Puppy Dog Food. It has chicken as the first and main ingredient and is high in protein (28%). It has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin, along with various vitamins and minerals, including taurine. It also has DHA and EPA, which go toward supporting vision and brain development, and extra calcium, for your pregnant dog’s joints, bones, and teeth.
The disadvantages are that picky dogs might not like it, and some dogs might experience stomach upset with this food. It contains 17.7% fat on a dry matter basis. which is at the lower end of the range for pregnant and feeding dogs. You may need to swap to food with closer to 20% fat if your dog is not gaining weight as expected.
3. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula — Premium Choice
|Flavor:||Bison and venison|
|Sizes:||5, 14, or 29 lbs.|
|Calories per cup:||415 kcal/cup|
Our premium choice for best dog food for pregnant dogs is Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Dog Food. It’s high in calories at 415 per cup and is high in protein (28%), with buffalo as the first and main ingredient. It contains superfoods and fruit with various vitamins and minerals, all meant to support coat health and provide the energy that your pregnant dog needs. This includes probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants, which all go toward overall health and wellness and healthy digestion. This puppy food is made in the U.S.A., and doesn’t contain grains, wheat, corn, or any artificial colors or flavors.
The main flaws for this food are that it has a strong smell, so some people don’t appreciate it, it contains pea protein which is a controversial ingredient, and it’s on the expensive side.
4. Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Canned Food
|Sizes:||1-oz. cans x 24|
|Calories per cup:||137 calories per can|
Royal Canin’s Starter Mother & Babydog Canned Food has a mousse texture and is completely nutritionally balanced to support the health of the mother in her third trimester of pregnancy. It’s easy to digest and is great for lactating mother dogs and their puppies when they start solid food.
The issues with this food are that it’s expensive and contains animal by-products and grains.
5. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Formula
|Flavor:||Chicken and rice|
|Sizes:||6, 18, or 34 lbs.|
|Calories per cup:||456 kcal/cup|
The Purina Pro Plan Puppy Formula has whole chicken as the first and main ingredient, which also makes it high in protein and therefore, high in calories at 456 per cup. It has DHA from fish oil for the brain and eyes and phosphorus and calcium to support strong bones and teeth. There are also antioxidants for the immune system, and it’s highly digestible.
However, this food does contain gluten, corn, wheat, and grains, and it might cause stomach issues in some dogs. This can be in the form of either diarrhea or constipation.
6. Purina Pro Plan Development Puppy Canned Food
|Flavor:||Chicken and rice|
|Sizes:||13-oz. cans x 12|
|Calories per cup:||475 kcal/can|
Purina Pro Plan’s Development Puppy Canned Food is well-priced and high in calories at 475 per can. It includes chicken as the main ingredient. It contains DHA for vision and brain support and development and 23 essential minerals and vitamins for coat, skin, and overall health. It doesn’t have artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives and is made in a U.S. facility.
The food does contain animal by-products and grains which some people prefer not to feed, and it might cause stomach upset in some dogs.
7. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice
|Flavor:||Chicken and brown rice|
|Sizes:||4 or 12.5 lbs.|
|Calories per cup:||434 kcal/cup|
Hill’s Science Diet Puppy food starts with chicken as the main ingredient and is a tried and tested brand recommended by vets. It has rice, oats, apples, cranberries and carrots for a balanced diet, which means extra antioxidants, fiber, and phytonutrients. There are also omega fatty acids, including DHA, that were sourced from fish oil and flaxseeds for a healthy coat and skin. It doesn’t contain soy, wheat, or corn and is great for dogs with food sensitivities to these ingredients.
However, with chicken being the main ingredient, this food might not suit all dogs especially if they have food sensitivity to this protein.
8. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Food
|Flavor:||Chicken and brown rice|
|Sizes:||3, 6, 15, or 30 lbs.|
|Calories per cup:||400 kcal/cup|
The Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Food has deboned chicken as the main ingredient, making for a high-protein food that’s also high in calories. It also includes LifeSource Bits, which are tiny pieces of nutrients and antioxidant ingredients. It has phosphorus, calcium, essential minerals, and vitamins to support bones and teeth, as well as ARA and DHA for brain and eye development. It doesn’t contain corn, soy, wheat, grains, or animal by-products.
The disadvantages of this food are that it can sometimes cause stomach upset, and not all dogs actually enjoy eating it. At 17.7% dry matter fat content, this may not be enough for bitches carrying larger litters or who need to gain more weight.
9. Wellness CORE Puppy Food
|Flavor:||Chicken and turkey|
|Sizes:||4, 12, or 26 lbs.|
|Calories per cup:||491 kcal/cup|
The Wellness CORE Puppy Food has the highest amount of calories on this list at 491 per cup and is super high in crude protein at 36%. It contains chicken, turkey, fruits, and veggies. It is full of salmon oil, which includes DHA, as well as probiotics, antioxidants, glucosamine, and taurine. It doesn’t have artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or any animal by-products, corn, soy, gluten, or wheat.
The disadvantages of this food are that it is quite expensive and seems to cause excess gas in some dogs. It is also high in pea and lentil protein, which is a controversial ingredient.
10. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Canned Puppy Food
|Flavor:||Turkey and chicken|
|Sizes:||5-oz. cans x 12|
|Calories per cup:||425 kcal/can|
Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness Canned Puppy Food is high in calories at 425 in each can, thanks to the tasty grilled chicken and turkey recipe. It’s full of fruits and vegetables and added vitamins and minerals, including DHA for vision and brain development. It doesn’t have any artificial ingredients, preservatives, soy, wheat, corn, grains, gluten, or animal by-products.
Unfortunately, the issues here are that while this is a pâté, the consistency is a bit goopy and watery. Some dogs don’t enjoy this food, and it might be because of the consistency. While pregnant and lactating dogs need higher than usual fat levels at around 20%, this diet contains 40% fat and may be better used as a topper on dry food.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick the Best Dog Food for Pregnant Dogs
Now before you purchase any food, check out this Buyer’s Guide, as we go over a few points that could influence your decision.
You might have noticed that all of the food on this list is puppy food. There’s a good reason for this: Feeding a pregnant dog requires specific dietary requirements. Specifically, in her third trimester, she will need a much higher-calorie diet to keep up with the energy requirements of those growing puppies. However, be aware that you should avoid food designed for large breed puppies, as it doesn’t typically have the correct calcium-to-phosphorus ratio to support the mother’s health. But overall, puppy food is typically high in calories, fat, and protein, so it’s the perfect food for your pregnant dog.
You might also have noticed that DHA is frequently mentioned in most puppy food. This is an essential ingredient for growing puppies because it supports eye and brain development. So, giving DHA to your pregnant dog also gives her puppies a much-needed boost before they are born.
Vitamins and Minerals
Puppy food tends to contain extra vitamins and minerals to support those little growing bodies. It also has extra calcium and phosphorus, which not only supports strong bones and teeth but will also help the mother with milk production. She needs the extra vitamins and minerals to support her own body and those of her growing puppies. But it is important that these vitamins and minerals are present and balanced in the correct ratios or there can be development problems with the puppies.
High in Fat
You’ll want to ensure that the food that you give your dog is high in fat, which also ensures a higher calorie diet. This kind of food will provide her with more of the energy that she requires. On a dry matter basis the advice is a minimum of 17% rising to 30% fat requirement.
Royal Canin Starter and Babydog Food is our favorite dog food for pregnant dogs because it contains many calories, vitamins, and minerals and is formulated for pregnant dogs. Rachel Ray’s Nutrish Bright Puppy Dog Food is well-priced and includes omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and extra vitamins and minerals, including taurine. Finally, Taste of the Wild is our premium pick and contains good levels of fat and protein for pregnant dogs whilst being rich in superfoods and antioxidants.
We hope that these reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you to pick suitable food for your pregnant dog. This is such an important time for her to be eating the right food so she can get all of the vital calories and nutrients that she needs.
Featured Image Credit: XIE WENHUI, Shutterstock