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10 Best Foods for Pregnant Dogs in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks

Vet approved

Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Vet, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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pregnant Dogue de Bordeaux

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’s 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.

We’re here to help. We have compiled a list and researched the 10 best dog foods according to reviews for pregnant dogs. There’s also a buyer’s guide that can further help inform your decision and assist you on your search for the best food for your pregnant dog.

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A Quick Look at Our Favorites in 2022

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Food Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Food
  • High in calories for energy
  • Easily digested and rehydrates with liquid
  • Contains minerals, vitamins, and DHA for health
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Rachel Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Dog Food Rachel Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Dog Food
  • EPA and DHA for vision and brain development
  • Extra calcium for strong teeth, bones, and joints
  • Chicken is the main ingredient and is high in protein
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula
  • Has prebiotics, probiotics, and antioxidants
  • No artificial colors, flavors, corn, wheat, or grains
  • Vitamins, minerals, fruit, and superfoods for pregnant dogs
  • Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Canned Food Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Canned Food
  • Delicious mousse texture
  • Nutritionally balanced for the third trimester
  • Easy to digest and good for lactating mothers and the puppies
  • Purina Pro Plan Puppy Formula Purina Pro Plan Puppy Formula
  • Antioxidants and highly digestible
  • DHA from fish oil for brain and eyes
  • Calcium and phosphorus for teeth and bones
  • The 10 Best Foods for Pregnant Dogs

    1. Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Food — Best Overall

    Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Food

    Flavor: Chicken
    Sizes: 2 or 15 lbs.
    Type: Dry
    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 top choice for best foods for pregnant dogs even though it is a little expensive and contains corn and gluten, which may not suit some dogs.

    Pros
    • Made for mother dogs through all stages of pregnancy
    • High in calories for energy
    • Easily digested and rehydrates with liquid
    • Contains minerals, vitamins, and DHA for health
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Contains by-products, grains, corn, and gluten

    2. Rachel Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Dog Food — Best Value

    Rachel Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Dog Food

    Flavor: Chicken and brown rice
    Sizes: 6 or 14 lbs.
    Type: Dry
    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 and this is at the lower end of the range for pregnant and feeding dogs. You may need to swap to one with closer to 20% if your dog is not gaining weight as expected.

    Pros
    • Decent price
    • Chicken is the main ingredient and is high in protein
    • Contains omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and added vitamins, minerals, and taurine
    • EPA and DHA for vision and brain development
    • Extra calcium for strong teeth, bones, and joints
    Cons
    • Only moderate fat levels
    • Picky dogs might not like it
    • It might cause stomach upset in some dogs

    3. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula – Premium Choice

    Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Flavor: Bison and venison
    Sizes: 5, 14, or 29 lbs.
    Type: Dry
    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, and it’s on the expensive side.

    Pros
    • High in calories
    • Buffalo as the main ingredient for high protein (28%)
    • Vitamins, minerals, fruit, and superfoods for pregnant dogs
    • Has prebiotics, probiotics, and antioxidants
    • No artificial colors, flavors, corn, wheat, or grains
    Cons
    • High in pea protein which is a controversial ingredient
    • Some people might think that it smells bad
    • Expensive

    4. Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Canned Food

    Royal Canin Starter Mother & Babydog Canned Food

    Flavor: Chicken
    Sizes: 1-oz. cans x 24
    Type: Wet
    Calories per cup: 137 calories per can

    Royal Canin’s Starter Mother & Babydog Canned Food is in 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.

    Pros
    • Delicious mousse texture
    • Nutritionally balanced for the third trimester
    • Easy to digest and good for lactating mothers and the puppies
    Cons
    • Expensive

    5. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Formula

    Purina Pro Plan Puppy Formula

    Flavor: Chicken and rice
    Sizes: 6, 18, or 34 lbs.
    Type: Dry
    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.

    Pros
    • 456 calories per cup
    • DHA from fish oil for brain and eyes
    • Calcium and phosphorus for teeth and bones
    • Antioxidants and highly digestible
    Cons
    • Contains by-products, wheat, corn, and grains
    • Might cause stomach problems

    6. Purina Pro Plan Development Puppy Canned Food

    Purina Pro Plan Development Puppy Canned Food

    Flavor: Chicken and rice
    Sizes: 13-oz. cans x 12
    Type: Wet
    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.

    Pros
    • Well-priced
    • 475 calories per can
    • Contains DHA and 23 vitamins and minerals
    • Made in the U.S.A.
    • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    Cons
    • Might cause stomach upset

    7. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice

    Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice

    Flavor: Chicken and brown rice
    Sizes: 4 or 12.5 lbs.
    Type: Dry
    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.

    Pros
    • Chicken is the main ingredient
    • Includes rice, oats, cranberries, carrots and apples
    • Omega fatty acids from flaxseed and fish oil for healthy coat and skin
    • Doesn’t contain wheat, soy, or corn
    Cons
    • Chicken may not suit all dogs
    • Only in smaller bag sizes

    8. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Food

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Food

    Flavor: Chicken and brown rice
    Sizes: 3, 6, 15, or 30 lbs.
    Type: Dry
    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.

    Pros
    • Deboned chicken is the main ingredient
    • LifeSource Bits contain nutrients and antioxidants
    • Contains phosphorus, calcium, ARA, and DHA
    • Doesn’t contain wheat, grains, corn, soy, or animal by-products
    Cons
    • Might cause stomach upset
    • Not all dogs enjoy eating it
    • Only moderate fat levels for pregnant and lactating dogs

    9. Wellness CORE Puppy Food

    Wellness CORE Puppy Food

    Flavor: Chicken and turkey
    Sizes: 4, 12, or 26 lbs.
    Type: Dry
    Calories per cup: 491 kcal/cup

    The Wellness CORE Puppy Food has the highest 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, and 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.

    Pros
    • 491 calories per cup and 36% protein
    • Includes chicken, turkey, fruits, and veggies
    • Has salmon oil, taurine, glucosamine, antioxidants, and probiotics
    • No artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or by-products, corn, wheat, or soy
    Cons

    10. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Canned Puppy Food

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Canned Puppy Food

    Flavor: Turkey and chicken
    Sizes: 5-oz. cans x 12
    Type: Wet
    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.

    Pros
    • 425 calories per can
    • Grilled chicken and turkey recipe
    • Includes fruits, veggies, and vitamins and minerals
    • Doesn’t contain grains, corn, wheat, soy, by-products, or artificial ingredients
    Cons
    • Consistency is goopy
    • Some dogs don’t like it
    • Very high in fat
    • High in pea protein which is currently under investigation for risk to heart health

     

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    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.

    Puppy Food

    You might have noticed that all 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.

    DHA

    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.

    pregnant jack russell in bed
    Image Credit: Gladskikh Tatiana, Shutterstock

    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.

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    Conclusion

    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: Jan Dix, Shutterstock

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