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Best Dog Foods For Pugs: Puppies Adults & Seniors

Emma Braby

Last Updated: March 22, 2020 | 18 min read

Best Dog Foods For Pugs

Finding the best dog food for a Pug is as challenging as his wrinkly face healthy during the summer months. This breed has never-ending skin rolls, a curly pig-like tail, and has long been a favorite of royalty across the world. However, while we know a lot about his personality and background, what do we know about his nutritional requirements? Most dog owners don’t, which means that their Pugs aren’t getting fed the right levels of breed-specific nutrients they need.

After reading this guide you will understand exactly what nutrition the Pug needs, including specific nutrition content levels and what key ingredients to look out for, as well as gaining an insight into the different nutritional needs of a puppy, adult and senior Pug. The Pug is also one of the most likely breeds to become overweight, so we’ve lined up a few foods that should keep your pup in top shape.

The Pug is known to suffer from a sensitive stomach and a plethora of skin conditions, so it is important to consider these issues when considering a dog food, and we have focused many of our recommendations around these concerns. He also suffers from a variety of eye conditions, and as such there are certain ingredients to look out for that also contribute towards eye function. So, let’s find your Royal Pug Highness the very best nutrition there is.

At a Glance: Our Favorite Foods for Pugs

Puppies: Wellness Complete Small Breed Puppy
Adults: Purina Pro Sensitive Stomach
Seniors: Science Diet Senior Recipe
Weight Management: Purina Pro Plan

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Pug Puppy Nutrient Needs

It is recommended by the MSD Veterinary Manual  and AAFCO that a Pug puppy should be fed a kibble that contains a protein content of at least 22% and a minimum fat content of 8%. These optimum levels will ensure that he develops into a healthy adult Pug and provide him with enough energy to sustain his crazily curious personality all day long.

It is important that you feed him a puppy formula specifically designed for small breed puppies, as these are tailored to their unique needs. Visually, you may not notice a significant change in his physical appearance as he develops, so be sure to weigh him weekly and feed him according to the package instructions.

Omega fatty acids, such as flaxseed, folic acid and fish oils that come from shrimp or fish, contribute to healthy skin and a nourished coat.  This is very important for Pugs and their sensitive skin and wrinkles. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) are naturally found in mothers’ milk, and they can be found in fish oils and egg products. They are crucial for brain development and eye function, which is important for the Pug puppy and his weak eye health. 

Adult Pug Nutrient Needs

From 12 months of age the Pug will be considered an adult, and as such you should look to transition him to an adult formula that, again, is specifically tailored to the nutritional needs of small breeds. Because of his sensitive stomach you need to ensure that you transition him gradually according to the package instructions otherwise you risk upsetting his stomach. 

The MSD Veterinary Manual recommends that adult small breed recipes should provide your Pug with a minimum protein content of 18% and a fat content of at least 5%, which is lower than that of a puppy Pug. The Pug is known to put on weight rapidly if his food consumption is not monitored, so be sure to follow package instructions and do not overfeed him.

Because of his sensitive skin, thicker coat and skin rolls, it is important that you look for adult kibbles that provide plenty of omega fatty acids that will ensure that his skin and coat remain nourished and healthy. A precise blend of wholesome fibers will also ensure that his digestive system is kept regular, stools are firm and his gas is minimized.

Senior Pug Nutrient Needs

When a Pug reaches the age of 8 years he will need to be slowly transitioned to a senior kibble. Here it is imperative that the kibble provides him with much less fat and fewer calories, because not only is he less active which means that he will burn less energy, his digestive system is much slower and as such he cannot digest fat as well. Senior kibbles cater to his aging needs, so do not feed him anything but this.

It is also important that he receives a kibble that provides a blend of vitamins and minerals, either in the form of fruits and vegetables, or extra added supplements, as they will help to strengthen his weakening immune system and keep his sensitive digestive tract regular.

Glucosamine and chondroitin also need to be listed in the ingredients, as these ingredients support his aging bones and joints.  Meat and fish meals are great sources of these, or of course foods that are specifically formulated with these nutrients. Fish oils promote strong bones too, and with folic acid and flaxseed his coat will remain beautiful and shiny despite his greying hair.


Best Food for Pug Puppies

Pug Puppies Eating Dog Food
Pug puppies need more calories and nutrients than adult or senior Pugs.

Pugs are a very small breed, but they still need nutrient-dense foods when they are puppies.  While you’ll taper their caloric intake off as they get closer to adult age, you’ll still want to make sure that you are giving your pup the nutrition that they need.  Pug puppies have similar nutritional needs to other smaller breeds, like the nutrient needs of a Chihuahua.  Because Pugs are unique in size and stature, there are a few different foods that we’d recommend for them which you can find below.

 
Royal Canin
Wellness Puppy
Blue Buffalo
Merrick Lil' Plates
Canidae Pure
Protein
27%
28%
29%
28%
24%
Fats
16%
19%
17%
15%
13.5%
Fiber
3.6%
4.25%
5%
4.5%
4%
Moisture
10%
10%
10%
11%
10%
Kcal/Cup
369
489
415
397
525

Royal Canin Pug Puppy

Royal Canin Pug Puppy Breed Specific Dry Dog...
  • Royal Canin Pug Puppy dry dog food is designed to meet the...
  • Exclusive kibble design helps Pugs easily pick up and chew their...
  • Helps supports puppy’s developing immune system and natural...
  • Reinforces the skin barrier with essential nutrients to support...

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Royal Canin have studied the Pug puppy and his nutritional needs, and designed this kibble as a result of their research. This recipe is for the Pug up to the age of 10 months, and it has the lowest calorie count for those less active pups who prefer the comfort of his master’s lap.

With a complex set of nutrients and fish oil, his wrinkled and sensitive skin is nourished from the inside out, and DHA and EPA can be found on the ingredients list. It does have the lowest fiber content, but dried beet pulp ensures that his digestive system is still regulated.

We love that each kibble piece is designed like a three-legged starfish, which allows his flat face and unique bite to pick up the kibble pieces with ease. 


Wellness Complete Puppy

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy...
  • ENJOY A LIFETIME OF WELLBEING: High quality proteins and...
  • SUPPORTS HEALTHY GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT: Guaranteed levels of DHA...
  • WHOLE BODY HEALTH: Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants,...
  • FIND THE RIGHT FOOD: Wellness offers a full range of foods to...

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Deboned Turkey, Chicken meal and Salmon meal provide high levels of protein needed for his muscle growth, and oatmeal and brown rice provide him with healthy carbohydrates that he needs to grow into a healthy adult. Many reviewers commented on the high energy levels of their pup after eating this kibble.

Natural sources of DHA are listed, and Salmon oil and fish meal provides his sensitive skin with nourishment. It is designed with small breeds in mind, and with that comes smaller kibble pieces too.

We love that this recipe offers your Pug puppy complete and balanced nutrition, concentrating on skin, coat, energy, digestive health, eyes, teeth, gums and immunity.


Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy

Blue Buffalo Dry Dog Food For Small Breed...
  • 6 Lb Bag
  • Packaging Mary Vary
  • Delicious, Protein-Rich, Deboned Chicken
  • Wholesome Whole Grains, Garden Veggies And Fruit

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Blue Buffalo have made this recipe with their exclusive LifeSource Bits, which are cold-formed to maintain as many nutrients as possible, as well as adding texture to his bowl. Deboned Chicken, Chicken meal and fish meal are the main protein sources in this recipe, and this kibble has the highest protein content in our recommendations list.

With plenty of fiber, DHA and a precise blend of vitamins and minerals, his digestive system, brain function and immune system will develop as it should. There are no nasty preservatives in this list, with vegetable juice being the only thing used to add color, so the more nutrients the merrier!  Blue Buffalo is a top tier dog food, and holds its value against other high-quality brands like Nutro.

We love that this has the highest fiber content for those Pugs who have high flatulence and loose stools. This food specifically addresses that.


Merrick Lil’ Plates Puppy

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Real Chicken +...
  • #1 Ingredient Is Real Deboned Chicken
  • Grain-Free Nutrition With No Gluten Ingredients For Easier...
  • Formulated With Dha For Healthy Brain Development
  • Small, Crunchy Kibble Bites To Help Clean Teeth

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This kibble is full of natural fruit and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, peas, blueberries and apples, so you can be sure that this immune system will receive all the nutrients it needs to be resistant against illnesses and develop healthily. Salmon oil and flaxseed nourish his skin and wrinkles too.

Deboned Chicken and Chicken meal provide your pooch with a high level of protein and DHA, as well as providing high levels of glucosamine which is great for his bones and joints. It also has the highest moisture content which some reviewers find makes it more palatable for their pooch.

We love that this recipe is made without grains, so this is a great choice for those Pugs who are grain intolerant, or for those parents who wish to feed their Pug such a diet.


Canidae Pure Puppy

Canidae Pure Petite Raw Coated Puppy Salmon...
  • Limited ingredient diet using 8 easily recognizable key...
  • Small kibble size ideal for finicky small breed dogs
  • Grain Free; never any wheat, corn, or soy
  • Omega 6 & 3 fatty acids to boost beautiful skin & coat

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With just 8 key ingredients, this kibble is made with everything that a small breed puppy needs, and nothing is included that he doesn’t. Limited ingredient recipes are also ideal for those pups with a sensitive stomach. It is grain free, but lentils, peas and beans ensure that he receives the fiber and energy he needs to grow into a healthy adult.

Salmon is the single protein source, and the small kibble pieces are also coated in raw freeze-dried Salmon, which makes them extremely tasty for fussy pups, which was the most common comment from reviewers.

We love that this recipe is full of Salmon, which is not only nutritious, but it is full of omega fatty acids that provide his sensitive skin and coat with deep nourishment.


Best Food for Adult Pugs

Adult Pug Dog Food
At 12 to 15 months, you should move your Pug to an adult food.

From the age of 12 months, unless specified, most Pugs should transition to an adult formula dog food.  You’ll find that their nutrient requirements are similar to other smaller breed dogs, like the Yorkie’s nutritional requirements.  Because Pugs have sensitive skin and potential eye issues, once they turn old enough to move to an adult food, you’ll want to preemptively battle these issues.  Below are our favorite foods for adult Pugs.

 
Royal Canin
Wellness Complete
Purina Pro
Merrick Lil' Plates
Taste of the Wild
Protein
23%
28%
26%
38%
32%
Fats
14%
16%
16%
15%
18%
Fiber
3.4%
4%
4%
3.5%
4%
Moisture
10%
10%
12%
11%
10%
Kcal/Cup
315
438
429
406
370

Royal Canin Adult Pug

Royal Canin Pug Adult Breed Specific Dry Dog...
  • Royal Canin Pug Adult dry dog food is designed to meet the...
  • Exclusive kibble design helps Pugs easily pick up and chew their...
  • Reinforces the skin barrier with essential nutrients to support...
  • Maintains a Pug’s muscle tone with adapted protein content and...

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This recipe is designed for Pugs aged 10 months and older, and following on from the puppy recipe the kibble pieces are still designed in the shape of 3-legged starfish for ease of eating. It includes DHA and EPA for his brain function too.

It reinforces the skin barrier with its optimum blend of oils, vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E and zinc which are great for his wrinkles. It supports a healthy muscle tone with optimum protein and fat content, with added L-carnitine to ensure that he doesn’t become too porky.

We love that this recipe is designed specifically for the adult Pug by scientists who have studied his nutritional needs.


Wellness Complete Small Breed

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Adult...
  • ENJOY A LIFETIME OF WELLBEING: High quality proteins and...
  • OPTIMAL ENERGY AND HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEMS: Antioxidant rich...
  • WHOLE BODY HEALTH: Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants,...
  • FIND THE RIGHT FOOD: Wellness offers a full range of foods to...

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Following on from the puppy recommendation, this kibble is made with deboned Turkey, Chicken meal and Salmon meal as its main protein source. If your Pug puppy did well on this recipe, he will thrive on it as an adult.

Balanced nutrition is the aim of this kibble, and prebiotics, probiotics, chicory root and carrots provide him with healthy fiber that will keep his digestive system regular. Flaxseed and folic acid will also protect his skin and coat from drying out and becoming irritated. Wellness is also one of our favorite adult dog food brands for Great Pyrenees pups.

We love that this recipe has the highest calorie content per cup, which makes it a great option for those super energetic Pugs, or you can feed him less of it which means it goes much further.


Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach Small Breed...
  • 5 Lb. Bag - Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Small...
  • Salmon Is The #1 Ingredient
  • Contains Easily Digestible Oat Meal
  • No Corn, Wheat Or Soy

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The majority of the reviews on this product revolves around the fact that after months and years of trying various medications for their pooch’s skin allergies or sensitive digestive systems, as soon as they switched their pup to this kibble their pup’s health concerns improved drastically. A combination of prebiotic fibers and canola meal aid digestibility and soothe sensitive skin too.

This recipe has the highest moisture content, meaning that many fussy Pugs will find this kibble easier to eat. Real Salmon, Salmon meal and fish meal provide an abundance of omega fatty acids that nourish his skin and coat, as well as supporting his bones and joints.

We love that this recipe is designed specifically for those small breeds who are prone to digestion issues or sensitive skin, and many Pugs suffer from both of these concerns.


Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Small Breed...
  • Kibble Recipe Starts With Real Deboned Beef As The First...
  • Freeze-Dried Raw Protein Pieces Are Mixed Into The Kibble To...
  • Small Kibble Pieces And Freeze Dried Raw Inclusion For Small...
  • Probiotics And Prebiotic Fiber For Optimal Digestion +...

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This recipe has the highest protein content by far, so if your Pug does better on a high protein recipe or he loves big meaty taste then this would be the best option for him. Made with deboned Beef, Lamb meal, Salmon meal and Beef Liver, this kibble is a big hit with the smaller breeds. It also ensures that his skin is kept nourished and protected.

Aside from the meat content, this recipe is also packed full of wholesome fruits and vegetables that provide his body and immune system with the nutrients it needs. This recipe is also grain free, which is crucial for those Pugs with grain intolerances.

We love that this recipe has raw freeze-dried Beef pieces mixed in with the regular kibble pieces, which not only adds extra taste and texture to his bowl, it is seriously nutritious and full of protein and energy.


Taste of the Wild Small Breed

Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein...
  • A taste of the wild with REAL VENISON as the #1 ingredient;...
  • High protein ingredients with added vitamins & minerals; fruits...
  • Ingredients From Trusted, Sustainable Sources Around The World;...
  • Nutrient rich and HIGHLY DIGESTIBLE with guaranteed species...

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This Appalachian recipe is made with real Venison, Lamb meal, Duck meal and fish meal, so not only is it packed with high-quality protein sources, but it is also full of rich omega fatty acids, amino acids and nutrients for his skin and immune system.

Garbanzo beans, peas and lentils provide him with healthy carbohydrates and fiber, and canola meal is also beneficial for his sensitive digestive system. Blueberries and raspberries also supply antioxidants for a strong immune system, as well as a bit of sweetness.

We love that this recipe is made with alternative protein sources rather than Chicken, which is great for those Pugs with particular taste preferences or allergies.


Best Food for Senior Pugs

Senior Pug Food
As your Pug ages, you’ll want to dial back the calories.

At approximately the age of 8 years old you should start to think about transitioning your Pug to one of our favorite senior kibbles listed below.  The senior pug is more likely to have health issues than other small breeds as they age.  They are also known to gain weight, so having them jump to a food made for senior pups will help ensure they don’t get too chunky, which can be bad for their joints.  Below are our favorite foods for senior Pugs.

 
Science Diet
Nutro Ultra
Purina Pro
Merrick Lil' Plates
Wellness Complete
Protein
19%
27%
29%
34%
25%
Fats
13.7%
13%
16%
12%
12%
Fiber
2.4%
4%
3%
3.5%
5%
Moisture
10%
10%
12%
11%
10%
Kcal/Cup
353
311
487
348
435

Hill’s Science Diet Small Bites 7+ years

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult 7+...
  • This dry food is formulated for specific aging needs of your toy...
  • Easy-to-digest ingredients help support energy levels, and keep a...
  • Balanced minerals for heart & kidney health
  • Small kibble with high-quality protein for lean muscle

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This recipe is designed for the aging needs of toy and small breeds with easy to digest fats for his slowing metabolism and prebiotics to aid his sensitive digestive system. With a balanced set of minerals, the health of his heart and kidneys are maintained, and omega fatty acids vitamin E nourish his dense coat.

Chicken meal provides protein for his muscle maintenance as well as glucosamine for his aging bones and joints. This is one of our favorite senior brands, and Science Diet holds its own against other manufacturers like Royal Canin.

We love that this food is designed and recommended by Veterinarians and canine nutritionists across the world, so you know it has to be good!


Nutro Ultra Small Breed Senior

NUTRO ULTRA Senior Small Breed High Protein...
  • Contains One (1) 4 Lb. Bag Of Nutro Ultra Small Breed Senior Dry...
  • Features Trio Of Protein From Chicken, Lamb, And Salmon—Chicken...
  • Our Premium Dog Food Kibble Is Made With High-Quality Ingredients...
  • Nutro Ultra Dry Dog Food Is Made With High-Quality Protein And...

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This recipe has the lowest calorie count for those senior Pugs who are starting to slow down, or simply prefer to snooze in his masters lap for most of the day, whilst still providing him with wholesome grains that provide him with enough energy. Protein is still an important factor in this recipe with a trio of sources, being Chicken, Lamb and Salmon, and it is these ingredients that also keep his bones and joints supple with glucosamine and chondroitin.

Coconut, pumpkins, blueberries and kale keep his immune system strong and maintain a healthy oxidative state, and flaxseed, chia seeds and Salmon oil ensure that his skin is nourished.

We love that this recipe is packed full of antioxidants and exotic fruit which are imperative for his aging immune system, hence its name, the superfood plate.


Purina Pro Plan Senior

Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Senior Dry Dog...
  • One (1) 5 lb. Bag - Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Small Breed...
  • Features enhanced botanical oils to promote alertness and mental...
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Bite-sized kibble makes chewing easier for small dogs

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Chicken is the first ingredient on this list, which is a great source of protein and energy. With this kibble you shouldn’t worry about his increasing age, as many reviewers commented that it returned their pups energy levels to that of a puppy. Egg products supply him with DHA and EPA, which support healthy eye function and fish oils and vitamin E supplements ensure that his coat will remain silky smooth.

Whilst this recipe is great for some Pugs, if your senior pooch is seriously sedentary or on the porkier side, the higher calorie count and fat content probably makes this an unsuitable option, however reviewers and their small pups loved this recipe.

We love that this recipe supplies your Pug’s slowing mind with botanical oils that promote alertness and mental sharpness in just 30 days.


Merrick Lil’ Plates Senior

Merrick Lil' Plates Small Breed Grain Free...
  • #1 Ingredient Is Real Deboned Chicken
  • Grain-Free Nutrition With No Gluten Ingredients For Easier...
  • Small, Crunchy Kibble Bites To Help Clean Teeth
  • Features Lower Calories And Less Fat To Help Older Dogs Manage...

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This kibble offers the highest protein content in this senior list, which makes it a great option for active seniors who need to maintain their muscle mass. It also ensures that the kibble tastes great for those fussier Pugs who crave intense meat flavor. Despite being rich in flavor and full of oils for his coat, the calorie count is low, and many reviewers commented that it managed their pup’s weight well.

This recipe also ensures that your Pug receives wholesome fruit and vegetables to support his aging immune system, and probiotic and prebiotic fibers such as sweet potato and peas help to keep his flatulence to a minimum and his stools firm. It is grain-free too for those Pugs with intolerances.

We love that this recipe offers leading levels of glucosamine and chondroitin, which is important for his aging bones and joints and it keeps them supple for much longer.


Wellness Complete Senior

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small...
  • Complete Health: Complete And Balanced Everyday Nutrition For...
  • Small Breed Senior Formula: Smaller Kibble Size Made With...
  • All Natural: Contains Only Premium, All Natural Ingredients With...
  • Made In Usa: Backed By The Wellness Guarantee And Proudly Made...

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This recipe completes the set that we have recommended at the puppy and adult stage, so if your Pug did well on those then he will continue to do well on this also. This kibble focuses on complete nutrition, and with extra added glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, his bones and joints are well looked after too.

With less calories, lean protein such as Turkey and Chicken meal, and select fats his weight is managed in his older years, but there are still plenty of fish oils to nourish his skin and coat.

We love that this recipe offers the highest fiber content, such as peas and carrots, for Pugs that need a highly fibrous diet for his irregular digestive tract.


Food for Overweight Pugs

Overweight Pug on Ground
You’ll want to watch your Pug’s weight as they age to ensure they don’t get overweight.

Pug owners will know too well the difficulty of maintaining their pup’s weight, and at some point, the time will come where you will need to either manage his weight or make sure that he loses a few pounds. Not only does the extra weight make him look unhealthy, but it can lead to a variety of serious health concerns, and considering that he is already prone to a wide variety of concerns, he doesn’t need anymore added to his list. So, here are our favorite weight management kibbles suited to the Pug.


Purina Pro Weight Management

Purina Pro Plan Weight Management Dry Dog...
  • One (1) 6 lb. Bag - Purina Pro Plan SAVOR Shredded Blend Weight...
  • Made with high-quality protein, including real chicken as the...
  • Guaranteed live probiotics to support digestive health
  • Blend of hard kibble and tender, meaty shreds for an enticing...

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With a fat content of 8% and a calorie count of 334 per cup, this weight management kibble contains meaty pieces in addition to the basic kibble pieces, which will fool your Pug into thinking his new diet is not a diet at all!

We love Purina Pro as a weight loss option for many breeds, which you can see here.


Wellness Healthy Weight

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Adult...
  • ENJOY A LIFETIME OF WELLBEING: High quality proteins and...
  • OPTIMAL ENERGY AND HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEMS: Antioxidant rich...
  • WHOLE BODY HEALTH: Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants,...
  • FIND THE RIGHT FOOD: Wellness offers a full range of foods to...

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With a fat content of 10% and a calorie count of 341 per cup, this healthy weight kibble ensures that his other nutritional needs are not forgotten. The protein content is 28% and his muscles, coat and bones are still well cared for with this recipe.

We love Wellness Complete products because they are all-natural, and the Healthy Weight formula is no different.


Final Thoughts

The Pug already has plenty of health concerns to worry about, so it is important that he is fed the very best Pug dog food available to keep him as healthy as possible. Consider what his individual health concerns are, and then be sure to choose from our recommendations above, so neither you or your Pug, will be disappointed.

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