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Best Dog Foods For Pugs: Puppies Adults & Seniors

Looking for the perfect dog food formula for your Pug puppy, adult, or senior dog? In this article, we review our favorites by comparing cost, quality, and more!

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Last Updated: June 28, 2023 | 14 min read

Best Dog Foods For Pugs

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Finding the best dog food for your little Pug can be as challenging as keeping 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 article, you’ll understand what nutrition the Pug needs. This includes specific nutrition content levels and what ingredients to look out for. You’ll also gain insight into the different nutritional needs of a puppy, adult, and senior Pug.

Pugs have sensitive stomachs and suffer from a plethora of skin conditions. It’s important to consider these issues when considering dog food. Because of this, we’ve 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 pint-sized Pug the best nutrition there is!

At a Glance: Our Favorite Foods for Pugs


Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy Budget
Our Rating

Best For Puppies

Blue Buffalo Small Breed

Purina Pro Sensitive Skin Small Breed
Our Rating

Best For Adults

Purina Pro Sensitive Skin

Purina Pro Senior Small Breed
Our Rating

Best For Seniors

Purina Pro Bright Minds

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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. It will also provide your pup enough energy to sustain his crazily curious personality all day long.

It is important that you feed your Pug a puppy formula specifically designed for small breed puppies. These formulas are tailored to their unique needs. Visually, you may not notice a significant change in his physical appearance as he develops. You’ll need to be sure to weigh him weekly and feed him according to 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. They are also 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 sensitive eye health.

Adult Pug Nutrient Needs

From 12 months of age, the Pug will be considered an adult. At this time, you should look to transition him to an adult formula. This new dog food formula should be specifically tailored to the nutritional needs of smaller adult dogs. Because of his sensitive stomach, you need to ensure that you transition foods gradually.

The MSD Veterinary Manual recommends that smaller dog adult recipes should provide your Pug with a minimum protein content of 18% and a fat content of at least 5%. This is lower than that of a Pug puppy. The Pug is known to put on weight rapidly if his food consumption is not monitored. 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. These help ensure that his skin and coat remain nourished and healthy. Pugs can be gassy dogs. Finding a dog food with a precise blend of wholesome fibers will also ensure that his digestive system is kept regular, stools are firm and 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. Not only is he less active during senior years, but his digestive system is also much slower.  As such, he cannot digest fat as well. Senior kibbles cater to his aging needs, so it’s important to stick to a senior formula for small breeds.

It is also important that he receives a kibble that provides a blend of vitamins and minerals. This can be in the form of fruits and vegetables or extra added supplements. These antioxidants help to strengthen his weakening immune system and keep his sensitive digestive tract regular.

Glucosamine and chondroitin should also be a primary ingredient. Both 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. With folic acid and flaxseed, his coat will remain beautiful and shiny despite his greying hair.

Best Dog Foods 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. We review our favorites in detail below.

Royal Canin Pug Puppy

Royal Canin Pug Puppy Dog Food
  • Balanced for Pug Puppies.
  • Nutrient-dense for small breeds.
  • Probiotics for digestive health.
  • Antioxidants for immune health.
  • Clover-shaped kibble for eating ease.
  • 371 Calories per cup.
  • 27% Protein, 16% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.

Royal Canin has long studied the Pug puppy and his nutritional needs. This allowed them to designed this breed-specific kibble as a result of their research. This recipe is for the Pug up to the age of 10 months. It has a lower calorie count for less active pups who prefer the comfort of their master’s lap.

With a complex set of nutrients and fish oil, his wrinkled and sensitive skin is nourished from the inside out. Both DHA and EPA are easily 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. This allows his flat face and unique bite to pick up the kibble pieces with ease.

Wellness Complete Puppy

Wellness Complete Small Breed Puppy Food
  • Designed specifically for small dogs.
  • Does not contain meat by-products.
  • No corn, wheat, or soy.
  • No artificial fillers or preservatives.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 489 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 19% Fat, 4.25% Fiber.

In this formula, deboned turkey, chicken meal and salmon meal provide high levels of protein needed for muscle growth. Oatmeal and brown rice provide him with healthy carbohydrates that he needs to grow into a healthy adult. This dog food has been noted to have a positive impact on the Pug’s energy levels.

Natural sources of DHA are included in this formula. Salmon oil and fish meal provide 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. It concentrates on skin, coat, energy, digestive health, eyes, teeth, gums, and immunity.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy Life Protection
  • Budget-friendly.
  • Grain-inclusive.
  • Antioxidant-rich for immune health.
  • No corn, wheat, or soy.
  • No poultry by-product meals.
  • 415 Calories per cup.
  • 29% Protein, 17% Fat, 5% Fiber.

Blue Buffalo has crafted this recipe with their exclusive LifeSource Bits. These bits 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. This kibble has the highest protein content in our recommendations list.

This formula has plenty of fiber, DHA and a precise blend of vitamins and minerals. This ensures your Pug’s 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. 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 Pugs who have high flatulence and loose stools. This food specifically addresses that.

Merrick Lil’ Plates Puppy

Merrick Lil Plates Small Breed
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Made with de-boned chicken.
  • Omega fatty acids for immune health.
  • Smaller kibble size.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 397 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 15% Fat, 4.5% Fiber.

This kibble is full of natural fruit and vegetables. Included in this formula is sweet potatoes, peas, blueberries, and apples. This means you can be sure that your Pug’s 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 pup with a high level of protein and DHA. They also provide 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. This means it’s a great choice for those Pugs who are grain intolerant.

Canidae Pure Puppy

Canidae Puppy Pure Food Small Breed
  • Limited ingredient formula.
  • Only 9 ingredients.
  • No artificial flavors or colors.
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 520 Calories per cup.
  • 30% Protein, 12% Fat, 4% Fiber.

With just 9 key ingredients, this kibble is made with everything that a small puppy needs. Nothing is included that your dog doesn’t need. Limited ingredient recipes are also ideal for pups with a sensitive stomach. This formula is grain-free, but lentils, peas and beans ensure that he receives the fiber and energy he needs to grow into a healthy adult.

Chicken is the single protein source, and the small kibble pieces are easy to chew. This limited ingredient formula is also well known for being a winner for fussy pups. If you have a Pug that’s very picky about their food, this is an excellent choice.

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

Best Dog Foods 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 adult food, you’ll want to preemptively battle these issues.  Below are our favorite foods for adult Pugs.

Royal Canin Adult Pug

Royal Canin Pug Adult
  • Formulated for Adult Pugs.
  • L-carnitine for muscle development.
  • Age-appropriate protein to fat balance.
  • Clover shaped kibble is easy to eat.
  • Complex nutrients for skin health.
  • 314 Calories per cup.
  • 23% Protein, 14% Fat, 3.3% Fiber.

This recipe is designed for Pugs aged 10 months and older. 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 skin wrinkles. This formula also supports a healthy muscle tone with optimum protein and fat content. It also contains 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 Health Adult Formula

Wellness Small Breed Adult Natural Food
  • Made without GMOs.
  • Omega fatty acids for skin health.
  • Made with no fillers or meat by-products.
  • No artificial preservatives.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 408 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 15% Fat, 4% Fiber.

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. 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. This makes it a great option for super energetic Pugs. It will also go further per cup because of the nutrient density.

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach

Small Breed Sensitive Stomach Purina Pro
  • High-protein content.
  • Made for sensitive stomachs.
  • Probiotics for digestive health.
  • No corn, wheat, or soy.
  • No poultry by-products.
  • 478 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 17% Fat, 3% Fiber.

This formula is centered around making sure your pup’s skin is clean, and healthy. This is key for Pugs. The probiotic blend also helps Pugs that have sensitive stomachs. The addition of canola meal also aids in digestibility and will help keep flatulence down.

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

We love that this recipe is designed specifically for small dogs who are prone to digestion issues. It also helps to solve sensitive skin, and many Pugs suffer from both of these concerns.

Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed

Merrick Lil Plates
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Made with real deboned beef.
  • Probiotic fiber for digestion.
  • Crunchy texture keeps teeth clean.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 402 Calories per cup.
  • 38% Protein, 15% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.

This recipe has the highest protein content by far. If your Pug does better on a high protein recipe or he loves big meaty taste then this would be the best option. 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. These nutrients provide your Pug’s body and immune system with the nutrients it needs. This recipe is also grain-free, which is crucial for dogs with grain intolerances.

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

Taste of the Wild Small Breed

Taste of the Wild Small Breed Puppy
  • Grain-free recipe.
  • Made with lamb, egg, and duck.
  • Dense in omega fatty acids.
  • Nutrient-rich and highly digestible.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 370 Calories per cup.
  • 32% Protein, 18% Fat, 4% Fiber.

This Appalachian recipe is made with real venison, lamb meal, duck meal and fish meal. 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. 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. This makes it great for Pugs with particular taste preferences or allergies.

Best Dog Foods 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 dogs 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 Small Bites Senior

Science Diet Senior Small Bites
  • Veterinarian recommended brand.
  • Smaller kibble size.
  • Formulated for digestive support.
  • Made from natural ingredients.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 353 Calories per cup.
  • 15.5% Protein, 10.5% Fat, 4% Fiber.

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 Natural Choice Dog Food

Nutro Natural Choice
  • Made with Non-GMO ingredients.
  • Healthy natural fiber for digestion.
  • Made with farm-raised chicken.
  • No corn, wheat, or soy.
  • No artificial colors or preservatives.
  • 320 Calories per cup.
  • 26% Protein, 14% Fat, 4% Fiber.

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, while 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.

Kale, spinach, and tomato keep his immune system strong and maintain a healthy oxidative state. Rice bran and whole-grain oatmeal provide the slow-burning carbs that your less active pup will need.

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 Small Breed Senior Food
  • Budget-friendly.
  • Fortified with prebiotics for digestion.
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Brain function boosting DHA.
  • Made with enhanced botanical oils.
  • 487 Calories per cup.
  • 29% Protein, 16% Fat, 3% Fiber.

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.

While 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 Senior Formula Food
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Made with real deboned chicken.
  • Smaller kibble size.
  • Higher levels of omega fatty acids.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 348 Calories per cup.
  • 32% Protein, 12% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.

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 Small Breed Senior Complete Health
  • Balanced grain profile.
  • Smaller kibble size.
  • Immune system boosting antioxidants.
  • High-quality premium proteins.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 435 Calories per cup.
  • 25% Protein, 12% Fat, 5% Fiber.

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.

Dog Foods 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. Considering that Pugs are already prone to a wide variety of concerns, he doesn’t need any more added to his list. So, here are our favorite weight management kibbles suited to the Pug.

Purina Pro Weight Management

Purina Pro Weight Management
  • Budget-friendly.
  • Made with 25% less fat.
  • Balanced nutrition profile.
  • Prebiotic fiber for digestion.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 364 Calories per cup.
  • 27% Protein, 9% Fat, 5.5% Fiber.

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 Healthy Weight Small Breed
  • Reduced calorie count.
  • Antioxidant-rich for immune health.
  • Designed to support slow weight loss.
  • Smaller kibble size.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 341 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 9% Fat, 6% Fiber.

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 nor your Pug will be disappointed.

Blue Buffalo vs Wellness Dog Food

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