Top 10 Best Dog Food for Nursing Dogs
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.
Nutro Natural Choice Puppy Dry Food – Best Value
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Barley, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Brown Rice|
|Protein content:||28% min|
|Fat content:||16% min|
|Calories:||3727 kcal/kg, 390 kcal/cup|
If you need quality food that is also the best dog food for nursing dogs for the money, try checking out Nutro Natural Choice Puppy. This is a puppy-specific formulation, which is recommended for nursing dogs. It comes at a completely reasonable price and features real chicken as the number one ingredient on the list.
This dry food provides a high-quality source of protein and includes calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, and essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants so that the mother dog isn’t deprived of her dietary needs as her body works hard to maintain her puppies’ health and development through her milk supply.
All ingredients in this recipe are non-GMO and free of by-products meals, including corn, wheat, and soy. Per the reviews, there were some issues with loose stool and the taste of the kibble. Since some didn’t take as well to the food as expected, if you were to run into this problem you can consider adding a fresh or canned food topper to mix in and make it more appetizing.
- Some dogs don’t take well to the taste
- Loose stool may happen during the transition
- Real chicken is the #1 ingredient
- Made from non-GMO ingredients
- Reasonably priced
Ollie Fresh Lamb Recipe – Best Overall
|Main ingredients:||Lamb, butternut squash, lamb liver, kale, rice|
|Protein content:||11% min|
|Fat content:||9% min|
|Calories:||1804 kcal ME/kg|
When you’re feeding a nursing mother, she needs food that is not only nutritious but is highly palatable, and easy to digest. This is the best way to ensure she’s getting all her special needs met so that she can care for her little ones and maintain optimal health for herself. That’s why Ollie Fresh Lamb Recipe gets our pick for best overall dog food for nursing dogs.
Ollie meets the AAFCO’s Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages, meaning the food is appropriate for both puppies and adult dogs, even for the proper growth and development of large breeds. This gives you reassurance this food has what it takes regardless of your dog’s breed or size.
The lamb recipe is super tasty and great for even the pickiest eaters. It features fresh, protein-rich lamb as the number one ingredient, followed by butternut squash and lamb liver. The recipe is formulated to provide a perfect ratio of protein, fat, fiber, and moisture and offer a wholesome blend of essential vitamins and minerals that only come from top-of-the-line fresh food sources. Ollie works directly with all their suppliers and tests each batch of food to ensure quality and safety.
This is a convenient fresh food subscription service that will deliver right to your door. The food does require room for storage in your freezer and refrigerator and will last up to 6 months frozen and unopened. Of course, fresh food can get quite expensive, so budgetary concerns are always a factor to consider but overall, this food gets raving reviews for a reason.
- Require storage in refrigerator and freezer
- Not everyone prefers subscription-only dog food services
- Each batch is tested for safety
- Highly palatable and easy to digest
- Real lamb is the #1 ingredient
- Ollie works directly with all of their food suppliers
- Formulated to meet AAFCO Nutrient Profile for all life stage
Chicken Soup for the Soul Puppy Pate – Best Wet Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, Chicken Liver, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Turkey Broth|
|Protein content:||9% min|
|Fat content:||6% min|
|Calories:||1,286 kcal/kg, 474 kcal/can|
Chicken Soup for the Soul Puppy Pate is a wonderful choice if you are in search of good wet food for mama. Taking a look at all the top ingredients gives you a sneak peek into the quality of this pate. Real chicken is the first ingredient, followed by chicken liver, turkey, chicken broth, turkey broth, duck, and salmon.
The recipe is made right here in the United States without any wheat, corn, soy, and by-product meals. It is also free of artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors. It offers a well-rounded and fully balanced meal and a healthy dose of moisture for hydration. To top it off, wet foods like this are very appetizing and can convince almost any dog to indulge at mealtime.
As with any wet food variety, it can get costly to feed exclusively, especially for larger dogs. Some owners opt to feed as a topper, which works great because Chicken Soup for the Soul also offers a great quality dry kibble to match.
- Expensive if fed exclusively
- Real chicken is the first ingredient
- Makes a great topper
- Palatable and full of moisture
- Made without artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors
- The brand also offers high-quality dry food puppy option
Castor & Pollux Organix Healthy Grains Organic Puppy Food
|Main ingredients:||Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Oatmeal, Organic Barley, Organic Brown Rice|
|Protein content:||26% min|
|Fat content:||16% min|
|Calories:||3747 kcal/kg, 408 kcal/cup|
Castor & Pollux Organix Healthy Grains Organic Puppy Recipe gets our pick for premium kibble choice since it just so happens to be the only certified organic dog food on the list. As with any fully organic food choice, it’s a bit rougher on the wallet. This recipe revolves around the chicken and features organic chicken as the first ingredient, followed by an organic chicken meal.
This food also offers up a blend of healthy grains for added nutritional support and to help maintain healthy digestion. The formula is made without the use of chickpeas, lentils, corn, soy, and wheat. Castor & Pollux is made in the United States from sustainable sources. You don’t have to worry about any of the ingredients being exposed to any chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
This food offers a healthy ratio of protein and fat to not only support the proper growth and development of the little ones but to also help the mom maintain her energy and nutritional needs to raise her babies right. Dog owners everywhere love how their pups will eat this food right up. It’s also reported to be highly digestible, which is a huge plus for mama dogs.
- Made from fully organic, sustainable ingredients
- Real, organic chicken is the first ingredient on the list
- Palatable and easy to digest
Purina Pro Plan High Protein DHA Puppy Food
|Main ingredients:||Lamb, Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Corn|
|Protein content:||28% min|
|Fat content:||18% min|
|Calories:||4,003 kcal/kg, 447 kcal/cup|
Purina Pro Plan’s High Protein DHA Lamb & Rice Formula Puppy Food is another excellent choice for lactating mothers. Lamb is the first ingredient, which is a rich source of protein that is packed with essential amino acids. This formula also contains DHA derived from fish oil that is rich in omega fatty acids for brain and cognitive development as well as skin and coat health.
This particular food is crafted to be high in protein for the sake of lean muscle development and maintenance, but the extra protein does mom well, as it fuels her during this time of extra energy expenditure.
This kibble is also fortified with live probiotics to support the digestive system and overall immune health, and nursing dogs need a highly digestible formula to absorb all the nutrients they can from what she’s eating. After all, it is not just going to her, it’s going to her puppies, too.
Purina does have a checkered history of product recalls, which understandably makes owners uncomfortable, but overall this particular food and product line comes highly recommended by many.
- Purina has a history of product recalls
- Protein-rich lamb is the #1 ingredient
- Fish oil provides DHA and is a source of healthy omega-fatty acids
- Formulated with live probiotics for digestive support
Wellness Core Digestive Health Puppy – Vet’s Choice
|Main ingredients:||Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oat Groats|
|Protein content:||31% min|
|Fat content:||15.5% min|
|Calories:||3,558 kcal/kg, 398 kcal/cup|
Wellness Core Digestive Health Puppy takes the top spot for Vet’s Choice on the list. It meets all the criteria needed for a growing puppy or a nursing mama dog, which is why veterinarians are on board with the suggestion. It’s crafted specially to be easily digestible, as it includes digestive enzymes, prebiotic fibers, and probiotics that are great for gut health and digestion.
Chicken is the number one ingredient in this formula and it also includes both DHA and EPA to help support cognitive development, and healthy skin and coat. It is specially formulated for puppies under one year of age, making it a great choice for their lactating moms.
The negative reviews are all but non-existent. Wellness Core is a high-quality food that is tasty and well-balanced in terms of nutritional value. It is just slightly more pricey than some other quality kibbles from other competitors.
- Slightly more pricey than some competitors
- Real chicken is the number one ingredient
- Includes DHA and EPA
- Comes recommended by veterinarians
- Features digestive enzymes, prebiotic fibers, and probiotics for digestive support
Acana Wholesome Grains Puppy Recipe
|Main ingredients:||Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oat Groats, Whole Sorghum, Whole Millet|
|Protein content:||28% min|
|Fat content:||19% min|
|Calories:||3540 kcal/kg, 425 kcal/cup|
Another nutrient-dense puppy food that is ideal for mom is Acana Wholesome Grains Puppy Recipe. This kibble is high in protein and features deboned chicken as the first ingredient. Acana uses only fresh or raw animal proteins. This formulation also utilizes wholesome grains for added fiber, which is very nutritious and supportive of the digestive system.
The recipe contains more protein, fat, and omega-3 fatty acids than your average formulation, which is why it’s geared toward pups and great for nursing moms. It is made without any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives and is free of controversial ingredients like legumes, gluten, and potato.
Per the reviews, this food wasn’t a hit among all picky eaters, though most dogs took well to the taste. Acana is a bit pricey compared to some other competitors but it certainly meets the needs of precious puppies and lactating mother dogs.
- May not appease picky eaters
- Higher protein, fat, and Omega-3 fatty acid content
- Made without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- Wholesome grains provide fiber to aid in digestion
ORIJEN Amazing Grains Puppy Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, Turkey, Whole Mackerel, Whole Herring, Salmon|
|Fat content:||20% min|
|Calories:||4060 kcal/kg, 528 kcal/8oz cup|
Orijen is a brand that always features fresh or raw animal protein as the first five ingredients in all its formulations. ORIJEN Amazing Grains Puppy Food is crafted for the proper growth and development of puppies and makes a great choice to offer mom while she’s nursing those precious little ones.
This is one of the most protein-rich formulas on the list and it features chicken, turkey, whole mackerel, whole herring, and salmon as the top ingredients. So, it’s full of DHA and EPA and even contains pollock oil for healthy skin, coat, and overall immunity.
Orijen used to be more focused on grain-free diets but recently added this healthy grains line, making it a well-rounded and balanced food choice that is full of both soluble and insoluble fiber. This formula also includes prebiotics and probiotics to aid in digestion and gut health.
Overall, this nutrient-dense food is just what mama dog needs to thrive and keep herself and her pups healthy and nourished. Orijen is great quality food and goes unmatched in terms of animal protein ingredients, the reason we placed it a little lower on the list is due to the higher cost of the kibble, which is understandable considering the quality, but not suitable for all budgets.
- Features fresh/raw animal protein as the top 5 ingredients
- Nutrient-dense with an optimal protein-to-fiber ratio
- Contain EPA and DHA and essential fatty acids
- High in protein
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Recipe
|Main ingredients:||Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes|
|Protein content:||27% min|
|Fat content:||15% min|
|Calories:||3,600 kcal/kg, 408 kcal/cup|
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy is the only grain-free option featured on the list. Always be sure to talk to your veterinarian about whether your dog needs a grain-free diet, as it’s been shown that grain-inclusive diets can be very beneficial. This recipe is high in protein and features salmon as the number one ingredient.
All Taste of the Wild foods are made here in the United States and include species-specific proprietary probiotics and a blend of antioxidants and prebiotics for optimal digestive support. In addition to being free from artificial color or flavors, the Pacific Stream Puppy recipe can be a great choice for allergy sufferers since the sourced ingredients are not typical sources of allergens for dogs.
Overall, this is a very fair-priced food that offers great quality for the money and will help your nursing mother dog maintain her energy levels during lactation. The biggest complaint among reviewers was that some pups would turn their noses to the food.
- Grain-free diets are not ideal for all dogs
- Some dogs refused to eat the kibble
- High in protein for energy maintenance
- Features species-specific probiotics for digestive health
- Great for allergy sufferers
- Features salmon as the number one ingredient
Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Puppy Recipe + Grains
|Main ingredients:||Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley|
|Protein content:||30% min|
|Fat content:||16% min|
|Calories:||3694 kcal ME/kg or 394 kcal ME/cup|
Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Puppy Recipe is sure to meet the needs of a hungry mama. This recipe features freeze-dried raw-coated kibble as well as freeze-dried raw pieces of chicken. Of course, deboned chicken is the number one ingredient and the kibble contains a mix of healthy grains without any peas or lentils.
Formulated with omega fatty acids and some glucosamine and chondroitin, this puppy food is ideal for dogs of all sizes, especially larger dogs, and will support healthy skin, coats, and joints. Since this food is rich in protein, it can help mom maintain her energy levels throughout the day and sustain her overall health as she focuses on the babies.
A big advertising point for this food is the freeze-dried raw bits. A lot of owners complained that there is only a small amount of these tasty bites in the bag and some pups would even pick through the food and only eat those bits and turn their nose to the rest.
- Advertised freeze-dried pieces were minimal throughout the bag
- Deboned chicken is the #1 ingredient
- Rich in protein
- Formulated with Omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin
Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick the Best Dog Food for Nursing Dogs
In the vast jungle of dog food choices on the market, it gets a bit overwhelming trying to decide which one would be the best for your dog. Below we’ll go over some considerations to keep in mind when narrowing down your choices.
Things to Consider When Buying Food For a Nursing Dog
Talk to Your Veterinarian
Your veterinarian should already be on standby with a new litter of puppies, so why not ask for their advice for feeding mom? Your veterinarian can guide you on proper feeding practices from pregnancy until the puppies are weaned. Keeping mom properly fed will help you avoid extra vet bills that can result from malnutrition. To keep mom and babies healthy, it’s best to get a professional opinion.
Keep Mom’s Needs in Mind
The reason you stumbled upon this article in the first place is that you are aware that a nursing mom has some differing nutritional requirements than your average adult dog. While females do have higher nutritional requirements throughout pregnancy, their needs are at their peak after delivery when she’s nursing the litter. If she is not fed according to these energy needs, she could quickly become malnourished and her health could be in jeopardy.
Read Each Label
- Learning how to read the dog food label is important, especially when you’re looking for food that is higher in protein and fat content to make up for all the energy mom is losing during lactation. Check into the ingredient list to what protein sources are offered and ensure only quality ingredients are used.
- Also, take a look into the caloric content and the guaranteed analysis to see exactly what the food offers and how it compares to competitors. The label can teach you a lot about the food you are about to feed your dogs so it’s important to learn how to read it.
Quantity and Storage Needs
You will want to ensure you get enough food to feed your dog according to their size, age, and –activity level. You will also need to have proper storage ready. Be mindful of how many pounds of food you are getting when shopping online to ensure you don’t accidentally pick incorrectly. If you are choosing fresh food, consider that you need to make space in your refrigerator and freezer to store it. For kibble, it’s a good idea to have a size-appropriate container to keep your pets out of the food when it’s not mealtime.
Does it Fit Your Budget?
- There are dog foods available for every budget. It’s no secret that fresh food and organic options tend to come at the highest costs. When it comes to dog food shopping, it is important not to skimp on quality for lower-cost food. The cheapest dog foods on the market tend to be the lowest quality and the least healthy.
- This could result in heavy vet bills later on down the road if your dog’s health suffers due to being fed a lower-quality diet that wasn’t suited for their needs. There are plenty of great-quality foods out there for varying budgets. If you are interested in the benefits of fresh foods but the expense is too heavy, consider using it as a topper.
According to the reviews, you’re sure to be satisfied with the high-quality, fresh food option of Ollie Fresh Lamb Recipe. If you’re looking to get the best value for your money, you can give Nutro Natural Choice Puppy a try. Castor & Pollux Organix Healthy Grains Puppy is a great, sustainable choice if you are looking for an organic food option.
Chicken Soup for the Soul Puppy Pate offers up a high-quality wet food option, and Wellness Core Digestive Healthy Puppy comes recommended by veterinarians and is formulated for easy digestion. All foods on the list make great choices for nursing mothers and their new pups