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9 Best Dog Foods for Nursing Dogs in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 5, 2024 by Dogster Team

9 Best Dog Foods for Nursing Dogs in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

Litter of Small Breed Newborn Puppies Nursing on Their MomFeeding a nursing dog the best food possible is crucial for her health and the long-term well-being of her puppies. Mother dogs require special food designed to meet their nutritional needs while they are nursing. The ideal food is high in protein and hydration, low in carbohydrates, and filled with healthy fats. It should also be enriched with omega fatty acids and other nutrients to help support lactation and puppy nourishment.

Choosing the best food for nursing dogs can be tricky, but with a bit of research and these reviews, you can get the right food for your furry friend.

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A Quick Look at Our Favorites in 2024

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Ollie Lamb Recipe Fresh Dog Food Subscription Ollie Lamb Recipe Fresh Dog Food Subscription
  • Human-grade
  • Limited ingredient list
  • Customizable
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Nutro Natural Choice Adult Dry Dog Food Nutro Natural Choice Adult Dry Dog Food
  • First ingredient is chicken
  • Non-GMO ingredients and no corn, wheat, or soy
  • Natural fiber and antioxidants
  • Third place
    Wellness CORE High Protein Wellness CORE High Protein
  • Dogs love the savory flavor
  • Replenishes overall health
  • Fiber-rich grains and nutrient-dense superfoods
  • Kinetic Performance Ultra Dry Dog Food Kinetic Performance Ultra Dry Dog Food
  • Specially designed for highly active adult dogs
  • Great source of nutrition for nursing dogs and puppies
  • Natural source of glucosamine promotes healthy hips and joints in puppies
  • Nulo Frontrunner Adult Dry Dog Food Nulo Frontrunner Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Contains essential amino acids
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids improve coat and skin health
  • Probiotics for digestive and immune system health
  • The 9 Best Dog Foods for Nursing Dogs

    1. Ollie Lamb Recipe Fresh Dog Food Subscription — Best Overall

    Ollie Lamb Dish With Cranberries

    Weight: Customizable
    Lifestage: All
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Wet, fresh
    Special diet: Natural, human-grade
    Calories: 1,804 kcal ME/kg

    Our pick for best overall dog food for nursing dogs is Ollie Lamb Recipe Fresh Dog Food Subscription. It is essential that your dog receives the proper nutrients to nourish her own body all while maintaining a consistent and rich milk supply for her puppies. Ollie’s Fresh Lamb recipe offers its highest kcal per serving and is made up of whole, natural ingredients, with real lamb as the first. Cranberries and butternut squash are high in fiber and rich in antioxidants, promoting good digestion. It also includes the superfood kale, providing your new mother dog with the vitamins and minerals she needs to stay on top of her health.

    A dog food delivery service like Ollie ensures that you never run out of food, a welcomed perk during such an exciting and busy time for both you and your dog. You can choose the frequency of your deliveries and customize the meal plans based on your nursing mother’s weight, age, breed, and dietary restrictions.

    Pros
    • Human-grade
    • Limited ingredient
    • Delivered straight to your door
    • Customizable
    • No additives, byproducts, or fillers
    Cons
    • May be more expensive than store-bought options

    2. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food — Budget Buy

    Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 30 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: Large breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: High fiber, high protein, molasses-free, natural, sensitive digestion; has grains but with no corn, wheat, or soy; is non-GMO
    Calories: 335 kcal/cup

    Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is the best dog food for nursing dogs for the money. The food is made with complex carbohydrates and proteins that can help mother dogs sustain energy throughout the day. Additionally, the food contains omega fatty acids that promote healthy skin and coats for nursing dogs. The first ingredient in this dry food is succulent chicken, a source of high-quality protein which is important during lactation.

    Your dog’s immune system will be strengthened by the antioxidants, the natural fibers will help the digestion process for the puppies, and the natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin support their joint health. This product is recommended for large breeds, but this brand also offers formulations meant for small breeds.

    Pros
    • First ingredient is chicken
    • Non-GMO ingredients and no corn, wheat, or soy
    • Natural fiber and antioxidants
    • Provides glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints
    Cons
    • Suitable for large breeds
    • Lower in calories per cup than some other brands

    3. Wellness CORE Wholesome Grains Original Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food

    Wellness CORE Wholesome Grains Original Recipe

    Weight: 24.05 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: High protein with grain
    Calories: 422 kcal/cup

    Wellness CORE Wholesome Grains Original Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food contains complex carbohydrates and high-quality protein to help meet the nutritional needs of nursing dogs. The food is enriched with vitamins and minerals to help support their health. Dogs will also waste no time enjoying its savory taste! It’s perfect for lactating mothers because it is designed to support their entire bodies.

    Protein, fiber-rich grains, and nutrient-dense superfoods nourish and replenish nursing dogs’ energy. Omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics, and taurine are included to support body mass retention in your dog and keep her puppies healthy too.

    Pros
    • Dogs love the savory flavor
    • Replenishes overall health
    • Fiber-rich grains and nutrient-dense superfoods
    • Omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics, and taurine
    • Great nourishment for milk supply
    Cons
    • Lower in fiber than some other brands

    4. Kinetic Performance Ultra 32K Formula Dry Dog Food

    Kinetic Performance Ultra 32K Formula Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 35 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: No corn, wheat, soy, or peas; contains grain
    Calories: 477 kcal/cup

    Kinetic Performance Ultra 32K Formula Dry Dog Food is suitable for nursing dogs because the blend of nutrients helps ensure that the nursing dog is getting the sustenance that she needs. The food is also calorie-rich, helping puppies put on weight quickly and support their high energy levels. Kinetic Performance Dry Food is made with complex ingredients that provide the nutrients that puppies need to grow and develop properly. It’s fortified with minerals and vitamins to support their immune systems.

    Although the product is specifically formulated for highly active dogs that exercise for 3–4 hours at a time, this makes it perfect for the high caloric needs of nursing dogs. It includes a prebiotic blend that supports healthy digestion and is manufactured in the United States. However, some owners may be put off by seeing chicken by-product meal so high in the list of ingredients, as it is rendered from the ground-up bones, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines of chickens.

    Pros
    • Specially designed for highly active adult dogs
    • Great source of nutrition for nursing dogs and puppies
    • Natural source of glucosamine promotes healthy hips and joints in puppies
    • Made in the U.S.A.
    Cons
    • Second ingredient is chicken by-product meal

    5. Nulo Frontrunner Ancient Grains Turkey, Trout & Spelt Adult Dry Dog Food

    Nulo Frontrunner Ancient Grains Turkey, Trout & Spelt Adult Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 25 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: High-protein, low-glycemic, with grains
    Calories: 431 kcal/cup

    Nulo Frontrunner Ancient Grains Turkey, Trout & Spelt Adult Dry Dog Food is suitable for nursing dogs and contains a blend of complex carbohydrates like ancient grains, along with turkey and trout protein. The high fiber content helps regulate digestion, while the antioxidants support overall health. The spelt in the formula also helps improve skin and coat condition. This formula can provide sustained energy for nursing dogs and their puppies. It contains turkey and trout, which are high in protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for nursing dogs and puppies.

    Additionally, the food is supplemented with probiotics to support a healthy digestive system. Proteins derived from animal sources provide amino acids that support lean muscle mass and healthy hearts in puppies. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids contribute to their healthy coat and skin. For additional reassurance, this product has been designed to meet the nutrient profiles established by the AAFCO for dog food.

    Pros
    • Contains essential amino acids
    • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids improve coat and skin health
    • Probiotics for digestive and immune system health
    • Meets the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles
    Cons
    • Trout-based food, so smells slightly fishy
    • Not a hit with picky eaters

    6. Purina ONE Natural SmartBlend Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

    Purina ONE Natural SmartBlend Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 40.4 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: Natural, high-protein food with grains
    Calories: 380 kcal/cup

    The Purina ONE Natural SmartBlend Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food is a great food for nursing dogs. It contains all the nutrients that they need to stay healthy and grow properly. The complex blend of ingredients helps ensure that the dogs get the right balance of nutrients, which can be difficult to achieve with just one product. Additionally, the food is easy to digest, which is important for nursing dogs that are constantly feeding puppies. A blend of real lamb and other high-quality protein sources helps support milk production and provides quality calories for the mothers and puppies.

    Lamb is combined with grains and other ingredients to create a complete protein profile. While omega-6 fatty acids contribute to a healthy coat and skin for nursing pups, natural sources of glucosamine help promote the healthy development of their joints.

    Pros
    • Many dogs seem to love the taste
    • Real lamb is the first ingredient
    • Lamb and grains combine to create a complete protein profile
    • Omega-6 fatty acids promote skin and coat health
    • Glucosamine supports healthy joint development
    Cons
    • Some owners say this product has a strong smell

    7. Annamaet Original Adult Formula Dry Dog Food

    Annamaet Original Adult Formula Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 40 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: High-protein, natural, with grains
    Calories: 365 kcal/cup

    Annamaet Original Adult Formula Dry Dog Food is particularly suitable for nursing dogs. It is made with complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to keep your nursing dog healthy and to ensure that puppies get the nutrients that they need to grow and develop properly. The formula also contains important vitamins and minerals to support healthy growth and is fortified with essential fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins to support the puppies’ immune system and overall health.

    This U.S.-made, grain-inclusive formula is crafted with super-premium chicken and marine microalgae, which delivers omega-3 fatty acids. Probiotics and prebiotics are added to help support your mother dog’s gut health.

    Pros
    • Complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
    • Good for nursing dogs and their puppies
    • Essential vitamins and minerals
    • Omega-3 fatty acids, prebiotics, and probiotics
    Cons
    • Some people find the 40-pound bag difficult to handle
    • Some dogs seem to develop digestive issues with this formula

    8. Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small Starter Mother & Babydog Dry Dog Food

    Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small Starter Mother & Babydog Dry Dog Food

    Weight: 2 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: Small breeds
    Food type: Dry food
    Special diet: Contains grains
    Calories: 364 kcal/cup

    Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small Starter Mother & Babydog Dry Dog Food isn’t just a great choice of nutrition for lactating mothers; its formula is also suitable for nursing puppies. A great feature is that it supports both the mother’s and the puppies’ immune systems. Additionally, it is packed with vegetable protein, animal fats, and rice—each of these nutrients is essential to the health of the adult dog and her puppies.

    These qualities make it an ideal food for nursing dogs because it is easier on their digestive systems. However, the manufacturers designed this formula specifically for small breeds, and the kibble pieces tend to dissolve into a sludge that not all dogs will enjoy.

    Pros
    • Balance of animal and vegetable proteins
    • Fits the needs of nursing dogs and their puppies
    • Formulated for high energy needs of pregnancy and nursing
    Cons
    • Quite expensive
    • Rehydrated kibble has a porridge-like consistency
    • Lower in calories than some other brands

    9. The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Beef Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food

    The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food Beef Recipe

    Weight: 10 pounds
    Lifestage: Adult
    Breed size: All breeds
    Food type: Dehydrated
    Special diet: With grain
    Calories: 441 kcal/cup

    The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Beef Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food is a great food for nursing dogs that contains complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and protein. It’s designed to provide the nutrients that puppies need to support their growth and development and is made with human-grade ingredients, so it is perfectly safe for canines.

    The food also includes high-quality protein to help build and maintain muscle mass, along with essential fatty acids for a healthy coat, making it a wonderful source of nourishment for the mother to pass along through her milk to her puppies.

    Pros
    • Recipe uses ranch-raised beef, organic oats, carrots, and apples
    • Nutrition for nursing dogs of all breeds and sizes
    • 100% human-grade recipe
    Cons
    • Lower in protein than some other brands

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    Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick the Best Dog Food for Nursing Dogs

    Dogs have several specific nutritional needs while nursing. One is a food high in protein to help them produce milk. They also need access to plenty of water, as they can consume up to three times more water than usual.

    Nursing dogs should be fed a high-quality diet to support their health and the health of their puppies.

    Do Dogs Need More Calories While Nursing?

    Dogs, just like humans, need more calories while nursing in order to sustain milk production. A lactating dog will burn more calories per day than a non-nursing dog. To ensure that your dog is getting the nutrients that she needs, you should provide her with a high-quality diet specifically designed for nursing dogs. In addition, puppies that are being breastfed also need more calories than puppies that are being fed formula or solid food.

    While Nursing, Does a Dog Need More Protein?

    The needs of nursing dogs vary depending on their age, activity level, and overall health. However, dogs that are nursing do require more protein than those that are not. The puppies need protein to help them grow and develop properly, and nursing mothers need extra protein to produce enough milk for their puppies. Dogs, like all mammals, produce milk to feed their young, and the mother’s diet determines the nutrient composition of this milk.

    While pregnant and lactating, dogs require more protein than usual to support their growing puppies. Fortunately, most commercial dog foods contain enough protein to meet this requirement.

    Jack Russell Terrier dog feeding her puppies
    Image by: Tiplyashina Evgeniya, Shutterstock

    Are Dogs More Thirsty While Nursing?

    The mammary glands of nursing dogs produce milk, which is composed of approximately 87% water. Dogs require plenty of fresh, clean water to keep hydrated, especially while nursing puppies. Puppies may nurse up to eight times per day and consume up to 60 milliliters of milk each time, so nursing dogs need plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

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    In Conclusion

    Feeding a nursing dog a diet of high-quality dog food is important for her health and the health of her puppies.

    We love Ollie Fresh Dog Food Lamb Recipe because it has balanced nutrition suitable for nursing mother dogs. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is another great choice because it is high in protein with a good ratio of fiber. The rich, savory flavor of Wellness CORE Wholesome Grains Original Recipe High Protein Dry Dog Food comes with an excellent nutritional profile.

    Not all dog foods are created equal, so it is important to do your research, talk to your vet, and get a food that is appropriate for nursing dogs. By choosing one among these reviews, you can help ensure that your dog has a healthy litter of puppies and stays healthy while nursing.

    See Also:


    Featured Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

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