Featured image of small puppy and his mom

Nursing and pregnancy are responsible for many changes in your pet’s body and lifestyle. This may be an essential time in her life when it comes to proper nutrition. That is very important to ensure the growth and health of the newborn puppies.

They get all the nutrition from their mothers, which means your nursing pet will require a proper diet. You need to make sure your furry friend and her puppies are as healthy and happy as possible throughout gestation and conception.

We have prepared top 5 meals for your lactating pooch so you can narrow down your choice and pick the right kibbles for her.

If you want to know more all you have to do is read on.

Top Food For Lactating Dogs Compared

Best Overall

Small Product image of Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain Free
Taste of the Wild
Best Overall
Sweet Potatoes
Ocean Fish Meal
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Sensitive Stomach

Small Product image of American Journey Puppy Lamb & Sweet Potato
American Journey
Sensitive Stomach
Deboned Lamb
Chicken Meal
Turkey Meal
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Active Dogs

Small Product image of Precise Naturals Endurance formula
Precise Naturals
Active Dogs
Chicken Meal
Beet Pulp
Ground Brown Rice
Chicken Fat
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Brain Development

Small Product image of Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy puppy
Purina ONE SmartBlend
Brain Development
Whole Grain Corn
Chicken By-Product Meal
Corn Gluten Meal
Rice Flour
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For Nutrient Absorption

Small Product image of Nutro Ultra Large breed puppy
Nutro Ultra
For Nutrient Absorption
Whole Grain Oatmeal
Brewers Rice
Whole Brown Rice
Chicken Meal
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Taste of the Wild - Best Overall

First Five Ingredients:

  • Salmon
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Ocean Fish Meal

If you are looking for a balanced diet for your nursing dog and puppies than you should consider our number one product, Taste of the Wild. This formula features dried chicory root for healthy digestion and prebiotic support. It also includes natural antioxidants support from real vegetables and fruits and novel proteins such as salmon.

This grain-free formulation has sweet potatoes and peas that will deliver your puppy highly-digestible energy. The essential minerals will ensure maximum benefit for your little furry friend. And omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids will maintain a shiny coat and healthy skin.

If you want high-quality food for your pooch, this product is an excellent choice. You can’t go wrong with it.

American Journey - Ideal For Sensitive Stomach

First Five Ingredients:

  • Deboned Lamb
  • Chickpeas
  • Chicken Meal
  • Peas
  • Turkey Meal

This pet food is full of vitamins and minerals that will provide your growing puppy nutrition he needs throughout the day. This recipe includes deboned, real lamb with amino acids and protein your furry friend require to support lean muscles. It has the exceptional flavor that your nursing dog will adore and provide specific nutritional needs.

Chickpeas and sweet potatoes are also included to provide your dog with energy. They will get beneficial antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber through the wholesome fruits that are featured in this recipe such as blueberries, dried kelp, and carrots. The recipe has omega-3 and DHA that supports the development of eyes and brain.

We also need to mention that this formulation is grain-free and has no soy, wheat or corn, which makes it an excellent choice for canines that have sensitive stomachs and growing puppies.

Precise Naturals - Fit For Active Dogs

First Five Ingredients:

  • Chicken Meal
  • Beet Pulp
  • Oatmeal
  • Ground Brown Rice
  • Chicken Fat

If you want the best dog food for your active canines, that will provide them with the proper amount of nutrients and energy; then Precise Naturals is the perfect choice for you. This recipe is a high octane pet meal specially made with increased levels of main ingredients to meet the nutritional requirements of those very active dogs.

The recipe includes lamb and chicken meal, plus clarified chicken fat and whole grains for healthy coat and skin and added energy. It also features probiotics and added chicken cartilage to keep your pup in an excellent condition. We need to mention that it doesn’t contain by-products, sorghum, soy, dairy, wheat or corn, so it is fantastic for pets with food sensitivities.

This nutrition is formulated to help canines overcome the most challenging situations, such as weight management and pregnancy. Due to a high amount of proteins and fats, the Precise Natuals Endurance will fuel your pet’s body with necessary nutrients and help him maintain an active lifestyle.

Purina ONE SmartBlend - Best For Brain Development

First Five Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Whole Grain Corn
  • Chicken By-Product Meal
  • Corn Gluten Meal
  • Rice Flour

This recipe includes real chicken as its first ingredient, oatmeal, rice and other essential ingredients that provide your nursing dog with essential nutrients.  It contains dual defense antioxidant blend of vitamins A and E to promote a healthy immune system, and DHA for brain and vision development.

The formulation is designed with no fillers, and features sources of glucosamine to maintain the health of the joints. Also, phosphorus and calcium that are also featured in this formulation will keep bones growing strong.

If you want a dog food that will be great for your nursing dogs or growing puppies, then you should consider purchasing this product.

Nutro Ultra - For Nutrient Absorption

First Five Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Whole Grain Oatmeal
  • Brewers Rice
  • Whole Brown Rice
  • Chicken Meal

Nutro Ultra includes an ideal mix of healthy oils, whole grains, antioxidant-rich fruits, and lean proteins to help your pups be at their best. The protein sources from holistic and high-quality ingredients ensure excellent taste for your pooch and optimal amino acid levels. 

Three lean proteins form salmon, pasture-fed lamb ad farm-raised chicken will promote strong, lean muscles. Whole grains nourish the digestive system for adequate absorption of nutrients. Naturally sourced chondroitin and glucosamine support healthy joints, and antioxidants maintain a sharp mind, a healthy heart, and a strong immune system.

You can’t go wrong with this product. It is an excellent food specially made for growing puppies and nursing dogs.

Nutritional Needs Of A Breastfeeding Canine

Successful lactation required a proper diet throughout pregnancy and before breeding. During the nursing period, energy requirements are increasing and are proportional to the production of the milk. The meals you are giving to your pooch during lactation should be highly digestible and nutrient dense.

After whelping, your dog’s energy needs increases and peaks between 3 to 5 weeks. These requirements will return to maintenance levels after whelping at about 8 weeks. Bear in mind that the need for protein will increase, therefore the meals you select needs to have a high amount of protein.

Also, requirements for calcium increases to 2 to 5 times during the nursing period. Make sure that the food you are providing your canine with has essential vitamins and minerals to support the immune system, brain development of the puppies and promote healthy skin and coat. Usually, dry food is the best for lactating dogs as they are nutrient dense.

Tips In Choosing A Dog Food For Lactating Canines

Sufficient Calories

Feed your pooch with puppy food that contains added calories. This is very important because puppies need energy while they are in the growing stage. Also, with more calories, your dog will provide proper nutrition for her little ones and gain some weight. So when you are choosing the perfect kibbles for your canine, always look for the one that has more calories than the regular dog food.

Increased Fat

When you are feeding your nursing pet, it will be wise to give her weight-increasing treats. That way you will healthily raise her fat intake. Increased fat in your dog diet will help her gain some weight and maintain a strong immune system. It will also give her puppies the energy they need during their growth period.


Proteins are more than needed when your dog is nursing.  Canine’s nutrient requirements are more significant, while she’s nursing her puppies. That is why it is so important to increase the protein into her daily diet. Her pups will need this protein for building strong bones and immune system.

Read more: Top 8 High Protein Dog Foods Reviewed

High Digestibility

Dogs who are nursing cannot be very active which slows down their digestion. That is why it is essential to choose the pet food for them that includes probiotics. That will help her digesting food faster and support her digestible system.

Read more: Best Food For Dogs With Digestive Problems

Calcium and Phosphorus

Increasing these nutrients in your pup’s food while she is nursing, is an essential thing. They are required at a high level to support lactation and fetal skeletal development. The best time to add extra calcium to your pet’s meals will be after the puppies are born, not before. So, when you are choosing the right food for your canine, make sure it has a high level of calcium and phosphorus.


DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid, and it is used in many formulas, specially made for puppies and nursing dogs. It helps support brain and eye development of the growing pups. Also, DHA is crucial for other aspects of the central nervous system.

Nursing Dog Feeding Guide

Choose a Puppy Food

Puppy food is perfect for most nursing pets because it is higher in calories, fat and nutrients such as vitamin C and calcium that your pooch requires during this period. Those nutrients that Mom dog eats will transfer onto her puppies. So using these meals, they will get the right minerals and vitamins. Look for the kibbles that are highly digestible, that way your pooch can process the calories easier.

Increase The Amount

Increase the number of kibbles you provide your nursing canine with. You need to let her eat as much as she wants because during this period they dogs consume the amount of food they require. You should increase the food by 25% per puppy per day, according to Dr. Hefner.

Give Supplements

Before you add supplements in your dog’s food, you should first consult your vet. He will recommend how much calories and fats you should add to their diet. He might suggest increasing the amount of calcium if he thinks your pooch requires more of this nutrient.

Image of beautiful dogs - mother and child

Are Homemade Food Recommended For Nursing Dogs?

When your furry friend is nursing, it is best to provide him with commercially prepared kibbles. The lactating dog has unique nutritional requirements, including minerals and vitamins that you might not find in a homemade diet. Raw meals contain bacteria that could affect puppies as they have a fragile, immature immune system.

Although it cannot bother the mother dog, you shouldn’t feed it with this kind of food.  The mother and puppies require a special diet and a lot of nutrients for this lactation period. According to research, nursing pets need 4 to 8 times the energy requirements of normal adult canine. That is why it is better to feed your dog with commercial dog food.

Homemade meals, might not have all the supplements, minerals or vitamins, which might affect the development of the puppies. So, to answer this question, we think it is better not to feed your pooch with the homemade food.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to Feed a Picky Eater Nursing Dog to Gain Weight?

Feed your canine with puppy food, as it contains extra nutrients. Choose the food that is ideal for puppies with sensitive stomachs. Those meals don’t contain artificial flavors, colors or preservative, and no soy, wheat or corn. Feeding your pooch with these puppy foods will provide proper nutrition for her pups and help her gain weight.

What Food Can Increase Milk Production?

Providing enough liquid for your dog is essential. You can give her chicken soup or fresh water. That is the first step for a better lactation. You can also add some supplements in the liquid. But, before you give your pup any supplements for increasing milk production, you should consult your vet first.

Can Raw Diet Cause Diarrhea in Breastfeeding Dogs?

Don’t feed your nursing dog with raw food, because it is dangerous for her and her puppies. It contains pathogen and bacteria in a variety of raw meat. The parasites that can be in these meals could seriously harm your pet and her puppies. So, we don’t recommend feeding your canine with this kind of food.

How Do I Know if My Dog is Producing Enough Milk for Her Puppies?

The best way to find out if your pet is producing enough milk for her puppies is to measure each one of them and keep track of their weight. You should check them daily because they grow fast. They will need to eat every 2 hours, so you should see the progress and weight gain soon enough.

Should I Give Vitamins To My Nursing Dog?

Proper nutrition is essential for your nursing canine so she can get back into the fine form. Of course, vitamins and minerals are vital nutrients in the lactation period. But, supplemental vitamins are not always necessary for a post-pregnancy dog if she is appropriately eating.


The best diet for nursing and pregnant pets is a nutrient-dense, high-quality dog food that is made for growth and all life stages. Puppy foods are most recommended in this period, and we have created a list that will help you to narrow down your choice and pick the right one.

Make sure your pup has plenty of water so she can generate the production of the milk. Also, increase the amount of food offered at one meal, and let your dog determine how much she will eat.