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Feeding (Meals)

Pug Food

Feeding Overview

The meals that that your Pug consumes will directly influence your dog's health.

Some people mistakenly believe that it does not really matter what a dog eats, that they will eat just about anything given to them and that their stomachs can handle all types of foods.

The Pug is prone to weight gain and even a pound can make a big difference for a dog that often has breathing problems that extra weight can exasperate.  
The right food, at the right time, and in proper amounts will help to keep your Pug healthy and happy. Establishing good eating patterns is part of overall care of this fantastic breed.
Pug dog eating a snack
In this section we will talk about the best food choices, how often to give meals, free-feeding VS scheduled, good choices for overweight dogs and changes that should be made at different age intervals. 

How Much to Feed Your Pug - Both Puppy and Adult

It may appear that your dog could eat endlessly, however, you should take care to provide the correct amount of nutrition to ensure that your Pug puppy has enough calories to grow and that your adult is not eating too much so that he or she will become overweight.
Free feeding is only recommended for a Pug puppy under 3 months old. What is free feeding? This would be when an owner leaves food out for their dog and allows him or her to eat all through out the day as the dog wishes. This is detrimental for several reasons: 
  • This breed can quickly become overweight and just like humans, it is easier to put on the weight than take it off 
  • Eating outside of a schedule will throw off any schedule of house training (it is best to train when a puppy is hungry, but not starving and feeding at regular intervals means that bathroom times can be predicted to a great extent) 
  • Dogs that have daily schedules for everything: grooming, sleeping, eating and more generally are better behaved and easier to train 
Owners hope to know exactly, down to the ounce, how much to feed their Pug. However, given an exact amount doesn't help owner or dog. There are a couple of reasons for this: 
  • The total calorie consumption for one day will vary depending on the exact age of the Pug, his or her metabolic rate and the dog's activity level. 
  • The amount of food will vary quite a bit depending on what type of food is offered - For example, a 1/2 cup of nutritionally dense home cooked food is equivalent to approximately 1 cup of commercial food and anywhere from 1 and 1/4 to 1 and 1/2 cups of inexpensive food plumped with fillers. 
Therefore, on average, with a good, nutritional diet, a puppy will eat approximately 1 ounce (28.4 grams) of food for each pound he weighs. For example, 3 ounces (85 grams) for a 3 pound (1.36 kg) puppy. Your puppy should eat 3 times a day, plus healthy snacks best reserved as rewards during training sessions).

Your adult should eat 1/2 ounce per pound of weight. For example a 10 pound (4.5 kg) adult should eat 5 ounces (142 grams) of food, once per day plus healthy snacks. 

Calorie Requirements

How many calories does a Pug puppy need? Roughly 50 calories per pound of body weight; though this can vary up or down by 30% depending on activity level, health and individual metabolism. 

How many calories does an adult Pug dog need? Once a Pug has reached his adult size - both height and weight- he will need approximately 40 calories for each pound of body weight to maintain. This can vary by up to 30% depending on his activity level, health and individual metabolism.  

Seniors will have a gradual slowing down of metabolism and that is usually accompanied by less activity. For this reason, older senior Pugs will need less to maintain. 
Pug eating watermelon
Ruby eating watermelon 
Photo courtesy Alf Dixon in Australia

New Puppies

When bringing a Pug home, planning should be done in regard to food. There is a good chance that your choice for main meals will differ from what he has been eating as his previous home.  And this is highly recommended if the quality will be improving. 

The key is to slowly incorporate the new food so that there is no digestion problems related to a rapid change.

A quick change in diet can lead to stomach and intestinal distress. Whether an owner obtains a Pug puppy from a breeder or a private sale, the goal will be to have on hand the food that the Pug has been eating and the new chosen food, making a slow change over the course of 1 month.

Switching to a new food can be done in the following way:

Week 1 : ¾ old to ¼ new
Week 2 : ½ old to ½ new
Week 3: ¼ old to ¾ new
Week 4: A Pug can now be solely on the new food

During this time of the gradual changeover, both varieties should be mixed together well for each meal.

The Best Food for Pugs

Both commercial food and meals that you prepare at home can offer a Pug just what he needs. The key, however, is to carefully choose exactly which food(s) you will offer. 

Home Cooking

The goal will be to offer the most nutritional food, in balance with a well rounded diet,leaving out most of the types of food that are either passed through without offering nutrients or will too easily be converted into fat deposits. Grabbing a bag of manufactured food certainly can seem like the easiest or most inexpensive option, however this is not often the case.
There is not one commercial brand that will admit to having fillers or being of low quality.... Every brand offers "real ingredients" and a well balanced diet. Owners are encouraged to understand what is in the dog food that their Pug is ingesting, because it has a huge impact on energy levels, maintenance of a healthy weight and even the frequency of bowel movements. 

The majority of manufactured dog food contains fillers. These are empty "ingredients", with zero nutritional value. They are not absorbed, as they pass right through the body offering nothing other than a brief period of feeling full when first ingested.

Fillers are added in for 2 reasons:
  •     To bulk up the food 
  •     To cause a dog to feel full 
In addition, commercial brands contain preservatives (even top quality brands must, given the very nature of mass produced food) and many contain additives and artificial coloring which have been found to be the triggers for allergies with many dogs. With the Pug breed, this most often shows on the dog's skin in the form of itchy patches, rashes and/or sore spots. 

To steer away from the possible problems that manufactured food can cause, for this breed, home cooking can be a great choice - owners are in control of what their dog is eating and this means: No fillers, no coloring, no additives. 
Home cooking is:
  •  Easy - Healthy recipes are simple, quick to make and a week's worth can be prepared in one session. 
  • Inexpensive - Most of the ingredients in great recipes are foods that owners already purchase and this can save quite a bit of money over the course of a year.
Healthy Choices for This Breed Are: 
  • Meat - Including boiled white breast chicken (dark meat is too fatty and has a higher calorie count), lean hamburg, fish, liver and organs (Enough meat is essential - it offers a dog that protein that he needs, vital for growth and development - fish offers Omegas that help keep both skin and coat healthy)  
  • Brown rice (a low glycemic food, filled with proteins, fiber and potassium)  
  • Green beans ((rich with the silicon mineral which is important for bone health and aids in the healthy formation of connective tissue) 
Pug dog eating kibble
  • Peas (super healthy food containing phytonutrients thought to reduce the risk of gastric cancer. Has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. Very low in fat) 
  • Carrots (a low calorie food and an antioxidant vegetable. Contains beta-carotene, vitamins A, C and K and a good amount of fiber) 
  • Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes (a healthy starch for canines which offers vitamins C, B6 and potassium, copper and fiber. 
Baked potatoes are low in calories and have been found to have flavonoids which protect against cardiovascular disease and respiratory problems) 
  • Spinach (very nutrient-dense food. It’s low in calories yet very high in vitamins A,C,B2, B6, and K, iron, calcium, folate zinc, protein, niacin, omega-4 fatty acids and flavonoids which are antioxidants) 
  • Broccoli (Very nutritional with vitamins A and C, folic acid, fiber, calcium, magnesium and potassium) 
  • Zucchini (low in calories, offering protein and is a low-glycemic food that does not spike blood sugar levels)
  • Fruits - all canines, the Pug included can benefit from eating fruits and they are the perfect snack. Healthy choices include: blueberries (antioxidants, selenium, zine, iron, vitamins C, E, A and B complex), blackberries (antioxidants, tannin, fiber,omega-3, vitamins C, K, A and E) , bananas (potassium and carbohydrates) and pumpkin (fiber, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, zinc, iron, potassium and Vitamin A) 
Meats should the the main ingredient, followed by healthy starches, vegetables and fruits. If you are home cooking,  be sure to offer a full and complete vitamin and mineral supplement based on your Pug's age: Puppy, adult or senior. Since commercial brands have vitamins already pre-mixed into the kibble, you'll need to do this at home.

Limit salt (and be careful of adding high salt content broths).

Offer hard foods (raw baby carrots) as snacks for strong healthy teeth and additional chews such as Smart Chews which work to keep teeth healthy)

Commercial Foods - How to Choose the Best One

There are countless brands of dog food, each vying for a spot as the one that is best for dogs. However, all of the available choices range from 1 star (really terrible) to 5 stars (super healthy). 

There are several elements that separate low and high quality food. 
  • Steer clear of artificial coloring, preservatives, and flavors. This is because ingesting these sorts of chemicals can cause all sorts of issues ranging from allergic reaction, itchy coat, dry skin, and gastrointestinal problems (upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea). 
  • Choose a brand that offers real meat and not by-products, A meat 'meal' is perfectly fine as long as the meat is specified (chicken, beef, etc.) since 'meal' is a condensed meat with water removed and is high in protein.
  • Keep away from fillers. These are cheap ingredients which are mixed in to 'bulk' up the kibble, but offer zero nutritional value. A dog will eat, seem full, but these pass right out of the body, offering nothing. 
  • Some varieties offer additional probiotics which is beneficial as they work to help with keep the digestive system working well and additionally can help boost the immune system. 
  • Pugs do best with dry kibble, though you can add in some wholesome ingredients such as low calorie fruits (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, banana) and fresh vegetables (carrots, green beans, peas) 
We recommend Orijen. It is a 5-star food and most Pugs tolerate this very well. The main ingredients are real meats including chicken, turkey, flounder, and mackerel. Vegetables come next and include healthy choices such as peas, beans (lentil and pinto) and alfalfa.  It has a great ration of 35% protein, 25% carbs and 35% healthy fats. 
Another great choice is Wellness CORE. This, as well, is a 5-star food. Varieties contain real meat (chicken, turkey), or fish (whitefish, herring, salmon) plus potato, peas, flaxseed and chicory root (which can help keep a dog's stomach feeling calm). It has a healthy ration of 34% protein, 37% carbs and 29% fats. 

Stomach Distress

During times of upset stomach and/or diarrhea, feeding a Pug a bland diet can help give the stomach and digestive system a rest. Boiled chicken (cut into bite sized pieces) rice (brown or white) and sweet potatoes blended well without season or topping is a good option during this time. 

After 2 to 3 days, if the problem has resolved, adding in additional ingredients can be done. Any diarrhea lasing longer than 3 days should be brought to the attention of the veterinarian.

Eating Less/Refusal to Eat

If a dog is unable or unwilling to eat any food at all, this most often points to a serious health problem and should be addressed with the dog's veterinarian immediately. 

With this said, there are times when eating will seem to slow down. With many Pug dogs, once the pup is near his full adult weight, he will eat less since his body does not need as many calories for growth and development.
In addition, weather can be a factor; dogs can eat up to 20% less during summer months.  

Reasons for a sudden refusal to eat can range from an infected tooth that causes pain when chewing to partial stomach or intestinal blockage.  Being finicky is one thing; not eating at all is a red flag for an immediate vet visit. 


Fresh, cool water should be left out at all times and any water left standing for more than 3 hours should be replaced with fresh water. Many people assume that tap water is safe and that is a reasonable assumption, however in some cases it is not true. Shockingly, studies all across the US have found traces of: fertilizer, pesticide, industrial waste and even rocket fuel. Owners may want to consider obtaining a tap filter to block out potentially harmful bacteria and dangerous trace elements.

Different elements will dictate just how much water a Pug dog requires. The temperature, amount of exercise, and the type of food that you feed your dog will all affect the amount of H2O he or she needs. Dry dog food generally causes a dog to drink more water. Since the Pug easily overheats, keeping your puppy or dog properly hydrated is very important.

You may feel that having no limit to the amount of water your Pug drinks will lead to many trips outside to urinate. However, house training is all part of the package and limiting the intake of water can be very dangerous, particularly for this breed.

There are medical issues that will cause a Pug to drink water excessively. The most common being canine diabetes. The general guideline to water is that a Pug dog will drink (daily) 1 cup (.24 liters) for each 5 pounds (2.25 kg) of body weight.

For example, a 10 pound (4.54 kg) Pug dog will drink about 2 cups (.47 liters) of water per day. If you notice that you Pug is drinking twice the amount of water for more than 2 days, it is strongly recommended to bring him or her to the veterinarian to make sure that there are no medical issues.
Related: How to Stop Pug From Begging - Helpful tips to train a Pug of any age to stop begging for food or for your attention. 
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