Posted on: October 2, 2023 Posted by: Petsynse Comments: 0

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Pugs are a beloved breed across the world for their affectionate, easy-going, and fun-loving temperaments. They get along well with children and other pets, making them a perfect addition to families. And their compact, sausagy size (along with their attentive buggy eyes) make them adorable companions for wherever you live.

Unfortunately, Pugs suffer from an alarmingly high number of health problems compared to many other breeds. But feeding your Pug nutritious, premium dog food may help ease the risks and symptoms of some of these conditions down the road. We’ve researched hundreds of dog food brands and specific formulas to help you narrow down your best options to give your fur baby the healthiest diet possible.

At A Glance: Best Dog Food For Pugs


Table Of Contents

Note: All of the dog foods we’ve included in our reviews meet or exceed Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional guidelines, are made in the U.S., and contain no fillers, by-products, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.

Nutritional Needs For Pugs

pug eating dog food kibble out of a blue bowl with it scattered around on the ground

Pugs reach 11-13 inches in height as adults and should weigh between 14-18 pounds. While they have moderate energy levels, they have a muscular build, which must be maintained with appropriate nutrient levels for their size and life stage (puppy, adult, and senior).

Pugs also need dog food that’s formulated for small breeds. Why? Toy and small breeds have high metabolic rates, requiring nutrient- and calorie-dense food. This is particularly important for Pug puppies. Younger small-breed puppies burn through calories so fast they’re at a higher risk of developing hypoglycemia, which can cause severe and even life-threatening symptoms.

How A Healthy Diet Can Help With Some Common Pug Health Problems

Unfortunately, Pugs suffer from many health issues. Recent research even shows that Pugs are nearly twice as likely to experience one or more health disorders every year compared with other breeds. A healthy diet gives your pup’s body the best tools to fight off disease and minimize the severity of symptoms when she does become ill. Here are some ways a premium diet can benefit your Pug’s health throughout her lifetime.

Weight Control Is Essential For Pugs

One of the most crucial needs for Pugs is weight control. Pugs are nearly three times as likely to become obese compared to other breeds. Maintaining a healthy weight can help slow the progression of joint conditions, such as hip dysplasia and Legg-Calvé-Perthe disease, that commonly affect this breed. Weight control is also extremely important for Pugs’ notorious respiratory problems.

Due to their flat faces, Pugs suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome (BAS), and being overweight can seriously exacerbate breathing troubles associated with this condition. Added weight can also increase your Pug’s already higher risk of overheating and suffering from heat stroke. One of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight is to avoid dog food that contains fillers, preservatives, and artificial ingredients.

Expert Tip: If your Pug has already developed a weight problem, it’s crucial to get it under control as soon as possible to avoid a host of long-term health issues. Even a few extra pounds in small breeds can lead to serious problems. See our guide on overweight and obese dogs and our reviews of the best dog food for weight loss.

Allergies & Skin Problems

Pugs are prone to both environmental allergies and food sensitivities. Common food allergens, such as wheat, soy, chicken, and beef, can cause chronic itchy skin and/or digestive problems. However, an all-natural, limited-ingredient diet can help reduce or even eliminate symptoms.

This breed is also at a higher risk for bacterial skin infections (pyoderma), skin fold dermatitis, and ear infections. A nutritious diet can help keep your dog’s immune system strong, giving her body a better ability to fight off infections and allergy symptoms. Ingredients that include omega-3 and 6 fatty acids (fish, fish oil, flaxseed, etc.) go a long way in supporting a healthy coat and skin.

Eye Health

Eye problems, such as corneal ulcers, eye infections, chronic dry eye, and progressive retinal atrophy, are even more issues that Pugs face. A high-quality diet typically contains many of the nutrients necessary for maintaining eye health and lowering the risks and symptoms of eye conditions.

These include omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, vitamin A, taurine, and antioxidants. You’ll also want to look for the inclusion of the best whole foods for eye health, including carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, blueberries, cold-water fish, and eggs.

Beyond Basic Ingredients

All dog food should include protein, carbs, healthy fats, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. But many of the most nutritious premium dog foods are fortified with additional ingredients with major health benefits for your furry friend. Here are a few you’ll want to look for and how they support your pup’s health. For your convenience, we’ve listed these premium ingredients in our reviews.

  • Fruits & vegetables: excellent natural sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support immune health
  • Fish oil and/or flaxseed: sources of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids Docosahexenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) that support brain and eye development and skin, coat, joint, and immune health
  • Glucosamine & chondroitin sulfate (often from chicken meal*): maintains healthy joints
  • Prebiotics & probiotics: support digestion and a healthy level of good gut bacteria (often includes dried chickory root, a powerful natural prebiotic)
  • Taurine: supports cardiovascular, eye, and brain health, immune system function, and benefits many other body functions 
  • L-carnitine: an amino acid derivative that helps the metabolism of fats (particularly beneficial for older, less active dogs) 
  • Organ meats: excellent source of premium quality protein and fat as well as vitamins A, B, D, and E, copper, iron, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc
  • Chia seeds: rich in plant protein, fiber, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, phosphorus

*A note about meat meal: Quality pet food brands often use meat meal in their recipes, which can be a very healthy source of protein for your pup (as long as the “meat” is named, e.g., chicken meal, lamb meal, etc.). A meal can be made from the meat, tissue, organ meat, bone, stomach, and intestines of the named animal. But meal doesn’t include by-products like hair, feathers, beaks, heads, blood, hooves, hide trimmings, etc.

Best Wet Dog Food For Pugs (All Life Stages)

Some Pugs have trouble picking up and chewing dry food due to the shape and size of their mouths. If this sounds like your tiny tot, you may want to consider one of these highly nutritious, fresh dog food brands that are suitable for puppies, adults, and senior dogs.

The Farmer’s Dog Review

Dog with a box of The Farmer's Dog

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The Farmer’s Dog (TFD) is our top pick for the best wet dog food for Pugs at all life stages. This brand that delivers fresh-frozen, human-grade dog food right to your door is our favorite compared to its competitors. Every recipe features whole-food USDA animal protein, vegetables, and fruits, all fortified with the perfect blend of vitamins and minerals for your pup’s size and life stage.

How does TFD meet so many different nutritional needs? Like a small number of similar brands, TFD has a dog profile on its website where you can share your pup’s age, breed, current weight, body shape, activity level, and whether she has any health conditions. Then, TFD uses this information to personalize your pup’s specific nutritional needs in her meals.

The Farmer’s Dog offers beef, chicken, pork, and turkey recipes, all developed by board-certified American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) nutritionists and flash-frozen to preserve nutrients and freshness. A huge bonus for your convenience, TFD even pre-portions your dog’s personalized meals for quick and easy feeding.

While The Farmer’s Dog requires a subscription, you can cancel or pause it anytime. The only downsides? They only offer grain-free formulas, and their meals are expensive compared to premium kibble. Each recipe includes different ingredients, but here’s an overview of their turkey formula.

  • First 5 ingredients: USDA turkey, chickpeas, carrots, broccoli, and spinach
  • Formula highlights: human-grade & whole-food ingredients, limited ingredients, fish oil, and taurine
  • Guaranteed analysis: crude protein 38% (min), crude fat 26% (min), crude fiber 2% (max)
  • Calories: not available


Our readers have access to 50% off your first box. No code is needed, just use this link, and the discount will be applied! You can also visit our dedicated The Farmer’s Dog coupons page.

Full Review Of The Farmer’s Dog

Nom Nom Dog Food Review

Nom Nom Fresh foods

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Nom Nom comes in second place as our top pick for fresh, wet food for your pup. This brand is similar to The Farmer’s Dog in that it personalizes your pup’s food for her life stage, size, breed, body shape, and current and ideal body weight. What sets Nom Nom apart from The Farmer’s Dog? If you’re wary of grain-free dog food, Nom Nom has a grain-inclusive turkey option. And unlike TFD, you can order a sample pack without a subscription commitment to try out Nom Nom’s meals. Nom Nom also offers a topper plan for dogs weighing 40 pounds or more.

All of Nom Nom’s recipes feature all-natural ingredients and recipes formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists. However, Nom Nom’s food isn’t human-grade, whereas TFD’s is. Nom Nom offers four animal protein choices: beef, chicken, pork, and turkey. Every recipe features different ingredients, but below is a breakdown of their grain-inclusive Turkey Fare formula.

  • First 5 ingredients: ground turkey, brown rice, eggs, carrots, and spinach
  • Formula highlights: limited whole-food ingredients, fish oil, taurine, and folic acid
  • Guaranteed analysis: crude protein 10% (min), crude fat 5%(min), crude fiber 1% (max)
  • Calories: 168 kcal/cup


  • Plans start at $4.80/day
  • For $20, you can get a sample pack to try out their food before subscribing
  • Multi-pet discounts

Our readers have access to save 50% off your first order of Nom Nom; no promo code needed. Use this link to get started!

Read Full Review Of Nom Nom

Best Dry Dog Food For Pugs

Not all dry dog food is traditional kibble. A growing niche in the pet food industry is dehydrated and air-dried options. These high-quality foods are a step above kibble, giving your pup the benefits of whole, fresh ingredients you’ll find in fresh-frozen meals but in a convenient, shelf-stable formula.

Spot & Tango Unkibble (All Life Stages) Review

spot and tango unkibble

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Spot & Tango is a delivery service that offers two kinds of high-quality, all-natural dog chow. While they have a fresh-frozen meal line, their shelf-stable Unkibble is their more popular option. Unkibble features human-grade meats, fresh starches, veggies, and fruits that are dehydrated under low temperatures to preserve nutrients. It’s certainly a step above traditional kibble, and many customers rave about this super healthy and convenient dog food.

Unkibble is available in three recipes: Beef & Barley, Chicken & Brown Rice, and grain-free Cod & Salmon (an excellent option for dogs with allergies). They also offer beef, lamb, and turkey fresh-frozen meals. All meals are customized to your dog’s age, breed, size, weight, body shape, activity level, health conditions, and other factors. Below we break down the Beef + Barley Unkibble.

  • First 5 ingredients: beef, barley, flax, carrots, and green beans
  • Formula highlights: limited ingredients, organ meats, fish oil, antioxidant-rich fruits & veggies, chelated minerals, and folic acid
  • Guaranteed analysis: crude protein 27% (min), crude fat 22%(min), crude fiber 4% (max)
  • Calories: 4,426 kCal/kg


  • Starts at: $1 per day for Unkibble, $2 per day for fresh

Looking for a Spot & Tango promo code? Visit our dedicated Spot & Tango coupon page to check out the latest offer and save.

Full Review Of Spot & Tango

A Pup Above Cubies Review (Adults) Review

a pup above dry cubies four flavors

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A Pup Above’s premium dry dog food (called cubies) features all-natural, human-grade ingredients cooked using the sous-vide method to preserve nutrients and flavor. They then dice the whole-food ingredients into small cubes and slowly air-dry them for ultimate nutritional content and shelf-stable convenience. They cook all their food in a USDA human-grade facility and you can look up the source of every ingredient and quality testing results for your food’s lot number on their website.

Cubies come in beef, chicken, pork, and turkey recipes. Each is fortified with flaxseed and salmon oil for skin and coat health as well as powdered milk, an excellent source of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin A. A Pup Above also offers four fresh-frozen meals featuring the same animal proteins. All recipes are formulated by vet nutritionists and food scientists.

  • First 5 ingredients: chicken, chicken heart, sweet potatoes, barley, and oats 
  • Formula highlights: human-grade, limited ingredients, meat organs, salmon oil, flaxseed, taurine, carrots, cranberries, and folic acid
  • Guaranteed analysis: crude protein 30% (min), crude fat 19% (min), crude fiber 2% (max)
  • Calories: 434 kcal/cup


A Pup Above gives you the option of making a one-time purchase, or you can subscribe for auto-shipping and save 10% off the following pricing. With auto-shipping, you can sign up for delivery every 2, 4, 6, or 8 weeks.

  • Fresh Food starts at (3 lbs): $79.98
  • Dry Food starts at (2-lb box): $106.98

Get $50 off your first order with the code TRYNOW using this link.

Full Review Of A Pup Above

Best Kibble For Pugs (Adults)

Pugs should slowly transition to adult food around 11 months of age once they’ve finished most of their growth. AAFCO guidelines recommend a minimum of 18% protein and a minimum of 5% fat for all adult dogs, regardless of size or breed. However, small breeds continue to have faster metabolic rates than larger dogs throughout their adulthood. So, you’ll want to choose an adult dog food for small breeds.

Open Farm Small Breed With Ancient Grains Review

Open Farm Small Breed With Ancient Grains

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Open Farm is one of our top-choice brands because of its exceptional humane, sustainable, and food-safety practices (on top of quality food ingredients). This bite-sized recipe is formulated specifically for smaller breeds and features humanely raised chicken and turkey, easy-to-digest whole grains, such as barley, quinoa, and brown rice.

This recipe also contains locally sourced fruits and veggies, including carrots, blueberries, kale, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and more. And it’s free of corn, wheat, soy, peas, and legumes. Open Farm also offers a grain-free version of this small-breed formula. Every batch of their food is tested by an independent third-party lab. While their puppy and dog food is pricey, we think their many formulas are among your best choices for commercial kibble.

  • First 5 ingredients: chicken, turkey, menhaden fish meal, barley, and brown rice
  • Formula highlights: salmon oil, flaxseed, taurine, New Zealand green-lipped mussels (excellent for joint support), and dried chicory root
  • Guaranteed analysis: crude protein 27.5% (min), crude fat 16% (min), crude fiber 5% (max)
  • Calories:  436 kcal/cup


You can save 5% off every order if you sign up for auto-shipping with Open Farm.

Full Review Of Open Farm

Solid Gold Mighty Mini Toy & Small Breed (Grain-Free) Review

Solid Gold Mighty Mini Toy & Small Breed (Grain-Free)

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If your adult Pug is starting to pack on some extra pounds, this Solid Gold formula could be an excellent option. This small/mini breed recipe has fewer calories and less fat content than some of your other choices. It could also be a good option if your pup has sensitive stomach or skin issues. It’s grain-free, features salmon as the primary ingredient, and includes prebiotics and probiotics. It also contains carrots, pumpkin, blueberries, cranberries, and green beans for natural sources of vitamins and minerals.

Solid Gold Mighty Mini Toy & Small Breed comes in other super-healthy grain-free formulas with higher calories, protein, and fat that are also excellent options if your Pug doesn’t need to lose weight. These include beef, sweet potato & apple, chicken, chickpea, & pumpkin, and lamb sweet potatoes & carrot. Here’s a breakdown of their salmon recipe.

  • First 5 ingredients: salmon, ocean fish meal, lentils, peas, and chickpeas
  • Formula highlights: lower calories and fat, from salmon oil, taurine, dried chickory root, and probiotics
  • Guaranteed analysis: crude protein 26% (min), crude fat 6% (min), crude fiber 10% (max)
  • Calories: 355 kcal/cup


Best Food For Pug Puppies

According to AAFCO guidelines, puppy food should include a minimum of 22% protein and a minimum of 8% fat. But due to their faster metabolic rates, Pugs and similar small puppies need higher levels of protein and fat than regular puppy food. Experts also highly recommend feeding them three to four meals per day until around six months old to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia.

Diamond Naturals Small & Medium Breed Puppy (Grain-Inclusive) Review

Diamond Naturals Adult Dry Dog Food

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We love the brand Diamond Naturals for its affordably priced food that doesn’t skimp on nutritional value and quality ingredients. This recipe is formulated for small and medium breed puppies with a smaller kibble size and plenty of caloric, protein, and fat content to fuel your little Pug’s growing body.

It features real cage-free chicken as the first ingredient and wholesome grains, such as barley, rice, and quinoa. It also packs a nutritious punch from tons of superfoods, including omega fatty acids, chia seeds, kale, pumpkin, blueberries, oranges, coconut, spinach, and carrots. As with most puppy food, some customers reported diarrhea and gas on this diet, but an overwhelming majority love this formula — and its excellent value.

  • First 5 ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, ground white rice, chicken fat, and cracked pearled barley
  • Formula highlights: salmon oil, fish oil, flaxseed, chia seeds, dried chickory root, and probiotics
  • Guaranteed analysis: crude protein 32% (min), crude fat 22% (min), crude fiber 3.5% (max)
  • Calories:  453 kcal/cup


Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Puppy Review

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If your Pug puppy hasn’t been tolerating other puppy food well, you may want to consider this Now Fresh premium small-breed puppy formula. It contains no beef, chicken, or grain products (common culprits for allergies) and may be easier on her tummy or itchy skin. It’s also packed with omega fatty acids and probiotics, which are beneficial for pups with allergies. Even if your puppy doesn’t have allergy symptoms, this recipe is fantastic for optimal growth and a healthy foundation for life.

This formula features high-quality turkey, salmon, and duck, tummy-friendly complex carbs, and more than 20 superfoods, such as blueberries, cranberries, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and more. We love that Now Fresh only cooks the fresh ingredients once at a low temperature to preserve their nutrients and flavor. The only potential downside with this food is its high price.

  • First 5 ingredients: deboned turkey, whole dried egg, peas, pea flour, and potatoes
  • Formula highlights: chicken-free, flaxseed, coconut oil, taurine, dried chickory root, and probiotics
  • Guaranteed analysis: crude protein 28% (min), crude fat 18% (min), crude fiber 4% (max)
  • Calories:  415 kcal/cup


Best Food For Senior French Bulldogs

Pugs begin entering their golden years around eight years old, so slowly transition your pup to a senior dog food around this time. Elderly Pugs need to eat a diet lower in calories and fat to help prevent weight gain, but lean protein is still an important part of their nutritional needs.

A dog food rich in antioxidants and other immune-boosting nutrients is also essential to help prevent cancer, heart problems, and other issues that older dogs face. This is particularly important for Pugs, who have a life expectancy of 13-15 years.

Now Fresh Small Breed Senior (Grain-Free) Review

Now Fresh Small Breed Senior (Grain-Free)

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Another excellent premium kibble from Now Fresh, this recipe is crafted specifically for senior small-breed pups. It includes special ingredients to boost immune, joint, digestive, skin, eye, and brain health, all of which can start to deteriorate as your Pug ages.

It also has fewer calories than many adult small-breed foods and moderate levels of protein and fat to help your less-active Pug maintain a healthy weight as she ages. Crafted by pet nutritionists, this grain-free recipe features real de-boned turkey, salmon, and duck and includes more than a dozen whole fruits and veggies, including carrots, broccoli, pumpkin, blueberries, and more. And a vast majority of customers give it fantastic reviews.

  • First 5 ingredients: de-boned turkey, potatoes, peas, potato flour, and pea flour
  • Formula highlights: omega fatty acids, taurine, New Zealand green-lipped mussels, dried chicory root, probiotics, and L-carnitine
  • Guaranteed analysis: crude protein 24% (min), crude fat 12% (min), crude fiber 5.5% (max)
  • Calories:  375 kcal/cup


Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Senior (Grain-Inclusive) Review

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If you’re wary of grain-free dog food, this Nutro formula is another excellent choice for weight maintenance as your Pug ages. It features all non-GMO ingredients, real chicken as the first ingredient, and easy-to-digest grains. It also contains dried pumpkin for healthy fiber and dried kale and spinach for natural vitamins. Many customers say the small kibble size is perfect for their aging seniors who have difficulty chewing.

  • First 5 ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, whole grain barley, split peas, and brewers rice
  • Formula highlights: fish oil, chia seeds, glucosamine, and folic acid
  • Guaranteed analysis: crude protein 26% (min); crude fat 14% (min); crude fiber 4% (max)
  • Calories:  320 kcal/cup


Best Dog Food For Pugs With Allergies

Allergies and food intolerances are common in Pugs. If your pup suffers from chronic itchy skin or has a sensitive stomach, certain ingredients in her dog food could be to blame. A limited-ingredient diet containing a novel protein (one she’s never eaten before) could help ease her symptoms. You may also want to consider a dog allergy supplement, with your vet’s okay.

If you suspect your Pug has a food intolerance or is allergic to environmental factors, such as dust mites or pollen, you may want to consider an at-home dog allergy test to uncover the source. All you have to do is send a saliva or hair sample to the company’s lab and get results within a few weeks. You can then share these results with your vet to help further narrow down possible causes.

Ollie Lamb Recipe (Grain-Inclusive) Review

Ollie dog food

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Ollie is another of our favorite fresh dog food delivery services. While this brand offers chicken, beef, pork, and turkey recipes, you may want to try their lamb formula if you suspect the other common proteins could be giving your Pug tummy or skin troubles. The limited ingredients plus fresh whole foods could be the answer to your furry friend’s allergy problems.

Like The Farmer’s Dog, Ollie uses only human-grade, all-natural ingredients carefully chosen by animal nutritionists for optimal health in all life stages. Ollie too personalizes your pup’s food based on her profile (age, gender, breed, weight, body shape, activity level, allergies, and other health issues).

In addition to fresh-frozen meals, Ollie also offers two gently-baked dry formulas (chicken and beef), which also feature human-grade and limited ingredients. Ollie gives you three subscription options: full fresh meals, half fresh meals, or a mix of their fresh and dry food.

  • First 5 ingredients: lamb, butternut squash, lamb liver, chickpeas, and kale
  • Formula highlights: human-grade, whole-food & limited ingredients, chicken-free, organ meat, salmon oil, chia seeds, and taurine
  • Guaranteed analysis (wet food basis): crude protein 10% (min), crude fat 7% (min), crude fiber 2% (max)
  • Calories: 1804 kcal ME/kg


  • Full Fresh plans start at $3.14/day
  • Mixed Fresh & Baked plans start at $2.72/day
  • Half Fresh plans start at $1/meal

Our readers can get 50% off their first order. Use this link to take advantage of this offer (no discount code needed).

Full Review Of Ollie

Canidae Pure Petite Adult Small Breed With Salmon (Grain-Free) Review

Canidae Pure Petite Adult Small Breed With Salmon (Grain-Free)

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This grain-free, limited-ingredient formula by Canidae features real salmon as the only animal protein source which may help your Pug if she’s experiencing allergy symptoms. High levels of omega fatty acids are also excellent to help your pup’s itchy, irritated skin.

This bite-sized kibble crafted for small breeds is coated with freeze-dried salmon, making it a super tasty and nutritious mealtime treat for your adult Pug. However, it is higher in calories than many other options, so you’ll want to ensure that your furry friend isn’t gaining weight on this diet.

  • First 5 ingredients: salmon, salmon meal, peas, lentils, and tapioca
  • Formula highlights: Limited ingredients, omega fatty acids (from real salmon and flaxseed), and probiotics
  • Guaranteed analysis: crude protein 24% (min); crude fat 12.5% (min); crude fiber 4% (max)
  • Calories:  525 kcal/cup


Should I Consider Pet Insurance For My Pug?

Because Pugs have the potential to develop an inordinately high number of health problems throughout their lives, you may want to plan ahead for expensive veterinary bills. One of the wisest choices you can make to protect your finances and your pup’s health is to proactively sign your pup up for pet insurance.

It’s best to get your dog covered as early as possible before problems arise because most pet insurance policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions. Learn how pet insurance works and if it’s worth it for your furry family member. If you’re already familiar with it, be sure to see our reviews of the best pet insurance companies.

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