Are you on the lookout for the best dog food for picky eaters?
We’ve got you covered.
We’ve compiled this huge guide to dealing with fussy canines, as well as a list of the best dog food for picky eaters like your pup, which includes our totally impartial recommendations and review.
Let’s get straight into it…
- How to Know if Your Dog is a Picky Eater
- Reasons Behind Picky Eating
- Ingredients to Avoid for Picky Eaters
- How to Encourage a Picky Eater
- The Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters
- Purina Pro Plan with Probiotics
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Toppers Natural Wet Dog Food
- K9 Natural Freeze Dried Dog Food
- Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food Recipe
- Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe Premium Dry Dog Food
- The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Limited Ingredient Dog Food
- Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Wet Dog Food
- Instinct All Natural Dog Food Topper
- Bil-Jac Picky No More Medium Breed Dog Food
- What Is the Best Homemade Dog Food Recipe for a Picky Eater?
- What Can You add to Dog Food to Enhance the Taste?
- What Ingredients Are Most Enticing to Picky Dogs?
How to Know if Your Dog is a Picky Eater
Does your dog turn their nose up whenever you place its food dish in front of them?
Or do they eat a few morsels of kibble and then just push the rest around the bowl?
Or worse still, do they refuse to eat their own food and then sit and stare at you with sad, pleading eyes until you give them something from your own plate?
If the answer is yes, then you’ve probably got a picky eater on your hands.
It seems that some dogs would rather starve than eat what’s put in front of them, which in the long run can be bad for their health – especially if you end up supplementing their diet with tasty but unsuitable human food.
If your dog is a picky eater – don’t panic! There may be a good reason why.
Read on to find out more about the reasons behind dogs becoming picky eaters, things that you can do to help your beloved pooch, plus the lowdown on the best dog foods specially designed for fussy eaters…
Reasons Behind Picky Eating
The first port of call when determining why your dog is a picky eater is to determine that it’s not an issue with their health that is at the root of the problem.
Painful gums or teeth, stomach aches, digestive problems, general discomfort, and many other ailments can all be possible causes of a dog losing its appetite.
It may also be likely that your pup has become allergic to one or more ingredients that make up his daily diet or that the food you are giving him is spoiled or rotten in some way, so he instinctively avoids eating it.
Sometimes though, dogs being finicky eaters is the fault of the dog owner.
Imagine if you were given a choice between a gourmet restaurant meal or something nutritious but less tasty; which would you choose?
Are you or other family members feeding your dog too many treats or giving him too many tidbits from your plates at mealtimes?
Is your pooch snaffling food from the bowls of the other pets in your home when you’re not looking?
Any of the above may cause your four-legged friend to lose his appetite for his regular food.
Is your dog getting enough exercise? Dogs who sit around for much of the day without doing much physical activity have less need to eat to keep their bodies ticking over, or they may also become bored and depressed, which can also suppress the desire to eat.
Ingredients to Avoid for Picky Eaters
Food allergies are one of the main reasons dogs don’t want to eat.
Processed dog foods often contain ingredients that trigger allergies in dogs with sensitive digestive systems, so it’s vital to know exactly what is in the food you are giving your pup.
So, as a responsible dog owner, which ingredients should you be sure not to include when choosing healthy food for your dog?
Here’s our list of the 5 most common and harmful things to avoid…
The majority of manufactured dog food is designed to be stored for a long duration of time, so chemical preservatives are often added to ensure a long shelf life.
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), Propylene Glycol, and Ethoxyquin are some of the most often used preservatives.
Ethoyquin is used in pesticides and as a component for making rubber and has been linked to liver disease in animals.
Both BHA ad BHT are known to cause various cancers and are very difficult for dogs to digest, which can cause food intolerance and allergies.
Likewise, Propylene Glycol can cause digestive problems and, in severe cases, can cause damage to the nervous system.
Not all grains are healthy.
Certain grains such as corn, wheat, and oats contain gluten which is indigestible for dogs.
Dog foods that contain large amounts of these types of heavy gluten grains can strain their digestive system and cause allergies.
Alternatives to grains in dog foods include healthy and easily digestible veggies and legumes such as sweet potato, green peas, and lentils, or whole grains like brown rice will still give your pooch the carbohydrates he needs for energy, but without the risk of associated health problems.
See more: the best grain free dog foods
Artificial Flavors and Colorings
Most of us know that artificial flavors and colorings are bad for humans, but they can also be harmful to our pets.
Certain colorings such as Red #40, yellow #5, and Blue #2 continue to be used in pet foods even though they have been banned for use in human food production as they have been flagged as possible carcinogens and can cause cancers and other health problems in dogs.
Artificial ingredients and flavors are entirely chemical and can be extremely harmful to your dog’s health.
Dogs need a high protein diet, but not all protein is good protein.
If the food you feed your dog contains proteins that aren’t pure meat protein, it’s almost certain that they are made from a source of animal byproducts created by the manufacturing process.
These proteins can contain most things that we wouldn’t normally think of as consumable, such as large amounts of unhealthy animal fats, skin, internal organs, feathers, hoofs, ears, eyes, etc.
Not a pretty picture, and such ingredients have almost no nutritional value for your pet and are hard for him to digest.
My mother always says, ‘you get what you pay for,’ and dog food is no exception.
Low price dog food is most often made cheaply, which means that the manufacturer cuts costs to make a profit.
Since dog food is sold by weight, fillers with nearly no nutritional value are used to bulk it out. But what exactly are these fillers?
Examples include cereal byproducts, soybean, oat and peanut hulls, modified corn starch and corn bran, citrus pulp, straw, and even feathers.
These fillers mostly do not form a natural part of a dog’s diet, and their digestive systems have to work overtime to try and digest them.
Not only can this lead to digestive problems such as bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, and gas, but it can also cause the build-up of harmful toxins and chemicals in the body, resulting in associated risks of cancers and other diseases.
How to Encourage a Picky Eater
As a pet parent, you can do many things to encourage your dog to eat, even when they are a fussy eater.
Simple encouragement such as creating a solid routine around set mealtimes, setting his bowl down for a limited duration of time, adding some tasty yet healthy toppings to his food such as carrots or a small amount of banana, and completely stopping treats and table scraps during the day can all help.
But there are also changes you can make to the type of food you choose to give that can make all the difference.
Foods with fresh, meaty flavors will always be more appealing for doggy appetites.
Opt for a dry food made with high-quality animal protein as the primary ingredient, particularly less common meats such as venison or wild salmon, or try feeding a good quality wet food.
If your pooch suffers from a sensitive stomach, you should swap over to a specially formulated food that is easily digestible.
Many brands offer this type of dog diet in their range.
These foods tend to have a higher protein content – often chicken, turkey, or lamb – and usually contain limited ingredients as the fewer ingredients a food contains, the less likely it is to play havoc with the digestive system.
They may also include dog-friendly probiotics or quality, high fiber veggies, and legumes.
Here’s a useful video with more tips on encouraging picky eaters:
For dogs with allergies, a hypoallergenic dog diet is best. It’s best to discuss with your veterinarian to determine which ingredients your pet is allergic to before choosing the correct diet.
In general, hypoallergenic dog foods contain wholesome and nutritious ingredients that aren’t contained in conventional prepared canine foods and without added colorings, flavors, or preservatives.
Remember that changing your dog from one diet to another must be done gradually to avoid stomach upsets and help get your pup accustomed to their new diet.
To begin with, add small quantities of the new food to the old – try starting with a ratio of 20% new food to 80% old – and then over the course of 7 to 10 days, increasing the amount of new food until it replaces the old food completely.
The Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters
Purina Pro Plan is a dog food specially formulated to address several common problems our dogs face. Their Savor Shredded Beef and Rice Formula is also targeted at picky eaters. Purina Pro Plan contains beef, and it is listed at the top of the ingredients list. The shredded bits provide more texture, which is something any picky eater will love.
If your dog has digestive issues, this is a good choice. Rice is easily digested and is used as the main source of carbohydrates in this dog food. Purina Pro Plan dog food also features a probiotic strain to support their digestive functions.
- Comes at a very affordable price point
- Has a taste and texture dogs love
- High protein formula with real beef
- Fortified with guaranteed live probiotics to support digestive and immune health
- The byproducts and fat used in the formula are not clearly outlined
- Contains chicken byproduct
Blue Buffalo pride themselves on including 100% real meat in a rich gravy as the primary ingredient in their healthy and holistic Wilderness Trail Toppers Wild Cuts wet dog food.
Supplemented with vitamins and minerals, this wheat, gluten, and grain free dog diet is intended to be used as a topper to your dog’s existing kibble to ensure he is receiving a healthy, complete diet.
It also contains no chemical preservatives, animal byproducts, colorings, or flavors.
Suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs and allergies, this all-natural pet food is sure to tempt even the pickiest of eaters.
- Dogs love the taste
- Available in a choice of 4 flavors
- Provides natural, healthy nutrition for your dog
- Free from chemicals
- Free from possible allergens
- Rich in high-quality protein
- Fortified with essential vitamins
- Easily digestible
- Not a complete food in itself and must be combined with dog kibble
Use this delicious freeze-dried raw dog food either as a topper to boost your dog’s regular diet or as a complete food.
The K9 Natural recipe comprises 90% fresh meat mixed with organs and bone to replicate as closely as possible the diet that dogs would eat in the wild.
This high quantity of premier protein is mixed with egg and fish proteins, plus fruit and vegetable vitamins, minerals, and essential oils to provide wholesome food for your pet.
All ingredients are hypoallergenic, making this an ideal food for dogs with allergies, and the recipe is free from grains, artificial additives, wheat, gluten, animal byproducts, dairy, and unnecessary fillers.
- Totally natural raw diet
- High-quality ingredients
- Suitable for dogs with allergies and digestive issues
- Can be mixed with dog kibble
- Promotes healthy coat and skin
- Comes in a resealable pack
- Free from harmful artificial ingredients
- Made using sustainably sourced ingredients
- Food may have a strong odor
- Less convenient as needs to be reconstituted with water
Instead of using conventional high heat processes that cause dog foods to lose their nutritional value, the team at Ziwi Peak uses an air-drying technique that effectively kills any bacteria and ensures that all the goodness of the natural ingredients in their recipes remains intact.
This means that your dog can benefit from the mix of wholesome human-grade free-range meat, plus bones, organs, shellfish, healthy mineral-packed vegetables, and added vitamins in this premium pet food.
Free from hormones, artificial ingredients, additives, chemical preservatives, and allergens such as wheat, grains, and corn, Ziwi Peak air-dried dog food is perfect for picky eaters with allergies, sensitive stomachs, and other health issues.
- Available in a wide range of 6 different flavors
- Appealing and tasty
- Limited number of ingredients
- High in protein
- Easy to digest
- Very high quality
- Sustainably sourced ingredients
- Food can be hard to chew for dogs with smaller mouths or dental problems
- May cause loose stools in some cases if not introduced slowly
Bursting with superfoods such as leafy greens, blueberries, and chia seeds and featuring top-quality meat protein as the main ingredient and including beneficial probiotic bacteria, Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe Premium Dry Dog Food For Adults provides complete, holistic nutrition for your pet.
Also loaded with healthy omega fatty acids and additional minerals and vitamins, this dry dog food offers excellent digestive support for pups with sensitive stomachs and is free from artificial colors, preservatives and flavors – in addition to being devoid of corn, wheat, and additional fillers, this dog food is also a good choice for canine food allergy sufferers.
- Enhanced with fruit and vegetable superfoods and probiotics
- Grain free formula
- Good for skin and coat
- Suitable for dogs with allergies or issues with digestive function
- Represents good quality for the price
- Most dogs love the flavor
- Appropriate for all breed types
- Lamb meal, rather than better quality lamb meat, is the primary ingredient
Made in the USA, The Honest Kitchen dog food really is human grade, using only the best ingredients and manufactured in human food factories according to rigorous standards.
Guaranteed not to contain anything harmful for your pet, ingredients are limited to cater for dogs with food intolerance and include top sources of meat protein, wholesome vegetables, and plenty of mineral and vitamin supplements to provide a complete, balanced meal or a topper for your dog’s regular kibble.
Simply mix the desired quantity of food with warm water, stir and leave for a few minutes and you have a tasty, nutritious meal for your picky pup.
- Ideal for dogs with allergies or delicate stomachs
- Made with human-grade ingredients
- Choice of 5 great flavors
- Contains limited, organic, non-GMO ingredients
- Minimally processed
- Great for skin, bone, and coat condition
- Dogs love the taste
- Very reputable brand
- Does not have a long shelf life as there are no preservatives
Another contender for the best-tasting dog food for picky eaters, Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Wet Dog Food, is a delicious home-cooked cuisine that contains real meat, nutritious veggies, and lots of necessary vitamins and minerals to promote all-round good health.
In addition, it contains zero wheat, no fillers or corn or anything with gluten, and no chemical flavors, preservatives, or animal byproducts.
It’s also grain free, providing a good diet for dogs with allergies or digestive tract problems.
This dog food comes in a staggering range of 8 different flavors, so your pooch is sure to find his favorite.
- Reliable product
- High-quality protein content
- Plenty of fiber to aid digestion
- Affordable compared to other natural wet dog food brands
- Very appetizing
- For every purchase, a donation is made to a dog charity
- Free from additives and grains
- Some recipes contain artificial colors
- Some ingredients may be of lesser quality
Instinct Raw Boost Mixers freeze-dried dog food topper is a grain free food with functional ingredients. It allows you to add some raw food to your dog’s bowl. Chicken is listed as the main ingredient. It is also made with other whole food ingredients to encourage digestive health, including cage-free chicken, pumpkin, sweet potato, chicory root, apple cider vinegar, and probiotics.
This natural dog food topper is made without grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, and preservatives. It is protein-packed and goes through minimal processing.
These raw foods are never cooked, which preserves the overall integrity of the ingredients and the nutrients. This dog food topper provides your dog with a 100% balanced and complete meal.
- Supports gut and immune health
- Grain free, soy-free, and wheat-free
- Made with only raw, whole-food ingredients
- Moisture is removed while nutrition is locked in
- Ingredients are never cooked
- Good for all breed sizes
- Higher in price than other food options
- Small package size for the price
If you have a medium-sized breed like a Siberian Husky, then Bil-Jac Picky No More is definitely a food you want to consider for your fussy eater. The first ingredient listed in this super-premium dog food is fresh, farm-raised chicken. The taste of chicken liver is also sure to entice your picky eater.
Picky No More dog food provides your dog with complete and balanced nutrition that includes naturally-sourced Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids that will help nourish your pup’s coat. There are no fillers, gluten meals, wheat, soy, or sprayed on rendered fat or protein concentrate.
- Chicken is the first ingredient
- Contains no fillers, gluten, wheat, or soy
- Proudly made in the USA
- Proprietary nutria-lock low temperature and vacuum drying process extracts moisture, leaving the natural fats and nutritional value of the meat intact
- Complete and balanced nutrition
- Irresistible, lip-smacking flavor
- A harder kibble option
- Chicken liver isn’t always a flavor favorite
- Contains chicken byproduct meal
What Is the Best Homemade Dog Food Recipe for a Picky Eater?
If you have a picky eater and have tried countless dog food options to no avail, you may want to consider a homemade dog food recipe.
Some ingredients you can use to make your own dog food at home include ground chicken, mackerel, brown rice, cottage cheese, canned pumpkin, chopped spinach, chopped cauliflower, chopped broccoli, ground flaxseed, and water.
However, before feeding your dog a homemade recipe, we recommend discussing it with your veterinarian first.
What Can You add to Dog Food to Enhance the Taste?
If you want to improve the taste of your dog food to entice your picky eater, there are a few things you can add. Digestive enzymes, raw or lightly steamed vegetables, raw or lightly cooked meat or eggs, oils for essential fatty acids, or raw, meaty parts of poultry can be used. Above all, think about your dog’s health and what he needs for a balanced and complete diet.
What Ingredients Are Most Enticing to Picky Dogs?
Some dogs actually love the taste of bitter vegetables like brussels sprouts, spinach, and broccoli. Food that includes these ingredients and flavors often appeals to picky eaters. If you have issues getting your picky dog to eat, you can mix foods, use chicken broth, and cut back on the treats.
And there you have it – the best dog food for picky eaters!
Which do you think is the best tasting dog food?