Dog food for picky eaters
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If you have a pup that turns its nose up at its meals, you might need to switch them to one of the best dog food options for picky eaters. Some dogs will gladly eat whatever they’re given while others might be hesitant to try most foods. If your dog is the latter, you need to make sure they still get enough to eat.

There are lots of methods you can try to get your dog to eat their food, but they may still be reluctant no matter what you do. If that’s the case, it may be time to switch them to a new food that’s more appealing to them while still being healthy.

What to Do if Your Dog is a Picky Eater

It can be frustrating to deal with a picky pup. You won’t have to worry about them eating things they shouldn’t, but instead, you’ll worry that they’re not getting enough nutrients. Here are a few things you can do if you have a dog that doesn’t like to eat.

Picky dog laying by food

Rule Out Health Problems

Like all concerns with your dog, you should rule out health problems before taking further action. If your dog normally loves their food but is suddenly refusing to eat, it could be a sign that there’s an underlying problem.

Check to see if your dog is displaying any unusual symptoms in addition to not eating. Digestive problems are the most likely, so if you notice vomiting, diarrhea, or discomfort that won’t go away, you should contact your vet. Some dogs may have developed an intolerance for an ingredient in their food, so that could be another reason they’re avoiding it.

Dogs with dental problems may also be unwilling to eat because it hurts their teeth and/or gums. It’s common for dogs to develop dental issues if you never clean their teeth. Also, if a dog ate something sharp, they could have a wound in their mouth that’s making them avoid chewing.

When in doubt, talk to your vet. It’s better to be safe than sorry if you suspect something is wrong with your dog.

Cut Back on Treats

Dogs who get a lot of snacks and table scraps may be less interested in eating. They might be full or waiting for more treats instead of their food. If you suspect this could be the case, you can cut back on the treats to see if your dog eats more as a result.

Dogs who free-feed throughout the day may also eat less frequently since the food is always available to them. To get them back on a meal schedule, only offer them the food for a certain amount of time, such as 20 to 30 minutes. Then, if they don’t eat it, take it away and serve the food again at their next scheduled meal.

Try a Topper

If dogs aren’t interested in their food, you can also try putting a food topper on it. Many dog food brands offer nutritional meal toppers to mix with your dog’s kibble to make it healthier and more appealing. Other dog parents choose to mix wet food or other healthy ingredients with the kibble instead to add some variety.

Switch to Tastier Food

For some picky dogs, none of the above situations will help. If you’ve tried every solution with no success, it might be time to transition your dog to a new food that’s best for picky eaters. Like humans, dogs can have flavor preferences, so the one they’re currently eating might not taste or smell good enough to them.

Many dogs find fresh, raw, and wet dog food more appealing than kibble. Those forms of food are often more flavorful, have stronger smells, and closely resemble meat. Moist food is also easier for older dogs to chew. So, if you have a dog that isn’t fond of kibble, you may want to try a different type of food. Yet, there are plenty of more appealing dry dog foods too.

Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters

There are so many dog food brands on the market that it can be difficult to know which ones will be tasty to your dog. So, we’ve selected ten of the best dog foods for picky eaters.

1. Ollie Fresh Dog Food

Ollie fresh dog food

Ollie isn’t your typical dog food brand. This company makes fresh dog food that’s personalized for each canine customer. To get started, you’ll fill out some information about your dog, including their weight, age, and activity level. Then, Ollie’s canine nutritionist will formulate custom servings of formulas chosen specifically for your dog.

The food is shipped to your door on a set schedule. It arrives frozen, and you can let it thaw before serving it to your pup. The food is made with real, fresh ingredients that you can see, such as carrots, blueberries, and peas. The protein options include beef, chicken, turkey, or lamb. Each shipment comes with feeding instructions so you’ll know exactly how to serve it to your dog.

When making the food, this company slow-cooks the whole ingredients to preserve the nutrients and the flavor. This unique process makes most dogs interested in the food, even if they’re normally picky. The food is always made in USDA kitchens using human-grade ingredients.

Benefits:

  • Personalized for your dog
  • Uses whole, human-grade ingredients
  • Slow-cooked to preserve nutrients and flavor
  • Shipped to your door on a set schedule
  • Formulated by a canine nutritionist
  • Made in USDA kitchens
  • iHeartDogs Offer: 60% off your first box

2. Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food

Nom Nom ingredients

Like Ollie, Nom Nom is another great flavorful fresh food option. They have a similar approach that allows you to answer questions about your dog so their veterinarian and canine nutritionist can formulate a personalized meal. They use natural ingredients that you can see in the food, and there are four protein options: beef, chicken, pork, and turkey.

The meals are shipped to your door on a set schedule to make sure you never run out. The food is vacuum-sealed in compact packages. Each package is a serving size, so when it’s meal time, all you have to do is open the food and pour it into your dog’s bowl. The food needs to be frozen to preserve freshness, so you’ll have to thaw it in advance.

Nom Nom prides itself on creating human-grade recipes with no filler ingredients. Since you can see the colorful variety of ingredients, most dogs are interested in the flavor. All the ingredients used are USDA-certified.

Benefits:

  • Personalized for your dog
  • Servings packaged individually
  • Formulated by a veterinarian and nutritionist
  • Uses whole, human-grade ingredients
  • Shipped to your door on a set schedule
  • iHeartDogs Offer: $50 off your first trial

3. Instinct Raw Boost

Instinct Raw Boost Dog Food

This Instinct product is a mix between dry dog food and freeze-dried raw animal protein. The freeze-dried pieces can either be chicken, duck, beef, or salmon. It’s a good choice for picky eaters because it pairs the convenience of kibble with the tastiness of raw food.

The food is grain-free to cater to dogs with allergies, and it’s designed for dogs of all life stages. Since it uses freeze-dried raw food, it’s minimally processed with no artificial coloring. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids to keep your pup’s skin and coat healthy.

Another notable feature is that this food is higher in protein than most kibble options, with a minimum of 35% protein. If your picky pup starts to lose interest in the food over time, you can switch between the four flavors to give them some variety.

Benefits:

  • Freeze-dried raw food mixed with kibble
  • High in protein
  • Minimally processed
  • Good for dogs with allergies
  • High in omega-3 fatty acids
  • More flavorful than traditional kibble

    4. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream

    Taste of the Wild dog food

    Taste of the Wild is a dog food brand that includes high protein percentages and no filler ingredients. Picky pups tend to be drawn to the Pacific Stream formula, which has salmon as the primary protein. Taste of the Wild sells lots of other formulas that picky eaters can alternate between, including High Prairie, which includes bison and venison.

    This formula contains a minimum of 25% protein and 15% fat, which is higher than the average dry dog food. It’s designed to give your dog food that mimics their ancestral diet. By doing so, it promotes bone and joint health, along with lean, strong muscles.

    The food also contains probiotics, antioxidants, and vitamins to give your pup a health boost while also being tasty. It contains a high amount of omega fatty acids to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. The formulas also avoid common allergens like grain, gluten, corn, and wheat. Taste of the Wild is a family-owned company that’s made in the USA.

    Benefits:

    • High in protein
    • High in omega-3 fatty acids
    • Mimics flavors found in dog ancestral diets
    • Good for dogs with allergies
    • Promotes bone, joint, and muscle health

    5. Nutro Hearty Stews

    Nutro chicken wet food

    Most dogs are more intrigued by the moisture and strong smell of wet dog food as opposed to kibble. Nutro offers some great wet food options that can be served as a meal or mixed in with your pup’s dry food to add flavor. Chicken is the most popular protein, but there are also formulas including beef, lamb, and turkey.

    The first four ingredients in the chicken recipe are chicken, pork broth, chicken broth, and chicken liver, so there are plenty of meaty flavors for your pup to enjoy. It’s rich in nutrients and soft, making it easy for senior dogs to chew. It doesn’t include any by-products, artificial ingredients, or common allergens like corn, wheat, and soy.

    Dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes can enjoy this dog food. The food is made from USA facilities and sources ingredients from trusted farmers around the world.

    Benefits:

    • More appealing than dry dog food
    • Can be a full meal or mixed in with kibble
    • Easy to chew
    • Lots of meaty flavors
    • Good for dogs with allergies

    6. The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Dehydrated Food

    Honest Kitchen dehydrated dog food

    The Honest Kitchen is one of the best dog food options for picky eaters because it uses dehydrated raw ingredients to preserve flavor and nutrients. To serve it to your dog, all you have to do is add warm water, which rehydrates it to up to four times its weight. It’s made to be used as a full meal, but many dog parents use it as a food topper instead, which can enhance the flavor of kibble.

    It’s only made with wholesome human-grade ingredients that provide balanced nutrition for dogs of all life stages. The food doesn’t contain any preservatives, by-products, or filler ingredients. There are several different recipes, including chicken, turkey, chicken & duck, beef, beef & salmon, and fish.

    The Honest Kitchen makes its food in human food facilities, so the products are held to high safety standards. Many picky dogs are drawn to this food because the moisture enhances its flavor.

    Benefits:

    • Uses dehydrated raw ingredients
    • Adding water enhances the flavor
    • Made with human-grade ingredients
    • Can be used as a meal or a topper
    • Made in human food facilities
    • iHeartDogs Offer: 30% off your order

    7. Nulo Freestyle Puppy & Adult Limited+

     

    Nulo Freestyle dog food

    Nulo sells a variety of kibble formulas that are high in protein. The Limited+ formulas are designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs because they have a shorter ingredient list and they focus on one protein. There’s a salmon, pollock, and turkey recipe.

    Even though it’s kibble, many dogs find the flavor of this food appealing. If they get bored of one formula, you can alternate them between the three formulas to mix it up. All the flavors have a minimum of 30% protein. The formulas avoid common allergens like chicken, eggs, peas, corn, wheat, soy, and white potatoes.

    The ingredients in this food are designed to help your dog build muscle and maintain digestive health. There are also omega fatty acids to keep their skin and coat healthy.

    Benefits:

    • Good for dogs with allergies
    • High in protein
    • Good for building muscle
    • Benefits digestive health
    • High in omega fatty acids

    8. Zignature Limited Ingredient Canned Dog Food

     

    Zignature canned dog food for picky eaters

    Zignature is another dog food brand that specializes in limited-ingredient formulas for sensitive dogs. Their wet food formulas are most appealing to dogs because they use flavorful, healthy ingredients in a form that smells good to dogs. Almost every formula the brand offers comes in both wet and dry food, and some popular wet food options include turkey, duck, lamb, and salmon.

    This canned food can be served as a whole meal or mixed with your dog’s kibble for added flavor. The moist consistency tends to draw picky dogs in. There’s about 78% moisture in each can to make sure your furry friend stays hydrated.

    Protein is an important part of every Zignature recipe. The turkey formula contains turkey, turkey broth, and turkey liver as the first three ingredients. All their recipes avoid chicken, potatoes, and grains since those are all common allergens for dogs.

    Benefits:

    • Good for dogs with allergies
    • Can be a full meal or mixed with kibble
    • More appealing than dry dog food
    • Keeps dogs hydrated
    • Lots of meaty flavors

    9. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties

    Stella and Chewy's patties for picky eaters

    This dog food comes in the form of freeze-dried raw patties. Freeze-drying the formula gives it a protein-rich taste while preserving the nutrients, so picky eaters are often intrigued by it. 95% of the formula is made with meat, organs, and bone. Beef is the most popular protein, but it also comes in a variety of other flavors, including chicken, duck, lamb, and venison.

    You can serve the food as is or you can rehydrate it by adding 1/4 cup of water for every two patties. Adding water usually makes the food smell better for picky dogs, and it helps keep them hydrated. You can serve these patties as a meal or you can add some to your dog’s kibble to enhance the flavor.

    These recipes are designed to mimic your dog’s ancestral diet. They include nutrients that can benefit your dog’s immune system, digestion, energy, and heart. All the fruits and vegetables used in this food are 100% organic.

    Benefits:

    • Freeze-dried raw patties
    • Can be served as a meal or topper
    • Adding water enhances the flavor
    • Made with 95% meat, organs, and bone
    • Gives your dog a health boost

    10. Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused

    Merrick raw-infused food

    This Merrick food combines kibble with freeze-dried raw pieces. It has a variety of protein options, including Great Plains Red Meat, Game Bird, and Pacific Catch. The mixture of kibble and raw pieces makes it more interesting for picky dogs.

    The food is high in protein with a minimum of 38%. The real meat used in this formula can increase energy levels and benefit healthy muscles. It’s high in omega fatty acids to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin to benefit hips and joints.

    This dog food option is unique because it has the convenience of kibble with the flavor and health of raw food. The recipes are grain-free to cater to dogs with grain sensitivities.

    Benefits:

    • Freeze-dried raw food mixed with kibble
    • More flavorful than traditional kibble
    • High in protein
    • Good for hips and joints
    • High in omega fatty acids

    Transitioning Your Dog To New Food

    Some dogs face digestion problems if their diet is changed drastically out of the blue. The risk is higher if they switch from foods of very different qualities, such as from a cheap kibble brand to personalized fresh food. Some dogs can handle food switching better than others, but it’s always a good idea to provide a gradual transition between food brands just in case.

    The safest way to transition your dog’s food is to gradually change it over nine days. Here’s an example:

    • Days 1 and 2: 80% old food, 20% new food
    • Days 3 and 4: 60% old food, 40% new food
    • Days 5 and 6: 40% old food, 60% new food
    • Days 7 and 8: 20% old food, 80% new food
    • Day 9: 100% new food

    This process is just a recommendation. If your dog tolerates new foods well, you can make the transition process faster, but if you have a sensitive pup, you may want to make it even more gradual. It all depends on your dog’s needs.

    Dog laying by bowl of food

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Before you decide on the best dog food for picky eaters, here are some questions you might be wondering.

    Do Dogs Get Bored of the Same Food?

    No, most dogs don’t get bored of their food because they have fewer taste buds than humans. However, picky eaters can get sick of their meals. If your dog seems bored with their food, you can try alternating between several flavors of the same brand to give them some variety.

    Why are Some Dogs Picky?

    There are lots of reasons dogs are picky eaters, so it could be related to genetics or how they were raised. Certain dog breeds have bigger appetites than others. Yet, the most common reason for a dog being picky is because they were offered too many treats and table scraps in the past, causing them to avoid foods that don’t live up to those flavors.

    What Meats Do Dogs Like Best?

    Most dogs prefer beef and pork formulas as opposed to chicken, turkey, or lamb. However, it depends on each dog’s preference.

    Final Thoughts

    If your dog is likely to skip meals or turn away when food is offered to them, you may need to try one of the best dog food options for picky eaters. Foods with quality ingredients and strong smells are often the most appealing for picky pups. If you’re able, consider switching from kibble to wet, raw, or fresh food since the flavor is often preserved better.

    Your dog deserves to enjoy their meal while staying healthy, so for many picky eaters, new dog food is the way to go.

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