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The 8 Best Dog Foods for Picky Eaters (and Some Helpful Feeding Tips & Tricks)

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Dog Food By Ben Team 33 min read September 23, 2021

picky-eaters

Most dogs will gladly devour anything that smells remotely edible. And some will even give the most rancid things imaginable a taste, just to make sure they’re not missing out on anything.

But other dogs exist at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Like picky children pushing vegetables around on their plate, these dogs frequently refuse even the most expensive and well-reviewed dog food recipes.

Fortunately, a few foods appeal to the vast majority of dogs, and they’ll help keep your finicky four-footer’s tummy full.

And even if these foods don’t prove to do the trick on their own, we’ll share a few of the most helpful tips and tricks for tempting your picky pooch’s palate.

Check out our quick picks below if you’re in a hurry or read on to learn about a few of our favorite super-tasty dog foods!

Best Dog Food For Picky Eaters: Quick Picks

  • #1 Ollie Hearty Beef Eats [Best Overall Dog Food for Picky Eaters]: Made in the USA using only human-grade ingredients, Ollie’s recipes look like “real” food and will undoubtedly get your dog’s attention.
  • #2 A Pup Above Texas Beef Stew [Best Protein-Packed Dog Food for Picky Eaters]: Fresh, human-grade, and absolutely stuffed with protein, this meaty, gravy-coated recipe is sure to tempt your picky pooch.
  • #3 Nutrish Real Chicken & Veggies [Best Budget-Friendly Dog Food for Picky Eaters]: A tasty but affordable option, this is the ideal kibble for cost-conscious owners who need to tempt a picky pupperino.
  • #4 Stella & Chewy Freeze-Dried Meal Mixers [Best Dog Food Topper for Picky Eaters]: A great alternative approach, these meal mixers help you elevate your dog’s current kibble and make it taste fantastic.

Best Tasting Dog Food: What Makes a Food Appetizing?

what makes a dog food tasty

It is important to note the things that dogs tend to find tasty when searching for a new food.

You’ll never know if your dog finds a given food palatable until you try it, but you can improve your chances of hitting on a winning recipe by keeping a few things in mind:

Meat Is Good

Dogs may be omnivores in the technical sense of the word, but their most recent ancestors – and all of their contemporaneous cousins and nieces – subsist on a meat-based diet.

Sure, they’ll gladly slurp up edible fruit, tubers, vegetables, and roots when available, but the bulk of their calories come from meat.

Few who are familiar with dogs would dispute the fact that there is nothing that gets a dog’s attention better than a juicy piece of meat. Neither cheese, nor ice cream nor pizza can compare — they may like these things, but they love meat above all else. And usually, despite individual preferences for poultry, fish or red meat, any animal-based protein is fair game.

Given all of this, picky dogs usually find foods with plenty of high-quality meat protein sources to be tastier than those relying on lesser meat-meals and substandard meats.

dog food with duck

 Fat Is Really Good

As one who was raised on food that was not only inherently fatty, but cooked in a boiling bath of supplemental fat, I get it. Fat makes things taste better.

Technically, fats and oils are different things (the former is solid at room temperature and comes from animals, the latter is liquid at room temperature and comes from plants), but dogs tend to appreciate both (although animal fats are clearly preferred).

Obviously, you don’t want to overdo fats for your four-footer — that can lead to pancreatitis and weight gain. But if you’re trying to pick a dog food for a picky eater, it never hurts to pick one with a healthy dose of animal fat.

 Tasty Fruits and Veggies

dog-safe fruits and veggies

Many dogs love the taste of sweet fruits, and some even love the taste of really bitter vegetables (many dogs love Brussels sprouts, spinach and broccoli, for example).

Foods that include these ingredients and flavors often appeal to fussy eaters more than foods lacking them. These types of ingredients also contribute a number of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which have obvious health benefits. For that matter, many dog-safe fruits and vegetables are full of fiber which helps promote proper digestion and maintain healthy beneficial bacteria levels in your pup’s gut.

 Real, Rather Than Artificial, Flavors

Most healthy and happy dogs will treat even the driest piece of over-cooked chicken as though it was cooked by Gordon Ramsay.

Real chicken just tastes better than artificially enhanced chicken by-product (which is fine as a supplement, but not a primary protein). Accordingly, foods that feature premium proteins typically taste better and appeal much more to picky eaters than their economic and artificially flavored counterparts.

8 Best Dog Foods for Picky Eaters

the best dog foods for picky eaters

Food preferences are entirely subjective, so we obviously can’t guarantee that your dog will like any of the recommendations below.

However, each of these foods features most or all of the characteristics that the best tasting dog foods have, and they have received positive reviews from customers who’ve tried it.

1. Ollie Hearty Beef Eats

Ollie is a premium dog food provider, offering custom, fresh, made-to-order meals that are likely to be irresistible to your pooch. In fact, these foods are pretty darn similar to the meals you cook for the two-footers in your family.

Best Overall Dog Food for Picky Eaters

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heart-beef-eats-ollie

Ollie Hearty Beef Eats

A fresh, US-made dog food that’s custom-cooked for your pet and made with human-grade foods for maximum palate appeal.

There is a bit of a process involved in ordering these foods, but that’s part of their appeal — after all, they’re custom-crafted for your specific canine.

You’ll just need to create a profile for your dog and then answer a few easy questions. Ollie will then customize the meals and portions based on things like your dog’s breed, activity level, age, and any allergies she has.

Ollie dog foods are made fresh and contain no preservatives or artificial ingredients. They’re all veterinarian-formulated recipes that start with high-quality meat, harvested from farms in the US and Australia, and then finish with fruits, veggies, and — in some cases — bonus ingredients like cod liver oil or chia seeds.

They also use minimal processing and cook food in small batches at low temperatures to ensure a slow-cooked taste that most dogs love.

Every Ollie meal is delivered frozen-fresh, on a schedule you determine when enrolling in the program. And if for some reason your picky pooch won’t touch the stuff, you can get your money back quickly and easily.

Quick-and-Easy Savings!

BONUS: First-time buyers can get 50% off their first box of Ollie meals!

Features:

  • Fresh, human-grade dog food made without preservatives or artificial ingredients
  • The high-quality meats included are sourced from the US and Australia
  • A custom scooper is included, making it easy to portion out your dog’s food
  • Leftovers can be stored in the included storage container
  • Foods are cooked at low temperatures in small-batches
  • These foods are backed by a money-back guarantee
  • 1% of Ollie’s revenue goes to dog rescues and shelters

Ingredients List

Beef, beef heart, beef kidney, sweet potato, beef liver...,

peas, potato, carrot, spinach, chia seed, dicalcium phosphate, sunflower oil, blueberries, calcium carbonate, fish oil (preserved with tocopherols), iodized salt, zinc gluconate, basil, rosemary, vitamin E supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), riboflavin (Vitamin B2).

Pros

  • Dogs love the taste as it is made with human-grade ingredients that look, smell, and taste like the ones you eat.
  • The convenience factor for this food is high, as they’re shipped right to your door on a schedule you determine.
  • In addition to tasting great, Ollie meals are custom-crafted to suit your pet’s specific needs.

Cons

  • Given the quality of the ingredients used in this food and the customization that goes into each batch, these foods are very expensive.
  • You’ll have to sign up for Ollie’s subscription plan to buy these foods, and some owners would rather not enroll.

2. A Pup Above

A Pup Above offers human-grade, US-made meals that are sure to tempt meat-loving dogs in a way few other dog foods can. With 16.3% minimum crude protein (in their Texas Beef Stew recipe), this fresh food will not only provide the protein your dog needs to stay healthy, but it’ll also keep his meat-lovin’ lips smackin’ and begging for more.

Best Protein-Packed Dog Food for Picky Eaters

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A Pup Above Dog Food

A Pup Above

With nearly twice as much protein as some other fresh options, this human-grade food is the perfect choice for meat-loving mutts.

Look, most dogs will find just about any fresh food delicious. But if your dog has an especially hard-to-please palate, there’s one simple thing that’s sure to tempt him: protein.

And we mean lots of protein.

Enter A Pup Above — a company that produces super-awesome fresh meals with the kind of quality dedicated dog owners demand (and four-footers deserve).

These fresh-made meals are cooked up in U.S. kitchens, they’re full of nutritious fruits and veggies (and that means non-GMO fruits and veggies in this case), and they are delivered straight to your door.

But A Pup Above foods have a couple of other things that set them apart from the crowd. For starters, there’s the aforementioned protein content.

Each one of the brand’s five recipes are full of muscle-building, activity-fueling protein (11 grams per 100 Calories in this recipe). In fact, some A Pup Above recipes boast nearly twice the protein content of any other fresh option.

But that’s not the only thing that makes these meals so tasty — they’re also cooked sous-vide-style (a “slow-and-low” cooking method currently popular among high-end restaurants and foodie-types, but rare in the dog-food world).

These meals also contain “superfoods,” like turmeric and parsley, and they’re coated in a natural, collagen-rich gravy to give them an even bigger leg up on the competition.

And for added convenience, these foods are available in two different bag sizes, and you can enroll in the brand’s “subscribe and save” plan, which will help you save 10% off each order (and allow you to skip the whole re-ordering process every couple of weeks).

Save 25% on A Pup Above!

Enjoy 25% off your dog’s first meal delivery by subscribing and using the code: K9OFMINE25!

Features:

  • Fresh, human-grade food cooked up in a USDA-certified kitchen
  • Packed full of delicious meat, with a 16.3% minimum crude protein level
  • Single-source protein makes it a great choice for dogs with food allergies
  • Features only non-GMO veggies for your peace of mind
  • Choose from four primary proteins, including beef, turkey, pork, and chicken
  • Sampler packs are available and give you the chance to figure out your dog’s favorite
  • A Pup Above will refund your entire first order if your dog doesn’t like it

Ingredients List

Beef, Beef Liver, Tomatoes, Carrots, Green Peas...,

Potatoes, Safflower Oil, Turmeric, Thyme, Parsley, A Pup Above Nutrient Mix. 

Pros

  • These recipes are not only extremely tasty but they likely contain more protein than any other fresh option on the market.
  • In addition to its impressive meat content, these recipes are coated in natural (and yummy) gravy and packed with carrots, peas, and tomatoes.
  • You can check the point of origin for every ingredient in your dog’s food for maximum peace of mind.
  • You don’t have to fill out an elaborate questionnaire to order these dog foods.

Cons

  • Like most other fresh, human-grade foods, A Pup Above dinners are pretty expensive (though these meals are more affordable than some other fresh dog food brands).
  • This particular recipe is grain-free, but their chicken recipe and turkey recipe are grain-inclusive.
  • These recipes aren’t customized to your dog like some other fresh foods are.

3. Nom Nom

Nom Nom is another service similar to Ollie and A Pup Above — they offer fresh, premium-quality dog foods that are made with human-grade ingredients (meaning you could technically eat it, which makes some owners feel much better about their floof’s food).

Best No-Subscription-Required Fresh Dog Food for Picky Eaters

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https://olliepets.sjv.io/c/162112/899633/12309

Nom Nom Chicken

This delicious, tummy-tempting fresh food is made with US-sourced ingredients and available without a subscription.

As with some other fresh food brands, Nom Nom allows owners to provide details about things like their dog’s age, breed, activity level, and health issues. And for your trouble, they whip up a custom-crafted food designed specifically for your dog.

In fact, all Nom Nom recipes are created by a veterinary nutritionist. They also provide a free canine nutrition consultant to ensure that your dog is getting the nutrition he requires.

Nom Nom even has a “Care Grade Guarantee,” which is one of the best in the business. Essentially, this guarantee means that if you don’t notice a significant difference in your dog’s health and wellbeing after 30 days with Nom Nom, they’ll pay for your next dog food.

But enough about nutrition — we’re focusing on foods that taste marvelous today, and Nom Nom’s recipes are no exception. Chock full of premium ingredients like diced chicken, spinach, and yellow squash, these meals look, smell, and taste like — you know — real food. And most dogs who end up trying these recipes appear to heartily agree.

Finally, while Nom Nom encourages owners to enroll in their subscription program, it isn’t mandatory as it is with some other brands. This is especially helpful for dogs who’re picky eaters, as you can verify that your pupper enjoys the way these meals taste before making a big commitment.

Easy-to-Earn Discount

Bonus: Get 50% off your trial order of Nom Nom right now!

Features:

  • Each recipe is made using only human-grade, restaurant-quality ingredients
  • Meals are pre-portioned for your pet, which eliminates guesswork at dinnertime
  • You’ll have access to canine nutrition consultant upon enrolling in a meal plan
  • These recipes are designed by vet nutritionists and cooked by professional chefs
  • You don’t have to enroll in the subscription program if you don’t want to
  • Nom Nom offers an optional probiotic supplement you can purchase and add

Ingredients List

Diced chicken, sweet potatoes, yellow squash, spinach...,

sunflower oil, dicalcium phosphate, canola oil, calcium carbonate, fish oil, vinegar, citric acid, choline bitartrate, zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, copper gluconate, manganese gluconate, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), selenium yeast, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12 supplement, cholecalciferol (source of vitamin D3), potassium iodide.

Pros

  • Made with USDA-certified grade-A ingredients to ensure your picky eater will go crazy for the taste of this food.
  • Several owners noticed improvements in coat condition, elimination habits, and energy levels after switching to Nom Nom.
  • Many owners love having the chance to try out Nom Nom without enrolling in subscription service, like many other fresh food brands require.

Cons

  • Like all other fresh foods, Nom Nom is very expensive — you just can’t get around the costs associated with premium ingredients.
  • Some owners complained that portioning and serving these meals was a bit tricky and messy, but that’s honestly a minor problem.

Need More Info? Think you want to try a fresh food but aren’t sure which option is best for you and your pooch? Be sure to read our review stacking up Ollie vs Nom Nom vs Farmer’s Dog against each other!

4. Stella & Chewy Freeze Dried Mix-Ins

About: Stella & Chewy’s Super Beef Meal Mixers offer owners a different way to serve up dinner. A dual function product, these bags full of tasty freeze-dried raw pieces can be served as your dog’s complete dinner, or (more commonly) they can be added to your dog’s existing dry food to help boost the taste and get your dog’s tail wagging.

Best Dog Food Topper for Picky Eaters

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stella chewy mixin

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Mix-Ins

Featuring beef, liver, hearts, and more, this incredibly meaty meal mixer can help make your dog’s current kibble lip-smackin’ good.

Featuring ingredients like beef liver, heart, kidney, and tripe (the stomach lining of cows — we know it sounds gross, but dogs love it), it’s no wonder dogs go ga-ga for these meaty mix-ins. In fact, each batch of Stella & Chewy’s is comprised of 95% beef, organs, and bone and has a minimum crude protein level of 44%.

But meat and bone aren’t the only things in these bags — these meals are also packed with organic dog food ingredients like broccoli, beets, carrots, and blueberries. This helps ensure that your dog gets the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants he needs to stay healthy and happy (plus, they improve the foods taste even more).

Probiotics are included in this food to help ensure your pooch’s digestive system keeps working as it should, and supplemental vitamins and minerals round out the ingredient list.

And in the interest of safety and quality, all of this tasty, nutritious stuff is mixed up and prepared in Stella & Chewy’s own kitchen, located right here in the US of A.

Features:

  • A protein-rich recipe featuring beef, beef liver, and beef kidney
  • A grain-free formula, fruits and veggies supply this food’s carbs
  • The proteins included in this food are left raw and then preserved by freeze drying
  • You can purchase this bag in any of four different sizes for convenience
  • If beef isn’t your dog’s favorite, you can also choose from 7 other flavors
  • Can be used as a standalone meal or as a flavor-boosting meal mixer

Ingredients List

Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Heart, Beef Tripe...,

Beef Bone, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride, Organic Cranberries, Organic Spinach, Organic Broccoli, Organic Beets, Sodium Phosphate Monobasic, Organic Carrots, Organic Squash, Organic Apples, Organic Blueberries, Choline Chloride, Dried Pediococcus Acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Longum Fermentation Product, Taurine, Tocopherols (Preservative), Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement

Pros

  • Stella & Chewy Meal Mixers make it easy to transform your dog’s current kibble into a four-star doggo dinner.
  • Dogs not only find organ meats delicious, but they also provide important vitamins and minerals for keeping your canine healthy.
  • These meal mixers contain three different probiotic strains to help promote proper digestion and perfect poops.

Cons

  • While not quite as pricey as some fresh dog foods, these meal mixers are still pretty expensive (but you only need to add a little for each meal).
  • While likely safer than completely raw proteins, freeze-dried meats may contain bacteria.

5. Instinct Raw Boost

About: Instinct Raw Boost is made with an impressive and tongue-tempting collection of ingredients, including bits of freeze-dried raw meats, that some dogs love. But Instinct Raw Boost isn’t just tasty — it is also a high-quality, nutritious meal for your mutt.

Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters Who Like Raw Meat

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instinct-raw-boost

Instinct Raw Boost

A different take on kibble, this protein-packed dog food also contains freeze-dried raw meat to please your pup’s palate.

Featuring three great proteins — duck, turkey meal, and salmon meal — right at the top of the ingredient list, Instinct Raw Boost is a meaty option that most dogs seem to love. It’s primarily comprised of traditional kibble, but it contains lots of yummy freeze-dried raw pieces mixed in to keep your dog coming back for more.

A grain-free recipe, this food relies on things like peas, chickpeas, and tapioca to satisfy your dog’s carbohydrate needs, and it also includes lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, including cranberries, apples, and carrots. Pumpkin seeds are even included for additional taste, calories, and fiber.

This food is suitable for all life stages, as well as doggos of all shapes and sizes. And because it’s made in the USA, you can rest easy knowing it is safe for your four-footer.

Features:

  • Duck, duck meal, and chicken meal are the first 3 ingredients
  • Features high-protein kibble plus freeze-dried raw pieces
  • Fortified with probiotics to promote proper digestive function
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids to help support skin and coat health
  • Features glucosamine and chondroitin-rich ingredients to protect your dog’s joints
  • Contains no grains, corn, soy, by-product meals, artificial colors, or preservatives
  • Made in the USA

Ingredients List

Duck, Turkey Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate)...,

Salmon Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Tapioca, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Duck Meal, Montmorillonite Clay, Sun-cured Alfalfa Meal, Natural Flavor, Freeze Dried Turkey, Freeze Dried Duck (including Freeze Dried Ground Duck Bone), Coconut Oil, Freeze Dried Turkey Liver, Pumpkinseeds, Carrots, Apples, Cranberries, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Sodium Selenite), Butternut Squash, Choline Chloride, Salt, Ground Flaxseed, Dried Kelp, Broccoli, Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract, Apple Cider Vinegar, Salmon Oil, Dried Chicory Root, Blueberries.

Pros

  • While not completely risk free, freeze-dried raw meat bits undeniably increase this food’s appeal for some pups.
  • Most dogs will do cartwheels for duck — the primary protein included in this food.
  • Incredible taste aside, this food is jam-packed with nutritious, antioxidant-rich produce.

Cons

  • As mentioned, freeze-dried raw meats may contain bacteria.
  • This is a grain-free food, and although the science is far from settled, these diets have been correlated with an increased risk of dogs developing DCM.
  • While most dogs will love the fruits and veggies in this food, some dogs aren’t as excited about produce.

6. Purina Pro Plan Savor Shredded Beef and Rice Formula

About: Purina Pro Plan products are designed to address a number of different common problems, and their Savor Shredded Beef and Rice Formula is specifically targeted at finicky four-footers. But it’s not just a tasty food — it’s also an affordable product that is a great option for dogs with sensitive digestive tracts.

Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters with Digestive Difficulties

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purina-pro-savor

Purina Pro Plan Savor

An affordable yet delicious kibble that features easy-to-digest ingredients like beef and rice, as well as supplemental probiotics.

Because we’re focusing on supremely tasty dog foods today, let’s start with what makes this food so delicious: shredded beef bits.

Like many other tasty foods, Purina Pro Plan Savor features a whole protein — beef, in this case — at the top of the ingredient list. But instead of confining all that beef to the kibble pieces, this food also includes shredded bits, which give it a texture (something we shouldn’t overlook when trying to tempt picky puppers) dogs love.

But as we mentioned, this food is not just tasty — it is also a great option for dogs who’re prone to digestive difficulties. It accomplishes this, in part, by relying on rice (something dogs tend to digest easily) as the main carbohydrate source. It also features a probiotic strain to further support digestive function.

Unfortunately, this food does have a few shortcomings. For example, it doesn’t include any produce, and it does feature poultry by-product meal. Now, poultry by-product meal is a completely safe ingredient, but many owners find it off-putting (but dogs don’t seem to mind it at all — it may even help improve the taste).

  • Beef is first listed ingredient
  • Shredded beef provides a palate-pleasing texture many dogs love
  • A probiotic is included in the recipe to help promote proper digestion
  • Made with glucosamine-rich ingredients to help protect your pup’s joints
  • Features an optimal protein-to-fat ratio, designed to keep your dog fit and trim
  • Made in the USA for safety and quality-control

Ingredients List

Beef, Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Poultry By-product Meal (Source Of Glucosamine)...,

Soybean Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Beef Fat Preserved With Mixed-tocopherols, Dried Egg Product, Dried Beet Pulp, Fish Meal (Source Of Glucosamine), Natural Flavor, Glycerin, Calcium Carbonate, Wheat Bran, Mono And Dicalcium Phosphate, Soybean Oil, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Biotin (Vitamin B-7)], Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite], Choline Chloride, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (Vitamin C), Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Garlic Oil. P446919.

Pros

  • Despite being pretty affordable, this food still appears very tasty for most dogs.
  • Because of the included probiotics and easily digested ingredients, this is a great choice for owners faced with a dog who’s both picky and prone to digestive issues.
  • Unlike some other budget-friendly dog foods, Purina Pro Plan still features a whole protein at the top of the ingredient list.

Cons

  • Though it meets most of our minimal requirements, this food doesn’t have the most impressive ingredient list.
  • We don’t like that the byproducts and fats used in this recipe aren’t better identified.
  • This food contains chicken by-product meal, which is completely safe, yet objectionable to some owners (though your dog won’t care).

7. Taste of the Wild Salmon Recipe

About: Taste of the Wild Salmon Recipe — like all Taste of the Wild Recipes — is designed to resemble the diet of wild-living canids. But this food isn’t just about providing a food your pup’s ancestors may have enjoyed – it also has a taste that drives most dogs (especially those who enjoy fish and seafood) wild.

Best Fish-Flavored Dog Food for Picky Eaters

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Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Adult

Taste of the Wild Salmon

A US-made, grain-inclusive dog food for picky eaters that features three different types of salmon protein to drive your dog wild.

Not all dogs like the taste of salmon, but those who do like it tend to love it. That, along with the otherwise impressive traits of this food, make Taste of the Wild’s Pacific Stream recipe a great option for some fussy eaters. And this recipe doesn’t just contain a little salmon, it is packed with it. Whole salmon tops the ingredient list, but salmon meal and smoked salmon appear a little farther down.

Fatty, delicious taste aside, salmon is also a fantastic protein from a nutritional standpoint, as it is full of omega-3 fatty acids. These acids provide a variety of important health benefits, as they help fight inflammation and promote proper skin and coat health.

Notably, Taste of the Wild now offers grain-inclusive options for owners (until recently, all of their recipes were grain-free). So, the carbohydrate content of this food is satisfied by nutritious brown rice, sorghum, and millet, rather than potatoes and chickpeas. This recipe also includes blueberries and raspberries for extra vitamins, minerals, and taste.

Aside from supplemental vitamins and minerals, there’s not much else in this food except for three different probiotic strains, which will help keep your dog’s digestive system operating as it should.

Features:

  • Salmon and ocean fish meal are the first two ingredients
  • Made with three different types of salmon for a taste dogs love
  • Single species protein content makes it a great option for dogs with food allergies
  • This grain-inclusive food is made without artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Contains several antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to support immune function
  • Fortified with three different probiotics to help support digestive health
  • Made in the USA

Want More Info? Check out our full in-depth Taste of the Wild dog food review!

Ingredients List

Salmon, Salmon Meal, Ocean Fish Meal, Grain Sorghum, Millet...,

Cracked Pearled Barley, Dried Yeast, Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Brown Rice, Smoked Salmon, Natural Flavor, Tomato Pomace, Salmon Oil (A Source Of DHA), Quinoa, Chia Seed, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Yucca Schidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.

Pros

  • Salmon is a really popular flavor among many dogs, and this food is packed full of it (including decadent smoked salmon, just for extra value).
  • Unlike many other super-tasty dog foods for picky eaters, this recipe contains only one type of animal protein (salmon), making it great for dogs with food allergies.
  • This food contains antioxidant-rich fruits, and it’s fortified with three probiotic strains.

Cons

  • Some owners noted consistency issues, but these weren’t especially common, and they’re generally no cause for concern.
  • It’s a minor quibble, but we’d prefer a food at this price point to feature more fruits and veggies.

8. Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Chicken & Veggies Recipe

About: Perhaps unsurprisingly, most dogs love the celebrity-chef-inspired Nutrish Real Chicken & Veggies Recipe. But this food doesn’t just taste great, it also provides a great combination of fairly healthy ingredients and a very reasonable price tag. This makes it perfect for picky-pooch owners on a budget.

Best Budget-Friendly Dog Food for Picky Eaters

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Rachael Ray Nutrish

An incredibly affordable dog food for picky eaters that is not only tasty but also packed with high-quality, nutritious ingredients.

Unfortunately, most super-tasty dog foods feature super-scary price tags. That’s not really avoidable in some cases, as taste and ingredient quality are pretty strongly linked, and higher quality ingredients cost more money. But somehow, Rachael Ray Nutrish has put together a food that sends most dogs over the moon, while still boasting a very affordable price tag.

Obviously, the manufacturer has to cut a few corners to keep the price low, but we’re impressed with the places they’ve chosen to save money and the important things they still include.

For example, this food features whole chicken right at the top of the ingredient list, followed by chicken meal to help ensure it has sufficient protein (and a meaty taste dogs love). It is also a grain-inclusive recipe, that contains ground rice and brown rice (which provides a bit of fiber too).

But this food is pretty light on the fruits and veggies (peas and carrots are the only ones included), and it isn’t fortified with supplemental glucosamine or chondroitin. However, not all dogs really need these supplements anyway. It’s also made without any probiotic supplements, but it does include prebiotic fiber, which will help support the bacteria already in your pupper’s stomach.

Features:

  • Farm-raised chicken is the first listed ingredient
  • Provides a great combination of quality and affordability, making it a great value
  • Made without any poultry by-product meal, artificial colors, or preservatives
  • Natural prebiotics are included to help support beneficial gut bacteria
  • This food is cooked in US kitchens
  • Because it only contains chicken-based proteins, it’s great for dogs with food allergies

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Ground Rice, Soybean Meal, Whole Grain Corn...,

Poultry Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Brown Rice, Natural Chicken Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dehydrated Alfalfa, Corn Gluten Meal, Dried Peas, Dried Carrots, Olive Oil, Iron Oxide (color), Zinc Sulfate, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (A Source of Vitamin K Activity), Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Sulfate, Folic Acid.

Pros

  • Despite being a super-affordable food, Nutrish is chock full of nutritious ingredients.
  • Although it may not be quite as dog-drool-inducing as some other options discussed above, this may be the perfect choice for budget-limited owners.
  • This food is made without poultry by-product meals, which are off-putting to some owners.

Cons

  • While many dogs found this food delicious, it isn’t quite the slam dunk that a few more expensive options are.
  • This food doesn’t contain supplemental probiotics to help regulate digestive function (but you can always buy standalone probiotic supplements instead).

Dogs Can Change Over Time: Gluttonous Today, Finicky Tomorrow

At times, pickiness is only a temporary phenomenon. Your dog may normally slurp up anything you put down in front of her, and then suddenly become very selective about what she eats. This leaves many owners frustrated and concerned.

The good news is that temporary pickiness often resolves on its own, or with minimal effort on your part. But the bad news is that vets sometimes consider these kinds of behavioral and physical changes particularly concerning.

So, what’s the takeaway?

Don’t lose sleep because your dog turned her nose up at a new food, or seems less enthusiastic about her regular food than normal.

But, if the problem persists, a talk with your vet is in order — particularly if your normally eager eater suddenly becomes picky.

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Keep Your Vet in the Loop When it Comes to Picky Eating

There’s a difference between a picky dog who demands that her food be warmed, tossed with an exquisite 1985 extra-virgin olive oil, and served in a pre-warmed decorative bowl, and a dog who is simply uninterested in eating.

This is an important distinction, as dogs in the former category are just a pain in the booty, while dogs in the latter category may be suffering from a health problem.

Here’s some food for thought to make it easier to distinguish between the two:

  • If your dog begs at the dinner table relentlessly (and with copious amounts of drool) while you are enjoying a nice ribeye, yet scoffs at the premium dog you leave in her dish, she’s being picky.
  • On the other hand, a normally ravenous dog who fails to notice the bits of fat and meat dripping on the floor (I’m making myself hungry), may be experiencing a health problem.

Most finicky dogs are completely healthy, but those experiencing a medical problem will benefit from prompt veterinary care. Accordingly, it is always important to discuss prolonged pickiness with your vet.

Some of the most noteworthy and common medical conditions that can lead to inappetence include:

  • Hormonal Issues – This is most likely to occur in unaltered females, but some males and altered females can experience hormonally related anorexia. This type of pickiness will generally wax and wane over time.
  • Digestive Issues – Just like their owners, dogs often suffer from a number of mild to moderate digestive difficulties. At times, these can just about eliminate your dog’s appetite completely or cause a host of other intestinal issues. Determining whether this is a systemic problem or a reaction to a dietary ingredient will generally require the assistance of your vet.
  • Dental Problems – Decaying teeth, gum disease and a number of other dental issues can reduce your dog’s willingness to eat. You’ll need a vet’s help to correct these types of problems (and please do so quickly, mouth pain is the worst), but you can help prevent them by feeding a dry dog food engineered to remove plaque and tartar and by offering plenty of doggie dental chews.
  • Tumors – Of course, cancer is a horrifying, but relatively unlikely, possibility. However, any type of tumor is easier to treat while early, which reinforces the primary message of this section: Consult your vet if your dog seems unreasonably finicky over an extended period of time.

How to Make a Picky Dog Eat: Palate-Tempting Tricks

Despite our efforts to avoid unpalatable foods and instill proper feeding habits in our dogs, you’ll occasionally find yourself faced with a protesting pup, who turns her nose up at the food you have on hand.

This can even happen in dogs who typically have an eat-first-ask-questions-later attitude from time to time.

Fortunately, dog owners, vets, breeders, and other invested parties have developed a number of tricks for enticing finicky four-footers into eating. We’ve tried to compile a pretty exhaustive list of proven strategies below.

If you have another safe and effective trick, please share it in the comments below. You never know who you’ll help by sharing!

Drizzle something delicious over your dog’s kibble. A little bit of just about any common fat can be an effective taste-bud-tempter for picky dogs.

Avoid things made from toxic or problematic substances, but your basic oils – including those derived from olives, peanuts, sunflower seeds, vegetables, or safflowers — will work admirably in such a context (side note: while humans often enjoy drizzling walnut oil over food, this is a good example of a fat you don’t want to give your dog). If you can, use salmon, flaxseed, or anchovy oil to provide omega fatty acids while improving the food’s flavor.

Add a bit of wet food to her dry dog food. Most dogs prefer canned or semi-moist foods to dry kibble. However, because kibble is generally better for your dog’s teeth, and it is much more affordable than feeding wet foods, it is usually preferable to feed your dog a kibble-based diet. However, there is nothing wrong with mixing in a little tasty wet food in with your dog’s kibble to help coax her into eating.

In such contexts, a little goes a long way; so, you’ll definitely want to invest in a couple of can toppers, to keep the wet food fresh and appetizing.

Warm up her food a bit. Warming up your dog’s food is a really simple way of making even the blandest kibble more enticing. Be careful not to make your pet’s food too hot (you should be able to hold your hand inside the warmed food indefinitely), but you can simply pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so (as long as you are using a microwave-safe dish) before offering it to your pup.

Moisten her food a bit. Dogs are typically partial to wet food over dry, so consider sprinkling your picky pet’s dry dog food with a little water or low-sodium chicken broth. For bonus points, heat it a bit after adding some water to make it even more enticing. The water (or low-salt broth) you add will also help carry odiferous molecules through the air if you heat it a bit. The way to your dog’s stomach is through her nose, after all…

Mix in a healthy additive. Wet ingredients aren’t the only thing that can make your pup give her food a second look. You can toss a handful of several different healthy “people foods” to tempt your terrier.

Things like shredded carrots, bits of cheddar cheese, a handful of blueberries, or a sprinkling of sunflower seeds may be all that it takes to get your pup to eat. There are also some drool-worthy food toppers you can add to your dog’s food (as well as the Stella & Chewy’s option discussed above).

Just be sure to allow for any additional calories these additives provide.

Hand feed your pup. Sometimes, picky dogs are more willing to eat when fed by hand than they are from a bowl. While this can be laborious when feeding large dogs, it is often helpful when nothing else will work. Hand-feeding is also great for bonding, making it a win-win approach to dinnertime.

Make dinner-time fun. Even picky pooches are often excitable, so try leveraging their sense of fun and play when you can. For example, try turning dinner time into a training exercise or trick practice session.

Stop feeding your dog table scraps and people food. If you are constantly giving your dog delicious bits from your plate (or directly from the fridge), she may decide that kibble just isn’t cutting it. She’ll start to refuse her proper food, and hold out for tasty human dishes. This is a difficult problem to solve once it occurs, so be proactive and fix your behavior before the problem gets out of hand.

Don’t free-feed. Often, free-feeding causes dogs to overeat, but it can also have the opposite effect. When you constantly provide food for your dog, you can reduce the amount of urgency she feels about the issue. So whenever trying to entice a picky pooch, begin feeding your dog on a reasonably consistent schedule (two to three times per day).

Let them get a little hungry. Let’s be clear: I am not talking about starving your pup. I am talking about making your dog as hungry as you are when you skip lunch. Just feed your pooch a bit later than normal. If you normally feed your dog at 6:00 PM every night, wait until 8:00 or 9:00. This may just convince your finicky friend to appreciate the food you provide. This may not be a great long-term strategy, but it is often effective at halting temporary problems.

Help! My Dog Won’t Eat Dog Food — She’ll Only Eat Human Food!

Some dogs will gladly eat — they just don’t want the food we want them to eat. Instead of nomming on a nutritious kibble, these doggos demand human food.

They want to eat what you get to eat!

This can happen for a variety of reasons, including some that are your fault and others that aren’t really anyone’s fault. Frequent table-food feeding can certainly cause some dogs to become finicky, but other four-footers seem to develop these preferences spontaneously.

But it doesn’t really matter why some dogs prefer people foods — you just need to solve the problem. It may seem easiest to just feed these doggos human foods, but this is very dangerous for your dog’s long-term health. Dogs have different nutritional needs than humans do, and you need to get your dog eating a food designed for four-footers.

Fortunately, this isn’t a big problem anymore — there are several foods made with recognizable, human-grade ingredients available, that are pretty darn similar to the foods you eat every night. We discuss a few above, but you can check out some other human-grade dog foods in our comprehensive review.

These foods aren’t cheap, but they’re all but guaranteed to please your pooch, and they’ll do so without compromising your pup’s health the way normal human food will.

***

Do you have a picky pooch at home? What kinds of things have helped you encourage her to eat? Did you find a food she loves that we didn’t mention above? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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