The Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters + Feeding Tips & Tricks

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Dog Food By Ben Team 23 min read April 8, 2021 29 Comments


Most dogs will gladly devour anything you’d dump in your garbage disposal, eating anything that smells like it is remotely edible.

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.

Best Dog Food For Picky Eaters: Quick Picks

  • Ollie Hearty Beef Eats [Most Irresistible] This ultra high-quality, freshly prepared, human-grade dog food will be virtually irresistible for even the pickiest of pooches.
  • Instinct Raw Duck – Small Breed [Best With Raw Elements] For many dogs, the freeze-dried raw bites includes in this quality kibble are too smell-tastic to pass up. Available from Chewy or Amazon.
  • Nutrish Real Chicken & Veggies [Best Budget Pick] This affordable kibble gets a big paws up from several picky eater dogs. Will it win your dog over? Available from Chewy or Amazon.

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 often regard behavioral and physical changes as 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.


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 and tossed with an exquisite 1985 extra-virgin olive oil and one that is simply uninterested in eating.

This is an important distinction, as dogs in the former category are less likely to be suffering from a health problem than one in the latter.

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, normally ravenous dogs who fail 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 kibble engineered to remove plaque and tartar and by offering plenty of doggie dental chews.
  • Tumors – Of course, this 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.

Best Tasting Dog Food: What Makes a Food Appetizing?

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 as offered by the environment, 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 dead animal carcass. 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 dead animal 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).

 Tasty Fruits and Veggies

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

Foods that include these ingredients and flavors often appeal to picky dogs more than foods lacking them. These types of ingredients also contribute a number of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which have obvious health benefits.

 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.

5 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 feature most or all of the characteristics that qualify for a best tasting dog food and have received positive reviews from customers who’ve tried it.

Note that we limited our recommendations to kibble-type products. Most dogs prefer wet or semi-moist foods, if given the chance, but kibble is much more affordable than other options (particularly when feeding big dogs), and it provides important dental benefits.

However, be sure to see our list of tricks and tips following the five recommended foods to learn how to use wet foods in conjunction with a kibble to increase its appeal.

1. Ollie Hearty Beef Eats

Ollie is a premium dog food provider, offering custom, fresh, made-to-order meals for your pooch!

best fresh food

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Ollie Hearty Beef Eats

Fresh, semi-custom dog food

Freshly cooked human-grade food that’s vet formulated with quality meat, fruits, and veggies!

Create a profile for your dog, and Ollie will customize the meals and portions based on your dog’s breed, activity level, age, and any allergies.

Ollie dog food contains no fillers (aka no corn, soy, or wheat), no preservatives, no artificial ingredients. All veterinarian-formulated recipes start with high-quality meat from farms in the US and Australia, with the addition of fruits, veggies, and – in some cases – bonus ingredients liver cod liver oil and chia seeds.

Sounds tasty, right?

They also use minimal processing and cook food in small batches at low temperatures to maintain the ingredients’ full nutritional value, with all the vitamins and minerals your dog needs.

Every meal is delivered fresh, and you subscribe to a set schedule so that your pooch will never go hungry. And if for some reason your picky pooch won’t touch the stuff (although we find that hard to believe), you get your money back!

Considering this is very high-quality, human-grade dog food, if your pooch lately seems like he won’t eat dog food, only human food, than this is probably a great option to try!

BONUS: New owners can get 50% off their first box of Ollie meals!


  • Fresh, human-grade dog food with no fillers, preservatives, or artificial ingredients
  • High-quality meat from the US and Australia, along with fresh veggies and fruits.
  • Custom scooper lets you feed appropriate portions based on your dog’s profile
  • Low temp, small-batch cooking to preserve nutritional value
  • Money back if your dog doesn’t like it + 1% of all revenue goes to rescues and shelters


Due to the fresh ingredients and emphasis on quality, there’s slim to no chance of your pup rejecting this dog food! We also love the option for ongoing deliveries to save time and stop the regular lugging of dog food bags around the grocery store.


It’s probably no surprise from the impressive list of ingredients and customizable options, but Ollie isn’t cheap. It’s pricey stuff!

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).

2. Nom Nom

Nom Nom is another service similar to Ollie – fresh, natural dog food that’s human-grade (meaning you could even eat it, if you wanted to. And after looking at some of this stuff, we wouldn’t be surprised if you were tempted to try a nibble).

another great fresh option

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Nom Nom Chicken

Fresh, natural dog food

Pre-portioned fresh dog food with premium ingredients

Nom Nom is another dog food service that chooses your dog’s custom-sized portioning based on your dog’s weight, age, activity level, and any health issues.

All recipes are created by an expert vet nutritionist. They also provide a free canine nutrition consultant to ensure that your dog is getting the nutrition he requires!

We were particularly enticed by Nom Nom’s Chicken Chow dish, featuring 40% protein composition (that’s some “wow” for the chow) with chicken, sweet potatoes, spinach, and more!

Nom Nom also has a “Care Grade Guarantee” where, 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!

BONUS: Get 50% Off Your Trial Order of Nom Nom!


  • Fresh, never-frozen, restaurant-quality ingredients
  • Pre-portioned to eliminate guesswork
  • Access to canine nutrition consultant
  • Designed by vet nutritionists, cooked by professional chefs


Owners have reported shinier coats, firmer stools, increased energy, and ecstatic excitement at mealtime. We’d be hard-pressed to find a dog that would pass these meals up!


Again, the high-quality of this dog food results in a considerably high price, although there are discounts for new owners.

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.

3. Stella & Chewy Freeze Dried Mix-Ins

About: Stella & Chewy’s Super Beef Meal Mixers are not dog food in a strict sense – instead, this food functions as a supplement to your existing kibble. Add some of these freeze-dried raw mix-ins to elevate a standard kibble into something irresistible!

best mix-in option

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stella chewy mixin

Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Mix-Ins

Meaty mix-ins for improving the taste of standard kibble

Featuring beef, beef liver, beef heart and more, these freeze-dried mix-ins will make even a boring kibble delicious for a picky pup

The Stella & Chewy Mix-Ins are popular and reportedly very tasty for dogs, much adored by even known picky eaters!

Featuring ingredients like beef liver, heart, kidney, and tripe, it’s no wonder dogs go ga-ga for these meaty mix-ins! In addition to meats, these mix-ins include organic dog food ingredients like fruits and veggies.

If you’re worried about getting a picky pooch to eat, these mix-ins are a great option to try while still sticking with your existing kibble.


  • Beef, beef liver, beef kidney, heart, and tripe are the first ingredients
  • Grain-free formula
  • Contains a variety of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies like spinach, beets, broccoli, apples, and blueberries.


Owners love that these mix-ins elevate their standard kibble to something truly drool-worthy for doggos.


Due to the heavy emphasis on meat, these mix-ins aren’t cheap. You may end up paying as much for these food supplements as you would for a stand-alone kibble.

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

4. Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Duck

About: Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Duck Formula is made with an incredible collection of ingredients, including bits of freeze-dried raw meats.

best food with raw pieces

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Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Duck

High-protein kibble with raw meat pieces mixed in

Features duck, duck meal, and chicken meal as the first ingredients along with freeze-dried raw meat pieces dogs will adore.


  • Duck, duck meal, and chicken meal are the first 3 ingredients
  • Features high-protein kibble plus freeze-dried raw pieces
  • Fortified with probiotics for digestion and omega fatty acids for your dog’s skin & coat
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin-rich ingredients to help protect your dog’s joints
  • No grains, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal or artificial colors or preservatives
  • Made in the USA

Many finicky dogs love these tempting morsels, but even without them, most dogs would probably enjoy this recipe, which features duck, turkey, salmon, and chicken.


Most dogs and their owners love Instinct Raw Boost. The fact that this fussy dog food recipe not only uses duck — often a favorite food of dogs — as the primary protein, but also includes freeze-dried raw pieces, makes it too tasty for even the most picky dogs to refuse.


A few owners who regularly feed their pup Instinct Raw Boost complain of consistency issues from one bag of food to the next, but this was a relatively rare complaint. Additionally, some extremely picky pups reject the food because of some of the fruits and vegetables included in the recipe.

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.

5. 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 seeks to tempt the palates of finicky four-footers.

an affordable option

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Purina Pro Plan Savor

Budget-friendly food some picky dogs love

Features beef as the #1 ingredient, along with probiotics for better digestion.

In fact, this recipe includes shredded beef, which has a texture that most dogs find irresistible.

Purina isn’t the best quality dog food, and the inclusion of corn gluten meal and poultry by-product meal certainly gives us pause.

However, if you’re looking for budget-friendly fussy dog food that a picky eater might appreciate, this isn’t a bad food to try.

  • Beef is #1 ingredient
  • Made with omega-fatty-acid-rich ingredients to help keep your pup’s coat looking its best
  • Contain live probiotics to help with healthy digestion
  • Optimal protein-to-fat ration designed to keep your dog fit, trim and healthy


Purina Pro Plan Savor is a great choice for owners of picky dogs with tight budgets. Although it doesn’t have the most impressive ingredient list out there, it does meet most of the criteria we’d consider minimally necessary. While some owners will cringe at the inclusion of so many grains, some are of the whole-grain variety, which helps a little.


Unfortunately, Purina’s Savor Recipe is full of common allergens, such as corn gluten meal. Additionally, we’d have preferred for the manufacturer to use specifically labeled byproducts and fats, rather than “Poultry by-product meal” and “animal fat,” but you must make tradeoffs when seeking low-priced options. Likewise, the fish meal contained in the recipe should be identified by species.

Ingredients List

Beef, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal...,

Poultry By-Product Meal (Natural Source of Glucosamine), Soybean Meal, Animal Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols (Form of Vitamin E), Whole Grain Corn, Dried Egg Product, Fish Meal (Natural Source of Glucosamine), Dried Beet Pulp, Animal Digest, Glycerin, Wheat Bran, Calcium Phosphate, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Manganese Proteinate, Choline Chloride, Ferrous Sulfate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Sulfur, Niacin, Copper Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Garlic Oil, Folic Acid, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Biotin, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Sodium Selenite. M-4469.

6. Taste of the Wild Salmon Recipe

About: Taste of the Wild Salmon Recipe is designed to nourish your dog by feeding her a diet that more closely resembles that of her ancestors. But this food isn’t just a nutritious, grain-free product – it also has a taste that drives most dogs wild (and that includes your picky pooch).

This is a great pick for fussy dogs who adore fish, as this kibble is packed with salmon and ocean fish!

best fish recipe for picky eaters

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Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Adult

Taste of the Wild Salmon

Fish-based recipe that’s made in the USA

Salmon and ocean fish meal ar first two ingredients in this grain-free, filler-free formula.


  • Salmon and ocean fish meal are the first two ingredients
  • No grain, corn, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
  • Made with an array of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables
  • Fortified with three different probiotics to help support digestive health
  • Made in the USA


The vast majority of owners who tried Taste of the Wild were pleased with the product, and most dogs are reported to love the taste. It’s made with a great slate of ingredients, and it leaves out all of the artificial additives and grains that often trigger food allergies. Additionally, because it is nutritious, yet affordable, Taste of the Wild provides great value.


There weren’t many complaints about Taste of the Wild, but a few owners were concerned about the product’s consistency and problems relating to the shipping or packaging. However, these types of complaints were relatively rare.

Ingredients List

Salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas...,

canola oil, garbanzo beans, salmon meal, smoked salmon, potato fiber, natural flavor, salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, Yucca schidigera extract, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D supplement, folic acid. Contains a source of live, naturally occurring microorganisms.

7. Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Chicken & Veggies Recipe

About: Perhaps unsurprisingly, most dogs love the celebrity-chef-inspired Nutrish Real Chicken & Veggies Recipe. This food is also comprised of fairly healthy ingredients and available at a very reasonable price.

While this dog food does contain some ingredients we’d rather not see (like soybean meal and corn), it does manage to provide some considerable advantages (such as no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives) while still staying affordable for most owners.

budget-friendly option for picky eaters

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Rachael Ray Nutrish

Affordable chicken & veggie recipe

Features chicken as the #1 ingredient along with decent-quality grains like rice.


  • Farm-raised chicken is the first listed ingredient
  • Made without any poultry by-product meal, fillers, wheat or wheat gluten, artificial colors, or preservatives
  • Natural prebiotics are included in the recipe to help support beneficial gut bacteria


Most customers who purchased Rachel Ray Nutrish dog food were quite pleased with the product, and most dogs appear to love the taste. Although it lacks some of the bells and whistles featured in other foods in this review, its low price point helps offset these deficiencies.


While Nutrish Real Chicken & Vegetable Recipe is a nutritious food, it contains a number of common allergens, including soybean meal and corn-based ingredients.

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.

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 – try these tricks!

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 I may enjoy drizzling walnut oil on my own 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 at the same time.

Add a bit of wet food to her kibble. 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 dog’s kibble 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 doggie drool-worthy food toppers you can add to your dog’s food, using tasty morsels like freeze-dried meat bits. 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, so why not give it a go?

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 (for example, through the use of certain kinds of automatic dog feeders), 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 6PM every night, wait until 8 or 9 – 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.

My Dog Won’t Eat Dog Food – Only Human Food!

Some owners find themselves getting quite exasperated with their pups who flat out refuse to eat their kibble. These dogs won’t eat dog food – only human food!

While the easiest course may seem to be simply continuing to feed them human food, this is very dangerous for your dog’s diet, as human food won’t provide your pooch with the nutrients he needs to stay healthy.

Instead, you may want to consider a high-quality, human-grade dog food like Ollie or NomNomNow. These dog foods might as well be human food, considering the quality of ingredients and freshness.

It won’t be cheap, but your dog isn’t too likely to say no!


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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sharron cox

Hi – i have a 11 yr old yorkie/chihuahua, the past year i would say her pickiness about food got much better. The past month she has decided she doesn’t like the food that she has been eating. I have added a bit of water, warmed it up, broke up little pieces of her treats mixed in but no way will she eat it now. Eating a couple of mouthfuls in a day certainly isn’t healthy,i n fact, she is losing weight. So tonight i went and bought a couple of bags of Orijen Freeze Dried Tundra, and Red Meat. She happily ate it, i hope that isn’t because it’s something new and she won’t turn her nose up at tomorrow.

Ben Team

It’s certainly frustrating dealing with a finicky four-footer, but we’re glad you found something your pooch likes, Sharron!

sharron cox

Hi and thanks for your reply – i should have mentioned that Lexee gets a treat for arthritis, only 1 a day, the treats are made for arthritis. I have been breaking up the treats and mixing it with her food which was working very well. Now she is just eating the treat and leaving the food. i think she just wants these treats and nothing else. I did talk to the vet about it and she doesn’t know what to suggest.


Our dogs hate each other. It is stressing all of us out.

Hope Hagen

Its not the dogs hate each other, i have two dogs that go at it all they time. Its because they are both alphas.

Maureen Stroup

What can replace Z/D Hills Prescription Diet, for my dog , who allergic to processing regular protein? My 8 year old is very tired of ZD.

Ben Team

Hey, Maureen.
I take it your pooch is on a hydrolyzed diet? If so, I’d recommend asking your vet for another option.
Most (if not all) hydrolyzed diets are prescription-only anyway, so you’ll need your vet to sign off before you can make the purchase.
Best of luck!

Carol North

I also publish Feeding Fido and Fluffy, which is all about healthy pet food. Thank you for your great article! So many pet owners struggle with canine picky eaters and your info is excellent.

Carol North


I have a 6 month old Cavapoo. The breeder recommended TLC brand dry dog food only. My pup eats this but often I have to add a little no salt chicken broth to get him interested. This food is expensive and ships direct from the site. Could you review this brand please.


I have a very picky Chihuahua. I buy Frommes but he will only nibble on the chicken and pork formulas. Rarely will he make a meal of it. Just eats it like potato chips or a side dish. I actually have to make food for him. He will not eat any prepared foods. He won’t even taste them. I feed him 2 meat meals a day and leave the dry for him to nibble on. This is the only thing that works. He will not touch a vegetable and will leave them in his bowl. I am hoping the nibbling of his Frommes food will help supply some of the other nutrients he requires. He’s tough. Doesn’t like treats of any kind, even freeze dried meats. He seems healthy and has a nice coat. I do worry about him getting all the nutrients he needs though.


Hi PJ,
You are describing my 9 year old recently adopted Yorkie. He is killing me with his eating habits. Being adopted I do not know what he ate before. I have tried it all!!! Wet, dry, toppers, so many different brands. He will only eat Chicken that I cook for him. I was wondering if you have found a food yet that your dog is eating.


Slightly off topic, but I have an extremely picky eater (since he has aged). He takes medications and it used to be IMPOSSIBLE to get him to take/eat them. I started using a small dab of low fat cream cheese to deliver his pills to him. 2 years later, he is still greedily taking his meds. Hope this helps someone with the same problem.


Great article, Ben. Thank you! I’ve read it more than a few times and have it bookmarked because I know it’ll be read and shared dozens more. I’ve also got my dog on a new diet and thanks to you he seems to be overjoyed with the whole thing.

Kim Henrybaird

I am trying to transition my dog from Puppy food dry to adult and am having a lot of issues, I made the mistake of table food, treats so if I stop cold turkey, will she ever eat her food again

Josee Coutinho

I have a Yorkshire that is 14.5 years old. He got really particular about food. I have tried many different brands of soft and dry food and he will not eat them. Only if I mix some treats in his food for him to eat. I am looking for a dry food that taste just like treats. Is it possible to get a sample of you dry food? Thanks

Meg Marrs

We don’t sell dog food, we just review brands.

Juliet Frey

I read recently that veterinarians are finding that dogs fed a grain-free diet are losing energy. The article said that dogs actually need grain in their diet and may suffer health problems without it.

Meg Marrs

Hey Julet – yes, there are definitely some drawbacks to grain-free diets in dogs that are only now being discovered and researched more in-depth. It’s best to simply feed your dog a normal diet that includes some small amounts of grains, unless your dog suffers from a specific type of grain allergy or intolerance.

Susn Deel

This article and the tips included made more sense to me than any other I have read! I have bookmarked the page and will use it as a reference for my 2 furry, finicky babes :). Thanks!


I have a shitzu and she is a picky eater! When she goes to poop it’s not all coming out and the vet says give her brand what can I gone her that she would eat!! Never would she eat vegetables


My friends have a schnauzer who was having trouble eliminating and the Vet told them to put a tablespoon or two of pumpkin from the can into his food. And it’s worked great for years. My last dog was a Shih Tzu Pekingese mix. She loved the weight watchers vegetable soup. I always made too big of a batch and she was thrilled to finish it up. Someone told me that shiz tsus were actually raised as vegetarians in the old days. Hope this helps


I’m one who has been taken over by those “sad puppy eyes” and have become a mother who will try anything to get her canine baby to eat. I am truly greatful for the lost of good foods and the tips on treats. Are bell peppers for her to eat? She loves her veggies and given daily. Her fav are bell peppers and she likes them in order of yellow ar orange, red peppers and lastly green ones. She can tell the individual ones by sight, but she must be able to smell them. I enjoy giving her them as when you give her a bite, all I hear is crunch, crunch, crunch, then looks at me for more. Sad to say I do give her people food every night with her veggies. She likes any protein, and I admit I bake her chicken breast at least 3 times a week and a lean beef burger for the other nights. She has been turning up her nose lately at her meals, but after reading your entire article makes me wonder if she is plain tired of the same meal. Tips on how to make protein rich meals she shouldn’t get bored of. Thank you!!!

Meg Marrs

Lucky pup! Bell peppers should be fine, just don’t overdo them.

As far as mixing up the protein, variety will help a lot. You could also try adding in some fish oil or sardine oil!

Susn Deel

Just keep in mind that “human food”, however nutritious it is, doesn’t have the nutrients dogs need for healthy lives (coats, eyes, organs, etc). Try some of the brands Tim suggested and the tips, i.e. chicken broth sprinked on the food. I guarantee you this; if your fur baby is healthy, he/she will not starve itself to death. Good luck!


I was lured into the sad eyes, and that ended the day I found myself cooking steak, beef liver. and bacon, and him turning his nose up at every one. The vet got me straight: continue with that until he gets sick, or let him get hungry enough to eat his dog food. With the vet’s help and strength, I did it. He is healthier, I am saner, and we both respect each other a lit more. Sure there is a day or two when he tests me, but I stand strong, and suddenly his bowl is licked clean.


When our normally food lovin lab gets picky my wife puts a couple chicken breasts in the crockpot with some water. When the chicken is done she adds some whole grain rice. We let it cool and put it in a container in the fridge. At mealtime we put a heaping tablespoon full of the chicken and rice over her kibble and its back to chowing down as usual.


I see that you have a Purina product listed. I personally know of three dogs that have died from eating Parina dog food- confirmed by the vets. The last dog was a three-year-old healthy pitbull. I warrant the owners who are neighbors and friends of mine. They just looked at me like I was crazy and shrugged it off. Within one year of their dog was dead. Their bag of Parina dog food was toxic and killed their beloved dog buddy. How can they get away with this? I’m only one person and I know I have three dogs that have died from this brand of food! What in the world are they doing in their manufacturing plants to kill these dogs? They’re such a large company that it just gets swept under the rug and I think more should be brought out about the terrible things that this company is doing to dogs and maybe cats.


I have a question. You say you have personally had 3 dogs die from Purina but why did you go back to feeding Purina after the first dogs death?


She meant 3 dogs that she knows of has died


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