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The Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters (Review) in 2021

Last Updated August 12, 2021

While many dogs would eat anything and everything you put in their bowl, some pooches are much pickier when it comes to their meals. In fact, some dogs are so fussy, it can be near impossible to find food they’ll actually want to eat! And while infrequent and selective eating can sometimes signal a medical concern and should be discussed with your vet, oftentimes it’s a simple case of “I want something tastier”. If you have a finicky eater in your household, we know your struggles. Sure, it’s easy to reach for ultra-flavored recipes that taste more like treats than real food, but if you want the best for your pup, it’s crucial to feed them a healthy diet. To help you find food that is both delicious and nutritious, we reviewed dozens of different formulas, detailing our favorites down below. And if you need more information on how to properly care for and feed a picky eater? Our buying guide contains everything you need to know!

The 10 Top Rated Dog Food for Picky Eaters

Editor's PicksProduct NamePriceRating
Best OverallAmerican Journey Active Life Salmon, Brown RiceCheck Price on Chewy4.6
Best Grain-FreeORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog FoodCheck Price on Amazon4.7
Best Whole GrainFromm Family Adult Gold Dog FoodCheck Price on Amazon4.7
Best for Sensitive Stomachs Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dog FoodCheck Price on Chewy4.7
Best Wet FoodWellness 95% Chicken Canned Dog Food TopperCheck Price on PetSmart5
Best High-ProteinBlue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken RecipeCheck Price on Chewy4.7
Best For Healthy SkinWellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned TurkeyCheck Price on Amazon4.6
Best OrganicThe Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Beef RecipeCheck Price on Amazon4.4
Most Palatable Merrick Grain Free Wet Dog Food Grammy's Pot PieCheck Price on Chewy4.4
Best AffordableRachael Ray Nutrish Real Chicken & Veggies RecipeCheck Price on PetSmart4.8
*Ratings are from Amazon, Chewy, and PetSmart at the time of publication and can change
The Farmer's Dog Fresh Human-Grade Dog Food

The Farmer’s Dog is a fantastic choice for fussy eaters. They offer 50% off to any new customers for the first 2 weeks so that you can try your pup out with a half-priced trial period. During this time they are happy to provide you with several protein options for your pup to taste including pork, beef, chicken and turkey.

They are built on the use of all-natural and completely fresh ingredients, so there are no hidden chemicals, preservatives or fillers that might put your pup off their food. It has a pleasing soft texture and The Farmer’s Dog are renowned for creating food that is perfectly suited to the vast majority of pups with digestive problems, meaning its an easy food to transition to as well. Read in-depth The Farmer’s Dog Farm-to-Bowl Fresh Dog Food Review.  

Delivered to your door every 3 weeks.

Four protein options; chicken, beef, pork, and turkey.

A subscription-based service for better convenience.

A carefully thought out questionnaire helps them to tailor their meals to the dog.

Only use 100% fresh, US sourced human-grade ingredients.

Offer a 2-week trial for any uncertain customers.

Meets Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards.

Comes with a recyclable storage container and uses eco-friendly packaging.

Specification:
  • Brand: The Farmer’s Dog

1

American Journey Active Life Formula Salmon

American Journey’s Active Life Formula is carefully formulated to provide your dog with a delicious meal containing everything they need. We all know picking eaters are usually that way because of the flavor of their food – be it too bland, or just not right. Their salmon, brown rice, and vegetable recipe is a smooth yet rich flavor that has a reputation for being irresistible with many picky eaters. Real, deboned salmon is the first ingredient in this recipe, meaning you know your dog will be receiving high-quality protein-packed food. Not on that, but salmon is also a dense source of omega fatty acids, which help to take good care of your dog’s skin. Healthy skin also has a knock-on effect on your dog’s coat, helping it to stay sleek, healthy, and reducing the accumulation and shedding of dander.

Dogs are active creatures that require plenty of fueling; something that is difficult to do when you have a particularly fussy eater. Fortunately, salmon offers a refreshing and inviting change to your dog’s diet that is packed with enough protein and nutrients to fuel them for a day of fun. Additionally, they have developed a balanced blend of and antioxidants to support your pup’s immune system. They have even avoided the use of wheat, corn, soy, and by-product meals, as well as artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, which means even the most sensitive of stomachs should be able to handle this food with ease. 

25% minimum protein and 15% minimum fat.

Real, deboned salmon is the first ingredient.

Nutrients and antioxidants support a healthy immune system.

A balanced blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

No wheat, soy, corn, or poultry by-product meals.

artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Specification:
  • Brand: American Journey
  • Model: 109347
  • Weight: 28.0 pounds

2

Made with top-quality ingredients, including 85% fresh and raw animal products, this tasty and biologically appropriate dog food is a perfect choice for all picky pups. Some of the ingredients include free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught herring, flounder, mackerel and sardine, plus freeze-dried chicken liver, some cartilage and organs for that irresistible taste. The recipe is specifically formulated to mimic the diet of your pup’s ancestor – the grey wolf – so it’s packed with quality protein and fat, plus enriched with antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits, including red and green lentils, chickpeas, spinach, apples, pumpkin and more. Free from corn, wheat, soy and artificial additives, this food is not only delicious, but incredibly healthy too and suitable for sensitive dogs as well. ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is one of 5 recipes included in our review of the Orijen Dog Food.

38% of protein and 18% of fat

Biologically appropriate, 85% of quality animal ingredients

Free-run-chicken and turkey, cage-free-eggs, wild-caught fish

Fresh fruit, veggies and legumes

No grains, soy or additives

Specification:
  • Brand: Orijen
  • Model: DOR4410-13
  • Weight: 12.9 pounds

3

Formulated with fresh duck, chicken, whole lamb, veggies, and real cheese, this food is sure to tantalize your picky dog’s taste buds and infuse health and nourishment into their diet at the same time. As a family run business, Fromm pride themselves on using only top-quality ingredients and creating healthy foods for pets all over the world, so if you’re looking for local, family-run brand that you can trust, this is it. This particular recipe is nicely balanced, crafted with lots of quality animal proteins such as duck, lamb, chicken, chicken meal and fish meal, as well as whole grains and fresh fruits and veggies like brown rice, oatmeal, carrots, lettuce and more. While 100% natural, the recipe is bursting with flavor and is guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest of dogs!

Check out our review of Fromm Dog Food.

25% of protein and 16% of fat

Fresh duck, chicken, lamb, fish, veggies, and real cheese

Contains whole grains

Enhanced with probiotics

Trusted family-run business

Specification:
  • Brand: Fromm
  • Model: 727520
  • Weight: 4 pounds

4

Next on our list of best foods for picky eaters is the Taste of the Wild High Prairie recipe. True to their name, this premium dog food brand prides itself on crafting pet foods that “nature intended”. This particular recipe boasts roasted bison and venison as main protein sources, plus lamb meal, chicken meal, beef, and fish meal for maximum nourishment. The formula is also filled with antioxidants thanks to nutritious vegetables and fruits such as blueberries and raspberries to strengthen the immune system and overall health. As a bonus, it’s enriched with probiotics and works hard to support gut and digestive health. Most importantly for picky dogs though, it tastes delicious even though it’s free from added flavors and colors. Taste of the Wild High Prairie is one of 7 recipes included in our review of the Taste of The Wild Dog Food.

32% of protein and 18% of fat

Crafted with novel proteins like bison, venison, lamb, beef

No grains, soy or additives

Enriched with probiotics for gut health

Family-owned brand

Specification:
  • Brand: Taste of the Wild
  • Model: 9567
  • Weight: 28 pounds

5

Looking for healthy but tasty wet dog food for your finicky eater? Check out Wellness Ninety-Five Percent Mixer canned food. Super-simple and all-natural, this chicken recipe makes a for a fantastic topper or mixer so it’s best used over or with your dog’s regular kibble, but can be also served on its own from time to time. Because it contains no grains, additives, or anything else aside from chicken for that matter, this wet food is ideal for dogs who struggle with poor digestion. While healthy and natural, we recommend feeding this wet formula almost always with dry food because it’s not fortified with vitamins and minerals.

10% of protein and 10% fat

Simple and natural wet food

Should be used as a topper or mixer

No grains, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Specification:
  • Brand: Wellness Natural Pet Food
  • Model: 89402
  • Weight: 11.6 pounds

6

Made with tasty and nutritious ingredients like chicken, menhaden fish meal, sweet potatoes and blueberries, Blue Wilderness Chicken Recipe is a great choice for fussy eaters who do well on a high-protein diet. Completely natural and easy to digest, this kibble is also a good option for sensitive pups who suffer from digestive issues. To provide a balanced meal, the food is supplemented with all essential vitamins and minerals, so it’s guaranteed to support your picky eater’s health and well-being. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe is one of 10 dog food recipes mentioned in our Blue Buffalo Dog Food Review

34% of protein and 15% of fat

Made with chicken and menhaden fish meal

Antioxidant-rich veggies and fruits

Contains no grains or additives

Cold-formed lifesource bits for immune system

Specification:
  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Model: 840243105342
  • Weight: 24 pounds

7

Number six on our top-list of best foods for picky eaters is Wellness Core Original recipe. This delicious food is made with deboned turkey and chicken, offering lots of quality protein and a complete amino acid profile for proper muscle development. Aside from quality animal proteins, the formula also contains healthy fruits, vegetables and legumes such as peas, lentils, flaxseed, broccoli, apples and blueberries, so it’s packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as a delicious taste. Since it’s free from grains and all artificial additives, it’s a good choice for sensitive pooches as well. Wellness CORE Original Deboned Turkey & Chicken Meal is one of 5 dog food recipes included in our Wellness Core Dog Food Review.

34% of proten and 16% of fat

Deboned turkey and chicken

Grain-free recipe

Free of colorants, flavors and preservatives

Enhanced with probiotics for gentle digestion

Specification:
  • Brand: WELLNESS CORE
  • Model: 88403
  • Weight: 26 pounds

8

Made with delicious organic ingredients, the Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food is guaranteed not only to entice your fussy eater’s senses but also improve their health and boost their immune system. Some of the ingredients include ranch-raised beef, which is not only tasty but also super-healthy for your pup, wholesome grains like organic oats and barley, and antioxidant-packed produce such as carrots, potatoes, apples, spinach and cranberries. Because this is dehydrated food, you should always mix it with warm water before serving – while not every pup’s cup of tea, it’s perfect for dogs who could use extra hydration in their diet.

22.5% of protein and 8.5% of fat

Dehydrated organic dog food

Turkey, chicken, veggies and fuits

Contains fiber-rich whole grains

Should be mixed with warm water before serving

Specification:
  • Brand: Honest Kitchen
  • Weight: 10.5 pounds

9

Next up is a highly palatable grain-free wet dog food by Merrick. This delicious recipe is sure to entice even the fussiest of eaters and includes tasty ingredients like chicken, potatoes, peas, carrots and juicy red apples. They all come in a scrumptious gravy and might just be the food that gets your fussy dog to eat. Like many of the amazing picks on our best dog food list, this brand is void of artificial additives, making it a great choice for sensitive pups. Because it’s fortified with all essential supplements, you can serve it all on its own, or mix it with your pooch’s regular dry food. As a bonus, the food is suitable for all life stages! Merrick Grain Free Grammy’s Pot Pie is one of 8 recipes included in our review of Merrick Dog Food.

8% of protein and 5% of fat

Grain-free wet dog food

Single protein source, chicken

No grains, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

Suitable for all life stages

Specification:
  • Brand: Merrick
  • Model: 00175
  • Weight: 11.4 pounds

10

Another dry dog food to consider for your picky dog is Rachel Ray Nutrish Real Chicken & Veggies Recipe. The number one ingredient is US farm-raised chicken, a great source of protein that is bound to support healthy muscle development and your pup’s energy levels. Other ingredients include nutritious grains like brown rice and whole corn, and veggies such as peas and beet pulp for added fiber content. The formula also contains natural probiotics that aid with digestion and boost gut health, as well as added vitamins and minerals for complete nutrition. Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Chicken & Veggies is one of 5 dog food recipes mentioned in our Rachael Ray Dog Food Review.

26% of protein and 14% fat

Made with farm-raised chicken and veggies

Contains fiber-rich grains

Natural probiotics for healthy digestion

No artificial additives

Specification:
  • Brand: Rachael Ray Nutrish
  • Model: 184303
  • Weight: 39.7 pounds

11

Feed your fussy eater this delicious grain-free wet dog food by Blue Wilderness and watch them thrive while enjoying their meals. Made with two protein sources – beef and chicken – plus simple and nutritious veggies such as potatoes and flaxseed, this is one healthy and easy-to-digest food. Importantly for picky dogs, it’s also very tasty, making it a perfect topper or a mixer that can also be fed as a complete meal. The grilled pieces of beef and chicken and lots of healthy fat are bound to make any pup come back for more, so we highly recommend it for all finicky adult dogs!

10% of protein and 9% of fat

Grilled beef and chicken

Grain free recipe, void of artificial additives

Can be fed as a topper or on its own

Specification:
  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Model: BLU00588
  • Weight: 9.4 pounds

Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters Buying Guide & FAQ

While most dogs will wolf down anything you feed them, some will be much pickier with their meals. Feeding such pooches can sometimes be a nightmare as it seems that no matter what food or brand you buy, they won’t come near it. Thankfully, there are ways to make your pup eat their meals with pleasure, and no, this doesn’t include feeding them unhealthy, artificially flavored foods. It does include, however, choosing carefully crafted, healthy and tasty recipes. To help you find the best tasting dog food for your pup, we’ve not only reviewed some of the most popular formulas in the market but have also put together this buying guide where we cover absolutely everything you need to know about feeding fussy dogs. So, if you have a picky eater in your household,  read on!

Check out our guide on Popular Dog Food Brands.

Is Your Dog a Picky Eater?

Before we jump to tips and tricks on how to feed a finicky eater, let’s quickly talk about which dogs are even considered to be picky eaters.

Descended from grey wolves, who are opportunistic hunters, dogs normally eat whatever they can get. At least most dogs do. However, some pups, typically spoiled with tasty human foods and snacks, can become quite picky when it’s time to eat their normal dog food. What does this tell us? That most fussy eaters are not fussy by nature – they’re (unintentionally) trained to be highly picky with their food. And really, who would want to eat plain old kibble when there’s an abundance of yummy table scraps available?!

That being said, some dog breeds are simply pickier with their food by nature. Typically, these are small breeds like Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier, Poodle, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and others. But even certain medium and large breeds such as Greyhound and Eurasier are not immune to pickiness. Of course, even a Labrador, who is normally highly food motivated, can become fussy with their diet if they’re fed table scraps on a daily basis. In other words, any dog breed can indeed become finicky with their food, even though they’re not particularly fussy by nature.

But how can you tell if your dog is picky or simply doesn’t like eating huge amounts of food regardless of their breed? There is a simple test for this: feed your pup their normal amount of kibble for breakfast and pay no attention to the leftovers in their bowl; have them be physically active during the day (no treats of any kind!) and then don’t feed them their usual lunch or dinner but wait to see if they’ll eat their leftovers. If they do, they’re not picky but bored and sedentary. Thankfully, you can easily fix this problem by ensuring your dog gets regular daily exercise and play. If, on the other hand, your pooch does not eat their leftovers even though they seem to be hungry, try feeding them fresh kibble or wet food; if they eat it with pleasure, congratulations, you have a picky eater at your hands!

When to Worry About Your Picky Dog

If your dog is a finicky eater but maintains a healthy weight, has plenty of energy and a shiny coat, there’s no reason to worry. However, if your pet suddenly stops eating and this is accompanied by stomach upset, vomiting, weight loss, or noticeable fatigue, then you might have a more serious medical issue on your hands. If this is the case, get your dog to your vet asap, as it might be more than your pup simply being fussy.

If your pup won’t eat their normal meals, but has no other worrying symptoms and will happily eat treats and table scraps, they might just be a fussy eater or the particular food you are feeding them might not make them feel their absolute best. Follow the tips below to encourage them to eat normal dog foods again.

What to Look for in Foods for Picky Eaters

Feeding a picky eater might be frustrating but you can make the whole process easier for yourself and your dog by purchasing quality and tasty dog foods. Not sure how to find them? Look for the following things:

  • Quality meat and fish: all dogs love tasty meat, poultry and fish, so pick recipes that are made with top-quality animal proteins, such as real chicken, turkey, lamb, beef or fish. While named meat by-products might be nutritious, they’re not the best choice for fussy dogs.
  • Plenty of healthy fat: fat is not only a great source of energy, it’s also what makes food taste and smell good, so look for formulas that contain plenty of healthy fat sources such as fish oil, flaxseed, salmon oil, canola oil, etc. Animal fat such as chicken fat is also welcome.
  • No fillers or additives: while it might be tempting to reach for an artificially flavored formula as it’s more palatable, we highly recommend sticking to natural foods. This is because if you start feeding your dog highly flavored foods, they might not want to return to blander but healthier recipes. It’s always best to stick to simple, naturally rich in flavor formulas.

How to Encourage Your Picky Eater Dog to Develop Healthier Eating Habits

To encourage your finicky pup to eat better and healthier try some of the following tips and tricks:

  • Limit the number of treats that you give them in-between meal times and avoid feeding them human food straight from the table. If you choose to cook them meat and veggies add this into mealtime.
  • Place their food down for 30 minutes and then remove it. They need to learn that mealtime is a definitive time and that if they don’t eat their food then and there they will have to wait for their next meal.
  • Place their food in a low-noise room where they feel safe, away from high traffic areas.
  • If all else fails, definitely consider changing their food. Do this gradually to avoid stomach upset though. Simply add a quarter of the new food into their old food and gradually increase the amount every few days.

Our Top Pick – American Journey Active Life Salmon, Brown Rice

While there are many, many great foods to choose from when trying to find the right diet for your fussy pup, we are particularly fond of the American Journey Active Life Formula dog food. Not only does it give each pooch a refreshing change of pace, but their particular blend of ingredients formulated to provide your dog with the ideal amount of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and antioxidants is especially reassuring. So not only will your pup finally be able to enjoy a delectable meal to get them ready for their day, but they with physically benefit greatly from the Active Life diet as a whole.

Sources:

  1. Dr. Mike Paul, DVM, Why is My Dog a Picky Eater?, Pet Health Network
  2. Jennifer Dixon, When Your Dog Is a Picky Eater, WebMD
Eloise Hands
Eloise is the owner of a Malamute/Akita cross, a first-time mum, and an animal enthusiast from England. She comes from a family which has never gone a day without a pet (or 3!), and over the years has learned all the best tips and tricks to raising a difficult pet. A knowledge that she has put to good use, to help others navigate the limitless world of pet care.
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