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Last updated: 25 Jun 2020

The Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters (Review) in 2020

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Destin Benoit
Published 13:15 pm

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 the 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 Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters

1

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.

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

2

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!

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

3

Number three on our list of best foods for picky eaters is 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.

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

4

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

5

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. 

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

6

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.

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

7

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

8

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!

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

9

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. 

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

10

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!

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 your 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

While we love all our top foods for fussy eaters,  the Orijen Original has to be our best pick as it combines incredible quality and taste with great value. This high-protein dog food is not only tasty, but also biologically appropriate, encouraging optimal canine health and wellbeing. The delicious flavors are sure to drive your fussy dog wild as they include free-run-chicken and turkey, cage-free-eggs, and wild-caught fish. One of the healthiest and best-tasting dog foods, hands down!

Destin Benoit
Destin Benoit
A former Special Forces Canine Handler, Destin Benoit has extensive knowledge and experience with military canine training. He has worked with multiple military dogs in the most stressful places and situations in the world. Currently, Destin is a SOC Canine Handler, aiding in the protection of the US diplomats abroad.
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