The 10 Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters

Beagle,Dog,Eats,Food,From,Steel,Bowl,Close-up.

If you’re a first-time dog owner, you could find your dog is a picky eater. Many are.

In some cases, it can seem almost impossible to find any food your pooch will eat.

This can be one of the most challenging aspects of pet ownership, but with today’s guide to the best dog food for picky eaters, we’ll show you how you can get Fido relishing meal times again.

There are many potential reasons for fussiness in dogs eating habits. The first of these is the most obvious: personal preference. Just like humans, dogs have individual likes and dislikes when it comes to food.

Setting this aside, picky eating in dogs can be indicative of a behavioral issue. If a dog feels he can hold out on eating in order to bring about a better alternative – treats such as Bully Sticks or table scraps, for instance – he can stay hungry for quite some time.

Separation anxiety and attention-seeking are also behaviors that can lead to a dog fussing over his food.

Maybe you’ve noticed your pup starting to reject certain foods. Perhaps he has been undereating, or he could be outright refusing food. In these cases, it could be due to an underlying medical issue, including:

  • Digestive issues
  • Dental problems
  • Tumors

If you feel your dog’s issues at meal times are due to more than a picky palate, you should schedule an appointment with your vet. This is doubly important if fussy eating is accompanied by weight loss in your dog.

Now, here comes the bad news…

The nature of the problem you’re dealing with means there is no boilerplate solution. What works for one dog might very well not work for your picky eater. That said, an accurate diagnosis can help you determine the best course of action.

Typically, your best bet will be to use a balanced diet with the requisite labeling adhering to standards laid down by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials).

If you choose not to use a commercially-produced and balanced dog food, make sure you liaise closely with your bet. Raw diets and homemade diets can leave your dog with mineral, vitamin, and nutrient deficiencies.

Here are some very general tips for encouraging a fussy eater:

  • Warm the food
  • Moisten the food
  • Use a healthy mixer
  • Make feeding time fun
  • Hand-feed your pup
  • Don’t free feed your furball
  • Cut out table scraps
  • Feed your dog later in the day than normal

OK, with those basics sketched in, we have 10 first-class suggestions for you with our roundup of the best dog food for picky eaters.

Be patient and be prepared to experiment. You might not get this right first time, but if you stick with the foods on our shortlist today, you’ll maximize your chances of normalizing Rover’s eating habits.

For more help, see our related article on How to Make a Picky Dog Eat. Here we discuss 8 different things you can try, to get your picky dog to eat its entire bowl. Find out which method might work for your pup.

Barkva.org is reader-supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

The 10 Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters

1. Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog Food

Purina-Pro-Plan-With-Probiotics-Shredded-Blend-High-Protein
  • Type: Dry formula with complete essentials
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Beef, rice flour, whole grain wheat
  • Best for: For all breeds
  • Price: $$$

First up comes this high-protein food from the inimitable Purina from the Pro Plan line. If your dog has been reluctant to eat, this lip-smacking formula could tip the balance.

Your dog gets a mixture of hard kibble and shredded pieces of moist, tender food. The difference in taste and texture might stimulate a picky eater.

This food is loaded with probiotics. These promote proper immune health, and they also help with digestion, a bonus if your dog is becoming picky with his food.

High in protein – this is derived from real beef which features as the first ingredient – your dog will have enough energy to keep going all day if he takes to this food.

There are plenty of fatty acids in this formula, too. This is ideal for loading up picky eaters with goodness, and the omega-6 fatty acids also support skin and coat health.

Purina dog food certainly isn’t cheap, but you’re buying into one of the most reputable brands in the industry, a legitimate dog food specialist. If your pooch has been turning his nose up at his food, he might just revert to his old ways when you put down a bowl of Purina.


2. Stella & Chewy’s Meal Mixers

Stella-&-Chewy's-Freeze-Dried-Raw-Stella's-Super-Beef-Meal-Mixers-Grain-Free-Dog-Food-Topper
  • Type: Dry formula with freeze-dried raw ingredients
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Beef, beef liver, beef kidney
  • Best for: For all breeds
  • Price: $$$

If you’ve tried multiple dog foods and your picky pooch still won’t play ball, consider road-testing these mixer treats from Stella and Chewy.

All ingredients are prepared in the USA and this protein-dense formula should have the fussiest furball lapping it up.

Each 18oz bag yields up to eight servings of these treats. Beef is the first ingredient, followed by beef liver and beef kidney, so you’ll avoid chicken and you’ll still serve up Fido with protein from a premium source.

The animal proteins used for Stella and Chewy’s food are cage-free and grass-fed, so you’ll be giving your hound nothing but the best.

These treats aim to replicate what a dog would eat in the wild while hitting all his nutritional needs.

You can easily work this treats into any dry dog food or kibble, and even the most fussy dog is likely to be enticed by this raw food turned into tasty treats. What have you got to lose?


3. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food

Hill's-Science-Diet-Dry-Dog-Food,-Adult,-Sensitive-Stomach-&-Skin-Recipes
  • Type: Dry formula with chicken
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Chicken, brewer’s rice, chicken meal
  • Best for: For all breeds
  • Price: $$$

Hill’s is perhaps the best known vet-recommended dog food, and attracts a loyal following worldwide. What makes this formula a smooth fit for fussy eaters, then?

Firstly, this food is designed to be easily digested. Sometimes, if dogs are struggling to digest their food, this puts them off eating, which is perfectly understandable. After all, they can’t communicate with you verbally, so leaving their food might be their way of alerting you that something is amiss.

Prebiotic fiber further smooths digestion and contributes toward the gut health of your dog.

The food is rich in vitamin E and antioxidants, both proven effective for gleaming coats and skins.

The all-natural ingredients are assembled in the USA, and you’ll be buying a perfectly balanced and scientifically-based diet guaranteed to provide your furball with all the nutrients he needs.

This food comes recommended by veterinarians, so you can buy with complete confidence and a strong chance of restoring your dog’s appetite.


4. Orijen Dry Dog Food

ORIJEN-Dry-Dog-Food,-Grain-Free,-High-Protein,-Fresh-and-Raw-Animal-Ingredients
  • Type: Dry grain-free formula
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, yellowtail flounder
  • Best for: Biologically-appropriate for all breeds
  • Price: $$

Next up in our quest for the best dog food for picky eaters comes a great grain-free example from the industry heavyweight Orijen. This brand manufactures thoughtfully-designed natural foods delivering all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your dog needs. Their food is loved by dogs the world over, so why not test it out on your fussy furball?

This formula is biologically-appropriate and packed with protein from real chicken. This features as the first ingredient here, and it’s followed up by turkey and flounder in this protein-dense powerhouse.

85% of all the ingredients are made from real animal ingredients, so you’ll be giving Rover a taste of the wild highly likely to get his appetite back to normal levels.

The manufacturer receives the ingredients in raw form from trusted local suppliers, so you can buy into a major brand while getting the attention to detail you’d expect from a small family-run concern.


5. Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

Taste-of-the-Wild-Dry-Dog-Food-With-Roasted-Bison-And-Roasted-Venison
  • Type: Dry high-protein formula with sweet potato
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Water buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal
  • Best for: For all breeds
  • Price: $$

With some fussy canines, it’s worth trying them out with some completely different food. Taste of the Wild delivers as promised with a dry dog food designed to approximate a dog’s natural diet as closely as possible.

Protein comes from real water buffalo, listed as the first ingredient here and followed up by lamb meal and chicken meal. Not only will your dog be likely to lap this stuff up, but if he does regain his appetite, this nutrient-rich food will treat his whole body to everything he needs to thrive.

The food is loaded with both prebiotics and probiotics tailored to canine needs. Along with the antioxidants in this food, your dog’s immune health and digestion will get a welcome helping hand.

There is no grain, corn, wheat, or soy in this stuff. You won’t inflict any cheap fillers and bulking agents on your dog either. There’s nothing but tasty goodness here.

Taste of the Wild is a family-run company based in the USA specializing in giving dog’s a combination of what they want and what they need. See how your fussy canine takes to this formula and let us know how you get on.


6. Rachael Ray Nutrish Premium Dry Dog Food

Rachael-Ray-Nutrish-Super-Premium-Dry-Dog-Food,-Chicken-&-Veggies-Recipe
  • Type: Dry formula with real chicken and vegetables
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, soybean meal
  • Best for: For all breeds
  • Price: $$$

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray turns her hand to dog food with this premium formula that could tempt a fussy eater.

While you can buy larger bags of this stuff, we appreciate the small bags on offer so you can try your dog on this food without a large investment.

The primary ingredient is real, farm-raised chicken. This provides your dog with a premium source of protein to support lean muscle growth.

Despite the dominance of chicken in this food, there are no poultry by-products spoiling the formula.

There are also plenty of veggies in this formula, which is all-natural and devoid of all nasty artificial additives and bulking agents.

The only thing added to this stuff is the vitamins and minerals your dog needs for a balanced nutritional intake. Prebiotics help your dog’s digestion nicely.

If you don’t mind digging a little deeper for the best dog food, we think you’ll be extremely satisfied with this purchase… or you will be if Rover wolfs it down!


7. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dry Dog Food

Blue-Buffalo-Wilderness-High-Protein,-Natural-Adult-Dry-Dog-Food
  • Type: Dry grain-free formula with chicken
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas
  • Best for: For all breeds
  • Price: $$

Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness line is another dog food that recreates a wild canine diet as faithfully as possible.

This formula is grain-free, so would work well for all dogs with allergies or sensitive stomachs.

Most dogs love meat, so Blue Buffalo piles in the chicken to give your pup’s tastebuds a treat.

The LifeSource Bits in this food tend to split opinions among pet owners. Some report their dogs can’t get enough of these pieces, while others state their dogs reject them out of hand. No two dogs are alike, so you’ll need to experiment if your mutt is fussy with his food.

The carbs in this formula come from sweet potato, an ingredient that often tempts fussy dogs to the bowl.

With all-natural ingredients, a blend of vitamins and minerals, and a high antioxidant content, Blue Buffalo Wilderness should be one of your go-top options if you’re attempting to coax a dog who is picking at his food into eating normally again.


8. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Dog Food

Wellness-CORE-High-Protein-Grain-Free-Natural-Adult-Dry-Dog-Food
  • Type: Dry grain-free formula
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Deboned turkey, turkey meal, chicken meal
  • Best for: For all breeds
  • Price: $$

As we edge to the end of our hunt for the best dog food for picky eaters, we have an entry from the ever-reliable Wellness. CORE is a range of grain-free dog food that might encourage a dog who has been rejecting his food to start snaffling it down.

Protein is derived from turkey, listed as the primary ingredient here and a recommended premium source of protein.

It’s not just the energy this food provides. Antioxidants help to strengthen your dog’s immune system, while the omega fatty acids do their part to ensure your dog’s coat and skin are in peak condition.

Fats and carbohydrates are included in balanced ratios, so you’ll be providing your dog with the healthy and balanced diet he would choose for himself if he could.

The food is made in the USA, and if you don’t like the idea of grain-free dog food, you can pick up a regular formula with grains, too.

While there’s never any guarantee your dog will like any given food – especially if he’s a picky eater – there is a very high chance indeed you’ll be looking at an empty bowl shortly after serving him up with some Wellness CORE.


9. Solid Gold Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach

Solid-Gold-Leaping-Waters-with-Cold-Water-Salmon-&-Vegetable-Recipe
  • Type: Dry chicken-free formula
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Salmon, ocean fish meal, chickpeas
  • Best for: For all breeds
  • Price: $

If your dog is a picky eater and also suffers from a sensitive stomach, you have our sympathy. The good news is, with a light touch and plenty of patience – not to mention a side-serving of luck – you can address both issues head on. Solid Gold helps you to give that a try with this dry dog food.

Suitable for all life stages, this grain-free and gluten-free formula is designed to reduce the chance of your dog developing any sensitivities or allergies.

With no chicken, protein comes from a single and easily digestible source, salmon in this case.

The holistic blend manages to take in all the nutritional needs of your dog. With both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, your dog’s coat will be glimmering and lustrous – assuming, of course, he eats the stuff!

Laced with proprietary probiotics, this means the food should slip down easily as long as your pooch doesn’t turn his nose up at it.

You’re buying into a brand with almost half a century in the dog food business, this food is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. When you’re trying to find the best dog food for picky eaters, this type of support from the manufacturer is invaluable and allows you to buy with total confidence. Overall, this is one of the best choices in a crowded pack.


10. Nulo Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Nulo-Limited-Ingredient-Dry-Dog-Food
  • Type: Dry grain-free formula
  • Design: Adult dogs
  • First 3 ingredients: Deboned salmon, salmon meal, chickpeas
  • Best for: For all breeds
  • Price: $$

If your dog is consistently leaving his food, perhaps he doesn’t like one of the ingredients. One solution is to minimize the chance of this by opting for a food with limited ingredients. As an added bonus, this type of dog food is also a smart choice for pups with sensitive stomachs or allergies.

You can get started with a small 4-pound bag, so you won’t end up wasting loads of money if your dog turns his nose up at this food.

The allergy-kind formula has no chicken, eggs, wheat, or soy. There is no corn, no peas, and no tapioca either, so you’ll be minimizing flashpoints.

Protein comes from deboned salmon, the primary ingredient here. Your dog will also benefit from a salmon meal and chickpeas for a taste sensation and plenty of protein for muscle growth and energy.

Probiotics serve to streamline the digestive process and increase the chances of your dog devouring this food rather than leaving it untouched in the bowl.


FAQs

1) What’s the easiest way to find the right dog food for my picky pooch?

Be prepared to experiment, not only with foods, but also with flavors and textures. Consider both canned and dry food, possibly in combination. Try foods with proteins derived from different sources like sweet potato or lamb. Use mixers or sprinkle some probiotics on his food. Add some small pieces of cooked chicken for an extra taste sensation. If you get creative and keep on persisting, you’ll hit paydirt eventually and Fido will be wolfing his food down once more.

2) If my dog is a picky eater, should I look for dogs that are high or low in fat?

There’s more chance a fussy dog will eat foods rich in healthy fats. Not only will this food be more likely to whet Rover’s whistle, but it will also provide him with the energy he needs to keep going all day long. Salmon oil, fish oil, and flaxseed are all great sources of healthy fats.

3) Will my fussy dog eat natural foods?

He’s more likely to eat natural foods than those stuffed with additives and fillers. Stick to simple formulas rich in natural flavors.

4) Can I give my fussy dog cooked meat and vegetables?

Absolutely, but you should not feed him this directly from the table. Instead, put the food in with his regular rations and see if the extra treat gets him more interested in his food.

5) How should I change my dog’s food?

Slowly and gradually. Making overnight changes can trigger a stomach upset. Instead, start with 25% new food and 75 old food. Over the course of one to two weeks, tweak this ratio upward until he’s eating all-new food, and hopefully eating all of the food, too.

6) When should I worry about my picky pooch?

If your dog maintains a healthy weight, has a shiny coat, and is full of energy, picky eating is likely nothing to worry about. Check with your vet anyway, but you’ll more than likely simply need to experiment with food until you find one he enjoys. When picky eating is accompanied by weight loss, vomiting, or stomach upsets, you should always speak with your vet.

7) Can I try removing my dog’s food to prompt him to eat?

Yes. Give him thirty minutes to eat – more than enough time – and then remove his bowl. He needs to learn that meal time is a fixed event. Do this and he will certainly be hungry later that day and more likely to chow down at dinner time.


Conclusion

We hope our exploration of the best dog food for picky eaters has given you some hope and inspiration if you’re struggling with canine appetite issues.

Always consult with your vet if you find your dog is having problems at meal times. If this finickiness is accompanied by weight loss, it could point to an underpinning health condition. This needs ruling out or treating.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for what type of dog food will work for your pooch, we’re confident the foods on our shortlist put you in with a good chance. When you’re experimenting with food changes, always opt for a smaller bag until you’re certain your dog will eat it. This is doubly vital with picky eaters.

Assuming there is nothing wrong with Rover medically, with a little imagination, you’ll have him eating normally in no time.

Bookmark BarkVA and pop back soon for more informative content to make your life easier while saving you money at the same time!

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases - at no cost to you, allowing us to continue our work.

Leave a Comment