Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters | They Can’t Get Enough!

At WileyPup, we want to provide helpful guides for every scenario you may be facing with your pup.

We're gonna dive into what to do about that picky eater of yours!

If your pooch keeps turning their nose up a dinner time, it may be time to change their diet to something more palatable.

With so many options on the market these days, we don’t need to tell you that it can be a tedious nightmare to sort through the hundreds of commercial dog food options out there.

Luckily!

We are on top of the latest-and-greatest as well as the tried-and-true.

Read on...

And find out more about when to worry about your finicky Fido, as well as our top 3 picks in both the dry and wet food categories.

Want to know the best part?

We only chose among the most nutritious options out there, so rest assured that no matter which of the selections you try, we have your canine’s health at the top of our priorities!

Consider bookmarking this page as a fast reference. Sometimes finding the food that really gets your buddy’s taste buds activated can be a trial and error process.

"C'mon you know I only like hooman food"


When to Worry About Your Picky Eater

If your dog is a fussy eater, then you may be concerned about their health.

It is definitely worth being concerned about, and kudos to you for paying attention to their habits. We will cover some warning signs in this section, but first, let’s look at when not to worry.

If your pup is maintaining a healthy weight, glossy coat, and energy levels are within their normal range, there is probably nothing to worry about.

Keep looking for a food they will enjoy more, but don’t panic.  

Keep an eye on things and if you think there might be an issue developing, then consider keeping a food journal. Include a record that includes:

  • Time of day
  • Behavior at meal time
  • Type (brand, flavor, wet/dry) of food
  • Any supplemental foods you tried
  • Total amount consumed

A food journal can come in very handy if you get to the point where you think a conversation with the vet is wise (trust your instincts on that!).

Not eating can, however, be a symptom of something more dangerous at play. You definitely want to consult your vet if you see any of the following:

Weight Loss or Poor Condition

Not eating enough will ultimately result in poor overall health. Signs like being underweight, excessive shedding, poor skin condition or other indicators of low health levels are troublesome on their own, doubly so if there is also an issue with appetite.

Change in Appetite

There is a difference between a dog that has a long history of being fussy (but still maintains overall health) and one that suddenly stops eating.

A change in appetite is definitely a sign worth paying attention to and talking with your vet about.

 A few possible causes your vet will want to rule out include:

  • Dental problems
  • Pain from an injury or degenerative disease
  • Cancer
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Hormone related conditions

Small Dogs and Puppies 

Because they have less in the way of fat reserves, small dogs and puppies are pretty vulnerable to problems that can happen from not eating enough. In these cases it is almost always better to contact your vet as soon as you notice a problem.

Missing one meal due to a lack of appetite is not that big of a deal.

However, with these tiny tikes, missing more than one can be a sign of something that needs immediate medical attention.

Diarrhea or Vomiting

If a lack of appetite is accompanied by either of these messy symptoms, call your vet. Something more urgent may be at play.

It is good to get the vet on board right away since this may be a sign of poisoning or other condition that needs to be treated immediately.

Extreme Lethargy

When combined with extreme lethargy in your pet, a picky appetite could be a warning sign of something deeper going on. Consult with your vet if this is going on with your pooch.


Tips for Fussy Eaters

Skip the scraps

Would you eat cereal if you knew that if you waited a few hours you would be offered a steak? Probably not and neither would your canine.

If you regularly feed table scraps loaded with tasty and interesting flavors, scrumptious fat, and high calories, your dog may decide waiting you out is their best move.

Yeah. You're being played!

If you do decide to supplement your canines kibble with some doggy-safe human grade food, then add a little to their commercial kibble at their regular meal time instead of random offerings from your plate during YOUR meal time.

Drool...


Keep a Schedule

Most canines do better with 2-3 feedings per day rather than having food available at all times. This is especially true of our fussy friends.

Keeping a feeding schedule that is regular can help to stimulate the appetite at feeding times, a major advantage if you have trouble getting Fido to eat.


Measure

Keep a bead on exactly how much your pup is having at each meal to notice if there is any change in appetite, a major indicator that there may be a problem.

Follow package instructions for the proper amount by weight and get a sense for how close your pal is getting to the recommended amount. If you notice a rapid change, call your vet.


Tally Up the Treats

Have you been doing a lot of training with your pooch lately?

Most treats used for training are what we call “high value rewards.”

Translation: Tastes way better than kibble. If your fussy Fido is getting picky about dinner, it might just be that they are holding out for higher value treats.

One trick to get around this is to start using kibble from the daily recommended servings during a training session instead of serving it in the bowl for free.

You can take a small portion of higher value reward (bits of hot dog, cheese or other soft delicacy) to mix in with the training kibble.

In this way you can have the best of both worlds – a high value motivator for training that puts nutritious and balanced kibble into your buddy’s belly.


Identify Stressors

Sometimes fussy eating can be a sign of stress.

Have you had a recent move? A new addition to the household? Are you under a lot of stress that your companion may be empathizing with?

Any of these issues can create a temporary situation where you pooch loses their appetite.

Sometimes moving their food and water station or trying different bowls can make a difference. It is not always apparent why, but some pups can develop phobias surrounding certain pieces of furniture, serving dishes or spots in a house.

Because it is relatively easy to trouble shoot, try feeding your dog in a new location to see if it solves the problem.


People Food Supplements

There are many people foods that are safe to feed dogs in small quantities, and of course there are also some foods that are perfectly safe for people and toxic to canines.

Be sure that you research well and consult your vet before adding people food to your dog’s diet.

Lean meats like chicken, salmon, are beef are safe in most cases. Low-cal veggies like green beans or broccoli can also be added.

Such foods can stimulate your pal’s appetite. Serve them up in small quantities mixed with your companion’s regular food at their scheduled feeding time (never from your plate!).

Note that you do not want people foods to be a significant portion of your dog’s daily caloric intake because getting the right nutritional balance for your pet is something that is best left to nutritional experts.

However, a little can be a tool to help get a fussy eater ready for a nutritious meal.


Wet it Down

Sometimes getting a picky eater to enjoy their dog food is as simple as adding some water or a dollop of canned food.

Moisture is pretty important to taste, and some pups just can’t get any taste from dry food. That is why we have included both dry and wet options in this review.


Try Some Variety

Before we cover this tip, it is important to note that some dogs are very sensitive to dietary changes. Some aren’t.

You have to use some judgement here. 

If your pooch seems to get diarrhea or vomiting when they try new food, then this is not going to be a helpful strategy for you.

On the other hand, if your furry friend seems to do better with some variety of different flavors of food, then this can sometimes put an end to fussy eating. In fact, some canines just get bored from the same meal over and over again.

We recommend that you read on to find some foods that are highly rated for taste to try with your fussy eater.

In some cases, it may be worth trying on a few of these options so that you can have a little variety in your K9s diet on tap when you need it.


Best Dog Food For Picky Eaters

Now that we have covered some important tips and safety information, let’s move on to our review of the best tasting dog food for picky eaters!

Here are the guidelines we looked for so that you can know that all of the foods we selected include:

  • Excellent nutritional standards with real meat as the first ingredient.
  • Positive reviews from customers noting exceptional taste for their picky pups.
  • Diverse whole food ingredient lists that avoid the worst (and unpalatable) cheap fillers: Corn, wheat and soy.
  • No meat by-products.
  • Complete and balanced nutrition that is compliant with AAFCO standards.

We will get started with our three top picks in the dry category, followed by some great options for canned food for picky eaters.

We have included the nutritional analysis for all of the foods in our review so you can have that important information at your fingertips!


Best Dry Dog Food for Picky Eaters

There are a few advantages to feeding with dry kibble.

First, it is usually much less expensive calorie for calorie due to the cheaper processing techniques.

Second, it is a little easier and cleaner to feed.

Third, dry food can help with dental hygiene because the crunchy texture keeps plague build-up in check.

If you can find a dry kibble your pooch will devour, it is the best-case scenario. Here are some we recommend you try:

Dry Dog Food

Name

Rating

Price

The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Base Mix
The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Base Mix

$

Fromm Family Foods Gold Nutritionals
Fromm Family Foods Gold Nutritionals

$$

Taste of the Wild
Taste of the Wild, Pacific Stream Salmon

$$


The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Base Mix

The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Base Mix

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min) – 10.5% (Note: You must add a portion of real meat to boost protein)
  • Crude Fat (min) – 6%
  • Crude Fiber (max) – 10%
  • Moisture (max) – 10%
  • Omega 6 fatty acid (min) – not available
  • Omega 3 fatty acid (min) – not available

The trend in whole food diets for canines is on the rise. As consumer awareness about dog food grows, so do our standards.

Unfortunately, whole food diets from scratch are complex and controversial, not to mention time consuming and expensive.

The Honest Kitchen is a line of products designed to take the best of both worlds:

The advantage of fresh human grade proteins served alongside a completely nutritionally balanced dehydrated base mix made from whole food sources.

Here is how it works:

You start by rehydrating the grain free base mix which contains all of the nutrition your canine needs (minus the protein). You then add a protein (raw or cooked) in a portion that is recommended for your pooch’s weight and activity level.

The ability to feed real meat to your dog without worrying about throwing off their overall balance is very liberating to say the least.

It is also great for K9s with sensitive stomachs since you can control access to which proteins they have in their diet.

All of the ingredients used in this base mix are human grade, all natural, GMO free, preservative free, grain free, and made in the USA.

PROS
  • Allows you to add human grade proteins of your choice for the ultimate in palatability.
  • Grain free, GMO free, preservative free.
  • Whole food nutrition with the best in human grade ingredients.
  • USA manufacturing to human standards.
  • No ingredients from China.
CONS
  • Formulated for adult dogs, but no special life stage or breed size formulas as of yet.
  • A bit pricier than some other choices, particularly when you add the cost of the meat. 
  • More time consuming to prepare than some folks have time for.

Fromm Family Foods Gold Nutritionals

Fromm Family Foods Gold Nutritionals

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min) – 24%
  • Crude Fat (min) – 16%
  • Crude Fiber (max) – 3.5%
  • Moisture (max) – 10%
  • Omega 6 fatty acid (min) – 2.5%
  • Omega 3 fatty acid (min) – 0.5%

Fromm has a long history of research and development in both fox and dog feed. They have been pioneers in dog feed for over half a century.

This family owned business has focused on using only the finest human grade ingredients. All of their food is manufactured in one of two Wisconsin based facilities.

They do extensive testing on all ingredients before they hit the factory floor to ensure safety. This highly palatable kibble is both tasty and extremely high-quality.

You can find the Gold line in three great flavors: red meat, ocean fish and duck, chicken & lamb.

It is also available in life stage formulas for puppies and seniors as well as special large and small breed recipes.

This is one of the best choices in dry food if you have a picky small or giant breed dog or puppy.

PROS
  • Comes in life stage and breed size specific formulations for optimized nutrition.
  • Family owned and operated business.
  • Relatively inexpensive, particularly considering the quality.
  • USA manufacturing with tight quality testing.
  • Several great flavors to have some variety for your picky pooch.
  • No cheap fillers corn, soy or wheat.
CONS
  • Ingredient sourcing could be better – we would like to see them make a commitment to avoid imported Chinese ingredients

Taste of the Wild, Pacific Stream Salmon

Taste of the Wild

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min) – 25%
  • Crude Fat (min) – 15.0%
  • Crude Fiber (max) – 3.0%
  • Moisture (max) – 10.0%
  • Omega 6 fatty acid (min) – 2.4%
  • Omega 3 fatty acid (min) – 0.3%

One of the trends in recent years has been a shift towards the natural diets of the ancestors of domesticated canines, that is, wolves.

On the leading edge of this movement is Taste of the Wild, a brand of feed that is also known for being highly palatable.

High levels of product safety testing, responsible sourcing, and exceptional nutritional standards have become a hallmark of this brand.

You can find several limited ingredient diets in the Taste of the Wild line. This is great news for canines with sensitive stomachs or food allergies.

On an elimination diet with a picky eater on your hands? This is a great starting place!

PROS
  • Contains whole food nutrition sourced from diverse ingredients such as various whole meats, potatoes, carrots, flaxseed, salmon oil, brewer’s yeast, and oatmeal.
  • A wide variety of protein selections, including some novel proteins for sensitive dogs. Try Bison & Venison, Salmon, Lamb, Boar, Venison or Wildfowl.
  • Limited ingredient formulas are available for pooches with sensitive stomachs.
  • Breed size and life stage formulas available to tailor nutrition for your companion’s specific needs.
  • Reasonable pricing, especially considering the quality.
CONS
  • Very low in fiber. Although this is intentional because it fits the ancestral food philosophy, some dogs may have trouble digesting it without the addition of fiber.

Best Canned Dog Food for Picky Eaters

The reason most pet owners prefer dry over wet food is mostly due to price.

Yes, canned dog food is a more expensive option than dry. It is also a little messier, harder to travel with, and it smells.

Okay, that last reason is probably why most finicky eaters prefer it!

The truth is that wet food is just more palatable overall for most canines. It is a great option to have on-the-ready if your picky eater just refuses to eat kibble.

As you look over the nutritional content of these options, you will notice that the percentages are lower than that of the dried kibble.

The reason for this is that there is a higher water content in even the best tasting canned food for dogs, lowering the percentage of the nutrients per ounce.

However, you feed a heavier weight of wet food, thus the nutritional content is still comparable.

Whether you mix it into dry food, or serve it on its own, canned is often the way to go for the pickiest pooches. Here are our top 3 picks ranked for both flavor and nutrition.

Canned Food

Name

Rating

Price

Taste of the Wild Wetlands Formula
Taste of the Wild Wetlands Formula

$

Natures Variety Instinct Grain Free Natural
Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain Free Natural

$$$

Lotus Grain Free Sardine Loaf
Lotus Grain Free Sardine Loaf

$$$


Taste of the Wild Wetlands Formula

Taste of the Wild Wetlands Formula

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min) – 7.5%
  • Crude Fat (min) – 3.5%
  • Crude Fiber (max) – 1.0%
  • Moisture (max) – 80%

Taste of the Wild made or list in both canned and dry forms. Once again, they have proved to be one of the more palatable foods available.

Just like their commitment to quality already mentioned above, the canned selections are grain free, utilize novel animal proteins, and use the highest quality ingredients.

Whole food nutrition from sweet potatoes, peas, chicory root, blueberries and raspberries give this selection an A+ for nutritional value.

Although there are several flavors to choose from, start with this Duck and Potato formula. Many picky eaters seem to really go for duck, the number one ingredient of this particular recipe.

PROS
  • Extremely palatable formula makes a great supplement to dry food, or complete nutrition on its own.
  • Grain Free and novel ingredients make this a strong choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
  • Several flavors to choose from to provide some variety to your choosy guy’s diet. Consider purchasing a variety pack.
  • High quality ingredients with meat being the first ingredient in every formula.
  • Well respected with a long line of loyal customers.
  • A real value considering the quality.
CONS
  • There are no life stage or breed size formulas to choose from.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain Free Natural

Natures Variety Instinct Grain Free Natural

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min) – 10%
  • Crude Fat (min) – 4.5%
  • Crude Fiber (max) – 3%
  • Moisture (max) – 78%

This is high nutrition and palatability at its best.

Nature’s Variety Instinct line uses whole food sources that have not been heated to high temperatures to preserve their full nutritional value.

Instead they use a patented “Cold Pressure” processing method that keeps food safe without cooking it to death.

This is probably as close as you can get to a raw food diet while still taking advantage of commercial processing for better cost and time efficiency.

The benefits go beyond nutrition! This food is consistently rated as highly palatable – probably due to the minimal processing of the food.

We also love that there are so many formulas to choose from in this line since variety is one way to get a finicky eater to get their appetite up.

There are several limited ingredient options as well, making this a great choice for canines with food sensitivities.

PROS
  • Ancestral diet focusing on high levels of quality protein sources as the number one ingredient.
  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
  • Grain free AND gluten free. No fillers at all!
  • Limited ingredient formulas available in several novel proteins.
  • Extremely palatable recipes in a large variety of flavors to choose from: Beef, chicken, lamb, duck, salmon, rabbit, venison.
  • This company partners with Best Friends Animal Society. When you support them, you are helping abandoned animals find their forever homes!
CONS
  • A little more expensive than other brands of canned food.
  • No life stage or breed size specific formulas.

Lotus Grain Free Sardine Loaf

Lotus Grain Free Sardine Loaf

Nutritional Analysis:

  • Crude Protein (min) – 8%
  • Crude Fat (min) – 4%
  • Crude Fiber (max) – 1%
  • Moisture (max) – 78%

Another great canned option comes from Lotus who makes grain free formulas in a wide variety of extremely palatable flavors. Their recipes all start with novel proteins as the first ingredient along with diverse whole food ingredients for a full nutrition profile.

There are some very unique options to try, one of the reasons this delicious food made our list. Try Sardine, Rabbit, Duck, Pork, Turkey, Chicken, Salmon, Beef & Asparagus Stew, Turkey Stew, or Chicken & Asparagus.

Lotus is manufactured in the United States and Canada. They are all either grain free or whole grain formulas.

Their ingredients are sourced from either North America or New Zealand so you can really trust the commitment of quality here.

PROS
  • Grain free or whole grain recipes.
  • Several limited ingredient and novel protein choices for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
  • Superfoods like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, blueberries, cranberries and asparagus are included among the ingredient list.
  • Responsibly sourced with 100% USA and Canadian manufacturing.
  • Excellent ingredient sourcing practices
  • Lots of great flavors to choose from which allows you to keep up the variety for your picky eater.
CONS
  • No life stage or breed size specific formulas.
  • This is one of the more expensive selections on the market for canned dog food.

Or you could just try this....


Other Articles of Interest

We hope you have found this article on the best dog food for picky eaters helpful.

We welcome hearing stories from our readers in the comments below. If you have found other tricks or products that help your fussy eater get their appetite up, do let us know!

Here at WileyPup, we take nutrition seriously! Here are some other great articles on dog food you may want to check out:

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