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10 Best Dog Food Options For Picky Eaters – 2024

Written by: Molly Weinfurter
Molly Weinfurter is a writer for iHeartDogs, and she’s passionate about helping animals in need. She volunteers for Bailing Out Benji and a local dog rescue.Read more
| Published on January 5, 2024

Reviewed by: Dr. Theresa Fossum

Reviewed by:

Dr. Theresa Fossum

Meet Dr. Theresa (Terry) W. Fossum, DVM, MS. Ph.D., Diplomate ACVS – a remarkable animal lover whose passion for animal care and innovative solutions has left an indelible mark on the veterinary world. As the CEO of both Phoenix Animal Wellness and Epic Veterinary Specialists, she's ensuring dogs and cats receive the highest level of care and compassion.Read more
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If you have a pup that turns their nose up at their meals, you might need to switch them to one of the best dog food options for picky eaters. Some dogs will gladly eat whatever they’re given while others might be hesitant to try most foods. If your dog is the latter, you need to make sure they still get enough to eat. There are lots of methods you can try to get your dog to eat their food, but they may still be reluctant no matter what you do. If that’s the case, it may be time to switch them to a new food that’s more appealing to them while still being healthy.

Finding the Best Dog Food for a Picky Eater

It can be frustrating to deal with a picky pup. You won’t have to worry about them eating things they shouldn’t, but instead, you’ll worry that they’re not getting enough nutrients. Here are a few things you can do if you have a dog that doesn’t like to eat.

Picky dog laying by food

Rule Out Health Problems

Like all concerns with your dog, you should rule out health problems before taking further action. If your dog normally loves their food but is suddenly refusing to eat, it could be a sign that there’s an underlying problem.

Check to see if your dog is displaying any unusual symptoms in addition to not eating. Digestive problems are the most likely, so if you notice vomiting, diarrhea, or discomfort that won’t go away, you should contact your vet. Some dogs may have developed an intolerance for an ingredient in their food, so that could be another reason they’re avoiding it. If you think your dog may have sensitivities, check out our list of 11 Best Dog Foods For Allergies.

Dogs with dental problems may also be unwilling to eat because it hurts their teeth and/or gums. It’s common for dogs to develop dental issues if you don’t clean their teeth enough. Also, if a dog ate something sharp, they could have a wound in their mouth that’s making them avoid chewing.

When in doubt, talk to your vet. It’s better to be safe than sorry if you suspect something is wrong with your dog.

Cut Back on Treats

Dogs who get a lot of snacks and table scraps may be less interested in eating meals. They might be full or waiting for more treats instead of their food. If you suspect this could be the case, you can cut back on the treats to see if your dog eats more as a result.

Dogs who free-feed throughout the day may also eat less frequently since the food is always available to them. To get them back on a meal schedule, only offer them the food for a certain amount of time, such as 20 to 30 minutes. Then, if they don’t eat it, take it away and serve the food again at their next scheduled meal.

Try a Topper

If dogs aren’t interested in their food, you can also try putting a food topper on it. Many dog food brands offer nutritional meal toppers to mix with your dog’s kibble to make it healthier and more appealing. Other dog parents choose to mix wet food or other healthy ingredients with the kibble instead to add some variety.

Switch to Tastier Food

For some picky dogs, none of the above situations will help. If you’ve tried every solution with no success, it might be time to transition your dog to a new food that’s best for picky eaters. Like humans, dogs can have flavor preferences, so the one they’re currently eating might not taste or smell good enough to them.

Many dogs find fresh, raw, and wet dog food more appealing than kibble. Those forms of food are often more flavorful, have stronger smells, and closely resemble meat. Moist food is also easier for older dogs to chew. So, if you have a dog that isn’t fond of kibble, you may want to try a different type of food. Yet, there are plenty of more appealing dry dog foods too.

Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters

There are so many dog food brands on the market that it can be difficult to know which ones will be tasty to your dog. So, we’ve selected ten of the best dog foods for picky eaters.

1. Ollie Fresh Dog Food

Ollie fresh dog food

Ollie isn’t your typical dog food brand. This company makes fresh dog food that’s personalized for each canine customer. To get started, you’ll fill out some information about your dog, including their weight, age, and activity level. Then, Ollie’s canine nutritionist will formulate custom servings of formulas chosen specifically for your dog.

The food is shipped to your door on a set schedule. It arrives frozen, and you can let it thaw before serving it to your pup. The food is made with real, fresh ingredients that you can see, such as carrots, blueberries, and peas. The protein options include beef, chicken, turkey, or lamb. Each shipment comes with feeding instructions so you’ll know exactly how to serve it to your dog.

When making the food, this company slow-cooks the whole ingredients to preserve the nutrients and the flavor. This unique process makes most dogs interested in the food, even if they’re normally picky. The food is always made in USDA kitchens using human-grade ingredients.

Check Out Our Writer’s Unboxing and Full Ollie Review 


  • Personalized for your dog
  • Uses whole, human-grade ingredients
  • Slow-cooked to preserve nutrients and flavor
  • Shipped to your door on a set schedule
  • Formulated by a canine nutritionist
  • Made in USDA kitchens
  • iHeartDogs Offer: 60% off your first box

2. Nom Nom

Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food is a remarkable meal option that not only appeals to the palates of our canine companions but also provides essential nutrition for their well-being. It’s made from restaurant-quality ingredients, making it a perfect solution for picky eaters who often reject dry kibble or canned dog food. Every meal is portioned according to your dog’s specific dietary needs, ensuring they receive optimal nutrients without overeating.

Fresh, high-quality ingredients, like real meat, eggs, and veggies, mean your dog is more likely to enjoy the taste and textures, with even the most selective eaters showing a marked increase in mealtime enthusiasm. Every meat and veggie is gently cooked individually to seal in vital nutrients and maximize digestibility. Those yummy ingredients are then mixed in small batches and packaged for your pup. And with the choice of four recipes, you’re sure to find a recipe they’ll happily devour. Plus, the recipes are curated by Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists, assuring the balance between flavor and health.

The customized meal plans and delivery service offer unparalleled convenience so your dog never runs out of food. All boxes, meal packs, and premium insulating liners are all either recyclable or made from recycled materials and designed to keep meals fresh in transit.


  • Made from restaurant-quality ingredients, highly appealing to picky eaters
  • Each meal is customized to your dog’s dietary needs
  • Four delicious recipes: Beef Mash, Chicken Cuisine, Turky Fare, and Pork Potluck
  • Formulated by Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists to ensure balanced nutrition
  • Convenient delivery service, making mealtime hassle-free
  • Fresher, healthier alternative to dry kibble
  • Promotes better digestion, healthier coats, and increased energy levels

3. The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Dehydrated Food

Honest Kitchen dehydrated dog food

The Honest Kitchen is one of the best dog food options for picky eaters because it uses dehydrated raw ingredients to preserve flavor and nutrients. To serve it to your dog, all you have to do is add warm water, which rehydrates it to up to four times its weight. It’s made to be used as a full meal, but many dog parents use it as a food topper instead, which can enhance the flavor of kibble.

It’s only made with wholesome human-grade ingredients that provide balanced nutrition for dogs of all life stages. The food doesn’t contain any preservatives, by-products, or filler ingredients. There are several different recipes, including chicken, turkey, chicken & duck, beef, beef & salmon, and fish.

The Honest Kitchen makes its food in human food facilities, so the products are held to high safety standards. Many picky dogs are drawn to this food because the moisture enhances its flavor.


  • Uses dehydrated raw ingredients
  • Adding water enhances the flavor
  • Made with human-grade ingredients
  • Can be used as a meal or a topper
  • Made in human food facilities
  • iHeartDogs Offer: 30% off your order

4. Instinct Raw Boost

Instinct Raw Boost Dog Food

This Instinct product is a mix between dry dog food and freeze-dried raw animal protein. The freeze-dried pieces can either be chicken, duck, beef, or salmon. It’s a good choice for picky eaters because it pairs the convenience of kibble with the tastiness of raw food.

The food is grain-free to cater to dogs with allergies, and it’s designed for dogs of all life stages. Since it uses freeze-dried raw food, it’s minimally processed with no artificial coloring. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids to keep your pup’s skin and coat healthy.

Another notable feature is that this food is higher in protein than most kibble options, with a minimum of 35% protein. If your picky pup starts to lose interest in the food over time, you can switch between the four flavors to give them some variety.


  • Freeze-dried raw food mixed with kibble
  • High in protein
  • Minimally processed
  • Good for dogs with allergies
  • High in omega-3 fatty acids
  • More flavorful than traditional kibble



    5. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream

    Taste of the Wild dog food

    Taste of the Wild is a dog food brand that includes high protein percentages and no filler ingredients. Picky pups tend to be drawn to the Pacific Stream formula, which has salmon as the primary protein. Taste of the Wild sells lots of other formulas that picky eaters can alternate between, including High Prairie, which includes bison and venison.

    This formula contains a minimum of 25% protein and 15% fat, which is higher than the average dry dog food. It’s designed to give your dog food that mimics their ancestral diet. By doing so, it promotes bone and joint health, along with lean, strong muscles.

    The food also contains probiotics, antioxidants, and vitamins to give your pup a health boost while also being tasty. It contains a high amount of omega fatty acids to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. The formulas also avoid common allergens like grain, gluten, corn, and wheat. Taste of the Wild is a family-owned company that’s made in the USA.


    • High in protein
    • High in omega-3 fatty acids
    • Mimics flavors found in dog ancestral diets
    • Good for dogs with allergies
    • Promotes bone, joint, and muscle health



    6. Nutro Hearty Stews

    Nutro chicken wet food

    Most dogs are more intrigued by the moisture and strong smell of wet dog food as opposed to kibble. Nutro offers some great wet food options that can be served as a meal or mixed in with your pup’s dry food to add flavor. Chicken is the most popular protein, but there are also formulas, including beef, lamb, and turkey.

    The first four ingredients in the chicken recipe are chicken, pork broth, chicken broth, and chicken liver, so there are plenty of meaty flavors for your pup to enjoy. It’s rich in nutrients and soft, making it easy for senior dogs to chew. It doesn’t include any by-products, artificial ingredients, or common allergens like corn, wheat, and soy.

    Dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes can enjoy this dog food. The food is made from USA facilities and sources ingredients from trusted farmers around the world.


    • More appealing than dry dog food
    • Can be a full meal or mixed in with kibble
    • Easy to chew
    • Lots of meaty flavors
    • Good for dogs with allergies



    7. Nulo Freestyle Puppy & Adult Limited+

    Nulo Freestyle dog food

    Nulo sells a variety of kibble formulas that are high in protein. The Limited+ formulas are designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs because they have a shorter ingredient list and they focus on one protein. There’s a salmon, pollock, and turkey recipe.

    Even though it’s kibble, many dogs find the flavor of this food appealing. If they get bored of one formula, you can alternate them between the three formulas to mix it up. All the flavors have a minimum of 30% protein. The formulas avoid common allergens like chicken, eggs, peas, corn, wheat, soy, and white potatoes.

    The ingredients in this food are designed to help your dog build muscle and maintain digestive health. There are also omega fatty acids to keep their skin and coat healthy.


    • Good for dogs with allergies
    • High in protein
    • Good for building muscle
    • Benefits digestive health
    • High in omega fatty acids



    See our 10 Best Puppy Dog Foods list for more great options for puppies.

    8. Zignature Limited Ingredient Canned Dog Food


    Zignature canned dog food for picky eaters

    Zignature is another dog food brand that specializes in limited-ingredient formulas for sensitive dogs. Their wet food formulas are most appealing to dogs because they use flavorful, healthy ingredients in a form that smells good to dogs. Almost every formula the brand offers comes in both wet and dry food, and some popular wet food options include turkey, duck, lamb, and salmon.

    This canned food can be served as a whole meal or mixed with your dog’s kibble for added flavor. The moist consistency tends to draw picky dogs in. There’s about 78% moisture in each can to make sure your furry friend stays hydrated.

    Protein is an important part of every Zignature recipe. The turkey formula contains turkey, turkey broth, and turkey liver as the first three ingredients. All their recipes avoid chicken, potatoes, and grains since those are all common allergens for dogs.


    • Good for dogs with allergies
    • Can be a full meal or mixed with kibble
    • More appealing than dry dog food
    • Keeps dogs hydrated
    • Lots of meaty flavors



    9. Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Dinner Patties

    Stella and Chewy's patties for picky eaters

    This dog food comes in the form of freeze-dried raw patties. Freeze-drying the formula gives it a protein-rich taste while preserving the nutrients, so picky eaters are often intrigued by it. 95% of the formula is made with meat, organs, and bone. Beef is the most popular protein, but it also comes in a variety of other flavors, including chicken, duck, lamb, and venison.

    You can serve the food as is or you can rehydrate it by adding 1/4 cup of water for every two patties. Adding water usually makes the food smell better for picky dogs, and it helps keep them hydrated. You can serve these patties as a meal or you can add some to your dog’s kibble to enhance the flavor.

    These recipes are designed to mimic your dog’s ancestral diet. They include nutrients that can benefit your dog’s immune system, digestion, energy, and heart. All the fruits and vegetables used in this food are 100% organic.


    • Freeze-dried raw patties
    • Can be served as a meal or topper
    • Adding water enhances the flavor
    • Made with 95% meat, organs, and bone
    • Gives your dog a health boost



    10. Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused

    Merrick raw-infused food

    This Merrick food combines kibble with freeze-dried raw pieces. It has a variety of protein options, including Great Plains Red Meat, Game Bird, and Pacific Catch. The mixture of kibble and raw pieces makes it more interesting for picky dogs.

    The food is high in protein with a minimum of 38%. The real meat used in this formula can increase energy levels and benefit healthy muscles. It’s high in omega fatty acids to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin to benefit hips and joints.

    This dog food option is unique because it has the convenience of kibble with the flavor and health of raw food. The recipes are grain-free to cater to dogs with grain sensitivities.


    • Freeze-dried raw food mixed with kibble
    • More flavorful than traditional kibble
    • High in protein
    • Good for hips and joints
    • High in omega fatty acids


    Honorable Mention: Read Our Writers Review of A Pup Above

    Transitioning Your Dog To New Food

    Some dogs face digestion problems if their diet is changed drastically out of the blue. The risk is higher if they switch from foods of very different qualities, such as from a cheap kibble brand to personalized fresh food. Some dogs can handle food switching better than others, but it’s always a good idea to provide a gradual transition between food brands just in case.

    The safest way to transition your dog’s food is to gradually change it over nine days. Here’s an example:

    • Days 1 and 2: 80% old food, 20% new food
    • Days 3 and 4: 60% old food, 40% new food
    • Days 5 and 6: 40% old food, 60% new food
    • Days 7 and 8: 20% old food, 80% new food
    • Day 9: 100% new food

    This process is just a recommendation. If your dog tolerates new foods well, you can make the transition process faster, but if you have a sensitive pup, you may want to make it even more gradual. It all depends on your dog’s needs.

    Dog laying by bowl of food

    Frequently Asked Questions

    A dog who is a picky eater can be a source of concern and frustration for any dog owner. We all want our furry companions to enjoy their meals and stay healthy. When our dogs turn their noses up at their food, it can leave us feeling anxious and unsure about how to provide the best nutrition to keep them healthy. Understanding the reasons behind picky eating and discovering strategies to address it with care and empathy is essential for both your dog’s well-being and your peace of mind.

    Do Dogs Get Bored of the Same Food?

    No, most dogs don’t get bored of their food because they have fewer taste buds than humans. However, picky eaters can get sick of their meals. If your dog seems bored with their food, you can try alternating between several flavors of the same brand to give them some variety.

    Why are Some Dogs Picky?

    There are lots of reasons dogs are picky eaters, so it could be related to genetics or how they were raised. Certain dog breeds have bigger appetites than others. Yet, the most common reason for a dog being picky is because they were offered too many treats and table scraps in the past, causing them to avoid foods that don’t live up to those flavors.

    What Can I Do if My Dog is Picky?

    If your dog is picky no matter how much food you give them, you should stick to a strict schedule with their food. Offer them food at specific times each day, and if they don’t eat the food within 20 minutes, you can take it away until their next meal.

    Don’t give them treats until they start eating regularly. Using this method will show your dog that they can’t avoid their food in hopes of getting snacks instead.

    Which Dog Breeds are the Pickiest?

    Pickiness isn’t always a genetic issue, but these breeds are more prone to being picky than others: Boston Terrier, Bichon Frise, Cocker Spaniel, Maltese, Dachshund, Yorkshire Terrier, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

    Will a Picky Dog Starve?

    Healthy dogs will eventually eat their food if they’re not given anything else to eat. However, if your dog goes over 24 hours without eating food, you may want to talk to your vet to rule out any underlying health problems.

    How Can You Serve Pills to Picky Dogs?

    Serve the pill in something that has a strong enough smell and flavor to disguise the medicine, such as peanut butter, cheese, pill pockets, or wet food.

    What Meats Do Dogs Like Best?

    Most dogs prefer beef and pork formulas as opposed to chicken, turkey, or lamb. However, it depends on each dog’s preference. Some dogs may prefer unique meats like venison or duck.

    What Food Stimulates Dog’s Appetite?

    Certain foods can stimulate a dog’s appetite when they have a reduced desire to eat. The best food for picky eaters may be one of these: 

    • Cooked Chicken or Turkey: Plain, unseasoned, cooked poultry is often appealing and gentle on the stomach.
    • White Rice: Cooked white rice can be mixed with other ingredients for palatability and digestibility.
    • Bone Broth: Both homemade and store-bought bone broth can enhance flavor and moisture content.
    • Canned Dog Food: High-quality canned dog food is aromatic and has a different texture than dry kibble.
    • Low-Sodium Broth: A small amount of low-sodium chicken or beef broth can make meals tastier.
    • Plain Yogurt: Unflavored yogurt, rich in probiotics, can be a delicious addition to food.
    • Baby Food: Plain baby food with flavors like chicken or beef may stimulate appetite.
    • Vegetable or Meat Puree: Pureed vegetables or unseasoned meat can be mixed with food for extra flavor and nutrition.
    • Pumpkin: Canned, plain pumpkin is often palatable and can be blended with food.
    • High-Value Treats: Offering small, high-value treats, like freeze-dried liver or cheese, can encourage eating.

    Consult your vet if your dog’s appetite remains low or if you plan to make significant dietary changes. Addressing the underlying cause of appetite loss is important for your dog’s health.

    What Can I Add To My Dry Dog Food For Picky Eaters?

    Adding ingredients to dry dog food for picky eaters may be more appealing for your pet. Here are some ideas of ingredients that you may add: 

    Warm Water or Low-Sodium Broth: Adding warm water or a low-sodium broth to dry kibble can enhance the aroma and flavor, making it more enticing.

    Canned Dog Food: Mixing a small amount of canned dog food with dry kibble can add moisture and flavor to the meal.

    Cooked Meat: Adding small portions of cooked meat, such as chicken or beef (without seasoning), can make the meal more appealing.

    Vegetables: Some dogs enjoy vegetables like carrots, peas, or green beans mixed in with their kibble.

    Plain Yogurt: A spoonful of plain, unsweetened yogurt can be a tasty and probiotic-rich addition to their food.

    Pumpkin or Sweet Potato: These can be cooked and mashed or pureed and added to the kibble for extra flavor and fiber.

    Cheese: A small amount of shredded cheese sprinkled on top can be enticing for some dogs.

    Gravy: A small amount of low-sodium gravy poured over the kibble can add moisture and flavor.

    Fish Oil: A few drops of fish oil can not only enhance the taste but also provide beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

    Introduce any new additions gradually to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach, and consult with your Veterinarian if your dog’s picky eating persists, since it could be a sign of an underlying issue. Experimentation may be necessary to find what your picky eater prefers.

    Do Certain Dogs Need More Food Than Others?

    A dog’s food needs depend on their age, size, activity level, and breed. Larger and more active dogs generally require more food. Breeds like Huskies and Border Collies have higher energy needs. Puppies also need more food while growing.  To determine the appropriate portion size for your dog’s needs, consult your vet and make sure your dog is not underfed or overfed, monitor your dog’s weight to avoid overfeeding and obesity.

    What Can I Add To Dry Dog Food To Get My Dog To Eat?

    To entice your dog to eat dry dog food, you can try adding small amounts of the following:

    • Wet Dog Food: Mixing a spoonful of wet dog food with dry kibble can make it more appealing.
    • Broth: Low-sodium chicken or beef broth can add flavor and moisture.
    • Gravy: A small amount of dog-safe gravy can make dry food tastier.
    • Cooked Meat: Adding small amounts of cooked, unseasoned meat like chicken or turkey can be enticing.
    • Vegetables: Some dogs enjoy cooked vegetables like carrots, peas, or green beans mixed with food.
    • Cheese: A small amount of grated cheese can be a tasty topping.
    • Canned Tuna or Salmon: Occasionally, a bit of canned tuna or salmon can enhance the flavor.

    Should I Worry If My Dog Is A Picky Eater?

    Occasional pickiness in dogs isn’t usually a cause for concern. But, if your dog consistently refuses to eat, loses weight, shows signs of illness, or changes in behavior, talk to your Vet. Prolonged picky eating could indicate underlying health issues that need attention. Your vet can advise you about your dog’s dietary preferences while ensuring they receive the necessary nutrition.

    How Long Will A Picky Dog Go Without Eating?

    The length of time a picky dog can go without eating varies from dog to dog. Generally, healthy dogs can go without eating for a day or two without significant harm. Monitor your dog closely if they refuse to eat for more than a day. Prolonged loss of appetite can lead to dehydration and nutritional deficiencies. If your dog continues to refuse food for more than 24-48 hours, see your Veterinarian for a proper evaluation.

    What Happens If My Dog Doesn’t Like Dog Food?

    If your dog doesn’t like dog food, it can lead to several issues, including:

    Nutritional Deficiencies: If your dog consistently refuses to eat a specific dog food, they may miss out on essential nutrients, leading to nutritional deficiencies.

    Weight Loss: Refusing food can result in weight loss when it persists for an extended period.

    Behavioral problems: A dog’s refusal to eat may lead to frustration or anxiety, causing behavioral issues.

    Health concerns: In some cases, a dog’s dislike for a certain food may be due to underlying health issues, so it’s important to rule out medical causes.

    To address this problem:

    • Consult a Veterinarian: If your dog’s refusal to eat is persistent, see a Vet to rule out any health concerns.
    • Try different foods: Experiment with different dog foods to find one that your dog enjoys and meets their nutritional needs.
    • Gradual transition: If you’re switching foods, transition gradually by mixing small amounts of the new food with the old food, increasing the new food’s proportion over time.
    • Offer variety: Combining wet and dry varieties of food may entice your dog to eat.
    • Fresh ingredients: Some dogs prefer fresh ingredients. You can consider adding cooked meat or vegetables to their diet, but speak to your vet for guidance on safe and balanced additions.

    Ensure your dog’s dietary needs are met for their overall health and well-being.

    Final Thoughts

    If your dog is likely to skip meals or turn away when food is offered to them, you may need to try one of the best dog food options for picky eaters. Foods with quality ingredients and strong smells are often the most appealing for picky pups. If you’re able, consider switching from kibble to wet, raw, or fresh food since the flavor is often preserved better.

    Your dog deserves to enjoy their meal while staying healthy, so for many picky eaters, new dog food is the way to go. For a full pup and a clean bowl every time, check out our list of the Best Dog Foods.

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