13 Best Tasting Dog Foods for Picky Eaters

By Kevin Myers | 2020 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

While Morris the Cat famously cemented cat’s status as the finicky eaters of the pet world, dogs can be just picky.

Toy breeds like the Maltese have a reputation for being fussy, and I’ve seen giant breeds like the St. Bernard be as discriminating about what they will eat.

Dogs have individual tastes like we do, so trying to find food that will entice every dog to eat is impossible.

The Best Tasting Dog Foods for Picky Eaters

Yet:

What I can tell you is that dogs can tell the difference between run of the mill ingredients and premium ingredients.

While it may seem absurd to us that animals capable of eating their own poop have a refined sense of taste and smell, they do. They know what they like, and they know the genuine article. High-quality ingredients are what they want.

I’ve done my research, and it turns out that several dog foods have what it takes to tempt even the pickiest of pooches. Let’s start with my top five recommendations:

Top PicksRatingTop Ingredients
1. Blue Buffalo — Wilderness Chicken Grain-Free4.9Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch
2. Nulo — Adult Grain Free Salmon and Peas 4.9Deboned Salmon, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Whole Peas, Sweet Potato
3. The Honest Kitchen — Dehydrated Organic Grain-Free Turkey Recipe4.8Dehydrated Turkey, Organic Flaxseed, Dehydrated Potatoes, Dehydrated Spinach, Dehydrated Carrots
4. Blue Buffalo — Basics Limited Ingredient Turkey & Potato Grain-Free Recipe4.7Turkey, Turkey Broth, Potatoes, Flaxseed, Pea Protein
5. Rachael Ray — Nutrish Dish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe4.7Chicken, Chicken Meal, Dried Peas, Brown Rice, Brewer’s Rice

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick


1. Blue Buffalo — Wilderness Chicken Grain-Free

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Tapioca Starch
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,599 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 34%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.) 6%, Moisture (max.) 10%

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry is on the top of my list because it is a simple recipe that appeals to most dogs. There is no fancy ingredient to enhance the taste – just good old chicken. It is a recipe based on the kind of meal dogs have been enjoying for ages. It’s a recipe based on an ancestral diet, and that is what makes it so tempting. It appeals to their natural, ancestral instincts. You can’t go wrong with that.

Besides the taste, it offers a completely balanced meal full of essential nutrients, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids, and is available in both kibble and canned forms.


2. Nulo — Adult Grain Free Salmon and Peas 

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Menhaden Fish Meal, 4. Whole Peas, 5. Sweet Potato
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,595 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 30%, Fat (min.) 16%, Fiber (max.) 4.5%, Moisture (max.) 10%

Nulo Salmon and Peas Grain-free recipe is great for a dog that is bored with the regular meat recipes like chicken and beef, etc. Fish and seafood always come as a delicious treat. And this one actually contains 80% animal-based protein sourced from salmon, turkey, menhaden, and lamb. With no egg or chicken, this formula is a great option for dogs needing a change of flavor.

And the reason I have this formula so high on my list is that it is a perfect balance of great taste and good health. It also has advanced probiotics to ensure healthy digestion and smooth transition. Overall, a great tasting dog food that takes care of all the aspects of your dog’s wellbeing.


3. The Honest Kitchen — Dehydrated Organic Grain-Free Turkey Recipe

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Dehydrated Turkey, 2. Organic Flaxseed, 3. Dehydrated Potatoes, 4. Dehydrated Spinach, 5. Dehydrated Carrots
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,290 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 29%, Fat (min.) 18%, Fiber (max.) 9.6%, Moisture (max.) 7.8%

Some dogs can show aversion to commercial dog foods because they are used to homemade food, or maybe you just treated them to homemade goodness once too often, and now they are turning their noses at their kibble.  The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Turkey Recipe is a delicious answer to your dilemma. You will find this one on almost all the best tasting dog foods for picky eaters lists. It is made from real free-range turkey and is 100% human-grade, which is another way of saying it that it contains top-quality ingredients.

What adds to the flavor is a fine blend of fruits and vegetables, including cranberries and carrots. The savory flavor can entice the fussiest of furbabies, be they pampered pups or aristocratic adults. It is free of grains, GMOs, artificial additives, and antibiotics. It is just what your dog needs, and exactly what they want. Just add water and watch your baby drool over its bowl.


4. Blue Buffalo — Basics Limited Ingredient Turkey & Potato Grain-Free Recipe

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey, 2. Turkey Broth, 3. Potatoes, 4. Flaxseed, 5. Pea Protein
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,370 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 7%, Fat (min.) 7%, Fiber (max.) 1.5%, Moisture (max.) 78%

What if you have a dog with sensitive digestion but a refined sense of taste? Your options are limited, but with Blue Buffalo Basics LID Turkey and Potato recipe, you don’t need anything else. Prepared in Turkey broth, this potato and turkey based recipe is a mouthwatering treat for sensitive and picky pooches. It is free of grain but full of nutritional goodness.

With Blue Buffalo Basics, you get a balanced meal with easy to digest, quality carbs. It is free from gluten and common allergens, including chicken, dairy, and eggs. There is just the right amount of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to support a stronger immune system and a shinier coat for your furbaby. And since it is canned food with a high percentage of moisture, it is also a great option for dogs who are just as fussy about drinking water.


5. Rachael Ray — Nutrish Dish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Dried Peas, 4. Brown Rice, 5. Brewer’s Rice
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,555 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 26%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 10%

Rachel Ray knows her dogs, and she likes to spoil them with premium meals that are tasty and healthy. If you have a picky eater in the house, all you need is her bestselling chicken & brown rice recipe. The best thing about this product is that each kibble is different. Some are bits of meat, while others are bits of vegetables. A burst of different flavors in one bite. That is what makes it so irresistible even for the pickiest pups.

Rachael Ray’s Nutrish Dish Chicken & Brown Rice contains real ingredients like slow-roasted chicken. Doesn’t that sound delicious? Imagine how tempting it would be for your little tail-wagger. It is a healthy, balanced recipe that is free of low-quality fillers corn, wheat, soy, and poultry by-products.


6. Crave — Protein from Chicken Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Chickpeas, 4. Split Peas, 5. Pork Meal
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,696 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 34%, Fat (min.) 17%, Fiber (max.) 3.5%, Moisture (max.) 10%

Aptly named, Crave is formulated to increase your dog’s cravings but healthily. It is a simple chicken first recipe that is high in animal-based proteins, just like the canines have historically preferred. The real meat from farm-raised chicken is what makes it so delicious and tempting. With the right amount of chicken and pork meal in the mix, you don’t even need any artificial additives and taste enhancers. It is the kind of tastes your dog naturally craves. And it offers a completely balanced meal every time.


7. Instinct — Nature’s Variety Original Real Chicken Grain-Free Recipe

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Tapioca
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,460 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 37%, Fat (min.) 20%, Fiber (max.) 3%, Moisture (max.) 10%

Instinct is Nature’s Variety raw food line and it is a savory option for picky pooches who prefer a BARF diet. Many dogs aren’t attracted to commercial dog foods because they naturally prefer raw. This real chicken recipe is a great way to support their appetite and improve their eating habits. It is freeze-dried dog food with a texture that most dogs can’t resist. It offers a balanced meal with healthy levels of antioxidants and probiotics to support good health. Its strong aroma is enough to tempt any dog towards the bowl.


8. Wellness — Ninety-Five Percent Chicken Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Water Sufficient for Processing, 3. Natural Flavors, 4. Cassia Gum, 5. Carrageenan
  • Caloric content (per kg): 638 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 8%, Fat (min.) 6%, Fiber (max.) 1%, Moisture (max.) 78%

One of the reasons your dog isn’t eating with enough gusto is because of the confusing mix of flavors in its bowl. Some dogs like it simple. They prefer the good old meaty delight with nothing but juicy bits of their preferred meat. That is why we have this 95% chicken recipe on our list. It is one of our favorites in general because there is nothing questionable about it. Plus, it also serves as a great kibble topper for picky eaters. Feed it on its own or put some on the kibble, this formula will make mealtimes exciting.


9. Purina Pro Plan — Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Barley, 3. Ground Rice, 4. Canola Meal, 5. Oat Meal
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,725 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 26%, Fat (min.) 16%, Fiber (max.) 1.5%, Moisture (max.) 12%

If you want your fussy friend to focus more on the food, fill the bowl with Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Formula. Food sensitivities can be one of the main reasons behind food aversion and pickiness. This salmon based grain-free recipe is formulated to be gentle on the tummy without compromising taste. It has all the nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy, happy, and active. Rich in fish oil, it is essentially an immune system booster that will improve the overall health of your precious pooch.


10. Nutro — Hearty Stew Tender Chicken, Carrot & Pea Stew

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Pork Broth, 3. Chicken Broth, 4. Chicken Liver, 5. Carrots
  • Caloric content (per kg): 879 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 9%, Fat (min.) 3%, Fiber (max.) 1%, Moisture (max.) 82%

Nutro’s Hearty Stew is for dogs who won’t settle for anything less than perfect. It is one of the best tasting dog foods for picky eaters, all thanks to the delightful stew made from pork and chicken broth. It is a protein-rich formula free of grains, fillers, and GMOs. There are by-products or additives to worry about either. All you get is premium ingredients, full of nutritions, and a gravy that will make your dog lick the bowl till the end.


11. Stella & Chewy’s — Venison Blend Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Venison, 2. Lamb, 3. Lamb Liver, 4. Venison Liver, 5. Venison Lung
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,720 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 45%, Fat (min.) 30%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 5%

Forget treats. Give your picky dog something more flavorful yet completely healthy. Stella & Chewy’s Venison Blend Dinner Patties bring a delicious recipe for dogs that are too bored with the regular food. It is freeze-dried raw food featuring novel proteins from venison and lamb. It also contains bones, which enhances the texture and make the meal more enjoyable for your dog. This one leaves no reason for your pet to turn their nose on their food.


12 . Wellness — CORE Grain-Free Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Peas, 5. Potatoes
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,640 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 34%, Fat (min.) 16%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 10%

Wellness CORE original flavor is another favorite for the fussy eaters because it has nothing but the best ingredients. Both turkey and chicken are among the common favorites. Enhanced by a blend of fruits and vegetables that add a boost of antioxidants and nutrients, each kibble is coated with probiotics to support a healthy digestive system. Plus, there are plenty of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.


13. Blue Buffalo — Freedom Adult Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Food

  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Broth, 3. Chicken Liver, 4. Carrots, 5. Peas
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,176 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 8%, Fat (min.) 6%, Fiber (max.) 1.5%, Moisture (max.) 78%

It’s tough to have a list of best dog foods without at least two from Blue Buffalo in there. Freedom is a simple yet delicious formula for sensitive tummies. It is free of common allergens but full of essential nutrients. You get quality chicken proteins along with healthy, digestible carbs. You can also use it as a kibble topper to make meals more enticing for your picky friend.

So, there you have it – a complete list of the best tasting dog foods for picky eaters. Find one that contains your dog’s preferred ingredients and try different varieties to keep things interesting for your picky pooch.


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FAQs – Best Tasting Dog Foods for Picky Eaters

Now you know my top five. One of them could be your fussy friend’s top favorite too. I have more recommendations, in case your pooch doesn’t fancy any of the ones we’ve presented so far, but before we move on to those, let’s clarify some of the most common questions regarding picky eaters:

How do I know my dog is a picky eater?

If your dog refuses to eat one dog food but would easily eat another without much fuss, it means your dog is a picky eater. Picky eaters do not have a lower appetite; they want to eat tastier food.

Will a picky dog starve itself?

A dog will never starve itself, but a picky one may go without food for around two days if not presented with its preferred food. However, you shouldn’t wait that long as it is not healthy for a dog to stay hungry for too long.

How long can a dog go without food?

A healthy dog can go without food for two days. However, refusing to eat too often can lead to a dire impact on a dog’s health in the long run. It is better to see a vet if your dog has missed two meals in a row.

Can my dog be a picky eater because of a medical condition?

There can be an underlying reason for your dog’s eating behavior. If your dog has become picky all of a sudden, it could be because of any other problem such as anxiety, toothache, or any form of intolerance.

How can I improve my dog’s appetite?

There are a few things you can try to improve your dog’s appetite: Work on a proper schedule and stick to it; make mealtime fun with an interesting food dispenser; give them a variety of food to try; indulge your dog in playtime before a meal; cut down on treats in between meals.

Why is my dog not eating its food?

There can be many reasons why your dog isn’t eating his food: Maybe it doesn’t like how the food taste; maybe it is bored with the same food in every meal; there can be a medical reason such as digestive issues or tooth or gum related problem; maybe your dog is anxious or depressed.

Why are some dogs picky eaters?

Just like some people are pickier than others when it comes to food, dogs can also have preferences. It is best to give them the kind of food they prefer. However, you should see a vet rule out the possibility of an underlying health issue.

Do dogs get bored with one food?

Yes, it is quite possible for a dog to get bored with the same kind of food, especially if you have fed them different varieties in the past. It is always a good idea to treat your dog with a different variety of wet and dry food now and then.

What can I add to dog food to enhance the taste?

Many readily available dog food toppers work as taste enhancers. Since canned food is usually more delectable, you can also use it as a kibble topper to enhance the taste of your dog’s meal.

What is a dog’s favorite ingredient?

A dog’s favorite ingredient varies from dog to dog. Most dogs prefer meat. They enjoy eating chicken more than they enjoy other meat but if they are used to other types of meat, they might not enjoy chicken as much.

Is raw dog food tastier?

Yes, many dogs find raw food tastier than processed or cooked dog food. It is closer to their ancestral diet. It is juicier, and most dogs prefer the chewy texture of raw food.

Why does my dog hate dry dog food?

It is not unusual for dogs to turn their noses up at kibble. If you fed your dog wet or semi-moist dog food when they were weaning, they are most likely to get used to the wet taste and texture.

Do dog food taste enhancers work?

Dog food taste enhancers or palatability enhancers can enhance flavor, aroma, or texture to make food for desirable for the fussy ones. Keep an eye on ingredients and avoid enhancers with too many artificial additives.

Is it okay to keep changing the dog’s food flavors?

There is nothing wrong with giving your dog some variety now and then. However, it is a good idea to add a bit of new food to the old one to avoid any negative reaction.

Can too many treats make my dog picky?

Yes, too many treats can make your dog used to the enhanced flavor of those treats. Therefore, it is never a good idea to give your dog too many treats no matter how much you enjoy watching them wag their tail in excitement.

Buyer’s Guide – Best Tasting Dog Foods for Picky Eater

If your dog is a picky eater, the first thing you need to know is your dog’s preference. It takes a few hits and misses to get it right finally.

However:

It is not entirely a matter of trial and error, not always.

There is a lot you need to know about fussy eaters and flavors that are generally more preferred by dogs. You also need to understand why your dog is so fussy. So, let’s start with that.

Why Is Your Pet So Picky About Food?

Aside from the fact that your dog happens to have a different, more refined, palate, the pickiness can be because of the following reason:

  • Digestive Issue – If your dog is unable to digest an ingredient, possibly due to intolerance or sensitivity, it will not eat any food containing that ingredient.
  • Hormonal Issues – Just like humans, dogs can go through hormonal changes that may cause aversion to certain foods.
  • Dental Issues – Dental issues are quite common in dogs, and they can be a major cause of food aversion or change in appetite.
  • Bad Memories – If there is a food that made your dog sick last time, your dog will not like any food with a similar smell.
  • Stress and Anxiety – Dogs often lose their appetite in a stressful situation. Separation anxiety will also affect their eating habits.
  • Bad Eating Habits – Irregular schedule, frequent change of flavors, and too many treats can all make your dog too picky.

What to Look for In Dog Food for Picky Eaters?

While I’ve established that every dog can have a different preference, there are a few ingredients that are generally tastier and more flavorful. So, look for more of those ingredients:

  • More Meat – Almost all dogs enjoy meat. So, if your dog doesn’t show interest in any food, in particular, it may be because of a lower amount of meat. Sometimes dog foods can contain a lot of non-meat proteins. So, look for a different product with more meat proteins.
  • Animal Fats – Some fat is essential for dogs. It also makes food taste better. Look for food with animal fat. Just make sure you know the amount of fat your dog can safely consume per meal.
  • Greens – Fruits and vegetables can also enhance the flavor of food. Dogs love greens like spinach, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts. They also like pumpkin and sweet fruits.
  • Broth – Picky dogs love wet food more than kibble. Look for food prepared in broth with savory gravy or stew for your fussy one.

What Else Can You Do to Make Your Fussy Friend Eat?

Besides changing the food to something more flavorful, here are a few more things you can do to make your dog eat its meal without the fuss.

  • Stick to the Schedule – Make a regular meal schedule and stick to eat. Do not feed your dog table scraps or treats in between meals.
  • Keep things Interesting – You can make mealtime interesting with the help of an attractive dog food dispenser.
  • Introduce Variety –  Some dogs can get bored with their food. Try different varieties to keep things interesting.
  • Be Observant –  Keep and eye for stressors that might make your dog fussier or skip meals and try to avoid situations that can cause stress.
  • Post-meal Playtime – Some activity before mealtime can enhance your dog’s appetite.

Now you know how to find the best-tasting food for picky eaters, and how to make your dog enjoy its a meal with gusto. Let’s move on to more of my top favorite dog food for fussy eaters.

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