14 Best Tasting Dog Foods for Picky Eaters

By Kevin Myers | 2023 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

This updated guide lists all of the best-tasting dog foods this year.

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.

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 recommendations:

The Best Tasting Dog Foods for Picky Eaters

Top PicksRatingsTop 5 Ingredients
1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Grain-Free Dog Food
(Best For Adults)
4.8Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch
2. Merrick Backcountry Raw Grain-Free Puppy Food
(Best For Puppies)
4.8Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Peas
3. Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Senior Canned Food
(Best For Seniors)
4.7Turkey, Turkey Broth, Potatoes, Flaxseed, Pumpkin
4. Nutro Hearty Stew Tender Grain-Free Canned Food
(Best Wet Meal)
4.6Chicken, Pork Broth, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Carrots
5. Stella & Chewy’s Super Beef Raw Dog Food Topper
(Best Topper)
4.7Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Heart, Organic Cranberries, Organic Squash

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick


Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Grain-Free Dog Food

Top Pick for Adults

Rating:

Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,599 kcal
  • Form: Dry

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.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 34%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.) 6%, Moisture (max.) 10%


Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Recipe Grain-Free Puppy Food

Top Pick for Puppies

Rating:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Potatoes, 5. Peas

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,635 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Make your puppy go crazy over their meals with the delicious Merrick Backcountry Puppy Recipe. The food has two types of kibbles; a raw-coated bite and freeze-dried pieces of meat. Both of them taste heavenly and are full of protein to encourage muscle growth in your puppy.

Besides that, the formula contains omega fatty acids to make your pup’s coat shiny and healthy. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin to build cartilage and avoid joint diseases later in life. Merrick Backcountry is also completely grain-free and has zero corn, wheat, soy, or artificial additives, making it an optimal choice for sensitive puppies.

Analysis: Protein min. 30% | Fat min. 14%, | Fiber max. 3.5% | Moisture max. 11%


Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Grain-Free Senior Canned Food

Top Pick for Senior Dogs

Rating:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Turkey, 2. Turkey Broth, 3. Potatoes, 4. Flaxseed, 5.Pumpkin

  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,380 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 7%, Fat (min.) 6%, Fiber (max.) 1.5%, Moisture (max.) 78%
  • Form: Dry

Treat your senior pup to a scrumptious meal that’s also gentle on their stomach with Blue Buffalo Basics Turkey & Potato Canned Food. The recipe mainly consists of two ingredients — turkey and potatoes — to build muscle and increase your dog’s energy levels without causing any digestive problems.

It’s also fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin to prevent joint diseases and keep your dog active in their golden years. Being a limited ingredient diet, Blue Buffalo is completely free from by-product meals, dairy, corn, wheat, soy, and artificial additives — making it an optimal choice for sensitive or allergic senior pups. Still, it retains a mouth-watering taste, thanks to the delicious turkey broth that comes in each can.


Nutro Hearty Stew Tender Chicken & Pea Stew Grain-Free Canned Food

Best Wet Meal

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Pork Broth, 3. Chicken Broth, 4. Chicken Liver, 5. Carrots

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 879 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 9%, Fat (min.) 3%, Fiber (max.) 1%, Moisture (max.) 82%
  • Form: Wet

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.


Nom Nom Fresh Food

Best Fresh Meal

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Ground turkey, 2. brown rice, 3. eggs, 4. carrots, 5. spinach

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,479 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 10%, Fat (min.) 5%, Fiber (max.) 1%, Moisture (max.) 72%
  • Form: Fresh

If there’s one thing no picky dogs can resist, its Nom Nom Now Dog Food. Unlike dry kibbles, Nom Nom prepares ready-to-serve fresh food meals for dogs that are delivered to your doorstep. You can choose from four recipes; chicken, beef, turkey, and pork. Each one contains wholesome ingredients like fresh meat, squash, potatoes, peas, and carrots.

All of this makes the fresh meals taste and smell ten times better than any dry kibble food. Nom Nom also customizes each order according to your dog’s physical attributes so they can become their most active, healthiest, and happiest version. Although the subscription costs more than dry kibbles, the long-term benefits of fresh food for canines outweigh the price by a good margin.


Stella & Chewy’s Venison Blend Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

Best Raw Meal

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Venison, 2. Lamb, 3. Lamb Liver, 4. Venison Liver, 5. Venison Lung

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,720 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 45%, Fat (min.) 30%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 5%
  • Form: Freeze-Dried

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.


Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey Dog Food

Best Premium Pick

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Peas, 5. Potatoes

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,698 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 34% | Fat (min.) 16% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

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.


Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dog Food

Best Budget Pick

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Ocean Fish Meal

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,592 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 34% | Fat (min.) 15% | Fiber (max.) 6% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Just reading the ingredient list of Taste of the Wild’s High Prairie Dog Food can give you an idea of how delicious the dog food would taste. Buffalo, Roasted Bison, Roasted Venison, Sweet Potatoes, Blueberries, and Raspberries are just a few of those novel ingredients that make the High Prairie one of the most highly palatable dog foods on the market.

With the help of these ingredients, Taste of the Wild provides a complete and holistic diet for dogs of all breeds. The dog food is designed after a canine’s instinctual diet in its rawest form, so it eliminates all sorts of grains, wheat, fillers, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from the recipe.


Instinct Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Raw Coated Dog Food

Best for Weight Gain

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Tapioca

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,406 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 37% | Fat (min.) 20% | Fiber (max.) 3% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

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.


Stella & Chewy’s Super Beef Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food Topper

Best Topper

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Beef, 2. Beef Liver, 3. Beef Heart, 4. Organic Cranberries, 5. Organic Squash

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,940 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 44%, Fat (min.) 35%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 5%
  • Form: Freeze-Dried

If you’ve purchased a huge bag of dog food that makes your pooch gag just by looking at it, add Stella & Chewy’s Super Beef Meal Mixer and watch as they chow down that same dog food in minutes. The Super Beef Mixer is made exclusively from real grass-fed beef meat and organs, as well as a combination of 100% real organic fruits and vegetables.

The resulting mix is a topper + dog food with an irresistible aroma and meaty texture that can tempt even the most stubborn eaters. You can choose to mix it with your regular dog food or serve it on its own. The topper also offers a mix of probiotics and antioxidants that improve your dog’s digestive health and aid in organ functioning.


Crave High Protein Chicken Grain-Free Dog Food

Best High Protein Meal

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Split Peas, 3. Lentils, 4. Pork Meal, 5. Chicken Fat

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,795 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein min. 34% | Fat min. 17%, | Fiber max. 4% | Moisture max. 10%
  • Form: Dry

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.


Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Dog Food

Top Pick for Sensitive Stomach

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Barley, 3. Rice, 4. Oat Meal, 5. Fish Meal

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,049 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 26%, Fat (min.) 16%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 12%
  • Form: Dry

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.


Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Grain-Free Salmon Dog Food

Top Pick for Allergies & Skin Issues

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Salmon Meal, 3. Chickpeas, 4. Chickpea Flour, 5. Canola Oil

  • Life Stage: Puppy and Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,712 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 30%, Fat (min.) 18%, Fiber (max.) 5.5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Free your picky dog from allergies and skin problems with Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Salmon Dog Food. It’s made up of 30% protein and uses ingredients like deboned salmon, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes — an ideal combination for building muscle and promoting digestive health.

Moreover, the recipe is fortified with GanedenBC30 probiotics to strengthen your dog’s gut and omega fatty acids to improve their coat health. Delicious salmon meat gives the food a lip-smacking taste that can tempt the pickiest eaters. Nulo has also completely removed grains, poultry, peas, corn, wheat, soy, and artificial additives from the food to minimize the risk of allergies.


Purina Pro Plan High Protein Shredded Chicken & Rice Dog Food

Best for Active Dogs

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Rice, 3. Whole Grain Wheat, 4. Soybean Meal, 5. Beef Fat

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,038 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 26% | Fat (min.) 16% | Fiber (max.) 3% | Moisture (max.) 12%
  • Form: Dry

Fuel your athletic pup with a delicious bowl of kibbles and shredded chicken with Purina Pro Plan High Protein Dog Food. The recipe has 387 calories per cup and 26% crude protein – an excellent combo to fuel the most energetic dogs while nourishing their muscles. It’s also rich in carbs like rice and wheat to give your athletic pup an extra boost of energy.

Moreover, the food contains shredded pieces of chicken that can make the pickiest dogs drool over their bowls. Purina also enriches the formula with omega-6 fatty acids to keep your dog’s coat in top-notch condition and live probiotics to promote gut bacteria. Plus, a combination of vitamins and minerals ensures that your dog stays sharp, nourished, and fulfilled with each meal.


Related Guides:

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 meal with gusto.

References and Resources:

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