The Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters

Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS
By Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS
Updated: 5/14/20242-4 minutes
Dog Food for Picky Eaters

If your dog is a picky eater, don’t worry. It happens. Some dogs are all too eager to scarf down any food they see (and the occasional non-food item), but others have more selective tastes.  

While dogs who are choosy about what they eat can make things a bit trickier for their owners, finding the right food for picky dogs shouldn’t be too hard if you know the right tricks. There’s no best food for picky dogs, but there might be one that your specific dog favors above the rest.  

Failing that, there are plenty of techniques to get your picky dog to start eating their full meals. Here are some ideas. 

How to Get Your Picky Eater Excited About Mealtimes

Your dog may not jump for joy every time you fill their bowl with dog food, and that’s okay. But there are ways to gain their enthusiasm when it comes to mealtime. Here are a few tips.  

Introduce Dog Food Toppers

If your dog turns their nose up at dry dog food, you may not have to switch to wet food. Instead, see if a kibble topper entices them.  

Kibble toppers, also called complements or meal mixers, come in many forms including soups and broths that you can add to your dog's dry food. There is a wide variety of choices when it comes to kibble toppers. In addition to variety in forms, complements and toppers come in different flavors and some even offer health benefits, like pumpkin for digestive support and chicken bone broth for immune support. 

Meal toppers may interest your dog by adding an intriguing flavor to the mix or changing the texture to one they find more favorable.  

Switch Dog Food Consistencies

In the same vein as using a dry kibble topper, you could also try switching from dry food to wet dog food or vice versa. Your dog might find the change in texture appealing, and it could be enough to fire up their appetite. You might even try heating their wet dog food to enhance the smell and make it even more appetizing.  

Try Rotational Feeding

While many dogs are perfectly happy to chow down on the same dog food for every meal, others can grow dissatisfied by the lack of variety. If your dog is picky about their pet food, it may mean you need to switch it up. 

Rotational feeding is a way to feed your dog alternating food options for every meal. In the morning, an owner may feed a dry dog food with beef as the main ingredient, then for dinner a wet dog food with chicken as the main ingredient of the same brand line. 

Keep in mind that some dogs don’t adjust well to sudden changes in diet and may experience digestive problems. If that’s the case, rotational feeding is probably not right for them. This method also requires more diligence in terms of keeping track of calories, since feeding recommendations can vary between dry and wet foods and even two different formulas. 

Wait Until Your Dog is Hungry to Feed Them

Some dog owners keep their dog’s bowls filled or at least partially filled at all times. This allows their dog to snack and graze throughout the day. While this feeding regimen works for many dogs, it doesn’t work for everyone.  

Plus, it’s harder to assess how much they’re truly eating this way. If this is how you usually feed your dog and they don’t appear to be eating much, you may want to switch to designated mealtimes. 

Designated mealtimes allow your dog to anticipate when they will be fed, which may solve the problem. The anticipation of food may get them excited about eating, resulting in them eating all their meals.  

If your dog still hasn’t eaten their meal after 20 minutes or so, take it away and present the same meal to them during their next feeding time. This will send the message that they need to eat all their food now or be hungry later.  

Increase Your Dog’s Exercise

If your dog doesn’t seem interested in eating, they may not be hungry enough, which could mean that they need more exercise. Taking your dog out for a rigorous game of fetch, letting them visit the local dog park, or treating them to a long walk can help build up their appetite and get them to chow down on their dinner when it’s served.  

Don’t Feed Your Dog Table Scraps

If your dog begs for table scraps and you indulge them, they may turn their nose up at their usual food. Depending on how much you give them, they might not have much of an appetite for their own meal. This can happen if you overfeed dog treats, too.  

They may also hold out for some tasty people food, causing them to neglect the food in their dog dish. Feeding your dog from the table, though tempting, should be something you avoid.  

Talk to Your Veterinarian

If your dog suddenly stops eating or seems to have completely lost their appetite, you need to call your veterinarian right away. While some dogs are picky eaters, a sudden refusal to eat can indicate a health issue you need to address.  

If you’re even mildly concerned something may be wrong, your veterinarian can help you find the source of the problem.  

Find out more about what to feed your dog by visiting our Pet Expertise page and hearing from our pet experts

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