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Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters

Mike Sagman  Julia Ogden

By

Mike Sagman
Mike Sagman

Mike Sagman

Founder

Dr Mike Sagman is the creator of the Dog Food Advisor. He founded the website in 2008, after his unquestioning trust in commercial dog food led to the tragic death of his dog Penny.

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&
Julia Ogden
Julia Ogden

Julia Ogden

Content Director

Julia is the content director at the Dog Food Advisor and responsible for the overall strategy of the website.

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Updated: May 31, 2024

Verified by Laura Ward

Laura Ward

Laura Ward

Pet Nutritionist

Laura studied BSc (Hons) Animal Science with an accreditation in Nutrition at the University of Nottingham, before working for eight years in the pet food and nutrition industry.

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Laura Ward

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On this page, The Dog Food Advisor shares the best dog foods for picky eaters. And we’ll also take an in-depth look at each of our top 10 picks.

But first…

What types of dog food are best for picky eaters?

Since dogs possess a keen sense of smell, certain types of food can be more appealing to finicky eaters.

For example…

Wet dog foods produce natural aromas and more satisfying flavor than highly processed dry kibbles.

Which makes them look and taste more like real food.

 

Fresh Wet Food vs Dry Kibble
Fresh Wet Food vs Dry Kibble (Photo credit: Nom Nom)

Why wet foods are more appealing to dogs

Compared to factory-made dry kibble pellets…

Wet foods are cooked at much lower temperatures. So, they avoid the damage done to delicate vitamins and nutrients during processing.1

Which also makes them more likely to retain their natural flavor, too.

And unlike dry kibble, which contains just 10% water…

Wet dog foods have a natural moisture content of about 75%… more like the healthy human food found in your home refrigerator.

Which also makes them more attractive to picky eaters.

And it’s also WHY you’ll find so many wet recipes on our list below.

What are the top brands for finicky dogs?

On the following list…

We’ll share The Dog Food Advisor’s best dog foods for picky eaters. And we’ll also answer the most frequently asked questions we get about feeding finicky pets.

The Dog Food Advisor - Editor's choice

Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters June 2024

Here are The Dog Food Advisor's best dog food brands for picky eaters for June 2024.

  • 1. The Farmer's Dog

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    Beef Recipe is one of 4 fresh formulas included in our review of the Farmer’s Dog fresh product line.

    This Farmer’s Dog example recipe derives the better part of its meat protein from fresh beef. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 39% protein, 29% fat and 24% estimated carbs… yielding a fat-to-protein ratio of about 73%.

    This fresh-made, human-grade dog food has been designed by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist.

    And unlike competing brands…

    The Farmer’s Dog was tested for nutritional adequacy using a method we consider superior to AAFCO’s gold standard system. The company conducted live feeding trials on real dogs of multiple breed sizes and ages… over 6-years.

    A top choice for picky eaters. Enthusiastically recommended.

    Read our review of the full The Farmer’s Dog Food (Fresh) range here

    Main Ingredients USDA beef, sweet potato, lentils, carrot, USDA beef liver
    Type Grain-free, fresh
    Protein Percentage 39
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Adults and puppies (including large breeds)

    Sample buyer review...

    "Pubby is SOOO picky and his stomach is a little sensitive. We made the switch to a fresh food diet…Pubby loves it and we do too! We’re all happy now. #imafarmersdog"

    Read more buyer reviews at TheFarmersDog.com
  • 2. Just Food For Dogs

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    JustFoodForDogs Pantry Fresh Beef and Russet Potato received the Dog Food Advisor’s rating of 4 stars.

    It is one of nine recipes in this range made by Just Food For Dogs, a company founded in 2010 by entrepreneur Shawn Buckley.

    JustFoodForDogs Pantry Fresh Beef and Russet Potato derives the bulk of its protein from beef, which is naturally rich in all 10 essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 28% protein, 28% fat and 36% carbohydrates. . . with a fat to protein ratio of 100%.

    This Pantry Fresh range is vet-recommended, fresh, human-grade food. They can be stored safely for up to two years (refrigeration is only required once opened).

    Read our review of the full Just Food For Dogs Pantry Fresh Dog Food range here

    Main Ingredients Beef, beef hearts, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes
    Texture Wet
    Type Fresh
    Protein Percentage 28.3%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult dogs only

    Sample buyer review...

    "My dog relishes whichever fresh food recipe she gets. Not a picky eater. "

  • 3. Nom Nom Fresh

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    Beef Mash is one of 4 fresh recipes rated in our review of the Nom Nom dog food product line.

    Nom Nom Beef Mash acquires the majority of its meat protein from fresh ground beef. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 35% protein, 17% fat and 40% estimated carbs… which produces a fat-to-protein ratio of about 50%.

    We also note the inclusion of manganese gluconate and 3 other chelated minerals, costly nutrients typically found only in better quality pet foods.

    An affordable fresh, human-grade option. A moist and tasty design, ideal for fussy eaters. Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Nom Nom Dog Food (Fresh) range here

    Main Ingredients Ground beef, russet potatoes, eggs, carrots, peas
    Type Grain-free, fresh
    Protein Percentage 35
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Adults and puppies (including large breeds)

    Sample buyer review...

    "Mya has suffered from colitis & IBS for many years, and she's also the pickiest with food. Since being on Nom Nom she is eating much better & has perfect poop!!!"

    Read more buyer reviews at NomNomNow.com
  • 4. The Pets Table

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    The Pets Table Air Dried Beef and Berries recipe received the Dog Food Advisor’s rating of 4 stars.

    It is one of two recipes in this range made by The Pets Table, a company founded in 2023 by Laurent Guillemain, Anisha Chandra, and Dovas Zakas.

    The Pets Table Air Dried Beef and Berries derives the bulk of its protein from beef, which is naturally rich in all 10 essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

    Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 29% protein, 39% fat and 25% carbohydrates. . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of 135%.

    This product range uses single animal protein and is cooked at lower temperatures to preserve the healthy proteins, vitamins, and antioxidants. It contains no added fillers, preservatives, or artificial flavors. 

    Please note: If your dog is susceptible to weight gain this range would not be an ideal choice due to the high FPR (fat-to-protein ratio).

    Read our review of the full The Pets Table Air-Dried Dog Food range here

    Main Ingredients Beef, eggs, carrots, dried apples, vegetable glycerin
    Type Air-dried
    Protein Percentage 29%
    AAFCO Standards All life stages
    Best For All dogs

    Sample buyer review...

    "Introducing my pup to their food has been an absolute game-changer. She tends to be picky, but their mixed plan of fresh and air-dried food has completely won over her heart. Mealtime has become an exciting time and she actually begs for more and licks her bowl clean every single time! Bonus points for the instructions it came with to get my dog's stomach used to her new food."

    Read more buyer reviews at The Pets Table
  • 5. Ollie Fresh Dog Food

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    Chicken with carrots is one of 4 fresh recipes covered in our review of the Ollie fresh dog food product line.

    This Ollie formula derives the bulk of its meat protein from fresh chicken. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 18% fat and 38% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 50%.

    A veterinarian-designed meal that’s optimized for your dog’s age, weight, breed size and activity level. Made with 100% human-grade ingredients.

    An exceptional fresh canine diet. Recommended with confidence.

    Read our review of the full Ollie Dog Food (Fresh) range here

    Main Ingredients Chicken, carrots, peas, rice, chicken liver
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 36
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Adults and puppies (including large breeds)

    Sample buyer review...

    "I may have the pickiest dog when it comes to her food. I have tried several brands of food but resolved to cooking ground chicken and sweet potatoes to add to Mocha's kibble. I ordered Ollie's fresh chicken food and Mocha loves it!!! I like the cute mixing dish and scoop too."

    Read more buyer reviews at MyOllie.com
  • 6. Raised Right Fresh Human-Grade Dog Food

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    Raised Right Beef is one of 11 fresh recipes included in our review of the Raised Right product line.

    Raised Right Beef derives the lions share of its animal protein from fresh beef. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 61% protein, 24% fat and 8% estimated carbs… delivering a fat-to-protein ratio of about 39%.

    This brand’s overall protein content of 61% as well as its low fat-to-protein ratio combine to confirm the food contains an abundance of high quality, low-fat meat.

    One of the best fresh, human-grade dog foods on the market. Unusually wide recipe selection can be a major plus… especially for picky eaters. Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Raised Right Dog Food (Fresh) range here

    Main Ingredients Beef, beef heart, carrots, beef liver, cranberries
    Type Grain-free, fresh
    Protein Percentage 61
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult dogs only

    Sample buyer review...

    "My dog has always been a finicky eater. She sniffs new foods and walks away if they are not agreeable to her sense of smell. She would go through her food bowl and toss out anything she didn’t like. She loves Raised Right and even eats the vegetables. In fact, she licks her bowl clean after every meal."

    Read more buyer reviews at RaisedRight.com
  • 7. Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Recipe

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    Teeny Texas Steak Tips is one of 8 wet recipes analyzed in our review of the Merrick Lil’ Plates small breed product line.

    This Merrick Lil’ Plates formula draws most of its animal protein from fresh beef. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 44% protein, 17% fat and 31% estimated carbs… yielding a fat-to-protein ratio of about 38%.

    A fully-balanced wet food containing above-average levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The design also includes glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy skin and joints.

    A nutritious design containing both prebiotics and probiotics to aid in digestion.

    A top pick for smaller, picky breeds. Enthusiastically recommended.

    Read our review of the full Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Dog Food (Cups) range here

    Main Ingredients Beef, beef broth, venison broth, beef liver, dried egg whites
    Texture Wet
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 44
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult dogs only

    Sample buyer review...

    "Our dogs are 15 yrs old. One has had several teeth pulled so some foods are hard for her to eat. They other is just plain picky. They both love this!"

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 8. Canidae All Life Stages Wet Formula

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    Chicken and Rice Formula is one of 4 wet recipes evaluated in our review of the Canidae canned dog food product line.

    This Canidae All Life Stages formula gets most of its animal protein from fresh chicken. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 41% protein, 30% fat and 22% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 72%.

    A super-popular, tasty, fully-balanced grain-inclusive wet dog food that’s ideal for both picky puppies and adults. Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Canidae All Life Stages Dog Food (Canned) range here

    Main Ingredients Chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, dried egg product, brown rice
    Texture Wet
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 41
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Adults and puppies (including large breed puppies)

    Sample buyer review...

    "My 12 pound terrier mix is very finicky and also has a sensitive stomach. She enjoys the taste of this and it keeps her regular so I give it 5 stars. Definitely recommend."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 9. Blue Buffalo Life Protection

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    Adult Chicken and Brown Rice is one of 21 dry recipes included in our review of the Blue Buffalo Life Protection product line.

    This particular Blue Buffalo Life Protection formula receives the major part of its animal protein from fresh deboned chicken. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 27% protein, 16% fat and 50% estimated carbs… delivering a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.

    Contains an optimal balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support a shiny coat and healthy skin.

    In addition, we also note the inclusion of zinc amino acid chelate and 3 other organic minerals, costly nutrients typically found only in better quality pet foods.

    An affordable, fully balanced option. Ideal for finicky eaters. Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Blue Buffalo Dog Food range here

    Main Ingredients Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 27
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult dogs only

    Sample buyer review...

    "Our dog has used the puppy version of this food since he was a few months old. He was instantly interested in/excited about the adult version when we transitioned to it. Very pleased!"

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 10. Orijen

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    Orijen Original is one of 9 dry recipes contained in our review of the Orijen product line.

    This Orijen dry formula draws the lion’s share of its animal protein from fresh chicken, turkey, flounder and whole mackerel. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 43% protein, 20% fat and 28% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.

    Champion Petfoods, the respected maker of Orijen, has always advocated for a meat-based, “biologically appropriate” diet. A healthy, fully-balanced design makes this high protein recipe a superior option for picky eaters.

    Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Orijen Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Chicken, turkey, flounder, whole mackerel, chicken liver
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 43
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Adults and puppies (including large breeds)

    Sample buyer review...

    "My dog is a picky eater who has been very bored with her previous dry food. She eats this Orijen food as soon as I place the bowl down. The premium ingredients make me feel like I have made the correct food choice for my fur baby."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 11. Wellness Complete Health

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    Small Breed Turkey is one of 13 dry recipes analyzed in our review of the Wellness Complete Health product line.

    Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Turkey gets the major part of its animal protein from deboned turkey. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 31% protein, 17% fat and 44% estimated carbs… delivering a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.

    We’re pleased find the inclusion of zinc proteinate along with 3 other chelated minerals, nutrients typically found only in better quality pet foods.

    A fully balanced, grain-inclusive option that’s ideal for those pet parents who prefer to feed dry kibbles. Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Wellness Complete Health Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Deboned turkey, chicken meal, salmon meal, oatmeal, ground brown rice
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 31
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult dogs only

    Sample buyer review...

    "I have owned many dogs and my 2 now are the first picky eaters i have ever had. After trying about half a dozen foods they love this one. Their coats look great and their weight is perfect. It also has joint supplements and stomach probiotics. Highly recommend."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I switch to a new food without making my dog sick?

In this video

Dr. Gary Richter shares a simple feeding tip that can help lower your dog’s risk of getting sick whenever you switch to a new food.

It’s best to switch your dog to a new food gradually.

Start by mixing 20% “new” with 80% “old” food. Then, slowly increase that amount to a full 100%… over the next 8 to 9 days.

Schedule Old Food New Food
Days 1 and 2 80% 20%
Days 3 and 4 60% 40%
Days 5 and 6 40% 60%
Days 7 and 8 20% 80%
Day 9 0% 100%

How can I use a dog food topper to entice my picky eater?

Toppers and mixers are special foods that are made to improve the taste of dry kibble for picky eaters.

The following helpful video is produced by Chewy to show you how to use these special products to entice your dog to eat.

View popular toppers and mixers at Chewy.com

What's the best type of wet food to use as a topper?

Wet dog food comes in two popular textures. Chunky and fine-chopped (pate). Since most fussy eaters prefer the wet food, they’re likely to pick through the kibble so they can eat only the wet food.

So…

It’s better to choose a wet recipe that has a fine-chopped texture. That’s because doing so will make it more difficult for your dog to pick the wet food out from the dry food pellets.

You can view The Dog Food Advisor’s best wet dog foods here. And you can view the best fresh dog foods here.

What's the best way to feed a picky eater?

When feeding a finicky dog, it’s best to limit the time the food remains available.

So, start by serving your dog’s regular food at the usual time.

If your pet hasn’t eaten anything within 30 minutes, take the food away. Then, try again a few hours later. This helps your dog learn the habit of eating the food when you offer it.

Final word

The Dog Food Advisor does not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.

However, we do receive a referral fee from online retailers (like Chewy or Amazon) and from sellers of perishable pet food when readers click over to their websites from ours. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.

For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.

Sources

1: Tran QD and others, Effects of extrusion processing on nutrients in dry pet food, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 88:1487–1493 (2008)

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