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The Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters

Best Dog Foods for Picky Eaters

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.


Editors Choice Logo for Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters page

Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters
November 2022

Here are The Advisor’s best dog food brands for picky eaters for November 2022.


The Farmers Dog Beef Recipe

The Farmer’s Dog

Rating:

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

  • First 5 ingredients: USDA beef, sweet potato, lentils, carrot, USDA beef liver
  • Type: Grain-free (sweet potato, lentils, carrot)
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: Adults and puppies (including large breeds)

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.

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

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Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food for picky eaters

Nom Nom Fresh

Rating:

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

  • First 5 ingredients: Ground beef, russet potatoes, eggs, carrots, peas
  • Type: Grain-free (eggs, carrots, peas)
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: Adults and puppies (including large breeds)

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.

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

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Ollie Fresh Dog Food Chicken Recipe

Ollie Fresh Dog Food

Rating:

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

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, carrots, peas, rice, chicken liver
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (rice)
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: Adults and puppies (including large breeds)

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.

For More Choices:  See our Best Fresh Dog Foods page

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

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Raised Right Fresh Human-Grade dog food for picky eaters

Raised Right Fresh Human-Grade Dog Food

Rating:

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

  • First 5 ingredients: Beef, beef heart, carrots, beef liver, cranberries
  • Type: Grain-free (carrots, cranberries)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult dogs only

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.

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 RaisedRightPets.com

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Merrick Lil Plates Small Breed Wet Food for Picky Eaters

Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Recipe

Rating:

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

  • First 5 ingredients: Beef, beef broth, venison broth, beef liver, dried egg whites
  • Type: Grain-free (dried egg whites, dried ground peas)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult dogs only

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.

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

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Canidae All Life Stages Wet Adult and Puppy Food

Canidae All Life Stages Wet Formula

Rating:

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

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, dried egg product, brown rice
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice, barley)
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: Adults and puppies (including large breed puppies)

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.

For More Choices:  See our Best Wet Dog Foods page

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

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Merrick Backcountry Great Plains Red Raw Coated Kibble

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Dog Food

Rating:

Great Plains Red is one of 7 dry recipes studied in our review of the Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned beef, lamb meal, salmon meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes
  • Type: Grain-free (sweet potatoes, potatoes)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult dogs only

This Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused formula obtains the better part of its animal protein from fresh, deboned beef, lamb meal, and salmon meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 43% protein, 19% fat and 30% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 45%.

Made with both freeze-dried, raw-coated kibble and pieces of real, freeze-dried raw meat. A combination that creates a super-tasty blend that’s appealing to fussy eaters. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “My Great Pyrenees mix is a finicky eater. He is not food driven (tho he loves snacks) and would only eat about one cup of food per day (he’s 80 lbs.). He LOVES this new kibble, especially the big chunks. He now eats twice a day and cleans his bowl. This is pricey food (largest bag is only 20 lbs), but if my boy likes it, he shall have it.”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken and Brown Rice Adult Recipe

Blue Buffalo Life Protection

Rating:

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

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice, barley, oatmeal)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult dogs only

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.

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

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Orijen Original Grain Free Dry Dog Food for picky eaters

Orijen Dog Food

Rating:

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

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, turkey, flounder, whole mackerel, chicken liver
  • Type: Grain-free (eggs)
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: Adults and puppies (including large breeds)

This Orijen dry formula draws the lions 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.

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 fr my fur baby.”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

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Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Recipe

Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food

Rating:

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

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned turkey, chicken meal, salmon meal, oatmeal, ground brown rice
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (oatmeal, ground brown rice)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult dogs only

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.

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 wt is perfect. It also has joint supplements and stomach probiotics. Highly recommend”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

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More Top Picks for Picky Eaters

To view more top recipes for your picky eater… click the link below that best meets your feeding preference.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we get about feeding picky eaters:


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.


A Final Word

The Dog Food Advisor is privately owned. We do 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.

Important FDA Alert

The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.

References

  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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