Finding the right dog food for picky eaters is challenging, right? I know this first hand, because my Boxer mix Buzz would politely decline his meals if they weren’t to his tasting. Interestingly enough, his sister Missy cares less about what makes it into her bowl, although she’s from the same exact litter.
Did you notice that I used the past tense when I described Buzz’s behavior? That’s because he no longer walks away from his meals. As a matter of fact, he LOVES his new diet and doesn’t stop eating until his bowl is empty!
Back in our kibble feeding days, he’d take a quick sniff at his bowl, look at me, and then walk away. No more!
It took me a little while to figure out that there actually wasn’t anything wrong with him.
Why are some dogs picky eaters?
Buzz was just bored with his diet and needed variety at mealtime.
After all, dogs aren’t designed to eat the same food every single day. They crave variety and actually need the different nutrients from different protein sources.
That being said, the first step you can try to take is to offer your picky eater different flavors within the same dog food brand, rotate between different brands altogether, and/or offer a mix of dry and canned dog food.
Makes sense if you ask me – I wouldn’t want to eat the same food every day either. But that’s besides the point.
I do know that there are quite a few dogs out there who are more like Missy. You know, the ones who could eat the same dog food day in and day out for several years. Without ever walking away from their bowl until all of its content would have been inhaled.
Most dogs I’ve seen behave like that are Labs or Lab mixes and Beagles. And trust me, I took care of many when I worked as a professional dog walker and pet sitter.
But I’ve also seen the exact opposite. Dogs who were fed their kibble breakfast in the morning and who hadn’t finished it when I came for their midday walk. They’d sometimes STILL have some or all of it left come dinner time.
The typical candidates were smaller dogs like Yorkies, Shih-Tzus, and Pekingese pups, but I also took care of larger dogs like Huskies and German Shepherds who weren’t crazy about their dog food.
Dog food for picky eaters: I found the right food for my picky eater
Ever since I made the switch to a homemade, and then raw, diet, my picky eater Buzz has been excited about every single meal that has made its way into his bowl!
Him and Missy both love their raw dog food!
But not to worry, you probably don’t need to make as big of a transition quite yet! There are a few easy ways of topping your pup’s meals off to make them interesting again.
What you need to make a homemade food topper for your picky eater
The answer is fresh, puréed produce like:
- Sweet potatoes
They’re all great sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Antioxidants have anti-inflammatory qualities, and as such help prevent cancer, fight the effects of aging as well as infections. Sweet potatoes & carrots also help support the digestive system because of the fiber they contain.
Less is actually more here because dogs are mainly carnivores (animals who eat other animals, i.e. meat), and would only find a small amount of digested plant matter in their prey’s stomach out in the wild.
Because of this, I only add about 5-10% of puréed produce to their overall food allowance per meal.
Other veggies you could add are:
- Brussels sprouts, and
- Shiitake mushrooms
Their carb content is low and great when you’re feeding a Keto diet to a doggie cancer patient.
You can also rotate the veggies and fruit you add to your pups’ meals to keep them guessing even more – so you could add some puréed carrot one week, then try puréed celery the next, puréed broccoli the one after that, and so on.
Fast forward to minute 19 of this interview with Pet Nutrition Blogger & Dog Naturally Contributor Rodney Habib to learn that 90% of bladder cancer can be avoided just by adding a little fresh produce to your pups’ kibble 3-4 times per week! Isn’t it crazy how incredibly effective small changes can be?!
Purée the produce for optimal absorption
It’s important to purée the fruits & veggies you intend to feed your dog. The reason for this is that dogs don’t have the enzymes necessary to break down plant cell walls, i.e. digest whole fruits & veggies.
I experienced this firsthand when I used to feed Missy & Buzz peeled carrots as a healthy snack, and they both loved the taste, as well as the crunch factor, but the carrot pieces were always clearly visible in their #2 business…
So now I chop up the veggies & fruit, and then transfer them over to the food processor. You can also use a juicer or blender. Some veggies like sweet potatoes need to be cooked before puréeing them.
Puréed produce is great for weight control in dogs
Even if your dog is more like Missy and not a picky eater such as Buzz, puréed veggies & fruit can be used to supplement some of his regular food if he needs to loose some weight.
Just consider it a filler with much less calories and fat!
Complete quality control
Since you’re the one buying the veggies & fruit, you know exactly what you’re adding to your pup’s meals.
I recommend buying organic produce since it won’t have been treated with growth hormones and pesticides, eliminating the chemicals that make it into our dogs’ bodies.
Small batches for guaranteed freshness
I never make a huge batch of puréed produce because its antioxidant benefits are most prominent when it’s fresh, and because the pups don’t need a whole lot of it, as explained earlier.
Other dog food topper ideas for picky eaters
There is just no denying that fresh veggies & fruit have a yummy fragrance about them, and bring variety to any dog’s diet.
However, I’ll be honest and say that puréeing my own produce is not a daily thing in my kitchen.
I do it when I have the time and energy, but that’s just not always the case because, you know, life! That being said, sometimes I buy pre-made veggies and/or fruit purée from Green Juju or Primal’s Healthy Green Smoothie Edible Elixir.
Here are a few other food topper ideas to get your picky dog to dig in again:
- Canned sardines in water or olive oil
- Green tripe treats from Raw Paws Pet Food. Use promo code K9Savings for 15% off.
- Bone broth, homemade or store-bought
- Raw goat milk from Raw Feeding Miami. Use this link for 15% off if you’re into saving.
Do you have any other ideas as far as dog food for picky eaters is concerned? If you do, please leave them in the comment section below this article for other readers!