dog staring at a dog food on a bowl

How to Make Dog Food Taste Better

A lot of the time, it’s not that the dog food doesn’t taste good, but it’s your dog’s preference. There are many types of dog food out there you can choose to feed your pooch such as dry dog food, also referred to ask kibble, wet food or canned dog food, raw and fresh food. You can easily switch to a different kind of food, but sometimes that doesn’t work.

There are ways to make dog food more inviting to your dog while also supplementing its health. Let’s take a look at how.

Why is My Dog Picky?

picky dog with food bowl behind
Photo by Berkay Gumustekin on Unsplash

A picky eater may simply stem from your dog’s preference, but there could be other problems as well. On rare occasions, picky eating is veiling something more serious, such as a health issue. Let’s take a look at why some dogs are picky to determine if you should add something to the dry food or schedule a vet visit.

They just don’t like it

Depictions of dogs in the media may give you the misconception that dogs are highly food motivated. While this may be true for many, not all dogs love food. Just because your dog isn’t wolfing down his dry kibble, it doesn’t mean he dislikes it. He may just take his time.

If he is leaving it untouched, then it could really be the taste, but it’s more important to rule out a health issue. Vets always ask about your dog’s energy level and appetite to be sure if the cause is health-related.

They are sick or anxious

Just like you, if your dog is sick or feeling anxious or scared, he will likely not want to touch his dry food. Is something happening outside that is setting off your dog’s anxiety? Fireworks, storms, and loud sounds can put many dogs on edge.

Has there been a change in your dog’s routine or in the immediate environment? Significant changes will also throw off your dog, causing him to lose his appetite until he gets used to his new surroundings or routine. Other emotional causes of picky eating could be boredom and loneliness as well.

Health and age

As we mentioned, your dog could lose interest in wet or dry food if he is feeling unwell. But another cause could be age. This is something you shouldn’t be alarmed about as your dog’s activity levels decrease with age, so will his appetite. This is natural and nothing to be concerned about. But if the lack of appetite is accompanied by lethargy and a general loss of interest in playing, then schedule a vet visit as soon as possible.

Your dog is already full

Your dog is not going to be interested in his everyday dry food if you feed him a lot of table scraps and treats. Knowing he’s going to get tasty morsels of human food will prevent your dog from wanting to eat his dry kibble. After all, he needs to save room for the delicious snacks. Instead of making the dog food more appealing, we would suggest not feeding human scraps and cutting down on the treats.

He isn’t hungry yet

Dogs operate on a schedule, so if you feed them ahead of time, they may not be hungry yet. We understand that sometimes circumstances outside of our control will cause us to stray from the routine, but if that’s the case, don’t be surprised if your dog isn’t interested in his food.

How Can I Make Dog Food More Appealing?

appealingcChicken liver food on a bowl
Image by arinaja from Pixabay

Unless you’re cooking fresh dog food on a specifically-formulated recipe to meet your dog’s nutritional needs, then there isn’t much you can do to influence what pet food companies create. Don’t worry, because you’re definitely not alone. There is an overwhelming number of other dog parents who also have picky eaters on their hands, but what can we all do to get our dogs interested in their food?

Best Way to Deal with Dogs that Are Picky Eaters

picky eater dog eating earthborn holistic food before recall
Photo by 龙 赵 on Unsplash

Here is an interesting fact that could change how you deal with picky pooches – dogs taste with their noses. Canines explore the world with their noses and their tongues, and they determine whether they like or dislike dry food or wet food in the same way.

Dogs have around 1,700 taste buds compared to our 9000, so they don’t get to enjoy potent flavors the way we can. Instead, it’s the smell and the texture of your dog’s food that gets his attention. Poor quality commercial dog food may add artificial ingredients to make the dry food and wet food smell better, but it will add nothing in terms of nutrition. In fact, consuming too much artificial palatable can have negative effects.

Knowing this, the best way to deal with dogs that are picky eaters is to do something to make the food smell better or add texture to surprise your dog.

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As we said before, you can mix the different types of dog food together, and sometimes that will do the trick. For example, you can try adding some canned dog food as a mixer in with the dry food or topping it off with some raw bits. Before introducing anything raw (that’s not freeze-dried) into your dog’s diet, we would consult with a vet first just to make sure your dog can handle it.

Like anything new you introduce to your dog, you should do it in small quantities. In our experience, fresh food is the most enticing to dogs. Fresh food means food cooked with human-grade ingredients that you can purchase at the supermarket and used in recipes crafted to meet your dog’s nutritional needs. There are services that do this in a subscription format, such as Farmer’s Dog Food, or you can elect to do it yourself.

If you have the time, cooking for your dog can be enjoyable. We will say that it does take up a significant amount of the day and you have to know exactly what your dog needs according to his weight, age, activity level, and preference. You can cut out all the hard work by opting for a fresh dog food service.

You have the option of adding some fresh food as a topper or completely switching to fresh foods as a meal. If all of this sounds like too much work, then just go for the service. They will make sure your dog has a balanced diet judging by the information you input.

Quick & Easy Food Boosters You Can Add to Your Dog’s Meals

nutritious food boosters that can be added to dogs meals
Image by tookapic, silviarita, and Ирина Александрова from Pixabay

If you decide to DIY your dog’s diet to make it more appealing, below are some yummy food boosters you can supplement dry dog food with that will get your dog’s taste buds dancing. On top of that, they each have health benefits as well, so you can pick and choose what to add to support your dog’s health.

Fresh vegetables & fruits

Fresh is always best, as it is food that has undergone the least amount of processing. Extra veggies and fruits are always beneficial to your dog’s diet, but it’s important to pick the right ones. Your dog may not be able to stomach everything and not all items are good for dogs. The addition of fruits and veggies can add minerals, vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and more.

The veggies and fruits will also add a different texture to your dog’s dry food, which will keep him interested. If your dog isn’t a fan of bite-sized chunks, you can consider pureeing the selected ingredients into a paste.

Phytonutrients are excellent for cancer prevention, and they are anti a lot of things such as anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and anti-bacterial.

Goat milk

goat milk
Photo by Nikolai Chernichenko on Unsplash

Some dogs are lactose intolerant, so before you try adding any kind of milk to your dog’s food, we would suggest making sure that it won’t give him an upset stomach. Goat milk is a better choice than cow milk because it’s much easier on your dog’s digestive system. Some people who are lactose intolerant can still stomach goat milk.

Goat milk will give your dog a taste of something new and it also contains high levels of probiotics to help with digestion.

Bone broth

Bone broth is recommended by a lot of canine experts. Any kind of liquid like bone broth and goat milk as well will add moisture to your dog’s food, which is an excellent choice for fur babies who don’t regularly get enough water.

Dogs on dry dog food, have freeze-dried pieces incorporated, or just don’t make it a point to drink enough can really benefit from added liquids. Aside from that, bone broth can help with gut health, joint protection, and maintaining healthy skin and coats.

Pumpkin puree

pumpkin puree
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Pumpkin puree is also a common suggestion for dogs who suffer from digestive issues, anal gland problems, need more fiber, or suffer from loose stools. Pumpkin is high in fiber and will firm up your dog’s poop just like that to help alleviate anal gland issues. The fiber also aids digestion and makes overall bowel movements smooth.

Pumpkin puree is also full of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and is very yummy to many dogs. You can choose to make your own or purchase pumpkin puree from the store, but make sure you don’t accidentally buy pie filling instead. If possible, search for the all-natural, organic puree to add to your dog’s dry food.

Kefir

Kefir is a fermented food that has a very similar consistency and appearance to yogurt. It will be a very tasty treat for your dog as he will most likely never had something like this prior. Like yogurt, kefir contains a lot of probiotics, which are known to aid digestion and promote healthy bacteria in the gut. Aside from that, Kefir also has beneficial yeasts that make it qualify as a superfood.

Fish oil

fish oil supplements

Fish oil is known for Omega fatty acids, which contribute to healthy skin and a very glossy coat. Long-haired fur babies will benefit greatly from fish oil and will exhibit long and luxurious fur. Omega fatty acids in your dog’s meal will also protect your pooch’s joints, and strengthen the immune system. Your dog will also enjoy anti-inflammatory benefits and it also helps to decrease the effects of some allergies.

All you need to do is add a pump or two depending on your dog’s size and age to his dry dog food daily.

Sardines

Sardines have fish oil, but more importantly, we recommend them for the added taurine. Taurine is an essential player in ensuring cardiac health, immune system health, and vision support in your dog. While you may find supplements for taurine, we would always recommend deriving the necessary ingredients to add to the dry dog food from a natural source.

Raw eggs

Raw Eggs

Another delicious addition to your dog’s kibble is raw eggs. Dogs need a lot of protein, and simply adding canned wet food may not be the best way. Raw eggs will increase your dog’s overall protein intake, which can allow you to decrease carbs. This makes them an excellent natural solution for overweight dogs.

It’s important to pick fresh eggs and if your dog is not a fan of the slimy and gooey texture, you can lightly scramble them to make them more acceptable.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is advantageous for humans and for dogs. Adding it to dry dog food will yield a very shiny coat for your dog and improve neurological health. Coconut oil can also be an excellent moisturizer on your dog’s paws, which is a godsend for people living in hotter or colder and drier climates.

Food toppers

dog eating food with variety of toppers
Images from Unsplash

Pet food brands are well aware that many dogs are picky. It’s nearly impossible to formulate a single recipe that will appeal to all dogs, so the solution to pickiness is food toppers. Commercial pet food companies will create freeze-dried raw pieces (some already incorporated into available recipes), freeze-dried raw powder, or nuggets that pet parents can mix with their dog’s kibble.

The raw pieces will add texture to the dry food and the raw powder can be a dry mixer or mixed with water to create a paste. The nuggets can be crumbled into smaller pieces and scattered among dry dog food or they can also be rehydrated to become a paste as well. Food toppers come in many different flavors so you’re bound to find one your dog likes.

Just make sure that your food topper is made with healthy ingredients. You should assess the ingredients in toppers the same way you would for dog food.

Digestive enzymes and other supplements

As we mentioned, there are supplements you can buy over the counter or via prescription from a vet that can target certain aspects of your dog’s health; one of which is digestive enzymes. Dogs who have problems with digestion or are very gassy can really use digestive enzymes.

Certain breeds and very active dogs will share a common issue – hip and elbow dysplasia. These dogs will need joint protection supplements and lubricants such as fish oil, glucosamine, and chondroitin. Smaller dogs with patella luxation issues can also benefit from these ingredients as well.

Some dog food will have trace amounts of these supplements, but it won’t be enough to make a significant difference. This is why we suggest adding it to your dog’s diet and the latter two usually come in powder form, which can be fed as a food topper.

Organ meats

organ meats and dog food
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Raw or cooked, organ meats are great additions to dry dog food. For example, the liver is a top suggestion by vets and experts because it’s high in iron, protein, copper, and zinc. You also get amounts of vitamins from the liver, which makes it more nutritious than muscle meats.

You can do it in a number of ways, but make sure to test it with your dog first. Try feeding him a small piece to see if he likes it. If no loose stools come from it, you can then consider adding it to dry dog food permanently a few times a week.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What can I put in dog food to make it taste better?

You can mix supplements, fresh human-grade ingredients that are safe for dogs, dog food toppers, and other types of dog food to make the dog food more appealing. While most dog-friendly veggies and fruits don’t require the go-ahead, ask your vet before you introduce anything more uncommon such as kefir and goat milk to the food. There may be a chance that your dog won’t tolerate it well.

How do you feed a picky dog?

You can try making dry dog food more appealing to your picky dog by adding canned food to the mix, fresh dog food, food toppers, fresh ingredients, and supplements. Before introducing anything new, we would suggest testing a small quantity first to make sure your dog won’t have any adverse reactions.

Final Thoughts

Picky eaters can be hard to handle at times, but there is a chance your dog isn’t being difficult and instead is feeling sick. If your dog is indeed just a picky eater, there are plenty of ways to get him interested in his food again such as topping off the dry food with wet canned food or adding very healthy supplements and fresh ingredients into his bowl.

Remember to do it in small amounts first, and trust us, you’ll know if you hit the jackpot with the food supplements because your dog will be extra generous with tail wags and lip licking.

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