dog eating a fake burger

Why Does My Dog Prefer Cheap Food Over Premium?

Ever landed at a posh eatery, munched on tiny servings, and still felt your stomach rumbling? Then, zipped over to your favorite burger spot, snagged a combo, and felt utterly full? Guess what? Your pup might be riding the same rollercoaster, choosing budget chow over the gourmet stuff.

dog eating cheap dog food
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You spend copious amounts of money on the best kibble out there, but your dog just prefers the cheap stuff. You’re left wondering “why?” It’s not that your dog isn’t appreciative, it’s that there is such a thing as junk dog food addiction, and your dog might be suffering from it. How do you pick the right dog food? Let’s take a look.

Choosing Dog Food

The key to preventing junk dog food addiction to cheap foods is by picking the right one from the start.

What Is Considered Junk Food for Dogs?

dog not eating premium dog food
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Junk food isn’t chips, pizza, burgers, and hot dogs for dogs. Instead, it’s certain ingredients they consume. Just like junk food for humans, certain ingredients in cheap dog food may be tasty to your dog, but they have no health benefits whatsoever. On the contrary, they may have the opposite effect.

Junk food ingredients include Artificial additives, colors, preservatives, wheat, corn, and soy. These ingredients are usually found in cheap dog food. There are low-quality commercial dog foods out there that use soy as the main ingredient, meaning it’s the first ingredient on the list. It is our recommendation and that of thousands of vets that say “no” to this type of pet food.

Dog owners should always aim for better quality dog food with real protein as the main ingredients (the first 3 at the very least).

Dogs can become addicted to carbohydrates (carbs), just like we can, especially if the cheaper dog foods use flavor enhancers on them as well. High-quality dog food will use the least amount of preservatives as possible and carefully select the best ingredients. While your fur baby does deserve quality food, you don’t have to go out and invest in the most expensive food out there.

There are a few things to look for when reading the ingredients label to help you decide if your dog’s food is good enough. We’ll get into the details of this in a bit, but first, why is a healthy diet with quality food important for dogs?

Why Is a Healthy Diet Important for Dogs?

healthy dog premium food
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The food we consume sets the foundation of our overall health, and this is the same for dogs. Quality food will pave the way for a healthier dog throughout its lifetime. The key to this is to look at the ingredients, make sure the diet is as natural as possible, maybe even an organic diet, and one that is balanced and supports your dog’s needs.

Every dog is different as is every breed. Small dogs grow to their maximum size earlier than large breeds, which means small breeds will need to switch to adult food much sooner. What is recommended as quality foods to one dog may not be the same for yours.

Read The Ingredients List!

safe ingredients check list for healthy dog foods
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Don’t just take anyone’s word for it; you must read the ingredients list. Dog food brands are required to list the ingredients in wet and dry food along with snacks and toppers in the order of percentage. The first ingredient takes up the largest percentage of the food’s composition and the last one is the least amount. It’s important that protein is in the top 3 spots at the very least.

Proteins should be followed by fruits and veggies if any, and grains as well. For those with grain-free dry food, you won’t find any on the list. The smaller amounts will be various vitamins, minerals, and supplements rounding out the list.

Why Does My Dog Prefer Cheap Food?

cheap dog food

Is it always bad if your dog prefers cheap food? Let’s take a look at the risks and benefits of both expensive and cheap dog foods.

The Pros and Cons of Cheap and Expensive Dog Food

While we generally suggest top tier foods for your dog, it doesn’t automatically rule out all cheap foods. There are pros and cons to each.

Premium dog food pros

  • More suitable for dogs with dietary needs
  • Aren’t filled with artificial preservatives and additives
  • Less likely to lead to weight gain
  • Grain-free options available
  • Generally cheaper than going to the vet
  • Uses higher quality ingredients
  • Less fillers and more “real ingredients”

Premium dog food cons

  • Expensive
  • You must assess the ingredients to see if they justify the price

Cheap dog food pros

  • Cheaper prices are always good, but not at the cost of your dog’s health
  • Cheap dog food with meat protein as the first ingredient is still acceptable
  • Good stand-ins for budget constraints

Cheap dog food cons

  • Poor-quality cheap dog food can lead to health issues
  • May contain ingredients that are not good for your dog
  • Do not meet your dog’s nutritional needs
  • Full of filler ingredients that do not contain nutritional value

How Do I Get My Dog to Eat Healthily?

black dog eating healthy premium dog food
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The good news: You can get your dog to eat a healthier diet in many ways, which means you have a very high chance of finding something your dog likes and is healthy. Unfortunately, it could take some trial and error.

Your dog may not like the bland taste of grain-free foods and other high quality dog foods, but there are ways to “con” him into eating healthy by adding to the taste.

Adding toppers

Adding meal toppers is the easiest and most recommended way to get your dog to eat his food. You don’t necessarily need to switch out the food, because that can be costly and time-consuming. You can mix different types of canine food together such as canned food and dry food with wet food as the topper.

Toppers can also be meal mixers, which are freeze-dried pieces sometimes in powder form, which can be mixed with water to create a paste or just sprinkled on. It adds to the taste of the plain food which can increase your dog’s interest.

Adding raw pieces

You can even mix raw food such as cut up pieces of carrots and broccoli or fresh raw pieces of meat to add texture to the food. Other fresh foods you can add include sweet potato, green beans, eggs, and sardines – anything your furry friend likes and is healthy for him.

Adding liquids

Goats milk, bone broth, and fish oil are excellent examples of food mixers in liquid form that can easily soak into dry kibble or wet food to improve y our pet’s health. There are plenty of antioxidants, omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals involved.

When you’re introducing a new food or new ingredient into your dog’s diet, always do so slowly. If you have a picky eater on your hands, it’s a good idea to have a few different types of toppers in rotation. Picky eaters are usually dogs who get bored of the food easily. After all, even we could get sick of eating pizza every day.

We Think You’ll Like: 8 Best Tasting Dog Foods for Picky Eaters

We would also suggest talking to your vet first before introducing something new especially if it’s a raw diet. Not all dogs can tolerate raw ingredients nor should they if they have certain pre-existing conditions. As a dog owner, you want to make sure your pet nutrition is on point. Your vet will have a good idea about your pet’s condition and will also have the best insight as to what to feed your dog.

Save Money by Buying Better Dog Food

dog eating better dog food
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We’ve established that higher quality food is more expensive, so how can we save money by buying better or the best food?

As we said, food is fundamental to a dog’s development. It’s no secret that vet bills are super expensive -this is why pet insurance exists. Even with pet insurance, which can cost hundreds of dollars a month, vet bills can still cost a pretty penny. A poor diet can’t help prevent health issues, and in some cases, it can even exacerbate or accelerate them.

By feeding your dog higher quality food, you can be sure that your fur baby will have fewer health issues and not need as many trips to the vet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why won’t my dog eat expensive food?

Your dog won’t eat expensive food because the food could be spoiled, your dog may not like the taste, or perhaps your dog is ill. Because higher-quality food for dogs will feature fewer additives, preservatives, and flavor enhancers, it may not taste as good as low-quality food. You can try to fix this problem by adding meal mixers and food toppers to your dog’s food.

Is premium dog food worth the money?

Premium dog food is worth the money if you pick the right one. Make sure you aren’t paying for false advertising and fancy packaging. Specific dog food for dogs with special needs such as small and large-breed foods, grain-free and limited ingredient diets will cost more. Make sure the premium dog food you’re paying for is demanding more money because it has the best ingredients.

Does quality dog food make a difference?

Yes, quality dog food does make a difference. Higher quality food for your dog will generally have the best ingredients (often human-grade), that create a balanced diet to address your dog’s needs at every life stage. Good quality food will not feature fillers, artificial additives, preservatives, and enhancers. What it will have is meat protein as the first ingredient, balanced with veggies, fruits, supplements, vitamins, and minerals.

Why does my dog love junk food?

Junk food or lower quality food for your dog can taste better than nutritious higher grade food. Carbs taste good to your dog, especially when they are enhanced, which is what many low quality commercial pet food brands do. It can be addicting to your dog, which is why your pooch will prefer cheaper dog food to premium brands.


You don’t need to invest in the best of the best, but ensuring that your dog is enjoying high-quality food is important. This doesn’t mean you need to switch to new food right away. You can simply enhance the food with toppers and mixers if the kibble or wet food is already of decent quality. Make sure to make any changes to your dog’s diet gradually, giving your pooch the chance to get used to the ingredients.

Keep a few toppers in rotation to surprise your dog at meal time to avoid picky eating altogether. We would also suggest checking with your vet before you introduce new exotic ingredients to your dog.

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