By The Farmer's Dog | May 17, 2023

While every dog is different—in appearance, in weight, in personality, and quirks—we think of all dogs as having one thing in common: A love for food. However, a good, consistently hearty appetite is not universal.

Some dogs inhale everything you put in front of (or frankly—anywhere near) them. But for owners of picky eaters, mealtime can be extremely frustrating to deal with. And it’s likely not much fun for the eater either, which is why it’s important to take the time to find a solution. Picky eating isn’t always a major cause for concern, but mealtime should be one of the best bits of a dog’s day.

If you’re feeding kibble, we recommending trying a fresh-food diet—we know countless previously picky pups who now can’t wait to eat when there’s real meat and vegetables in their bowl.

If you’re feeding a fresh diet and they still need a few incentives, here are our tips to entice your dog into enjoying their dinner!

Get in some hot water

Don’t be afraid to play with their food — the texture and temperature of it, that is! Mixing in a little hot water to the food and mashing it up with a fork can make it more enjoyable for some dogs, as temperature and texture preferences can be a very personal preference for pups.

You can also try adding a little warm bone broth to their bowl (see below).

However, we do NOT recommend heating the food in the microwave, as this will destroy the food’s natural nutrients — the best part about our fresh recipes!

Toy around with the timing

Some dogs simply don’t need multiple meals a day, and are quite content with one. If you notice your dog seems set with one feeding session a day, don’t be afraid to adapt your feeding schedule to suit their preferences, and offer them their food when they seem more inclined to eat. Many veterinary nutrition experts actually tout the benefits of once-a-day feeding for dogs, picky or not.

Once you find times that they like though, you should stick with it as the consistency helps them learn when they should expect to eat. If they’re not interested in a meal, feel free to take it away after a certain period of time — 20-30 minutes is appropriate. That way, your dog understands that when food is offered, it’s time to eat it. Otherwise, the food goes away.

Minimizing treats is another key part of retraining your picky eater. If a dog is being overfed with treats, they are more likely to feel full and therefore avoid the food bowl.

Bone broth or Parmesan cheese

Many dog owners find that adding a touch of Parmesan cheese, or bone broth or bone broth powder, can add that extra oomph their picky eaters need. Many dogs find cheese irresistible and Parmesan is a great choice as it’s got all the enticing flavor and it’s lower-lactose than other varieties. Add a sprinkle to your dog’s meals (no more than a tablespoon for bigger dogs and less for smaller pups). Bone broth is another exciting addition—it adds both flavor and moisture and it’s packed with health benefits. Add an ounce of broth for every pound of your dog’s weight. Just make sure the broth isn’t made with seasoning or onions (you can read more info on making bone broth here).

As with any meal topper, start with a small amount to make sure your dog tolerates it, and use sparingly so as not to risk weight gain or nutritional imbalance.