Food

How To Get Picky Dogs To Eat (And Love) Dry Food

Written by: Jake Wells

January 26, 2022

Some of us are lucky enough to have dogs who dive into their bowl at mealtimes like they’re vying for first place in a pie-eating competition. Others? Not so much.

If your dog has always been a picky eater, you probably don’t need to be too concerned (though ringing the dinner bell can feel like an exercise in futility). When pickiness or a lack of interest in food appears suddenly, however, it could be linked to a health change1, in which case a checkup with the vet is in order.

So how can you entice your picky dog when the menu remains the same? Check out these helpful tips on how to get your dog to eat their dry food—and love it, too.

two cavalier king charles spaniels waiting to be fed

1. Wet Their Whistle – Add Wet Food or Water to Dry Food

The rivalry between team wet food and team dry food can be fierce, but there’s no reason to take sides. You can have of the best of both worlds when you scoop a small serving of wet food on top of your dog’s kibble. The enticing aroma will attract your pup to their bowl, and the combination of wet and dry textures makes for a dynamic doggy dinner! A tablespoon or two (depending on the size of your pup) is often enough—don’t be shy about mixing it in! The more kibble it coats, the better. 

For an even easier fix, simply add some warm water to their dish to mellow out the rugged texture of the kibble.

A chubby Pomeranian eating from its bowl

2. Try Kibble Toppers

Who doesn’t love a kibble sundae? Finicky chowhounds will warm up to their kibble when it’s topped with flavorful add-ons that kick their dinner up a notch. Already-powdered toppers are easiest, but you can also purchase freeze-dried patties or meal mixers to crumble over dry food by hand.

Subscriptions to BARK Eats include drool-worthy kibble toppers that will make your pup lick their bowl clean! Kibble eaters receive US-sourced meats, proteins, and probiotics baked into every delicious bite, and toppers like the single-ingredient “Bada Bing, Bada Beef” to sprinkle on generously.

Bark Eats brand Bada Bing Bada Beef Kibble topper

Related Article: How To Switch To A New Dog Food The Right Way

3. Scoop On Some Cottage Cheese

Low-fat cheeses like cottage cheese and mozzarella are lower in sodium and lactose compared to other cheeses, so not only will they keep your pup from plumping up, but they’ll also lessen the chance of a tummy ache.

A couple teaspoons of cottage cheese or a small handful of shredded mozzarella will draw your pup to the dog bowl, and before you know it, they’ll be digging for diamonds and cleaning their plate!

Happy white dog pictured with its food bowl

4. A Dollop Of Yogurt Goes A Long Way

Try mixing a spoonful of plain, unsweetened yogurt into your pup’s kibble and see how they react. Many dogs love the taste of yogurt, so chances are they’ll start gobbling it up after tasting their first creamy bite. Yogurt is high in calcium and protein, and the probiotic properties may benefit your puppy’s digestion.

Just make sure NOT to use artificially sweetened yogurt, or yogurts with added fruit. Artificial sweeteners like xylitol are highly toxic for pooches everywhere. Similarly, be vigilant of the fat content in dairy products; some dogs may get a tummy ache, and too much fat too often can lead to pancreatitis.

A dog bowl full of kibble

5. Chicken Broth To The Rescue

Have you noticed how much more you enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with a little gravy on top? The same goes for your dog’s kibble, just not with our version of gravy. Add a couple ounces of warm, low-sodium chicken broth (or bone broth) to their dish and turn an otherwise boring serving of dry food into a culinary delight!

Just make sure the broth is unseasoned and plain, as certain ingredients like onion and garlic can be harmful to to their health.

A Dalmatian eating out of its owners hand

6. Keep A Lid On It! – Store Food for Freshness

Humans and dogs are not too much different at the end of the day. Much like us, dogs don’t enjoy eating stale food that has been sitting out.

While it can be tempting to simply fill their bowl with kibble in the morning, wipe your hands and call it a day, your dog will be much more likely to chow down if their food is fresh. Keep your dog’s food sealed in an airtight container and safely stored in a cool, dry place. Purchase smaller bags of food at a time so it’s not exposed to the air as long, or better yet, take advantage of BARK Eats pre-portioned daily pouches so their kibble only sees the light of day just before they chow down.

Related Article: Is BARK Eats Worth It? Everything You Need To Know About This Nutritionist-Crafted Food

7. Make Mealtimes Fun

Dogs feed off your energy more than you think—if you make mealtimes exciting, they’ll pick up on it. Try incorporating some interactive training when the bowl gets a refill, like asking your dog to wait until you cue (“ok!” or “yes!”) for them to dig in. And stick around after you put their bowl down, dogs get FOMO too! If you walk away, they may lose interest and abandon the meal.

These simple tricks can turn even the most finicky of eaters into regular gluttons. While it’s best to stick within the parameters of your pup’s normal routine, these tips can zest up their dinner and end the nightly stand-off.

Just remember: low-fat, low-sodium, and lactose-free human foods are your best bets if you want to venture outside the realm of dog food, and it’s never a bad idea to consult your vet before adding anything new to your dog’s diet. Keep things simple while still spicing it up. Try a few different approaches (one at a time) to see what works, and enjoy the results!


This article has been reviewed by Margo Hennet, DVM.

Margo Hennet, DVM, cVMA, and veterinarian at BARK is a canine nutrition, health, & wellness connoisseur. She has a combined 10 years of experience in clinical medicine, research, and education—that’s 70 dog years of know-how—and graduated from Colorado State University as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. She completed specialized training in internal medicine prior to working as a general practitioner in Colorado, has authored peer-reviewed publications and textbook chapters, holds certification in veterinary medical acupuncture, and is a member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition and American Veterinary Medical Association.


Sources

1Lundgren, B. (2018, June 21). Food finicky dogs. Veterinary Partner. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=8608816

Written by: Jake Wells

January 26, 2022