Moxie the fussy dog Moxie the fussy dog

Dog Food for Fussy Eaters

Read time: 9 mins

21 Dec 2019

It can be a worrying time if your dog’s eating habits change. But before you dash straight to the vet to rule out illness, it might help to monitor their behaviour first.

If they're still happy to eat their favourite treats and aren't showing any other signs of being unwell – like sleeping more than usual or being sick – then they're probably just being a bit... choosy.

There are loads of reasons why dogs are (or become) fussy eaters. As they're stimulated by scent, it can be that they just don't find the smell of their food appetising. Or they may not relish the crisp texture of kibble, particularly if they're older or have sensitive teeth. Smaller pups are also known to leave their food when faced with chunks that are off-puttingly big.

Why Won’t My Dog Eat?


Sometimes a change of food can get your pup back on track. Dogs have their own taste and texture preferences, and they might not enjoy what you're serving them.

Consider your favourite meal. Whether it's pizza, pasta, or Grandma's sunday roast, you'd get a bit bored if you had to eat it every mealtime. It's the same for your dog. When you come across a food they love, try it in a few different recipes. Having alternatives on hand helps to keep things interesting, so they're more likely to clean their bowl.


If your picky pooch is a bit flatulent too (again, no judgement), they might not be eating their food because it gives them a sore tummy. Lots of dog food contains ingredients that can irritate your dog's digestive system. 

Switching to a hypoallergenic diet can help their digestion, and, hopefully, ease any bothersome gas. Choosing a protein-rich food can also help if your pup is turning their nose up at kibble, as it's possible they just don't enjoy the crunchy texture.

What to Feed a Fussy Dog

Keeping a fussy eater satisfied can be difficult, but pick a food that's packed full of great ingredients – as well as being tasty – and you'll soon have a happy pooch. It can take some time to go through every option available, so here are some tips for finding food that'll earn you a waggy tail.

How to Get a Fussy Dog to Eat

Getting a fussy dog to eat is one of the hardest challenges for a pet parent. Nothing would fill you with greater joy than to see them chow down on their meals.

But, how?

Provide variety

Sometimes fussiness simply comes down to boredom. A good place to start is by switching up your dog’s food. 

However, we wouldn't recommend changing dog food brands too often, as this can wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system. The best way to provide variety is to opt for a dog food brand that offers a number of different recipes, with different types of meats and veg. Flavours upon flavours.

Warming their food

Warm food can be more appealing than chilled to some dogs, as the higher temperature helps to bring out tastes and aromas. This can trick your dog into thinking that they're having luxury human food.

Our Butternut Box meals are simple to heat up – simply spin them in the microwave on a low heat or place a pouch in hot water for a minute or so. Adding a splash of low-sodium gravy, or some of our bone broths, can also help to get the juices flowing.

Ditch the bowl

Another method that has proven to be quite effective is changing the way in you serve up your pooch's dinner. It might be worth testing an interactive feeding product like a Lickimat or puzzle feeder, to see if this makes mealtimes more enjoyable. Think of it like the pooch equivalent of dinner and a show.

Avoid table feeding

We know how tempting it can be. When your pup is refusing to eat their regular food, you start to panic they’re going to go hungry. So it’s easy to top them up with treats and scraps from the table. Not only is this not great for behavioural habits, it’s likely your fussy dog will miss out on vital nutrients if they're always filling up with snacks.

Even the fussiest dogs find it hard to resist human food. Just look at that face when there's cheese, roast chicken, or sausage on the go. Compare these dribble-inducing options with the kibble in their bowl, and it's easy to see why their noses turn to the sky.

We know that cooking an extra portion of dinner for your four-legged family member isn't always easy to do. It’s also a risky route to take. That’s why it’s much easier and safer to get their food from a trusted brand that ensures their food has all of the best ingredients needed to keep them healthy.

Minimise treats

We all like to make sure that our pooch knows that they’re a good boy or girl. However, too many treats can cause your dog to become fussy and less appreciative of their meals. 

Treats are purposefully designed to be rich in flavour which is why dog’s love them so much. But what they make up offer in taste, they often lack in nutrients. Placing too much reliance on treats as part of your dog’s diet can cause them to miss out on certain essential nutrients that are only found in meals. 

Be consistent with mealtimes

Dogs are creatures of habit – liking to know when it's walk-o'clock and when it's time for a nap. This is doubly so for mealtimes which, for many dogs, are a highlight of the day. 

Establishing a daily feeding schedule that you stick to whenever possible is one of the best things you can do for your fussy dog. Not only can it help settle their behaviour, but it also promotes a healthy digestive system and ensures they're poised to chow down at their regular mealtime.

It is important to help your dog understand that if they do not eat at the set times, they will have to wait until their next mealtime. Leaving food out for hours on end can cause your dog to eat as and when they please and whilst this may seem necessary to ensure that they do eat, you are just feeding (pardon the pun) their fussiness. 

Positive reinforcement

Pooches aim to please, and recognising that they’ve done a good job is an important part of encouraging them to eat their meals. This can come in many different forms, depending on what your dog's love language is. Anything from cuddles, to a tasty treat after meals can help them realise they did a good job.

Dog Breeds That Are Picky Eaters

Whilst we’ve established the most common reasons for dog’s being fussy, sometimes they simply fall within the category of breeds that are prone to being picky pooches. Some of the most common breeds with a wavering appetite are:

  • Boston Terrier
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Dachshund
  • French Bulldog
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Shih Tzu
  • Greyhound
  • Maltese
  • Poodle (and mixes - Cockapoo, Cavapoo, Yorkipoo, Shihpoo)
  • Pug

Why Butternut Box is the Best Dog Food for Fussy Eaters

If your pooch turns their nose up at dinner-time, or if you feel like you're barking up the wrong tree with your dog-food choices, Butternut Box has good news for you.

Because the Butternut team's had its fair share of tough-to-please pooches, we get that it can be frustrating. We've risen to the challenge, tested our brains, tempted our taste buds and created recipes that are consistently drool-worthy. Your picky Pomeranians and choosy Chihuahuas won’t be able to resist our tasty chow.

When you sign up to Butternut Box, we ask you a few questions about your four-legged family member. Such as their breed, age, activity level, and any other characteristics about them that would be useful for us to know. This includes their eating habits.

We found that more than 70% of customers claimed their dogs were ‘very fussy’ or ‘can be fussy’ when they first signed up to us. After switching to Butternut Box, 54% of owners reported that their dogs had stopped being fussy and started to enjoy their meals have a healthier appetite. Don’t just take our woof for it, see what our customers are saying on our TrustPilot page.

This is due to a number of key factors, such as variety, taste, and nutrition density. 

At Butternut Box, we have twelve different, complete meal choices, including Chicken You Out, Gobble Gobble Turkey, Wham Bam Lamb and Beef It Up. Our meals are made using human-quality meat and freshly-prepared vegetables, with a few added herbs and minerals.

We don't use any nasty flavourings, colourings, or preservatives – everything that goes into our meals could be found on the shelves of your local supermarket or health food shop. Our meals are gently cooked, which makes them soft and tasty with the added reassurance of being free from bacteria. Your dog gets a delicious experience, and it's easy on the belly, too.

Butternut Box Fussy Eater Research

Due to the extensive number of customers reporting that their dogs are ‘fussy’ when signing up to Butternut Box, we knew that there was a more serious problem for pet parents that had to be investigated. Our expert vet and nutritionists teamed up with the clinical animal behaviour department at the University of Edinburgh to dive deeper into what exactly causes fussiness.

They found that there is a distinct link between fussiness and breed, rather than conditioned behaviour. Poodle and Poodle-mixes were determined to have much higher levels of fussiness than non-Poodle breeds.

Given the increase in demand for Poodle-mixes in recent years, it is likely that fussiness will become an increasingly well-recognised problem among pet parents. For that reason, we will be making it part of our mission to help fussy dogs to reunite with their love of mealtimes.

You can read the full research report in our research hub.

At Butternut Box, we are always striving for better. This means regularly carrying out critical research to further our understanding of dog health, so that we can produce the best possible nutrition products.