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For the Dog Picky Eater

A Recipe to Tempt a Picky Dog

By March 11, 2013 | See Comments

  • expert or vet photo
    vet verified

    Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM

    Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition

    Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Ithaca, NY

For the Dog Picky Eater

Cats aren't the only pets that can turn their nose up at the most expensive foods. If your dog is a pick eater, try this tester meal to see if home-prepared meals might be a solution.

It’s not just kids who fall under the frustrating category of picky eaters; dogs can be just as guilty of turning up their nose to the food you buy. While there is no rhyme or reason to why some pets eat everything in sight and others barely finish their morning meal, there is a simple solution. First, if you are feeding your dog table scraps – stop! It is a hard habit to break but your dog is most likely getting spoiled by the tastes and smells of rich human food. However, if your canine companion simply won’t eat his or her morning breakfast no matter how many tricks you try or brands of food you buy, it might be time to take to the kitchen.

When it comes to cooking for your pet, you will quickly learn that rice is the foundation of the majority of dog friendly “human food” recipes. It is easy to digest and can be used in a variety of ways. Start simply with brown rice and shredded chicken. This recipe may not win any culinary awards but it will reign supreme when your dog actually enjoys eating a meal that is both nutritious and satisfying.

Give this recipe a try, and if your dog likes it, talk to your veterinarian about whether your pet would benefit from a homemade diet. You vet will be able to guide you in making sure your pet continues to get all the nutrients they’ll need and that are usually provided in commercial dog food.

The Simple Solution Recipe for Picky Eaters - A Basic Homemade “Tester” Meal


(Enough for a 15 lb dog)

  • One cup of cooked white or brown rice (200 calories)
  • 1 Medium Chicken breast (150 calories)

  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil (40 calories)

  • ¼  teaspoon of salt (preferably iodized salt)


If you are pressed for time, do not feel bad about buying instant rice! Just stay away from the flavored options and keep to a plain brown or white variety.Otherwise, buy raw long steam rice and prepare according to package instructions. Place raw chicken breast in a large pot with water. Bring to a boil for 15-30 minutes until completely cooked then shred chicken with a fork. Mix together with rice and add the salt and oil. This recipe is for the typical 15 lb dog and can be multiplied for larger dogs and cut back for smaller dogs. 


This recipe is only for use for a day or two to see if your dogs takes to the idea of a home prepared meal. If your dog seems interested it is essential to speak to your veterinarian or a board certified veterinary nutritionist to create a balanced homemade dietary plan for your dog. 

Back to Dog Treat Recipes 

Next: The Bone Strength Booster

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. It has however been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Joe, a board certified veterinary nutritionist and graduate of Cornell University's program for Veterinary Medicine. 


My dog is very picky and will only eat if she feels like it unless I add pieces of real chicken in there and she will eat every bite every single time. It doesn't have to be much at all and I cut it up into tiny pieces. I start with dry food then add a little water to the dry food and add a few small scoops of the Kroger brand wet food in the tub (like Beneful or Rachel Ray brand but tastier & cheaper just can't remember name) then mix it really good and top off with the freshly cut chicken pieces and she practically begs for more every time. I know it sounds complicated but it's not and she loves it so much.


Update. He's back to not eating most of the time. My vet told me not to worry, that many small breed dogs will refuse to eat for a day or two. So, I try not to worry. I just find it annoying that there's no dogfood that a dog actually finds tasty and WANTS to eat!


Did someone answer this lady's question I have the same problem with my dog she is a Shih Tzu Chihuahua and very very very picky


This is a horrible recipe!! First, you never give the breast, second, iodized salt is very bad for dogs! And rice is NOT good for dogs! I'd cook quinoa in chicken broth, throw in cooked broccoli and sweet potatoes, cooked chicken thighs, add coconut oil, and soaked chia seeds, and for very picky eaters, add some goat cheese for flavor.


The ants were just a catalyst to my buying new bowls. They had nothing to do with his being fussy. Sorry if I wasn't clear. I just found it amazing that the kind of bowl I gave him made a difference in his eating his dinner. He's been eating well ever since I got the new bowls! But, my brother's dog just had an experience like yours! His dish holder crashed over because his collar caught it strangely. Now he won't go near those dishes OR the location! They had to buy him a new dinner center AND move it to another location. It's really strange how little changes can really effect our furry friends!
Thought for the day:
Lost yesterday somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with 60 diamond minutes. No reward is offered for they are gone forever.


Eh, I figured maybe you lived in a rural area with a lot of ants. But that makes sense -- dogs have ridiculous memories for the *one time* things went wrong. I remember throwing a puppy frisbee in the house and accidentally hitting a picture on the wall, which proceeded to fall, nearly landing on the puppy. For weeks after that, she had to very gingerly walk around the area where the picture fell.


God, no! LOL You must think I'm a terrible care giver if I'd feed him food with ants crawling all over it! LOL. I'm VERY fussy about keeping his food fresh. I vacuum seal all his kibble until I serve it to him. NO BUGS!
The ants had just come that one time, and I was grossed out! So, I started looking for ways to make sure they never got in his food again.
He was a terrible eater so his food would sit a long time, which allowed the ants to find it. Now with the new bowl he eats it right away. Nothing else has changed. It's the oddest things I've ever seen. I tried everything. And all I had to do was buy him a bowl he likes!

Thought for the day:
Lost yesterday somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with 60 diamond minutes. No reward is offered for they are gone forever.


Wow, so I guess it was the ants bothering him all along? Hard to blame him for that. Glad you figured out a solution!


Yes, thank you, I tried it. He wouldn't eat it.

I seem to have found a very strange "fix" to my problem! I was making a bug free dog food set up, since it's spring and ants showed up. I bought some new bowls to place in a dish to create a moat. Since switching to the new bowls, he's finished his dinner every night! Amazing! Same food, same "toppings," just a different bowl! Wow. I had tried MANY bowls trying to find the right size, etc. this was just a very lucky fluke!

Thought for the day:
Lost yesterday somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with 60 diamond minutes. No reward is offered for they are gone forever.


I'm not a pet nutritionist, but have you tried Stella and Chewy's? It's kind of the go-to food for picky eaters, so it might be worth having on hand if you don't have time to cook a full meal. The ingredients are very good. In case you're wondering what flavor to get, I'd go with either the chicken or duck, since they seem to be the most popular with dogs.


Is there a recipe book that you could recommend for cooking healthy meals for a dog? My dog hates dog food and I toss out a LOT. He will even turn up his nose at fillet mignon! I want him to enjoy his meals, but I want them healthy. PLEASE, help? I'm a disabled senior, so going back to school to study dog nutrition isn't a viable option for me! SOME pet nutritionist MUST have written a book on proper feeding, and included some recipes, I hope. This is the first dog I have ever had that is a fussy eater, and it's very frustrating! And there are so many snake oil salesmen on the Internet saying THEY know, when they are just guessing or trying to sell something. I want advice and recipes from professionally trained pet nutritionists. Thank you!


I have acquired a senior Yorkie that has no teeth. She was very underweight when I brought her into my home last month. She was eating food grade chicken and scrambled eggs with some dog vitamins added. Now that she has gained a full pound, she is turning her nose up at all food I put in front of her....any idea's?? Thanks

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