What do you do when your dog won’t eat? It really depends on why he’s refusing food. If he has symptoms of illness, you should try to get a diagnosis and appropriate treatment for the best outcome.
If you’ve already been to the vet, had the recommended tests and your dog is still a picky eater, you might have to get creative. That’s what led me to create this homemade dog food for picky eaters. It’s high in protein, moderate in fat and has a couple flavor tricks to entice the appetite!
It’s OK for dogs to go without food for a few days as long as they’re drinking and not having vomiting and diarrhea. But the sooner you can get your pup to eat, the better, in most cases. We know that sick dogs recover more quickly when they’re getting enough nutrition.
But force-feeding a dog can turn them off eating even more. It’s better to figure out something he’ll eat on his own.
What Can I Feed My Picky Dog?
I came up with this dog food recipe because one of my dogs got freaked out when we hid her pills in her food for several months. She became a picky eater and was very suspicious of the usual food we fed her and refused to eat it.
I started thinking about what I know about canine flavor and feeding preferences.
This homemade dog food recipe is based on two concepts: sweet flavor and novel ingredients. Most dogs like sweet flavors and many dogs are attracted to new foods.
I added a small amount of sugar because most dogs have a preference for sweet flavors. Researchers tell us dogs can’t really taste salt, but I swear my picky dog likes a little salt on her food! You can experiment and see what your own dog likes.
Be sure to use very lean ground beef–93% lean or leaner is best. It still has plenty of fat in it! And because so many dogs are sensitive to high fat levels, I used fat-free cream cheese as an ingredient to add sweetness and creaminess.
My dog was thrilled with this new recipe! She loved it and readily ate the entire bowl of food without fussing like she did before.
How Much to Homemade Food Give Your Dog
If your dog is larger or smaller, adjust the quantity you feed for a meal. A good rule of thumb is to feed fresh cooked food at about 1.5 times the amount of dry food you normally feed. My 50-pound dog would eat about 1 cup of dry food twice a day so she would get about 1.5 cups of this fresh food twice a day.
For occasional feeding, you can adjust the amount you feed proportionally. For example, a 25-pound dog could eat half this recipe in the morning and half in the evening. A 10-pounder would eat about 1/4 of the recipe twice a day.
NPHQ Quick Beef & Oats Homemade Dog Food for Picky Eaters
- Servings: 1 meal for a 50-pound dog (enough for ½ a day)
- Time: about 10-15 minutes
- Calories: 430 for the entire recipe
- Macronutrients: Protein 37%, Fat 33%, Carbohydrate 30%
PLEASE NOTE: This recipe is not complete or balanced for long-term use. It is meant for occasional feeding only. If your dog likes this combo, use the free software provided by BalanceIT.com to make a balanced recipe for long-term use.
- 4 oz. 93% lean ground beef
- ½ cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup water
- 1 large egg
- ½ tsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. fat-free cream cheese
- Combine oats and water in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high power for 2 minutes.
- While the oats and egg are cooking, brown 4 ounces of lean ground beef in a pan. Add a small sprinkle of salt and pepper, if desired.
- Stir the egg into the oats and microwave on high power for 1 minute.
- Remove oats/egg combination from microwave oven and stir in sugar and cream cheese until it is melted.
- Add cooked beef to oat/egg mixture and stir to combine.
- Allow the food to cool to lukewarm then serve. Add water to loosen the texture if your dog likes a soupier meal.
- Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 3 days.
Discuss any diet change with your vet if your dog has any health problems or a history of reacting badly to food changes. Ideally, you should change a dog’s diet gradually to the new food over 7-14 days.
But if your dog is refusing to eat, you don’t have the luxury of changing your dog’s food gradually. You just have to find something he will eat and avoid foods that are likely to upset his stomach.
If you’re concerned about ground beef causing stomach upset, you can substitute lean ground turkey in the recipe. My fussy eater wouldn’t eat chicken or turkey because that’s what she had been fed for a long time when she stopped eating. I had to change the protein before she’d even look at the food!
If vomiting, diarrhea or decreased appetite occur, stop feeding the new food to your dog and contact your veterinarian.
Homemade Dog Food Topper for Dry Food
Maybe you don’t want to cook 100% of your dogs food every day. You could use a few spoonfuls of this recipe as a homemade dog food topper on top of dry food for picky eaters. I wrote an article with recommendations for the best commercial dry and wet dog food that appeal to picky dogs.