Of my four dogs, three are picky. I’ve struggled to find healthy dog food all four of them will eat, especially when so many dog foods are bland and made from questionable ingredients. 

Honestly, who can blame a picky dog? Would you want to eat dog food?  

It’s pretty obvious that dogs prefer human food to their kibble, which is why I thought this experiment would be best with a type of dog food that closely resembles human food: fresh-frozen. 

Fresh-frozen dog food is made from whole, fresh ingredients like beef, chicken, fish, potatoes, carrots, and whole grains. Completely unprocessed, these ingredients are carefully balanced for optimal nutrition, cooked, portioned, then frozen to seal in freshness. You can actually see the difference between fresh-frozen food at traditional wet dog food or kibble. 

With so many options available, I decided to do a taste test and let my dogs decide what the best dog food for fussy eaters is. Our participants were as follows:

  • Buttercup—an 8-year-old Pekingese/Chihuahua mix—isn’t picky, and really only participated in this experiment for the joy of snacking!
  • Cookie—an 8-year-old Chihuahua/Terrier mix—is super picky and has turned her nose up at plenty of dog food brands.
  • Bella—a 5-year-old Maltese/Spaniel mix—is somewhat picky, and her taste can be unpredictable.
  • Yodi—a 2.5-year-old Maltese and my only boy—is super picky, and joins Cookie in the game of shunning the fancy foods I buy them. 

The Taste Test

It’s pretty obvious that dogs prefer human food to their kibble, which is why I thought this experiment would be best with a type of dog food that closely resembles human food: fresh-frozen. 

Fresh-frozen dog food is made from whole, fresh ingredients like beef, chicken, fish, potatoes, carrots, and whole grains. Completely unprocessed, these ingredients are carefully balanced for optimal nutrition, cooked, portioned, then frozen to seal in freshness. You can actually see the difference between fresh-frozen food at traditional wet dog food or kibble. 

Farmer’s Dog vs. Ollie vs. Nom Nom vs. Spot & Tango

I was sure fresh-frozen food would be tempting enough to get even my pickiest pups (Cookie and Yodi) to eat, so it was time to narrow down the options. I settled on four well-known and respected brands.

Each of these brands offer subscription services for their food, and will deliver your order directly to your door. 

Method

To even the playing field, I decided to order the beef recipe from each brand. I administered four separate taste tests, one for each dog (you can see how it was done in the video above)

My pups were presented with four bowls, each containing a different fresh beef recipe. First, the dogs were allowed to smell the bowls individually to get their taste buds working. Then, they were given the “okay” to inspect all four bowls at the same time. 

dog food taste

Results

From a human perspective, I thought for sure that Nom Nom would be the favorite since the ingredients appeared whole and less mushy, but clearly I am not a dog!

So, what is the best fresh-frozen dog food according to my dogs?

During the test, two dogs preferred Ollie and two preferred The Farmer’s Dog, *although after a couple of days one of these foods became the clear winner. Keep scrolling to find out which one.

See also  6 Healthy Dog Foods Even the Pickiest Chihuahuas Will Love

My pups were indifferent to Spot & Tango, but they made their opinions on Nom Nom very clear: they were not impressed. Nom Nom’s Beef Mash recipe sat in the bowl for a long time, and none of my dogs would go near it. 

Here’s the final flavor ranking:

#1 — The Farmer’s Dog & Ollie 🏆

*after a couple of days one of these foods became the clear winner. Keep scrolling to find out which one.

#2 — Spot & Tango  🥈

#3 — Nom Nom 🥉

Comparing Brands: Basic Facts, Nutrition, & Pricing

Of course, flavor isn’t everything when it comes to choosing a high-quality dog food. Balanced, high-quality nutrition is the most important factor and plays a key role in supporting longevity, health, and happiness for your pup. 

As a dog owner, you also want to know where the food is made, whether they use reliable ingredients, what their alternative recipes look like, and how much it will cost to feed your dog. Before we take an in-depth look at each food separately, here’s an overview comparing each of the brands. 

The Farmer’s DogOllieSpot & TangoNom Nom
Best ForFussy DogsMost ConvenientHighest ProteinMost Expensive
First 5 Ingredients1. USDA Beef
2. Sweet Potato
3. Lentils
4. Carrot
5. Beef Liver
1. Beef
2. Peas
3. Sweet Potato
4. Potato
5. Carrots
1. Beef
2. Millet
3. Spinach
4. Carrots
5. Peas
1. Beef
2. Potatoes
3. Eggs
4. Carrots
5. Peas
Guaranteed Analysis (crude)– 11% Protein
– 8% Fat
– 1.5% Fiber
– 72% Moisture
– 9% Protein
– 7% Fat
– 2% Fiber
– 70% Moisture
– 11.85% Protein
– 5.85% Fat
– 1.04% Fiber
– 69.84% Moisture
– 8% Protein
– 4% Fat
– 1% Fiber
– 77% Moisture
Calorie Information45 kcal/oz43 kcal/ozNot shared online35 kcal/oz
Pricing*$$$$$$$$
Where are ingredients sourced?In the USA; ingredients meet USDA standardsIn the USA, Australia, and New Zealand; human-grade ingredientsIn the USA; non-GMO, and partially organicIn the USA
Made in USDA Kitchens? toYesYesYesNo
Formulated by Veterinarians?No; formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists, balanced according to ​​AAFCO standardsYes; veterinarian formulated according to AAFCO standardsYes; formulated by veterinarians and board-certified canine nutritionists according to AAFCO standardsNo; formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists according to AAFCO standards
Subscription Required?Yes – unless purchased in-storeYesYesYes – unless purchased in-store

*Pricing information calculated for feeding a ~13 lb adult mixed-breed dog.

1. Best Food for Fussy Dogs: The Farmer’s Dog

dog food

Based on my dogs’ enthusiastic response and the thousands of excellent reviews, I’m crowning The Farmer’s Dog as the best fresh dog food delivery service!

Beyond being delicious, The Farmer’s Dog is beautifully balanced. The beef formula is high in protein and has a nice balance of fat. Included in the added vitamin mix is an omega-3 supplement, which is great for supporting healthy joints, cardiac health, neurological health, vision, allergy prevention, and much more. 

See also  Homemade Dog Food Recipe You Can Share With Your Dog
dog and food

Of the 45 calories per ounce, 28% come from protein, 38% come from fat, and 34% come from carbohydrates. Dogs need at least 10% of their calories from a protein source, and The Farmer’s Dog comes in way above that.

With nutrition and taste combined, I give The Farmer’s Dog beef recipe a 5 out of 5!

Additional Information:

Pricing$1.97/meal or $3.94/day
Other RecipesTurkey, and Pork
Subscription InfoShipments arrive every two weeks, and your total price/amount of food will depend on your dog’s custom profile. Cancel, reschedule, or delay whenever you need to.
ProsSo delicious, even the pickiest dogs will eat it! — Most affordable
ConsAwkward packaging, Offers a limited number of proteins and no novel protein selections.

Shop The Farmer’s Dog


2. Most Convenient: Ollie

dog food

In terms of serving these foods, all of them were relatively easy, but Ollie stands above the rest for great packaging and instructions. Ollie also has the best packaging and clearest instructions, hands down, and I really enjoyed how easy it was to feed to my pups. Ollie will even send you a container to store leftovers!

If you’ve got a pup who struggles to stay regular or has some digestive issues that aren’t allergy-related, Ollie might be the best fresh dog food for you. Ollie has the most fiber of any option on this list at 2% crude. The beef recipe also has chia seeds and cod liver oil, which are natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

dog food

Of the 43 calories per ounce for Ollie’s beef recipe, 30.7% come from protein, 47.5% from fat, and 21.8% from carbs. 

Although Ollie is a well-balanced dog food with clean, whole ingredients, after a couple of days of eating it my dogs stopped liking it, so I’m rating it 3.5 out of 5 for picky eaters. 

Additional Information:

Pricing*$2.35/meal or $4.71/day
Other RecipesChicken, Turkey, and Lamb
Subscription InfoShipments arrive on a schedule of your choosing! Get food every week, once a month, or whenever you need it.
ProsSuper convenient packaging; comes with a container to store leftovers.
ConsA little more expensive than our top option and the food is quite mushy, resembling dog food from a can.

Shop Ollie


3. Highest Protein: Spot & Tango

dog food
Source: @GramPupCyprus

Spot & Tango’s meef and millet recipe went mostly ignored by my dogs, but when faced with the choice of this or Nom Nom, they chose Spot & Tango. 

If you are looking for extra-high protein dog food to help your dog gain weight, Spot & Tango has just slightly more protein than the other fresh dog foods on this list. While this formula includes sunflower seed oil as a source of omega-3s, I don’t love this ingredient as much as I love flax seeds, chia, or fish oils. 

dog food

Unfortunately, Spot & Tango doesn’t share their calorie information online, but I can tell you a little about the calorie-weighted basis: 32.7% protein, 39.6% fat, and 27.7% carbs. 

In all, I would call this a semi-average fresh dog food with a decent nutritional balance. Thanks to the extra protein, I’m giving Spot & Tango 3 out of 5.

See also  Best Food for French Bulldogs

Additional Information:

Pricing*$2.11/meal or $4.22/day
Other RecipesTurkey & Red Quinoa, and Lamb & Brown Rice
Subscription InfoCreate a custom plan and receive orders whenever you want them!
ProsMeals are cooked to order! This means your dog’s food is cooked fresh just days before being sent to you and spends exactly zero time in the deep freeze or storage.
ConsNot good for extremely picky eaters.

Shop Spot & Tango


4. Most Expensive: Nom Nom

dog food
Source: @NomNom

If your dog needs to lose a few pounds, and you are on the hunt for low-calorie fresh-frozen dog food, check out Nom Nom. While my dogs didn’t like it there are plenty of good reviews online, and it’s worth trying out for your pup. If you want an even leaner option, Nom Nom also has a turkey recipe. 

Low in calories, each ounce of Nom Nom’s beef recipe has just 35 calories, of which protein, fat, and carbs are almost perfectly balanced. 

dog food

Because my dogs wouldn’t touch Nom Nom’s food, I have to give it 1 out of 5 for flavor. To make matters worse, Nom Nom is the most expensive option on the list. 

This said, Nom Nom is nutritionally balanced and a healthy option for dogs who like the flavor.

Additional Information:

Pricing$2.88/meal or $5.76/day
Other RecipesChicken Cuisine, Pork Potluck, and Turkey Fare
Subscription InfoShipments arrive on a schedule of your choosing. Cancel, delay, or reschedule at any time.
ProsLow in calories, and a good choice if your dog needs to lose weight. All of the ingredients are separate and not mushed together like the other options.
ConsNot made in USDA kitchen — most expensive.

Shop Nom Nom

*Pricing information calculated for feeding a ~13 lb adult mixed-breed dog.


Benefits of Fresh-Frozen Dog Food

Why would a dog owner choose to feed fresh-frozen food to their dog vs. feeding kibble, wet food, or raw? Here are some of the major advantages of fresh-frozen dog food. 

High-Quality Fresh Ingredients (Duh!)

If the name didn’t give it away, the top benefit of fresh-frozen dog food is fresh ingredients! You can actually see how fresh the ingredients are in these formulas, and with whole pieces of protein, veg, and grain, there’s no mystery about what’s in your dog’s bowl. 

Most fresh-frozen dog food brands are also known for sourcing their ingredients from U.S.-based farmers, using sustainable resources, and supporting small and local businesses. 

Convenience

Each of the brands listed above will deliver fresh dog food directly to your door, so you never need to rush to the pet store or worry about running out. The food arrives frozen and should be stored in the freezer until mealtime. 

To serve, just thaw the food in your refrigerator for 6-12 hours, or gently microwave on a low setting. If your dog doesn’t eat their entire pouch, just store the remainder in an air-tight container in the refrigerator until their next meal. 

dog eating food

Customizable Recipes & Subscriptions

Fresh dog food brands (like the ones I reviewed above) make recommendations and custom meal plans based on your dog’s unique characteristics. Before you can subscribe, you’ll need to fill out a short survey about your pooch, including their age, breed, weight, activity level, and health. 

Once you finish the questionnaire, you’ll receive a custom quote, meal plan, and formula recommendations. This is especially helpful if you have a miniature or giant breed. 

Miniature breeds don’t go through food very quickly, so big bags end up spoiling. When you buy fresh-frozen, you get exactly the right amount of food for your dog so nothing goes to waste. 

Conversely, giant breeds go through a lot of food, which can mean needing to buy in bulk or else make frequent visits to the pet store. With a fresh-frozen dog food subscription, your bulk arrives directly at your door before you ever run out. 

Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters FAQ

Now that I’ve found the best dog food for picky eaters, 2023 is going to be a breeze with no upturned noses! If you’ve still got questions about feeding your picky pup, I’ve got some more advice to share. 

What is the tastiest dog food for picky eaters?

TLDR: What dog food do dogs like the taste of best? 
According to my four dogs, The Farmer’s Dog makes the most delectable fresh dog food on the market! 
The Farmer’s Dog makes fresh-frozen formulas and works well for dogs with no special dietary needs.

What to feed picky dogs that won’t eat?

If your dog is refusing their food entirely, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your vet. Some dogs stop eating due to intestinal blockage or other illnesses, and your vet can help you determine if your dog is truly picky or in distress. 
Once you have determined that your dog is just not interested in their food, start experimenting with different brands, flavors, and dog food types.

How do you get a picky dog to eat their dog food?

You can’t force a dog to eat food if they truly don’t like it, and simply waiting for them to get hungry enough to eat isn’t good practice. 
For a dog who won’t eat the food, the best thing to do is to switch to a different brand or flavor. Keep trying different foods until one sticks—I promise, there’s a delicious formula out there for you

Note: During the test shown on the video above, two of the dogs picked Ollie and the other two picked The Farmer’s Dog. Since the test, none of my dogs will eat Ollie and ALL of them will eat The Farmer’s Dog. So, even though it wasn’t documented during the video, The Farmer’s Dog was the true winner. There is another type of food that my dogs like just as much as The Farmer’s Dog. Find out what it is here.

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