What are dog food toppers?
Toppers or meal mixers are foods that pet parents can add to their dog’s regular diet to enhance flavour and add nutrition. The same way we add condiments and spices to our food, food toppers for dogs can add flavour and texture to an otherwise bland meal for your pet. Especially for pups that are less than enthused about their kibble, the right toppers can enhance taste, add hydration and get them excited about food again!
Dogs with a low appetite, picky eaters, those needing to gain a few pounds or simply lacking nutrient-dense foods would benefit greatly from adding toppers. However, not all toppers are healthy for your pup, and feeding amounts of toppers should be controlled. Vets advise that toppers shouldn’t make up more than 10% of a dog’s diet. So it’s important to make sure toppers are not throwing off the nutritional balance of your pup’s meal.
The benefits of meal toppers for dogs
Let’s be honest, we have all struggled at one point or another to entice our dog to eat his Vet recommended kibble (heavily processed, lacking in fresh taste, and very boring!). A good dog food topper can enhance the freshness and taste of an otherwise boring meal, and are great when transitioning your dog to a new diet.
The high moisture content in wet food toppers can be a great source of hydration, especially for the dogs that tend to ignore their water bowl. Pets struggling with health issues can increase their daily water intake, resulting in an overall better balanced digestive tract and digestive system.
The right kind of dog food topper should not only be great-tasting, but also contain nutrition not normally found in your pet’s kibble or regular diet. At Kafka’s, we take nutrition and taste equally seriously, and formulate our recipes to be nutrient-dense using only fresh, whole ingredients. Adding a fresh food topper is a great way to include more whole vegetables (high in immune boosting vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients) in your pet’s diet, making for a healthy dog!
A high protein topper can also be a great way to add extra protein in your dog’s diet, beneficial for any dog, but especially for senior pups to maintain body tone and prevent muscle loss.
Toppers are a good way to hide important supplements or even medicine in your dog’s meal. Supplements such as Omega-3 fish oil, glucosamine, and calcium are important for larger dogs to maintain bone health. As well, dry food is often lacking in important vitamins and minerals which can be added via toppers or food mixers.
Soften Foods for Weak Teeth
If your pet has recently undergone dental surgery or has missing or weak teeth, soft foods as a topper can be a great way to make sure their meal is easy to chew on. A topper such as bone broth can be added to their kibble and warmed up slightly to make sure it’s soaked and soft as well.
Anxiety Reduction & Boredom Buster
Aside from adding nutritional value, wet dog food toppers can be an easy dog treat for pups with anxiety to soothe themselves. One of our favourite methods to help anxious pups is to add a mixer or a topper to a licky mat or food puzzle and watch as they get hours of mental stimulation and fun!
Finding the best dog food toppers for picky eaters
The pet food sector is a billion-dollar industry and thus many options exist for consumers to pick between. It may take some time to find the right fit for your pet, especially when we are talking about picky eaters. But testing out new flavours can be fun and exciting for both you and your pets.
With that being said, the best dog food toppers have a couple of key qualities in common. They are:
- Fresh ingredients
- High in protein
- High in moisture content
- Low calorie
With all these things considered, you will ensure that your picky eater is enticed and excited about meal time, without compromising the nutritional and balanced component of their diet.
How to Pick a Healthy Dog Food Topper for Your Dog
With all the brands currently on the market, it can be tricky in itself to pick the right dog food topper. Here are some of the top things to consider when deciding on a topper that’s right for your pup:
Like people, dogs will have different nutritional requirements as they age. A puppy's dietary needs will differ from the needs of a senior dog or even an adult dog. Remember to follow the 10% rule: No more than 10% of a meal should be a topper unless the topper is nutritionally balanced and complete for that age group.
When considering a pup with specific food sensitivities or allergies make sure to choose products that feature hypoallergenic ingredients first and foremost. Some brands are sneaky with labels and hide cheap ingredients such as chicken meal/byproducts in a food labeled salmon, for example.
Understanding your pups breed related requirements will play a large role in the process of selecting the right topper. For example, you may opt for chunkier food for a large breed puppy while a chihuahua may need smaller pieces to safely chew on because of their smaller jaw size.
If your pup has a chronic condition such as pancreatitis or diabetes it’s important to discuss their specific needs with a vet before including a topper. Dogs with pancreatitis require lower fat content in their food, and a high-fat flavourful topper may throw off this balance.
Obesity in dogs has become a much bigger issue over the last couple of years and hence understanding your pets optimal weight is important. If your pup is sitting above a healthy weight, adding additional calories in the form of toppers is not the best idea unless you remove a proportionate amount from their regular diet.
On the other end, toppers can be a great way to help your puppy pack on some extra pounds if they are sitting below the benchmark for healthy weight.
Finding a dog food topper that appeals to your pet’s palate may be the hardest part of deciding on the right one! Each pup is going to have varying interests in different proteins and you need to pick one that suits their individual tastes.
Homemade dog food toppers for picky eaters: Tips & Tricks
One of the easiest and quickest things you can add at home as a kibble topper, is oil. However, “few supplements are as popular as salmon and fish oil for the canine mealtime” (Kennedy, 2012). Fish oil is well recognized for its usefulness in treating specific kidney disorders and easing the appearance of arthritis in dogs. Salmon oil, has been seen to help prevent renal disease, cancers, decrease risk of heart disease and is great for reducing inflammation in canines as they age.
Besides its added value as a topper, these oils are a great way to treat canine allergies and are now “recommended for everything from arthritis to high cholesterol” (Kennedy, 2012). Next time you have a turkey for thanksgiving dinner save some for a great dog food gravy topper. You are guaranteed to be on your pet's good side with this one!
Another quick solution is to experiment with frozen veggies and/or fruits. You can find vegestable medleys and frozen fruits at your local grocery stores or Walmart. Grab your favourite dog-friendly snacks, store them in the freezer and simply defrost when you are ready to serve them.
You can even throw in some freeze dried dog food toppers from time to time, dog safe fruits or vegetables like sweet potatoes work great too!
Now, if you credit yourself to be a home chef to any degree, you can also serve your pet a higher-class topper. Head to your local butchers’ shop and ask for prepackaged organ meat; livers, hearts and kidneys will do. Remember that a little bit will go a long way. Simply dice up the proteins and serve them raw as a topper on your dog’s next meal!
Bone broth is another great addition to meal time that is packed full of nutritional value. It is a relatively easy and hassle-free option for the everyday person and can be a great way to use up kitchen scraps! If you fancy yourself to do it yourself, check out this article for a full recipe that you can make at home!
Kafka’s Organic Dog Food Toppers
As much as we all love to credit ourselves as being world class chefs for our pets, sometimes there is value in the convenience of things. On those days you don't feel like Gordan Ramsey, Kafka's Organic's resealable bags have got you covered! Simply defrost, feed, reseal pouch and put leftovers in the fridge for next time!
Check out our best-selling topper ideas for your pets, and don’t forget that these mouth-watering delicious dog food recipes can also be used as low-calorie treats!
Find the perfect food topper by using our feeding calculator and discovering Kafka’s Organic!