Dog food toppers are a great way to add nutrition and pizzazz to your dog’s dinner.
But they can add much more than that:
- Super nutrition boost – Face it, most of us can’t afford $180+ on a top end organic dog food, but a well chosen topper can really boost the nutrition of your dog’s meals.
- Better digestibility – a topper with fiber and prebiotics can support your dog’s gut, and even help them digest their regular food much better.
- Extra palatability – Picky dog? A topper might change their minds!
- Glossy skin and coat – toppers with omega fatty acids can give your dog’s coat that glossy look, improve their skin condition, and boost their overall health as well.
- More balanced diet – the extra nutrition in a topper may fill dietary gaps missed by your dog food.
- Energy boost – healthy fats, proteins, and oils can give your dog energy.
- Joint support – oils and omega fats can be an excellent preventative against arthritis and joint problems in later years, therefore avoiding expensive vet bills, medication, and an unhappy dog.
Guess what the best thing is about dog food toppers? They don’t need to break the bank!
What are the best dog food toppers?
If you’re looking for simple options there’s a great range of “commercial” dog food toppers in Australia, including dry mixes, bone broth, dried raw, and more.
You can also add some cheap fresh foods, even leftovers, to your dog’s dinner. We’ll look at those too.
What works best for you and your dog will be about budget, convenience, and the needs of your dog. Let’s take a look at different options so you can decide what’s right for you.
Types of dog food toppers
Dry dog food toppers
Most dog food toppers are dried, such as air-dried or powder. This is great for shelf-life, and it’s easy for you to sprinkle some on top of your dog’s regular food at meal times.
When you consider a regular dog kibble has been cooked at fairly high temperatures some of the nutrition is compromised, so adding a dry dog food topper puts some of that nutrition back in. Probably more so.
My favourite topper is K9 Natural Lamb Green Tripe. Green tripe is a fantastic source of probiotics and natural digestive enzymes. That means your dog’s digestive system will process all his food more effectively, which means he’ll get more nutrition from it.
Green tripe is hard to get hold of in Australia because it’s actually illegal to sell it fresh, which is why you get the bleached white tripe – not as good for your dog. It also stinks!
Thankfully the K9 Natural green tripe can be bought legally, so no cops at your door, and it’s easy to add to your dog’s food!
Air-dried / freeze-dried raw as a topper
You’ll find any dog food toppers expensive, especially the good ones. This is fine if you feed a little each day, but can quickly become expensive if you have bigger dogs or more than one dog.
If that’s you, a great option is to buy a bigger bag of an air-dried food or even better a freeze-dried food made from raw meat ingredients. This works out far cheaper per kilo, and adding such a food to your dog’s regular kibble is the best of both worlds – quality food, without the cost of feeding it all the time.
Side note: These foods are also great for training treats!
Simply add some of the dried food to your dogs regular food once or twice a day, whatever suits.
Some good recommendations are:
- Frontier Pets – An excellent freeze-dried raw food, ethically farmed, and all locally sourced Australian ingredients.
- ZIWI Peak – A very well respected New Zealand air-dried raw dog food.
- Eureka – An excellent Australian air-dried raw food, similar to ZIWI Peak. They work on a subscription model, so you would need to arrange a schedule which suits your needs.
- K9 Natural – Freeze-dried raw similar to Frontier Pets, but from New Zealand.
If you plan to buy a big bag to feed over a long timeframe then freeze-dried is your best choice.
Another option if you have freezer space are BARF patties. Two good options in Australia are Proudi and Big Dog. They come as meal-sized patties, so you would need to break them apart if you plan to use them as a topper – might get messy, and they don’t keep long once opened.
Bone broth is awesome stuff. I really can’t recommend it enough.
It’s easy to make at home with a slow cooker, whole chicken (or other meaty bones), a little apple cider vinegar (to draw out the nutrients), and about 12 hours on low heat – just make sure the bones are all soft before you feed them to your dog.
I add small amounts of garlic, a few veggies, and whatever healthy stuff I have available.
Bone broth is a great way to add flavour to kibble, moisture, and all manner of vitamins, minerals, glucosamine and chondroitin (for joints), and gelatin (for gut health). It’s great for your dog’s immune system, and there’s no reason you can’t have some too!
If you don’t have a slow cooker, or you’re lazy, you can buy bone broth specially formulated for dogs.
Open Farm bone broth is a good option, being human grade and humanely farmed (without antibiotics) – chicken, beef, or turkey – and suitable for any dog or cat:
Some supermarkets sell bone broth suitable for human consumption. This may be fine for your dog, but be careful of added sugars, flavourings, or preservatives like sodium benzoate. Opt for organic and free-range if possible, and if in doubt feed a pet-specific bone broth like Open Farm.
Homemade dog food toppers
If you don’t want to buy commercial dog food toppers then that’s okay. There’s some great foods you can add to your dog’s diet in moderation to give them a nutrient boost.
Just keep in mind, if you’re not sure if something’s good for your dog then don’t give it to them, and if in doubt, keep toppers in moderation.
Homemade dog food topper ideas
I say homemade, but most of these topper ideas don’t really need to be made. You just add them to your dog’s food:
- Fresh meats like chicken and turkey. These can even be raw!
- Yogurt (a bit of kefir yoghurt is fantastic!)
- Eggs – a wonderful complete protein source.
- Canned fish – opt for whole sardines as they contain more fish oil. Did you know regular cans of tuna often have the beneficial oils already removed?
- Fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and spinach.
- Nuts and seeds (like chia seeds).
- Peanut butter (opt for 100% peanuts).
- Whole grains like oatmeal or quinoa (keep to a minimum).
- Natural oils such as flaxseed or coconut oil.
Personally I top my dog’s food up with leftovers from dinner, as long as they’re appropriate for a dog. The biggest gotcha here is onion – never give your dog anything with onion, or cooked with onions.
A little garlic is fine (seriously, your dog will benefit from a little garlic no matter what fearmongering you read on the Internet).
Keep all the above in moderation, as you want your dog to benefit from the “complete and balanced” nature of their regular food.
If in doubt about a food, don’t give it to your dog.
Dog food toppers vs supplements
Dog food toppers and supplements serve different purposes.
Toppers are used as a convenient way of adding nutrition to dog food, as well as flavour and texture. Supplements on the other hand may be recommended by a vet to treat or prevent specific health issues such as joint problems or skin allergies.
Obviously there’s an overlap, and dog food toppers can be a great preventative for health problems (such as joint support). Generally a dog food topper is a way of boosting your dog’s nutrition a little bit every day. Supplements may do the same, but to a greater amount (and greater cost).
Why eggs make an eggcellent topper!
I love eggs. They’re one of the healthiest foods, even raw, and packed with building blocks to support so many aspects of your dog’s health. Eggs make excellent dog food toppers!
Adding an egg to your dog’s food can offer a range of benefits. It’s an easy way to add extra protein, and they give your dog energy. Eggs are a great source of omega fatty acids, boosting skin and coat health and keeping them looking healthy.
Eggs contain essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, folate and zinc – these help promote overall health in many ways.
You can even feed the shell for added calcium, but you’ll probably need to grind it first. I have a bad habit of scrunching egg shell in my hands, but it’s messy.
Caveat: Some dogs like their eggs cooked. This is fine, but takes a little more work on your part!
Eggs are nature’s complete protein source, and when you consider their purpose it’s easy to understand why they’re packed with so much nutrition. That’s why I consider them one of the best dog food toppers!
What dog food toppers do you use? Let me know why and how in the comments section below!