When it comes to feeding our furry friends, many pet owners often wonder, “What can be mixed with dry dog food to enhance its nutritional value and taste?” This question is not only common but also crucial for those looking to provide a balanced and enjoyable diet for their dogs.
Meat, fish, veggies, low-sodium broth, organic dog treats, peanut butter, and eggs can be mixed with dry dog food. If you want to make your dog’s food more appetizing, you can also use commercial toppers, which are formulated to be aromatic and flavorful.
Dry dog food, while convenient and often nutritionally complete, can sometimes lack variety and excitement for our pets. By exploring safe and healthy options to mix with dry dog food, we can not only spice up their meals but also contribute to their overall health and well-being.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into some creative and nutritious additions that can transform your dog’s regular meal into a delightful and wholesome feast.
Why Add a Topper
There are two reasons to add a topper to dry dog food, and knowing why you’re adding a topper can help you select an appropriate topping. The first reason is your dog’s health, and the second is his preferences.
Almost all dog food toppers serve both these functions to different extents, but the fact remains that different toppings are appropriate for making dry dog food more nutritious and appealing.
Let’s suppose your dog is bored of kibble. You can add dog treats as the primary topper, enticing him to eat his food. However, dog treats aren’t exactly a healthy addition unless, of course, you choose organic treats. But these can be pretty expensive.
On the other hand, your vet might recommend adding a liquid supplement cocktail as a topper, such as salmon oil and/or a paste probiotic. It might not be as appealing as a bunch of treats, but it would be pretty healthy.
Both nutritional and delicious additives can be used as toppers. Knowing what to mix with dry dog food will help you pick the right topper.
What Can Be Mixed With Dry Dog Food?
A range of meat, dairy, broth, veggies, and nutritional supplements can be mixed with dry dog food to make it healthier. You can also mix wet dog food to improve its moisture content and make it more appealing.
Among other things, you can mix the following with dry dog food:
- Warm water – Adding warm water to your dog’s dry food is simple and easy. Turn the kibble into a ‘gravy’ to improve its aroma and texture. My German Shepherd loves her kibble with added water. I wrote a separate article on this subject, which you can find here, Adding Water To Dry Dog Food (Pros, Cons & How To Add Water).
- A small portion of veggies – Do not overdo this. Vegetables in small amounts can be good for dogs, but dogs should eat more meat despite being omnivorous.
- Meat chunks – Meat chunks can improve the protein content of your dog’s diet. This is especially beneficial for big dogs.
- Canned fish – Canned fish can be packed with plenty of beneficial fatty acids and protein.
- Cottage cheese – Cottage cheese, in small portions, can be an appealing food item to mix with dry kibble.
- Freeze-dried dog food – Freeze-dried dog food is technically raw because of the way its meat content is preserved.
- Wet dog food – Canned dog food or pouches have a different texture, making kibble more appealing to your dog. Grab a pack of gravy and entice your puppy with yummy dog foods for overall wellness.
- Digestive enzymes – These can help your dog digest his food better but check with your vet first.
Having covered some of the food items that can be mixed with dry dog food, I would like to go into potential additions that are more appetizing to dogs. The food items covered below are in order of appeal, starting with food that will be most enticing to your dog to food that might not even appeal to him.
The less appealing the food, the more in-depth it must be added. Similarly, the more appetizing the food, the closer it must be to the top of the bowl, starting with dog treats.
1. Dog Treats
These are the most appetizing and the least nutritious choice for dog food. But if your dog’s dry food is nutritious enough on its own and the only problem is getting your dog to start eating it, you can sprinkle a few treats on the top of the bowl.
However, I recommend choosing organic treats such as chicken jerky, pure meat treats, or dried fish skins. That way, you turn an unhealthy commercial treat into a healthy one. My German Shepherd Willow loves her 100% pure fish skins, as you call tell in the photo. Just look at that tongue!!
I cut the 100% fish skins into tiny pieces – it’s amazing how just a few chunks can get your dog to eat his food!
2. Meat Chunks
Depending on your dog’s taste, this can be a very good topper. Meat chunks are protein-rich, which makes them perfect for dogs as they need 18-22% protein for their nutritional needs. Most importantly, dogs generally love meat.
I often add steak, beef, lamb, or pork to my dog’s bowl. However, avoid processed meats like bacon, sausage, and ham as they contain too much salt and additives.
3. Peanut Butter
Dogs love peanut butter, and if your dog has consumed peanut butter as a treat, he will love his dog food with a peanut butter topper. Always choose organic peanut butter without xylitol, as this is toxic to dogs.
You can refrigerate peanut butter until it is solid enough to scoop out in small portions. Small drops of peanut butter on top of dry dog kibble will make dog food more appealing. But if you take creamy peanut butter and try to spread it across the top, you’ll make the food too calorie-dense.
Watch This Video On Improving Your Dog’s Dry Food…
4. Wet Dog Food
This is the fourth most appealing addition to dry dog food. Wet dog food is formulated to be more appetizing and flavorful.
Adding half a part of canned dog food to half a part of dry kibble can work for some dogs. For others, one part wet food can be added to three parts kibble. It also depends on the dog’s preference and breed size.
However, my friend’s Chihuahuas prefer half kibble and half wet food for one of their meals. As you can see in the below photo, both large and small breeds are enjoying their meal of a mix of wet and dry food.
Some dogs are so used to their daily serving of moistened kibble that they might reject canned dog food or pouches. If your dog is fond of his dry food, you might need to mix the wet food at the bottom of his bowl.
5. Cooked Chicken
You can add chicken to your dog’s dry food. It is rich in protein and is a food item your dog may often observe you eat. It can be good for your dog’s self-esteem to see you take a portion of chicken from the kitchen before feeding it to him.
Don’t feed the skin as it is high in fat. Also, don’t feed cooked chicken bones as they become brittle and can splinter in your dog’s mouth or digestive tract causing nasty injuries. If you ever offer a bone to your dog ensure it is raw and larger in size than the muzzle to prevent choking. It’s recommended to avoid raw foods irrespective of flavors as these can end up in new health issues.
Broth is quite aromatic, and if you’ve read my article on whether dogs can taste their food, you’ll know that aroma is a major factor in the way dogs experience food. Meat, vegetable, or chicken broth can all be pretty delicious if mixed well with kibble.
Just make sure that the broth is a low-sodium variety. Too much sodium is not good for dogs, and there’s enough sodium in dog food as it is.
7. Packaged Dog Food Topper
Commercial toppers are dog food packages full of aromatic and flavorful bits that can make a dog hungry enough to eat styrofoam, let alone kibble. So when you add these to the top of your dog’s food bowl, you can bet he will start eating dry food that he was previously disinterested in.
8. Canned Tuna
Tuna is protein-rich and doesn’t cost too much. Therefore, it is a great addition to your dog’s diet. Canned tuna is pretty moist right off the bat, so you don’t even need to add water to the kibble. Make sure that the specific tuna you get isn’t stored in a salt solution. A low-sodium variety should be a priority.
As tuna and mackerel contain higher amounts of mercury, feed in moderation.
9. Cheese (Cheddar/Swiss/Cottage)
Cheese can make dry kibble more interesting for a dog. However, you should add a moderate portion due to its high-fat content. Not all types of cheese are safe for dogs, so avoid using any cheese that is not cheddar, Swiss, or cottage variety since these are the safest ones.
Blue cheeses such as stilton are off the menu as they contain a toxic substance called roquefortine, which causes vomiting and diarrhea, and seizures in severe cases.
Yogurt can nutritiously moisten dry dog food but can run up your dog food bill as well. How often you want to add it to kibble is up to you. Avoid adding flavored yogurt with sugar or any sweetener. The more natural the yogurt, the better it is for your dog.
Most dogs, large or small, enjoy a blob or two of organic yogurt added to their kibble. My German Shepherd Willow loves it once or twice a week – as you can see in the below photo – as do Lily and Molly, my friend’s Chihuahuas!
Eggs contain essential fats and are packed with protein. They can be very helpful to a young dog with an active life. Add cooked eggs to your dog’s dry food to make the food more nutrient-packed without incurring the risk of food poisoning that comes with raw eggs.
Feeding salmon to your dog is a great way of improving his diet while signaling that you have a lot of money! Salmon isn’t cheap for dog food, but you can make a single fillet last a while by mixing it with dry dog food.
13. Canned Pumpkin
This isn’t an appetizing addition, so it has to be snuck into your dog’s digestive system. However, it is quite healthy because it contains fiber which can improve canine digestion.
Add no more than a few chunks, though. It shouldn’t be a constant presence in your dog’s diet and ensure you choose a salt-free brand.
14. Sweet Potatoes
These are nutritious additives that need to be mashed before they are added to kibble. Sweet potatoes can introduce fiber, minerals, and vitamins to your dog’s diet. But don’t overdo it because dogs can reject mashed potatoes.
15. Flaxseed Oil
This oil is rich in omega fatty acids and can moisten dog food while adding a refreshing aroma to the kibble. It is the least appetizing additive that is a hit or miss, which earns it the last position on my list of food that can be mixed with dry kibble.
What Can Dogs Not Eat?
It’s crucial to keep in mind that some foods are quite harmful to dogs. When considering what can be added to dry dog food (or if you want to offer your dog a treat), make sure it is suitable and stay away from any of the foods on the following list:
- Blue cheese
- Onions, garlic, leeks
- Grapes and raisins
- Bread dough
- Macadamia nuts
- Xylitol (artificial sweetener)
Never give your dog fatty foods, salty foods, moldy foods (the cause of aflatoxin poisoning), alcohol, coffee, and tea. The list above is not exhaustive, but they are the main ones. Nonetheless, you can find a complete list of poisonous foods at the Pet Poison Helpline.
Can I add supplements to my dog’s dry food?
Yes, you can add supplements to your dog’s dry food to enhance their nutrition. However, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to ensure you are giving the right supplements and in the correct amounts for your dog’s specific needs.
Are there any homemade recipes to mix with dry dog food?
From cooked meats like chicken or beef to vegetables like carrots and peas, there are endless possibilities to create nutritious and delicious meals for your furry friend. Other options include adding some cooked rice or quinoa for added fiber and carbohydrates, or even a spoonful of plain yogurt for a probiotic boost.
Let’s Wrap This Up!
There are many nutritious foods you can add to dry dog food whether you have a picky eater, are seeking added nutrition, or enjoy mixing things up for your best friend.
I love to add chicken, tuna, and mackerel to my dog’s dry food. And if you ever run out of dog food, there is no need to worry, as you can head over here, Run Out Of Dog Food? 31 Safe Foods To Feed Your Dog (& Recipes).