Ah, the perpetual picky eater, the bane of many dog owners. If you share this sentiment, then don’t click away because we have 5 easy tips to help you make dry dog food more inviting for your pup.
Sure, you can opt to switch out of dry dog food for something much more flavorful such as wet food, fresh subscription dog food, or even a raw diet, but then you will be missing out on many advantages.
In our opinion, a kibble diet is the easiest and can provide a very balanced diet. After all, dogs have been fed kibble much longer than some other diets and have all been healthy in their development.
Just because your dog is picky, that doesn’t mean you should give in just yet. Other than balanced nutrition, what good can come from feeding dry food to your dog?
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What Can I Add to Dry Dog Food to Make it More Appealing?
So, what is safe to add to your dog’s meals that provide benefits and not harm? It’s important to know what toppings are suitable and which are indigestible. We have come up with 5 different methods to make dry dog food more appealing to your pooch with ingredients you can easily find at your local market.
1. Fish Oil
It may not sound very enticing to you, but fish oil is high in nutritional benefits, omega fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals. Picky eaters are primarily looking for some variety, and what may not be appealing to your nose is greatly appreciated by your pooch. Tuna juices are also a good option to try. Next time you break open a can of tuna, don’t dump the juices down the drain. Instead, save it as a yummy mixer to add to your dog’s food.
Fish oil is readily available at pet stores, but we advise you to consult with your vet before introducing anything new to your dog. This is just to be on the safe side just in case your dog has allergies or digestion issues you are not aware of.
Don’t add in human fish oil unless you have the green light from your vet. As a rule of thumb, we would also advise against drying toppers or mixers until your puppy is at least 6 months old.
2. Adding Liquids
Then there is the simple tried and true method of adding liquids to the dry food. Not only will you enhance the flavors with the likes of bone broth or milk, but you can also even change the texture to give your dog a sense of novelty.
Adding the liquids at least 15 minutes before serving can soften the hard, dry food. Soft food has its benefits too, including easier digestion and improved water intake.
We highly recommend starting with warm water. Some picky dogs may dislike the softness of the wet food and avoid it altogether. Trying it out with water will save you from wasting good broth. If your dog has sensitivities or stomach problems, you can try soaking the pieces of dry food to make a porridge-like substance. If your dog doesn’t like the softened texture, then you can serve it right away without soaking the dry food through as a kibble soup.
If your dog accepts the softened food, you can try using beef broth, chicken broth, or even warm milk. Again, we recommend discussing the new recipe with our vet first, and remember to account for the extra calories the bone broth and other mixers provide. You don’t want the additions to create more health problems such as obesity.
Make sure the broth of your choice is low sodium. Dogs cannot process salt very well, so most of what you feed them needs to be bland. How much you pour in will depend on how much kibble you feed, if you want to soak the food through or serve it as soup. Unless you choose to add warm water, you will need to do some math to calculate the calories.
You can think about adding other liquids such as apple cider vinegar (but in small amounts), coconut oil, and other healthy mixers you can find at the pet store.
3. Adding Solids
Adding solids is where you can get really creative in the kitchen. If you are not only focused on satisfying your dog’s picky palate but are considering other health concerns, then there are specific ingredients that will target your dog’s needs. For example, pumpkin or sweet potato are among the best ingredients to add if your dog is suffering from indigestion, requires extra fiber, or has an upset tummy.
Yogurt can also make dry food more appealing if your dog isn’t lactose intolerant. Yogurt is an ingredient full of probiotics to promote digestive health.
Be sure to read the label and look for ones without sugar, fat, and flavoring. Don’t add too much yogurt, just a tablespoon or so for a cup of dry food. If your pooch proves to tolerate dairy, then you can also consider cottage cheese for extra protein.
Something else to make your dog’s food tastier is eggs. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, and there are so many ways to cook them to keep things fresh for your dog every time. Scramble them, do it sunny-side up, or break a hard-boiled egg into pieces and mix it in. We guarantee your dog will love and appreciate the extra amino acids.
Dogs also need veggies and fruits for a well-balanced meal. Top-of-the-line dry dog food will have some in the ingredients list, however far down the list they may be. Since they are in trace amounts, it’s a good idea to bolster your dog’s dry food with some extra additions. Take some fresh veggies such as cucumbers, carrots, green beans, or spinach and chop them up and mix them in with the food. For fruits, we recommend apples for vitamins, bananas for potassium, and blueberries and cranberries for antioxidants.
4. Adding Toppers
If you don’t necessarily want to change the dry food too much or add too many extra calories into dog food, then you can look into food toppers. There are ones available at the pet store created from freeze-dried ingredients. These options are often in powder form and easily sprinkled onto the food.
Related: 8 Best Dog Food Toppers
There are also herbs we use to season our food that can make the dog food more appealing. Such herbs include oregano and rosemary. Remember to implement everything in moderation to be on the safe side. Dry herbs are the easiest to add and do not require preparation, but fresh herbs are much more aromatic and will be more effective for picky dogs.
Canned wet dog food can also be used as a mixer for kibble. Just spoon a suitable amount into the bowl and stir well. Consider some canned food on the dry kibble with some broth poured in to help with the mixing for a more robust meal.
If you want to try a raw diet, this is when you can add some diced raw meat to boost the nutritional profile. Only the best quality meats should be considered when trying raw ingredients. Going to the local butcher is recommended as opposed to regular supermarket meat. Spending a little more money will help prevent your dog from ingesting bacteria.
You don’t necessarily need to add something to your dog’s meals. There is ready-made dry food already infused with raw bites that are a hybrid of hard kibble and soft pieces. The raw bits are usually freeze-dried pieces to add more variety and flavor to the food.
5. Adding Supplements
There is the option to add prescription supplements to the formula for a focus on health, but of course, you will need the vet’s approval first. This method is reserved for dogs that require special attention, require treatment, are in a healing process, or pregnant and nursing.
Things to Consider Before Adding New Ingredients
There are so many choices your canine will never walk away from his food bowl again! The pressure is on for you to choose the best topping. We’ll be honest; it will take some trial and error not only to pick the ingredient your dog can’t resist but also for the calculations to get the portion right. Below are some things to consider to help you out.
How old is your pup? Young dogs need a lot of nutrients to support their growth and development. However, as your dog matures, the need for such rich proteins, vitamins, and minerals will decrease. If you continue feeding the same diet your dog had as a puppy in his later years, it could put stress on his organs and the digestive system just to process it.
It’s crucial to know what your dog needs at his or her specific age and whether there are health concerns, you need to account for. The age will also dictate what you can add to the dry food. For example, a very young puppy of only a couple to a few months old isn’t the best candidate for a hefty meal.
We don’t recommend altering the food too much at a young age, so broths, milk, or warm water are the best choices. The liquids also help to soften the kibble when you are introducing a tiny pup to solid food.
A senior dog with dental problems or sensitive teeth won’t be able to chew through carrots or hard veggies, so you would need to cook them through first or opt for another ingredient.
Smaller dogs require less food; that’s a fact of life. Due to their small stature, they need fewer calories and energy to function. In turn, they will also have smaller mouths, which means their dry food is in smaller pieces. These small breeds will require you to cut the toppings down to size and be extra precise with the calorie calculations.
The same goes for larger breeds. You have to give them enough to satisfy their needs but not too much, so they gain weight and add stress to their joints. Large dogs are prone to joint problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia.
The dog breed will not only affect the size but impact potential health issues your dog may suffer from and the nutrition he needs. As mentioned before, large dogs are susceptible to joint problems, so glucosamine and chondroitin are important.
Maybe your pet suffers from cardiovascular or respiratory issues and should avoid fatty foods. Look at the breed’s history and the lineage of your dog to understand what potential problems he could have and what you can do to help.
Lastly, your dog’s lifestyle and exercise routine will also dictate what you should add. A very active pup can handle more toppings and mixers, but a small lapdog would probably only need broth or milk.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I make my dog’s dry food more appealing?
You can make your dog’s dry food more appealing by adding supplements. Some liquids can improve the taste and texture, such as apple cider vinegar, fish oil, milk, or bone broth. Solid toppings can also be greatly beneficial as protein sources, amino acids, omega fatty acids, and essential vitamins and minerals. Some solid ingredients to make your dog’s food more enticing are veggies, fruits, eggs, and yogurt.
What are the top 5 best dry dog foods?
The top 5 best dry dog foods include Orijen, Instinct, Taste of the Wild, Fromm, and Wellness complete. There are many reasons why they take the top 5 spots, including freshly sourced ingredients and minimal artificial additives and preservatives if any. Experts will have different brands on their list, but you will most likely see these names grace the top spots.
How can I add flavor to homemade dog food?
You can add flavor to homemade dog food by incorporating certain ingredients. You have gone through all the trouble of creating a nutritionally balanced meal for your dog, so we’re sure you wouldn’t want to spoil your efforts by adding anything unhealthy. Some suggestions for adding flavor include herbs such as oregano, peanut butter, fresh fruits, and veggies cut up into pieces or sprinkling freeze-dried food toppers. We think you’ll be interested to know how peanut butter is okay to be eaten by dogs.
Will a picky dog starve?
No, a picky dog will not starve. He will likely go hungry for a bit, but in the end, the dog will cave and eat his food for survival. The question is if you want to wait it out or give in and try to coax your dog to eat by adding additional ingredients.
What kind of food is best for dogs?
There is no right answer for what kind of food is best for dogs. Each dog is an individual with his or her own unique needs. Some healthy and strapping dogs are fine on a pure kibble diet as long as it’s high quality. Others may want some fresh ingredients mixed in to make the food more palatable, while others may have health issues and can only function on a raw diet.
Your dog’s health and well-being begin with the food he eats. As dog parents, we aim to give our furry companions the best we can offer, which stems from a balanced diet. Don’t give in to your dog’s sad puppy dog eyes as if he is telepathically communicating with you and telling you he wants a piece of your pizza. Remember only to give him food that has health benefits.
Did You Know?
If you can’t pick just one suggestion, you can think about blending your top 3 choices together in a mixer to create a homemade topping paste for the dry food.
Always ask the vet before introducing something new to your dog at mealtimes and research what ingredients are harmful to dogs, such as grapes and onions.