Kibble often gets a bad rap for being unhealthy or lower quality than some other diets. While this can be true of some mass-produced commercial kibbles, it isn’t always the case. Some companies make great kibble that is nutritionally complete and easy to feed to your pup. To find that kibble look for products labeled completed and balanced by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO for short).
If you are already a kibble feeder and you want to give your pup some variety in their diet, we rounded up 10 of the best additions to make their kibble more delicious and more nutritious. Before we dive into these delicious ingredients (all of which you can enjoy, too!) we have to give a little guidance around how to add these to your pup’s meals.
As with any new food or dietary change, you want to start slow, this is to avoid any upset tummies or bad reactions. You also don’t want to add too much of these delicious toppings – keep about 75% of your pup’s meals as their kibble so that you aren’t accidentally causing a nutritional imbalance.
You can add eggs however you like to prepare them! Your pup can enjoy scrambled eggs, and those that are hard and soft-cooked – even raw egg is okay. Dogs don’t have the same issues we do with raw eggs. In fact, the yolks are more nutritious when kept raw. If you are sharing eggs with your pup in the morning, avoid adding extra butter or cheese. While this does make for a more delicious egg – it can upset your dog’s stomach because of the higher fat and calorie content.
Goat’s milk is said to be great for a dog’s gut health. It is easily digestible and generally well tolerated by pups with a lower risk of allergic reaction. The folks at Brindleberry Acres say “Because raw goat’s milk has naturally occurring probiotics, it has all the benefits that probiotics offer in a very easy to absorb form. If your dog has digestive issues, give goat’s milk a try!” Go ahead and add some raw goat’s milk to your pup’s kibble – just like you’d add milk to your cereal. As a bonus, it can also help keep your dog hydrated.
We know, we just told you goat’s milk is far superior to its cow counterpart in terms of digestibility for your dog. That doesn’t mean dairy is totally off the table if your pup tolerates it. Adding some plain yogurt or kefir to your dog’s food can be a great way to add some nutrition and flavor. As both of these forms of dairy are fermented, they contain probiotics that can help keep your dog’s digestive system healthy. Avoid flavored yogurts as they are also loaded with extra sugar. Also, avoid low fat/calorie products that contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol, these will make your dog sick too.
Bone broth is a magical elixir that can make dry food more appealing and more nutritious. Made from the bones of chickens, beef, or even fish, this liquid can add value to your dog’s kibble in multiple ways. First, bone broth can be used to help hydrate or soften your kibble. This is great for senior pups or dogs who have recently had surgery or a dental procedure. Second, it can make the food more appealing to a pup with decreased appetite, this is because dog’s sense of smell is a big part of how they perceive their food. Their sense of smell is much stronger than ours and the bone broth will smell extra appetizing to a dog who maybe isn’t feeling that hungry for whatever reason. Finally, bone broth is rich in collagen and other nutrients and minerals from the bone. This can help with overall health as well as skin and joints.
For dogs with digestive issues, your vet may recommend adding pumpkin puree. Pumpkin is rich in fiber and can help soothe your pup’s digestive system. Many pups also enjoy the taste, making it a great choice to add to their kibble. If you aren’t roasting and pureeing your own pumpkins make sure the can or box that you purchase is 100% pumpkin. The pumpkin pie filling you may see on the grocery store shelves will also contain sugar and spices which aren’t good for your dog’s digestive system so skip those!
There is so much you can do with fresh produce. Raw carrots or apples can add some flavor and crunch. Fresh berries can add some sweetness. Cucumber and watermelon are great for boosting hydration if it is hot and humid or you have a pup who simply doesn’t like to drink water. Some pups do better with cooked vegetables as they can be easier to digest. Steamed or roasted broccoli is another good choice. Some pups who dislike raw carrots might prefer them steamed or cooked in bone broth. You can experiment and find out who your pup enjoys most — we know some pups will just eat anything so adding seasonal produce is a great way to introduce some variety into their diets.
If you want to indulge your pup’s carnivorous side, consider adding some lean meat to the mix. You don’t have to stick to chicken or ground beef. Lean pieces of fish like salmon and lean duck breast meat or lamb are also good choices for your pup. Your pup may even enjoy something more indulgent like some filet mignon. Just keep the seasonings and spices to a minimum as many spice blends contain garlic and onion powder which isn’t good for pups. If you are a meal prepper for yourself you can make your pup a few days’ worth at a time too – leave off any sauces or toppings that you are putting on yours.
Organ meat like kidneys, liver, and heart have health benefits for both humans and pups. They contain a long list of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, folic acid and vitamin B12), iron, phosphorus, copper, and magnesium. In addition to (or instead of ) lean muscle meats, consider adding organ meat to your pup’s dish. You can start slowly by blending the organ meat with something like plain ground beef – this also works well for humans who are new to eating organ meat as it can have a stronger or more gamey flavor.
You might be surprised to learn that sardines are a great source of the amino acid, taurine! With the FDA exploring a potential link between certain diets and an increase in cases of dilated cardiomyopathy, one theory is that some of these diets are taurine deficient. Adding sardines to your pup’s diet is a great way to get more. Not only that, but sardines have a high level of omega 3 fatty acids, which can be beneficial for everything from skin and coat health to joint pain.
While there has been some debate about the benefits of ingesting coconut oil, it can be a healthy addition to your pup’s food in moderation. The medium chain triglycerides (MCTs for short) are a healthy fat source and can provide great fuel/energy for your pup. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid which is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal which can help keep your pup healthy. One of the drawbacks is that coconut oil doesn’t have enough of the omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids your pup needs. This is where fish oil comes in, this nutritional powerhouse contains beneficial omega 3s for your pup and can help with many common health issues including dry and itchy skin and joint pain.
These 10 additions are meant to inspire you to help your pup have some variety in their diet so they don’t have to eat the same thing meal after meal. While their kibble is designed to give them everything they need, having some variety can also provide not only some additional health benefits but also some mental stimulation. What combinations will you try for your pup?
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.
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