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How to Use Dog Food Toppers: Vet-Verified Facts & Types Explained

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on May 17, 2024 by Dogster Team

Dog waiting for the food

How to Use Dog Food Toppers: Vet-Verified Facts & Types Explained


Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo


Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dog food toppers can be an excellent way to spruce up your canine’s everyday meal. They can enhance the appetite of the pickiest pooches and add some calories if they’re needed. They can also soften dishes, making it easier for dogs with tooth or mouth problems to chew.

But there are other reasons for wanting to use dog food toppers, and we have some ideas on how you can incorporate them into your pet’s diet.

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Types of Toppers

Before you get started, let’s go over the different types of dog food toppers you might see and what they’re good for so that you can make an informed purchase.

1. Broth

Broth is an exceptional topper for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, broth typically has a high nutrient content and provides a great source of hydration to dogs that otherwise don’t get enocugh to drink. It can also soften dry kibble, making it more palatable and easier for your canine to consume.

On the downside, some forms of broth can have a lot of sodium, something your dog doesn’t really need. If you choose to feed your dog broth, stick with a low sodium variety.

close up of persons hands opening a can-of wet pet food
Image Credit: Konstantin Shadrin, Shutterstock

2. Freeze-Dried Kibble

It might sound weird to top kibble with kibble, but there are toppers for that, too! Most of these toppers are freeze-dried, so you can rehydrate them with water or leave them there as a crunchy snack. It’s totally up to you.

3. Chewy

Chewy toppers are different from kibble in that they contain more moisture, providing for a softer texture, but aren’t as soft as canned or wet food. Chewy toppers can switch up your dog’s texture sensations and entice them to eat.

4. Wet

Wet food toppers are readily available at stores. There is quite a variety to choose from as it is one of the most popular types of food you can purchase for your dog. You can buy standard canned dog food as a topper or buy a pouch explicitly designed for the job.

That part is totally up to you, but both are pretty similar. Wet food enhances appetite and boosts overall protein and moisture intake.

feeding bowls filled with wet food
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

5. Fresh

Fresh food is growing in popularity. Most of the time, fresh food options come in subscription-based services where these dishes are delivered directly to your door.

While convenient, these fresh foods can be very pricey, so they might be best used as a dry food topper. You can stretch your dollar and still give your pup the required canine-specific nutrition boost.

You could also make your own fresh food topper. Just be sure to talk to your vet first to make sure you are feeding foods that are safe and nutritionally balanced for your dog.

6. Raw

Raw food toppers are exactly what they sound like. They are sections of raw food offered to your dog. There’s quite a controversy surrounding raw food diets for dogs. This is primarily because of the risk of exposure to Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens.

However, raw pieces of meat can amplify the meal’s nutritional content. Consider talking to your vet first.

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How to Serve Dog Food Toppers to Your Dog

You can offer a topper to your dog, even if it doesn’t necessarily land on top. Below, we’re going to discuss the different ways you can introduce the topper into your dog’s diet.

Keep in mind that if you’re going to add a dog food topper to your dog’s food, it can add a lot more calories to the food. Discuss with your vet the proper amounts to give to avoid feeding too many calories to your dog.

dry dog food in a bowl on wooden table
Image Credit: 279photo Studio, Shutterstock

1. On Top of Kibble

The most common way to serve dog food toppers is on top of their food. You simply add some of their normal dry kibble to their bowl and then place the topper on top of it.

Just remember to add the proper amount of the food topper and avoid giving them too much.

2. Bury It Underneath the Food

If you want to encourage your dog to eat the dry food first in order to reap the dental benefits, you could always use food toppers as a way to offer a scavenger hunt to your dog.

Instead of placing the dog food topper on top of the food, place the topper first, and then add your dog’s kibble on top of it. They can eat their dry food in order to get to the goodies on the bottom.

Wet and dry pet food made of natural ingredients
Image Credit: Yuriy Golub, Shutterstock

3. As a Standalone Snack

There are several toppers you could offer as a standalone snack. For example, you could use it as a dessert treat. Your dog just finished their meal, and you squeeze a little pouch into their bowl for a final finish. This will allow them to enjoy the experience without mixing any flavors, just be sure to subtract the calories from their regular meal.

4. Out of a Treat Ball

You could buy a ball or toy explicitly designed to hold treats. Many of these allow you to put in some type of wet food topper or scoop of peanut butter so your dog can spend hours trying to lick it out from the inside of the ball.

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The Importance of Dogs Eating Healthy

It is absolutely imperative to feed your dog a healthy diet. It is one of the prime factors that will determine how long their lifespan actually is. If you feed your dog incorrectly, they could develop all sorts of issues that can significantly shorten their lifespan.

You should always give your dog a nutritionally friendly diet, free of preservatives, chemicals, and other pesky ingredients that can take our canines from us all too soon.

It’s definitely important to work alongside your veterinarian so you can select the type of meal that works best for your dog. There are going to be several factors to consider here, such as their age, weight, life stage, and overall health.

dog eating from elevated bowl
Image Credit: Nadezhda Zaitceva, Shutterstock

Should You Offer Toppers Every Day?

Offering toppers every day is a bit controversial. Some pet parents claim that they do this for every meal. If you are perfectly balancing the food topper with their regular diet, you can easily make a calorie-friendly match. Just make sure that you follow the directions on the label so you can give them the appropriate amount.

Keep in mind that if you continuously overfeed, you can cause weight gain, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and many other problems. Keep an eye on that extra calorie count to avoid weight gain.

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Now you know a little bit more about dog food toppers. Your dog will certainly benefit from them as far as pleasure goes, but they can be detrimental to their health if you aren’t serving them properly.

If you’ve been thinking about adding a food topper but you’re not sure which to select, be sure to speak with your veterinarian. Toppers are becoming more and more popular, so they’re very easy to find in-store and even easier to make it home. Just be sure you’re doing it in a way that is healthy for your dog.

Featured Image Credit: eva_blanco, Shutterstock

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