Updated: Nov 20, 2020
Kibble: It's something dog owners have been using for years. But is it the most nutritious on it's own?
No matter what diet you may feed your dog - raw, gently cooked, kibble - it's important to note that there are quality adjustments that you can make to your dog's food at home.
Let me clarify by saying that I'm not "pro" any type of diet, I'm pro feed the dog that's in front of you. Every dog has their own set of needs and requirements, and not every diet will be suitable for every dog and lifestyle - and that's okay! It's how you tailor your dog's diet to their individual needs that matters most.
Kibble feeders have been asking me for quite some time about what some of the best options are when it comes to amping up their bowls. So without further ado,
Here are 5 Cost Effective Ways to Level Up Store Bought Kibble
Incorporate Raw or Steamed Veggies
Veggies: They're packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients for both humans and dogs. Adding small amounts of dog safe vegetables is a sure fire way to amp up your dog's meals at dinner time.
A cost effective way to add veggies (while also eliminating food waste), is to use portions of your own vegetable leftovers. Have plain steamed green beans leftover from dinner? Use them. Love leafy greens, but find yourself throwing out half of the container every week? Incorporate them into Fido's breakfast. As long as the veggies are dog safe, utilizing leftovers is a great (and cost effective) way to provide nutritious add ins for your dogs.
Veggies that are a hard pass from Fido include: Onion, Avocado, Rhubarb & Tomato leaves.
A great source of protein, amino and fatty acids, and easily accessible in a pinch - we love using eggs! Use them raw or cooked, and watch your dog do a happy dance at meal time. If using farm fresh eggs, you can even add the shells (fresh eggshells are rich in calcium and phosphorus!). However, if you're using store bought eggs, ditch the shell.
3. Raw bones and/or Raw Add Ins
I like to use raw bones and add ins such as duck necks, full sardines, chicken feet, lamb ears and more. Raw meaty bones keep my girls' teeth nice and clean through the act of chewing, and in turn can help fend off gum disease. Sardines are a great way to keep the girl's skin and coat soft and shiny, and they're also a great source of omega-3s. Unsure of what raw bones to go for? Read Certified Canine Nutritionist Ronny Lejeune's article on raw bones here, which outlines raw meaty bone recommendations based on size.
Another great thing about raw meaty bones? They're relatively inexpensive, depending on where you find them. While most pet stores now carry raw options, don't be afraid to inquire at your local butcher for things like duck necks, chicken feet, ears, and more.
Probiotics aid with digestion, increase nutrient absorption, and enhance the immune system. When fed in moderation, Plain Greek Yogurt or Kefir are less expensive ways in which you can add probiotics to your dogs meals. If your dog is super sensitive to dairy, a probiotic supplement for dogs would be best. If you're looking for the real deal in dog probiotics, we would recommend Fido's Flora by Adored Beast Apothecary. If you're looking for something a little less expensive, Healthy Gut is also a great option from Adored Beast Apothecary that offers Pre & Probiotics.
5. On-The-Go Food Toppers
Whether home made or store bought, kibble toppers are a fast and easy way to make your dog's food more appetizing in seconds. One of my favorite store bought add-ins is Petkind Tripett, which is a pure meat and green tripe blend. OpenFarm Rustic Stews are another great, easy add-in from an ethical and sustainable business (Side note: You can trace where every single ingredient included in these stews was farmed via barcode).
If you're looking for something a little more personalized, you can actually make your own kibble topper with dog safe ingredients. Toppers can also be made in the form of frozen cubes that you pop into your dog's meals before supper, like these paw prints I previously made here.
Final Notes: Over Feeding
While there are tons of options out there to keep your dog's meals interesting, nutritious, and budget-friendly, it's incredibly important to not overfeed your dogs (even by accident). If you're looking for guidelines on how to tell your dog's current body condition as a base, a good starter guide can be found here.
That being said, what's the best way to keep track and avoid overfeeding? Count your calories and modify meals accordingly. If you're not sure how many calories your pooch should be getting per day, touch base with your vet. Your vet should be able to give you an idea on caloric intake based on age, activity levels, breed, and previous health conditions.
Final Notes: No Kitchen Sink!
Another important note before you begin the add-in process is that portion control is key. When feeding kibble, the basis of your dog's portions should not be overthrown by add-ins in way that unbalances your dogs meals (i.e. unnecessary supplements, or adding too many things in large quantities). A little goes a long way, and ensuring your meals are balanced and within caloric range is important. Basically, don't go making the kitchen sink out of your dog bowls just because you can! Let's stick to the five star resort meals, alright?
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