9 Best Dog Food Toppers (Dry, Powder, Liquid, Healthy Mixers, Gravy, Kibble)
Are you looking for the best dog food toppers?
Dog owners know that a high-quality pet food is essential. But what do you do when your dog's favorite meal has gone bad. Or they refuse to eat it?
This can be a scary time for both of you. Sometimes it isn't enough just to give your furry friend some fresh meat or vegetables. Sometimes they need some extra care or something special in addition.
It can be hard to know where to turn for help, especially if your dog is on special diets like one with grain / soy allergies or health conditions.
Today I am going to share 9 best dog food toppers that can help your dog thrive. There are fresh, wet, dry and powder options to cover all of your bases.
Before we get started I'll mention that my number one recommendation is a high protein, human grade bone broth like Bluebird Provisions dehydrated.
Your pup needs real ingredients to ensure no allergens are in the broth. Many of the pet versions are very low in real nutrition with added nonsense.
Let's get into it!
What are dog food toppers?
Dog food toppers are additions to their regular meals that add flavor and extra nutrition to your dog's regular diet.
They come in a variety of shapes and forms from dehydrated powders to crunchy ones, gravies and everything in between.
They are easy to use with little effort: you simply add them directly to your pup's food or mix them into a wet mixture for a more complete meal.
You may be looking for a solution for your picky eater or a way to get extra vitamins, minerals and nutrients. A topper is a great option, but not all of them are created equal.
Are taste toppers good for dogs?
Taste toppers are good for dogs because they offer variety and flavor that keep them engaged while eating. They can help prevent palate boredom and add nutrients that some dog food formulas lack. They also help your pup stay hydrated by giving them other drink options other than water (since most of them are mixed with water).
However, there is a potential downside in that your dog may develop even more picky eating behaviors. If you always give them these delicious toppers, they will get conditioned to only eating food with delicious add ins.
Dog Food Meal Toppers Health Benefits
The health benefits of dog food meal toppers are hydration, nutrition, gut health, adding variety, adding weight and helping picky eaters.
- Hydration: They can help your dog stay hydrated by drinking more water.
- Extra Nutrients: They are filled with vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and other nutrients that your dog needs to stay strong as they age.
- Variety: They add variety to your pup's diet. This is crucial for some dogs when it comes to food and keeps them from getting bored.
- Weight Benefits: Some dogs needs to gain weight and won't do it with kibble alone because of palate fatigue. In this case, you can add extra calories for recovery and to get them to a healthy, happy weight.
- Picky Eaters: If you have a stubborn puppy who doesn't eat regular food, toppers are your savior. This gets them nutrition and calories they need in a delicious form.
Healthy Dog Food Toppers Checklist Before You Buy
Here is a quick checklist that will save you time and money on your search for healthy dog food toppers.
1. What is the protein percentage?
Dog products must display the protein percentage on the back of the package. Look for a topper with at least 75% protein. If it is any lower than you are getting one with lots of cheap, filler ingredients and no extra nutrition
Dogs evolved as meat and protein connoisseurs. They are drawn to it and need it to thrive.
2. Is it free from cheap, processed filler ingredients
Many popular dog food brands use cheap, filler ingredients and byproducts in place of protein. This is why you need to check the nutrition facts for any of the following (see below the image). Brand names we've all heard of use these because they are cheaper than high quality whole foods.
Here is what to avoid:
- Natural flavors: 90% of “natural” flavors are made from synthetics, nasty chemicals and preservatives. They’re found in varying quantities in highly processed meats to mimic real animal flavors. If you see them then make sure you ask the brand how they’re made and what’s in them.
- Chicory Root : A plant fiber made mostly of inulin. Large brands use it as a texturizer to add fiber, bulk and sweetness.
- Yeast Extract: Found in countless packaged foods these days. It's a potent enhancer that makes things feel like meat. Also used as a replacement for MSG.
- Salt: Adds flavor but is not necessary. Too much can be harmful for your dog.
- Potassium Chloride: Used to keep the sodium down while adding saltiness elements. It is also used as a flavor enhancer, stabilizer or thickener in processed foods.
- Spices: This could be any mix of spices. What are they hiding by not telling us the individual ones?
- Guar / Xanthan Gum: These are thickening agents used to help powder products disperse in water.
- Sunflower Lecithin: An emulsifier that is used to make liquids and oils combine and mix together.
- Silicon Dioxide: Used as an anti-caking agent in powders.
2. Does it have allergens your pet is sensitive to?
Many pets have food sensitivities to different grains, wheat, gluten, eggs (white and yolk), artificial colors, corn, legumes, dairy and other things. This can mess with their energy and hormones. Check with your vet if you ever have any concerns or questions.
3. Where is it made and sourced from?
All food should be sourced ethically and from sustainable sources. I would also urge you to buy products that are made in the country they are sold in.
4. How many carbs are there?
These products must display the percentage of fiber, moisture and protein, but not necessarily the carbs. You can also simply add the percent protein and fat then subtract that total from 100 to find the carbohydrates yourself. This only works for powder / dehydrated / freeze-dried products with low moisture.
You can also look on the company website to see the carb levels to make sure it is not higher than 10%. This is the big issue with pet food.
It should be mostly protein content and some fat. But carbs are cheaper, so people use them to save money... all at the cost of your pets health.
Best Dog Food Toppers in 2023
The best dog food toppers in 2023 are Bluebird Provisions bone broth, TruDog and more.
You'll get the full list of pros and cons of each below, along with recommendations based on your pup's specific dietary needs. I'll break this down into sections based on the format of the product.
I did not include any frozen raw food because they are a nuisance to ship, prepare and deal with. If you think I missed one, leave a comment and let me know.
Dry Powder Dog Food Toppers
Convenient for travel and storage, these raw bites / meal toppers are the most common in pet food stores. They are a mix of meat, fruits (even apples) and veggies.
Best Overall - Bluebird Provisions Bone Broth Powder
Human-quality bone broth is a great source of collagen protein and bioavailable electrolytes to give your dog a hydration boost. But most of them are notoriously low protein with added fillers and junk.
The limited ingredients in Bluebird ensure that there is nothing bad in the broth. It only uses one thing: non-gmo, grass fed beef bone broth.
Plus, it is 94% protein, way higher than any other bone broth on the market.
It can be easily mixed with other foods to create a gravy-like meal enhancer. Simply add 1 tsp to 1 tbsp on top of their meals, add a bit of water and stir it all up.
The price is the lowest at about $0.34 per 1/2 tbsp serving or $48 per pound. And best of all, this product is shelf stable for convenience and travelling.
The powder is beneficial to dogs of all ages because it builds a strong fur coat, helps soothe their digestion and heals achey joints and injuries.
What I love most:
- 94% Protein
- Sourced and Made in the USA
- Hydrating Electrolytes
- Low sodium at 180 mg per cup
- Grain Free
Find it on the Bluebird Provisions website.
Freeze Dried Food Toppers for Dogs
Freeze dried is a newer format that has little chunks of meat and other bits that have been dehydrated to make them shelf stable.
TruDog Fortify Me Dog Kibble Topper - Best Freeze-Dried
TruDog Fortify Me is made with fantastic, whole foods and is grain-free. All products say this but this one actually does.
The beef flavor uses beef, beef heart and salmon skin along with other stuff to round it out. Check the image above.
So the product sounds good, but what about the price? TruDog costs about $1.31 per portion. The package size is quite small at 99g /3.5 oz.
What I love about TruDog:
- Omega-3s EPA and DHA callouts on the package.
- Human grade nutrition and ingredients
- Beef and salmon skin sound delicious to any pet don't they?
iHeartDogs Nutrition Boost Beef Food Topper
iHeartDogs beef is a quality freeze dried choice with decent protein levels. The limited input list is grain free and adds some probiotics. I'm not sure they are necessary, but they're in vogue right now, so many products are including them.
I like the freeze-dried superfoods: beef liver and heart, these are the most nutrient dense cuts of meat which are perfect for canines. They also have antioxidants, choline, zinc, iron and B vitamins. The protein is 45% and fat 20%. Meaning there are some carbs in this to the tune of around 30%.
As you can see above, you'll find no sketchy stuff in it. But what about the cost? One 3 oz pouch will cost you $9.99. One portion is 1 spoonful: tsp to tbsp / 0.25 oz to 0.5 oz, so you get about 6 to 12 portions per pouch.
The cost per portion is $1.66 to $0.83.
Stella & Chewy's Dog Mixer With Organic Vegetables
Stella and Chewy's meal mixers come in seven flavors: beef, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, pork and fish. The products are made in the USA using quality things for the most part. Lots of organic fruits, berries and vegetables.
There are two things I've highlighted below (potassium chloride and sodium phosphate) that are fillers and preservatives. Many freeze dried mixers like this will need varying amounts of something to extend the shelf life.
As for the nutrients, the protein is 48%, which is ok, but could be higher. The cost of Stella and Chewy's is $1.10 per serving. Also, it looks like a recent batch has quality issues as you can see below.
Many recent customer reviews state that the dehydrated bits were rock hard and impossible for the adult dogs to eat. This is likely a quality issue and may warrant returns or a recall.
Instinct Raw Boost Mixer Pet Toppers
Instinct Raw Boost Mixers is a freeze dried chicken product that comes in four convenient choices based on pet's specific needs: gut health, immunity, mobility and skin health. They are all basically the same. Save for a few things in minuscule quantities.
The ingredient list is okay, save for the chicory root. As we look at the 'guaranteed analysis' details, a few things jump out.
- The protein is very low at 36%
- The carbs are high at around 34%. These are based on my best estimates. There are almost as many carbs as protein in the whole thing.
- Fiber is high at 15%. Most veterinarian dieticians recommendations aim for 2-4% of their diet in fiber.
You simply scoop it on top of their kibble and mix it together. Instinct comes in at $0.75 per serving. A bit lower then some comparable alternatives, making it a good value play.
It's interesting how large brands market their products. For example, this one makes gut health claims all over the website because it has pumpkin in it.
Sure, pumpkin is used for pet's with digestive issues, but it's not exactly a panacea of gut health.
Fresh Dog Food Toppers
Sardines Packed In Water
Sardines as a fancy fish dog food topper can provide your pup with protein and a crucial source of omega-3 fatty acids. They're often overlooked, but among the highest bioavailability and minimally processed choices on this entire list.
Just look for any sardines, mackerel, herring or anchovies packed in water at your local grocery store. Avoid the ones packed in oils as they have extra additives that you don't want. Also look for the low sodium versions and wild caught for best results.
They come in tins that you can peel the top off. Simply mix half a tin with their meal and your pup will devour it. What about the cost? Online I found them for $1.29 per serving.
Dog Food Gravy Toppers
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Topper Products Review
Wilderness Trail Toppers from Blue Buffalo are made with real beef, chicken broth and chicken liver. You must know that all four types of meal pouches have some chicken in them, so if your pet is sensitive to poultry then this is not the best option.
I like that these products are high in protein, use organ meats and are convenient. The big issue here is the processed filler ingredients, and there are a lot of them.
You'll find potato starch, natural flavor, guar gum, salt, sodium phosphate and sodium carbonate. If you are looking for a natural, whole food option, this is not it.
The price is $2.19 per 3 oz serving which is the size of one pouch. You could only use half of a pouch to get the cost down.
Liquid Dog Food Toppers
Applaws Taste Toppers Natural Wet Broth Dog Food
Applaws' Taste Toppers Natural Wet Broth Dog Food Variety Pack comes in three flavors: chicken, turkey, and beef. The beef is what you see below and it has a solid ingredient list of meat and vegetables with no fillers or junk.
The issue with this product is that it is made in Thailand. I knew it was too good to be true. After a bit more digging, I found that this is a big business owned by UK pet food giant Pet Food Matters.
As for what the product is, there are shreds of beef along with veggies like sweet potato and peppers all mixed together in broth within this pouch. I like the creativity and that it is a bit different from other options on the list.
The price of Applaws is $1.2 per 1.5 oz serving.
It is a good option if you can't find similar ones made in your home country. But remember that the sourcing of products from overseas is impossible to verify and quality control. Take that into account before you make your purchase decision.
The Honest Kitchen Pour Overs Meat Veggies Stew
The Honest Kitchen's pour overs is a popular liquid option that comes in a shelf stable tetra package. They are available in chicken, turkey and lamb / beef flavors.
You can also find them in different types of sizes. There are a few confusing ingredients like kale, spinach greens and tapioca. But for the most part, you are getting quality stuff without additives.
If we look at the reviews, you see some customers like the ingredients but their puppies did not eat it. This one got 4 stars but with some negative feedback from the pooch.
These pour overs come at a cost of $1.12 per serving. Overall, I love the nutrition and that it is made in the USA.
Best Dog Toppers for Dogs With Upset Tummies
The best dog toppers for dogs with upset tummies is simply bone broth. It's naturally packed full of amino acids glycine, proline, glucosamine and glutamine. These are potent digestive healers used to treat leaky gut.
Combine that with gelatin and you have the perfect kibble toppers for tummy issues. Keep in mind that you need to gradually introduce it.
Start with 1 tsp of powder or 2 tablespoons liquid per day for the first few days to a week. From here you can gradually add more to what the manufacturer recommends.
Learn more about bone broth for dogs in my ultimate guide.
Does your dog need a food topper?
Your dog may need a food topper and may not, depending on breeds and history. It's important to consider the pros and cons.
On the pros side, it is my belief that they add extra nutrition and treats to your dog's diet. This gives them nutrients and deliciousness to get even the pickiest of eaters to eat their food.
But this comes at a cost, both financial and to their eating habits. Of course, doggos will become habituated to high ticket food like toppers and will be conditioned to look for it at any and all mealtimes.
So if you are prepared to use them for the rest of their life, then go for it. From an evolutionary standpoint, canines have never seen these in nature before.
How do you make a homemade dog food topper?
You can make a homemade dog food topper by find a high quality canned fish like sardines and mixing it with their kibble. You can also purchase individual dehydrated ingredients for flavor like different bone broths, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, beef liver and combine them together to make your own.
Some people will blend dehydrated foods together and store it all for later use as a compliment to their regular meals.
Will food toppers improve my dog's health?
Dog food toppers can increase the health of your dog, but it depends what health issues your pet is facing and which option you try. There are too many unknown variables to weigh in on whether these dog feeding accessories will help your situation or not in this article.
They are not a magic cure-all, but can help if your pup isn't getting enough of calories in their regular diet. They can also encourage them to eat more without the constant bribe of treats.
How often should I use food toppers?
Always check the manufacturer's guidelines when using any food toppers. Start conservatively to see how our canine friend responds, then you can increase or decrease the dose.
I would recommend using them sporadically a few times per week as an appetite stimulant, so that they do not become conditioned to them.
If you plan on using them regularly, then you must account for the excess calories by decreasing the regular food. Dogs suffer from obesity just like we do. And it shortens their lives.
If your dog shows signs of an adverse reaction or leave it in their bowl, then stop using it immediately or change to another one.
What ingredients should I look for in dog food toppers?
Look for a dog food topper that has ingredients that match your pet's existing diet. For example, I have a picky poodle named Atlas who used to routinely go on hunger strikes.
Finally we've found what works and now he eats a salmon based kibble. We've found other meats upset his stomach and give him diarrhea.
As such, we occasionally give him a salmon based flavor boost topper as part of his wellness plan. We've also found that grass-fed beef bone broth does well with his system and digestion.
Look for real food that you have heard of. Any processed junk should be avoided.
There are a lot of great dog food toppings on the market, and the best one for your dog will depend on their specific needs.
If you're looking for a topper that is nutritious and delicious, I recommend Bluebird Provisions beef bone broth. You can find them on their website.
This topper has the highest protein and is packed with gut healing nutrients that will benefit your dog's health and longevity.
Remember that dogs are sensitive little stomaches. Always start with a low quantity with anything you choose.
Do you have a question about a specific topper or want may thoughts on one not listed in the article? Leave a comment and I will get back to you asap.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used to treat or supplement any pet's diet. Consult your veterinarian or animal health specialist if you have questions about anything related to their food, consumption or health. The statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, USDA or CFIA.