How To Make Dog Food More Appealing

Have you been wondering if there’s a way to make dry food more appealing? You’re not alone. This is something that many dog owners have pondered at one point or another.

Dry dog food has a lot of benefits, which is why it’s so popular.

Quality dry dog food meets all of your dog’s nutritional requirements, is convenient, affordable, and has a long shelf life. Unfortunately, for various reasons (pickiness, allergies, illness, etc.) dogs won’t or can’t always eat it.

One solution to this problem is finding a way to make dry dog food more appetizing and flavorful for your pet. There are many different ways to do this; the one you choose will depend on your dog’s needs and preference.

Without further delay, here are some tried-and-true methods to encourage your dog to eat their dry food.

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7 Easy Ways to Make Dry Dog Food More Appealing

1. Adding warm water or broth

Mix kibble with water or broth

Adding warm water or broth is an easy and cost-effective way to make your dog’s food more appealing.

Just add about ¼ - ½ cup of filtered water or broth to the kibble. Depending on your dog’s preference, you can moisten their food a bit and let them eat it like that or let the kibble absorb the water for an hour or so before mashing it into a pate-like consistency.

Adding liquids to your dog’s dish brings out the food’s natural aroma and adds some moisture to their diet. Extra moisture in a dog’s diet can help keep them hydrated, which is important especially if they’re exclusively on dry food or perhaps sick.

If you’re going to add broth to your dog’s food, I suggest you use bone broth. This nutrient-packed concoction is easy to make, and its amazing health benefits are well-known and proven. Some of these benefits include:

  • Liver detox
  • Joint health
  • Great way to rehydrate and supply sick dogs with important nutrition
  • Improved gut health
  • Source of essential minerals that are readily digestible

The great thing about these methods is that they don’t interfere much with your dog’s current diet. When you start to add other foods, you need to be careful and do it in moderation and ideally with professional help to make sure your dog’s nutritional needs are being met.

2. Canned food or stews

Bowl of dry kibble topped with wet food

If water and broth aren’t enough to get your dog to start eating its dry food, another simple and affordable solution is mixing in canned dog food or stews. Just remember that choosing high quality cans and dry food is important to maintain a balanced diet.

Many dogs prefer the taste and texture of wet food over dry. Kibble isn’t exactly natural to dogs but feeding dogs wet food exclusively can be more expensive. Mixing the two is a great way to give your dog what they want and still go easy on the budget.

Like water or broth, adding wet food will increase your dog’s water intake. This helps with hydration and weight control, since the extra water makes dogs feel full longer.

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3. Animal products

Bowl of dog kibble and raw meat

It’s no secret that dogs LOVE animal products. There’s a reason it’s the first ingredient in most dry dog food recipes, because the protein in meat is essential for dogs’ overall health, energy, and muscle development. Dogs also find the smell, taste, and texture of meat very palatable.

Some different animal products that you can incorporate into your dog’s food to make it more appealing are:

  • Fish - sardines or salmon. They're great resources of the Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Eggs - cooked or raw. These are rich in protein.
  • Muscle meat and poultry - (lamb, beef, venison, pork, chicken and turkey)
  • Organ meat – liver and kidney. They're high in phosphorus, vit. A, copper and selenium.

The exact ingredients you choose to add to your dog’s diet will depend on their allergies, specific dietary needs, and any other illnesses that might factor into their diet. The key thing is to start with healthy, human-grade ingredients.

Is mixing dry kibble and raw food a good idea?

Feeding dogs a completely raw food-based diet takes a lot of commitment, time, and money (although once you get the hang of it, it isn’t too bad).

Many owners wonder if they can get the best of both worlds by mixing some raw food into their dog’s kibble. This would save a little on the cost, and the raw ingredients would make your dog’s food a little more enticing, right?

The answer is: yes! You can mix kibble and raw food, but it needs to be done carefully to make sure your dog doesn’t get sick. 

First, just like any other dietary changes, the switch to including raw food into your dog’s diet needs to be gradual, by adding a little at a time to see how they handle it.

Next, it’s important to be aware that the natural acidity of the stomach is what helps dogs digest raw food. The calcium in bones that your dog ingests is broken down by enzymes, making the bones soft and malleable. This acidity also kills any bacteria, like e-coli and salmonella, that may be present.

The problem here is that most dry kibbles are very starchy, and this starch actually changes your dog’s digestive system. It increases the pH of the stomach, making the stomach less acidic and more prone to being taken over by bacteria, which can lead to other serious health problems. Since bone is not broken down the same way, obstruction risk increases.

Luckily, there are two ways to help reduce the risks that come with mixing kibble and raw food. The first are probiotics (and prebiotics). Giving your dog foods like kefir and kimchi or a probiotic/prebiotic supplement can supply them with the good bacteria they need to fight off bad bacteria. Probiotics also help with the production of digestive enzymes to break down their food.

The second way to successfully mix kibble and raw food safely is by adding some apple cider vinegar to your dog’s diet. A small amount (1 tsp to 1 tbsp) per 50lbs of weight is enough to balance out the acidity in your dog’s stomach, keep bacteria at may, and help your dog’s digestive system absorb minerals.

4. Fruits & Vegetables

Dogs are omnivores, meaning that they need to get their nutrition from both meat and plants. Adding certain fruits and vegetables to your dog’s diet (in moderation) can provide a source of important vitamins and minerals, plus add some extra taste, color, and texture to their otherwise boring dry food.

The important thing is making sure the ingredients you add are healthy, fresh, and un-processed as possible. For example, instead of adding rice to your dog’s diet, a refined carb, mashed sweet potato is a better option (especially if your dog’s food is high in fat or protein).

What fruits and vegetables are safe for my dog?

According to the American Kennel ClubAmerican Kennel Club, the fruits and vegetables that are safe for dogs to eat are:

  • Fruits: apples, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, cranberries, cucumbers, mango, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon
  • Vegetables: broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, celery, green beans, peas, and spinach

5. Toppers

Bowl of dog kibble

From: Stella & Chewy

If you like the idea of adding animal products, fruits, and vegetables to your dog’s diet but barriers like time and money are keeping you from fully cooking your dog’s meals, toppers are the perfect compromise.

Toppers go on top of dry dog food as a way of enhancing palatability. Pet experts who dislike kibble say if you need to give your dog dry, at least toppers are an easy, affordable way to add whole foods to your dog’s diet and reduce the amount of dry they get.

Honest Kitchen makes a variety of wet toppers for dry dog food, including Meat Protein Boosters and Pour Over stews made with pumpkin, bone broth, or superfoods. These toppers are grain free, with no by-products or GMOs, and are made in the USA. The ingredients are really simple and healthy. One pouch has chicken bone broth, chicken, spinach, kale, broccoli, tapioca, potato, and turmeric in it.

Stella and Chewy is another company that makes raw food toppers. These toppers come readily portioned to meet your dog’s nutritional needs, so you don’t need to worry about getting the right ratios of meat, organ, and bone. Stella and Chewy toppers are around 90% meat products and 10% probiotics, vegetables, etc. You don’t need to add water to this topper which makes it extra convenient!

6. Food supplements

Bottle of dog supplements

Depending on your dog’s needs, you may want to add additional supplements to your dog’s food. These supplements can add moisture along with other benefits to your dog’s overall health.

A couple of examples of supplements that can be added to dry dog food are coconut oil and fish oil.

Coconut oil is something that most dogs find appealing but keep in mind the extra fat content doing into your dog’s diet, especially if they get peanut butter or cheese already. If your dog needs to put on some weight, a little coconut oil can help.

Fish oil is another healthy oil that can be added to your dog’s food to make it more enticing, with added benefits. Fish oil is a great source of Omega fatty acids, which are good for your dog’s skin and coat. You can even buy a ready-made fish oil supplement for dogs, called Grizzly All-Natural Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon Oil Dog Food Supplement which has a rich taste that dogs love.

7. Semi-home prepared meals

A bag of veggie mix dog food

Dr. Harvey's Veg-To-Bowl Fine Ground Grain-Free Dog Food Pre-Mix

Two hundred years ago, commercial dog food didn’t exist. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s to early 1900s that canned and dry dog food started gaining popularity. Before this, dogs ate what their humans ate, and since food was not processed back then dogs were much healthier.

Even though dry food is convenient, since it became popular vets have seen an increase in obesity and its related problems (like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and IBS), along with cancer and other illnesses. However, feeding your dog fully home cooked meals can seem like a big hurdle, especially for owners with a busy lifestyle or budget limitations.

Semi-home prepared meals are a great way to minimize potentially harmful ingredients in commercial food without requiring the same amount of time and effort as fully home cooked meals. You start with a grain free dog food pre-mix like Dr. Harveys Veg-To-Bowl, then add your choice of protein and water. This is great for dogs who don’t do well with kibble at all, due to allergies or other issues.

So, what is the best dry dog food to start with?

Adding healthy whole foods and supplements to your dog’s diet is great, but it won’t be enough if you’re serving them alongside a sub-par dry food.

TOTW Sierra Mountain Grain Free Dog Food

Recommendation

A diet of fresh foods and meat is ideal, but if you need to go with some dry - Taste of the Wild is the best option. Taste of the Wild has high meat content (at least 30% on a dry matter basis) to give dogs energy and strong, lean muscles. This food is natural, and clearly labelled so owners of dogs with allergies know what to expect. This food also contains five different probiotics, which will help if you intend to mix dry and raw foods together.

Related Reading

It may take a little trial and error, but if you need to increase the appeal of your dog’s dry food these are some of the best ways to do it.

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