While some breeds are known to have ravenous eating habits, 7 in 10 dog owners say their pet is just as much of a picky eater – if not pickier – than their child. A recent survey found that ‘pup privilege’ is a thing. Are dog food toppers the answer?

Among 200 dog owners, half said they struggle to get their dog to eat their meals, while 48% of pet parents admit they often have to add more delicious accompaniments to their dog’s food to entice them to eat it. A third of pet owners recommend ‘toppers’ – adding small, appetising food items to the top of their dog’s bowl, such as blueberries, cheese, yoghurt, and eggs.

What are toppers, and why use them?

Many dogs often get tired of eating the same foods over and over, while some tend to only like particular ingredients, making them fussy eaters. Toppers are essentially ‘smart’ garnishes that add variety to a dog’s diet without transitioning to a new type of food.

There are lots of reasons for using a dog food topper. They enhance the smell and taste appeal for picky pets and give an added boost of protein and some extra nutrition. Typical dog food toppers include fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked meats, and yoghurt – nutritionally balanced food items.

If a dog lacks specific nutrients, a topper can act as a tasty supplement to ensure they’re getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy. They’re also a great way to add variety to a pet’s diet, keep their meals interesting, and ensure they don’t get bored of the same food.

Essentially, they are the equivalent of adding nuts, fruits and grains, or syrups to a bowl of oatmeal or cereal at breakfast to give your body an extra boost of nutrition. Dog food toppers are available in various formats, including freeze-dried, raw, gravy, crunchy toppers, powders and broths.

What are the best formats for dog food toppers?

If the secret to happiness is variety, toppers can be a great way to spice up a pet’s diet. The good news is they come in lots of different formats.

As the trend toward pet humanisation continues to drive growth in the sector, pet food manufacturers and producers are continually looking for ways to cater to the needs of the modern-day pet parent – who increasingly seek high-quality, healthy ingredients. Toppers, with the promise of added nutritional value, are another exciting area for companies to tap into.

Research shows that the top draw for pet parents when it comes to toppers is the health benefits. Research shows that pet owners are looking to customise their animals’ meals with toppers to add a functional benefit such as joint health or GI support. They also turn to toppers as an occasional treat or provide something extra special at dinner time.

As the reasons for introducing toppers are so varied, there are plenty of opportunities for producers to introduce a topper to their line of offerings and appeal to today’s pet parents who are increasingly looking for food that can be healthy, beneficial, fun and delicious, all at once.

While toppers currently come in all types, research shows that wet pairings – e.g., adding a gravy, broth or even a packet of wet food to a kibble dinner – are among the most popular options. Companies offering both types of products will likely have more success with customers who tend to stay loyal to a single brand.

The best dog food toppers

Today the toppers space is beginning to overlap with treats and even supplements, as pet owners mix and match depending on what they think their pet needs the most. For companies, this means more flexibility and creativity to create and offer the types of toppers they believe their customers will find most beneficial.

Our pick of some of the best dog food toppers

Open Farm’s freeze-dried raw dog food recipes are a great example of a high-quality, nutritious meal topper. The brand prides itself on using the most sustainable ingredients sourced only from humane and ethical farms, fisheries, and producers. With zero artificial flavours, their freeze-dried topper promises a high-protein combo that only uses raw animal ingredients, organic fruits, veggies, and superfoods. A wide range of favour options like Grass-Fed Beef, Homestead Turkey, and Harvest Chicken appeal to different palates.

Jinx is another brand that advocates using clean ingredients like fresh salmon, organic chicken and plant-based superfoods (blueberries, pumpkin, apples) to create tasty dog food recipes. Their freeze-dried salmon topper offers a nutritious supplement packed full of protein for picky eaters. With no additives, fillers, artificial flavours or preservatives, only ½ a teaspoon needs to be added to meals. The product is freeze-dried to retain its flavour, while salmon (which packs omega-3 fatty acids) supports shiny coats and healthy joints.

Honest Kitchen bone broth offers a human-grade pourable stew made from ranch-raised beef. It comes in a wide variety of flavours and is 100 per cent natural, made with only eight ingredients, including beef, carrots, tapioca, thyme and sage. The broth can be easily poured over a meal to offer a nutritious, tasty topper and an extra boost of added protein.

Want to learn more about creating protein-rich, high-quality dog food toppers? Contact Doghop today.