Humans inherently know and understand that consuming fresh food in their diet is better than processed food. Many pet parents are switching their dog from a dry kibble diet to a fresh food diet because of the many health benefits fresh food provides. However, switching over to a home-prepared diet does come with many inconveniences where it is not a practical option for all households.
There are many methods to improve kibble diets that are budget-friendly and convenient. Small changes to provide a major nutritional impact does not need to break the bank, nor does it need to take a lot of time to accomplish.
Adopting these four methods will provide a major impact to enhance dry dog food for households that cannot provide a home-prepared diet every day.
The kibble fed to a dog should be selected to be suitable for the dog’s activity and life stages. In a market with a wide range of brands to choose from, navigating through the options can become overwhelming to many pet parents. There are a few variables to consider when selecting a kibble to use as the foundation diet if a home-prepared diet is not sustainable long-term.
The guidelines above help narrow down the options of kibble brands to select. Once the options have been reduced, selecting a dry dog food will come down to cost. Additionally, it is now recommended to rotate between different animal proteins in a dry dog food diet – so having a selection of brands to choose from is ideal.
Dry dog food’s guaranteed analysis provides the amount of water the food provides, which is labeled as moisture. A dry dog food diet lacks moisture and the first step to improving a kibble diet is to increase the moisture content within each meal. Pet parents often comment on the amount of water their dog drinks and this is directly attributed to 3 main factors:
Imagine eating cereal every day, for every meal, without any milk. It would not be very enjoyable because the milk provides a liquid to keep the mouth and throat dry (and also provides moisture)! Dogs who consume a dry dog food diet benefit greatly from increasing the moisture content within each meal. Increasing the moisture content within kibble meals is simple and can be accomplished by floating the dry dog food with liquids.
The term “floating kibble” is very similar to adding milk into a bowl of cereal. The idea is to add a liquid ingredient into the dry dog food meal to increase the moisture intake in the diet. Floating dry dog food also provides some additional benefits outside of increasing moisture intake.
There are a few options to select from when adding in liquids to dry dog food. One ingredient can be selected to use as the liquid or a rotation between ingredient options can be used.
The amount of liquid added into each meal can vary but a good guideline to follow is to add half or equal parts liquid to dry dog food.
Add in ½ cup to 1 cup of liquid to 1 cup of kibble.
Add Fresh Food
Humans inherently know that fresh food is superior over processed food. However, not all pet parents are able or willing to provide a home-prepared diet. In these instances, dogs still benefit from the addition of fresh food into their dry dog food.
Dry dog food allows for a small variance without negatively impacting the diet’s balance. This variance is 20% of the overall diet can be additional foods. The addition of fresh food provides food in their natural state that is not highly processed. These ingredients provide beneficial nutrients such as fresh protein, fatty acids, antioxidants, and probiotics.
Remove 20% of the dry dog food from the bowl to account for the fresh food additions. If a dog eats 1 cup of dry dog food, remove ⅕ cup of the dog food to allow for the fresh food additions. Fresh food is higher in moisture compared to dry dog food and this means double the amount of fresh food needs to be added back into the meal. If ⅕ cup of dry dog food is removed from the meal, add in ⅖ cup of fresh food back into the meal.
Fresh Lean Protein
Including fresh lean protein from animal sources into dry dog food diets provides natural protein sources. These animal proteins provide a wide range of essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Beneficial Fats & Fatty Acids
The fats within dry dog food quickly become rancid which makes it ideal to only purchase enough kibble to last 2 to 3 weeks. However, the addition of beneficial fats and fatty acids helps increase the nutritional profile of a dry dog food diet.
Color Rich Vegetables
Highly pigmented vegetables provide a wide range of antioxidants which help fight against free radicals that may cause disease. Additionally, fresh vegetables provide beneficial fiber to support fiber fermentation within the colon which promotes colon health.
An estimated 60 to 70% of the immune system lives within the gut and providing probiotics is a great way to establish a healthy gut flora. These beneficial probiotics can be included in kibble diets by feeding fermented foods.
Alternate With Homemade Meals
In addition to adding fresh food to dry dog food, pet parents can alternate between diet types to provide more variety in the foods they feed to their dog. Alternating in a DIY dog food diet with kibble helps provide more fresh food to the overall diet. Adding in a home-prepared diet once a week (or more) will dramatically improve a dry dog food diet.
Enhance Dry Dog Food with Fresh Food
Pet parents who are unable to provide a homemade diet every day to their dog can still feed their dog fresh foods in the kibble diet. Dry dog food allows for a small variance of food additions without negatively impacting the diet’s balance. All dogs gain the benefits of fresh food when selecting a kibble with quality ingredients, increasing the hydration, adding fresh foods, and alternating with homemade dog food. These additions can account for 20% of the overall diet without any other special calculations; but can make major impact!