Dog food toppers are tasty add-ons that you pour or sprinkle over your dog’s regular food to make it more appetizing. They have a variety of uses. Sometimes a picky dog might need a little encouragement to eat. Dog food toppers are also useful when acclimating a dog to a new food, or trying to get them to take medication. Or, a dog food topper can just be an exciting treat.
“I would recommend something to encourage eating if a pet’s appetite is temporarily decreased because they have been sick or stressed. I feel like if you need one on a daily basis then the food that you are feeding your dog may not be the best choice for them,” says Kathy Baker, DVM, of Lucy’s Veterinary Care in Smyrna, Georgia. “I find many times if they don’t like their food, or seem to like it for a while and then decide they don’t like it repeatedly, it may be because they have sensitivity to one or more of the ingredients.”
Toppers are usually meant to be a supplemental food and rarely should be fed every day. They can be stews, meaty crumbles, wet food, or broths, in all sorts of flavors and nutrient profiles. We researched some of the many dog food toppers, asking veterinarians and pet owners about them, and testing a variety of options.
Our favorite dog food topper is Honest Kitchen Pour Overs. They’re a meaty mix of broth and chunks with limited ingredients and no additives or fillers. They’re also easy to pour and store. But there are several other dog food toppers that may fit your dog’s diet even better.
Here are the best dog food toppers.
Honest Kitchen Pour Overs
Mix of broth and chunks
Limited ingredients and no additives or fillers
Made in the U.S. with global ingredients
Easy to pour and reuse
Cartons can be hard to open
A cross between broth and chunks, these stews are meant to be poured over your dog’s food to make dinnertime more appetizing. Honest Kitchen says it was the first to offer human-grade ingredients for pets and these stews do smell tempting. They’re made with limited ingredients and no fillers, GMO ingredients, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives.
There’s a pretty impressive selection of nine different flavor combinations from single proteins like chicken or turkey to meats mixed with pumpkin for digestive health. The stews are slow-cooked and can be warmed up to make meals even more alluring. Each box contains at least two servings. They can be tricky to open, but can easily be closed up and refrigerated until the next meal.
Honest Kitchen also has fortified meal boosters for more nutrients, as well as dry kibble and pate-style food that all can be mixed in with less exciting dinners. Everything is human grade with whole, limited ingredients.
Price at the time of publish: $26 (12 pack)
Best Wet Food
Portland Pet Food Company Meal Pouch
No preservatives, byproducts, or additives
Sourced and made in the U.S.
Ready to serve; no adding water or thawing first
Five different proteins
Pouches aren’t resealable
Rip open a Portland Pet Food meal pouch and it smells like something you might consider putting on your own plate. Made with human-grade all recognizable and natural ingredients like chicken, eggs, yams, kale, salmon, and carrots, the food is sourced and made in the U.S. (Many other companies make them domestically but gather ingredients from different spots around the world.) There’s no artificial anything, including preservatives, colorings, or additives, and no meat byproducts in the mix. There are five different proteins available so you can avoid allergies or complement your dog’s diet.
Because it’s basically wet food, you don’t need to thaw it or add water. Just scoop a spoonful or two on top of your pup’s normal dinner. Store at room temperature until opened and then refrigerate for up to five days. We only wish the pouches were resealable so we didn’t have to clamp them closed or store them in a zippered plastic bag.
Price at time of publish: $26 (4 pack)
Best Freeze-Dried Raw
Stella & Chewy’s Meal Mixers
95% meat, organs, and bones
Organic fruits and vegetables and responsibly sourced meats
Can be used dry or wet
Sometimes pieces are crushed
The ingredient list is pretty impressive with these toppers. Made in the U.S. with global ingredients, Stella & Chewy’s food doesn’t include grains, gluten, hormones, or artificial preservatives or colors. Meal mixers are made of 95% meat, organs, and bones from proteins that are grass-fed, cage-free, or wild-caught. Fruits and vegetables are certified organic.
Sprinkle a few pieces of the freeze-dried raw chunks as-is on dog food or add water to rehydrate the soft chunks. Some trainers suggest breaking them into pieces to use as high-value treats when you really want to motivate your dog. There are lots of proteins to choose from and several sizes.
Price at time of publish: $42 (1.1 pounds)
Instinct Raw Boost Mixers Freeze-Dried Dog Food Topper
Responsibly sourced ingredients
Made in the U.S. (with international ingredients)
Can be powdery if not stored or transported well
There’s nothing artificial in these freeze-dried raw bits. They can be used whole or crumbled, dry or moistened. There are three individual meat proteins and there are additional versions the company says is targeted toward skin and coat, gut, or immune health, as well as better mobility.
The mixers are made in the United States with international ingredients, including responsibly sourced proteins like cage-free chicken and grass-fed lamb. There’s no grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, or artificial colors or preservatives. Each bag is resealable for convenience and to help preserve freshness.
Price at time of publish: $27 (14 ounces)
Solid Gold Bone Broth
Can be served as-is or warmed up
Lasts 7 days refrigerated after opening
Might spill when opened
Pour a little bone broth directly from the pouch or warm it up first before serving. The aromatic liquids are made with just a handful of human-grade ingredients including meat proteins and vegetables. Bone broth is high in collagen which may help decrease inflammation. There’s also added turmeric which may have similar benefits.
Potential health benefits or not, bone broth can certainly make a bowl of dry kibble much more appealing to picky eaters. Pouches can stay refrigerated for about a week once opened, or can be frozen if it takes you longer to use up. The twist off containers can be resealed, but may leak if you don’t keep them upright.
Open Farm Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food
Responsibly sourced and organic ingredients
No artificial additives or preservatives
Six different proteins
More expensive than many others
Open Farm is all about natural, responsibly sourced whole ingredients. These freeze-dried raw kernels are from humanely raised meats and wild-caught salmon combined with organic ingredients like carrots, blueberries, and squash. There are no artificial flavors, preservatives, or additives.
Use them as a dry sprinkle topper or hydrate with a little warm water before feeding. Open Farm also has chicken, turkey, and beef bone broth to pour into otherwise-boring food. They feature human-grade ingredients and no additives and have easy to seal and reuse cartons and pouches.
Price at time of publish: $33 (13.5 ounce pack)
I and Love and You Meal Enhancer
No fillers, preservatives, colors, or flavors
Fortified with omegas, minerals, and vitamins
Meat is first ingredient
Made in U.S. (with global ingredients)
Pouches aren’t resealable
There are three flavors of these wet meal toppers, which are fortified with omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. The extras, they say, are to promote a healthy skin and coat, to aid digestion, or to just offer up some superfoods. Meat is the first ingredient on each one and there are no fillers, by-products, flavors, colors, preservatives, or carrageenan.
They come in a box of a dozen pouches that is easy to store in the pantry. The pouches are easy to open, but too bad they aren’t resealable. They can be kept in the refrigerator for several days if you don’t use the topper all at once.
Price at time of publish: $18 (12 pack)
The best overall dog food toppers are the Honest Kitchen Pour Overs (see on Amazon). They’re made from limited ingredients and no additives and are easy to pour and store. Another great choice are Portland Pet Food Company Meal Pouches (find on Amazon). Made of human-grade ingredients, this wet food comes in five protein options and is completely sourced and made in the U.S.
What To Look For
Toppers typically feature one protein like chicken, beef, or seafood and often have added fruits, vegetables, or other foods. You can choose something different than your pet normally eats or feed something that is a tastier version of their current protein. Always consider any health issues. “If your pet has a dietary sensitivity, make sure there is nothing in the topper that is going to aggravate their gastrointestinal tract or skin,” says Baker.
She suggests avoiding unnecessary additives, like artificial coloring. “Pet food doesn’t need to be ‘pretty,’” she says. “Things that are brightly colored usually have a dye in them and some pets can be sensitive to those just like some humans.”
Some toppers say they are “human grade.” The definition by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a food where “every ingredient and the resulting products are stored, handled, processed, and transported in a manner that is consistent and compliant with regulations … for human edible foods.” So the food has to be manufactured in facilities that are licensed to make human foods and are regularly inspected.
Human-grade foods may not be healthier than other pet foods, but they usually have recognizable ingredients and many pet owners like the idea of a pet eating food that might (almost) be something they’d eat.
Dog food toppers come as freeze-dried chunks that can be broken up or sprinkled whole on foods. Those nuggets can be added dry or soaked in some water or broth to reconstitute them. There are also stews and broths that can be poured on top of regular food and mixed in. Some other toppers are moist, like wet dog food. You can add a spoonful or more to your pup’s meal and mix it all together.
None of the toppers here have to be refrigerated before opening. Just stack them in the pantry or a cabinet until ready to use. The broths, stews, and wet foods have to be kept in the refrigerator once you’ve started using them. Most have to be used after a few days or can be frozen. Resealable packages make storage much easier so you don’t have to put them in a secondary container.
To entice your dog to eat, you should just need to add a spoon or two of a topper to normal dinner. Some packages suggest larger serving sizes and some of these foods can be fed as a complete (but expensive) meal. Always remember that whenever you change a pet’s food, you should do it gradually, so start off with just a very small amount at first. “Remember it is an ‘extra’ and is not the primary source of nutrition,” Baker says.
What is a dog food topper?
“I think about a topper as anything that you would put on top of or mix into a pet’s food,” says Baker. “That could range from wet food added to the dry food that a pet normally eats, to powdered toppers, to human food (meat, eggs, cheese).”
Commercially prepared toppers include dry and dehydrated food that can be sprinkled on top, stews and bone broths that can be poured over kibble, and wet food that can be mixed in.
Can you make your own dog food topper?
Yes, says Baker. “In my mind, go simple, something like a small amount of cooked lean protein that your pet is not allergic to can be great. I know a lot of dogs love a little bit of cheese. When I need them to eat, I just want them to eat. Once we figure out the medical side, then we can worry about getting them back to a stable diet.”
Why Trust The Spruce?
For this roundup, Mary Jo DiLonardo talked to dog owners, veterinarians, and fosters about dog food toppers. She did online research and looked at product reviews. They were evaluated on qualities like ingredients, serving size, storage options, and the type of product they were. We also considered price and variety.
Mary Jo has been writing about pets and animals for several decades. She has a rescue dog and has fostered nearly 60 dogs and puppies. She is always trying different products to keep the dogs in her care entertained, healthy, and safe.
Kathy Baker, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Lucy’s Veterinary Care in Smyrna, Georgia also provided insight into dog food toppers.. An award-winning veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience, Dr. Baker provided crucial information on what to look for when considering supplements to your dog’s diet.