If you let your dog wander around outside, he’ll eat all manner of disgusting things: roadkill, bugs, even animal droppings. So why does he turn his nose up at the delicious (and expensive) bowl of kibble you set down before him every meal?
If you have a finicky eater on your hands, or you just want to give your pup a little added nutrition, adding a topper to his dog food can be a smart idea. However, you must pick a good one, or else you could just be giving your dog empty calories and making things worse.
We examined some of the most popular toppers on the market today, and in the reviews below, we’ll show you which ones we recommend feeding your pooch, as well as which ones you’re better off leaving on the shelf.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
The 9 Best Dog Food Toppers – 2020
1. Instinct All Natural Dog Food Toppers – Best Overall
You may have heard about some of the virtues of feeding your dog a raw food diet — and you may also have learned just how expensive doing so can be. With Instinct All Natural, you can give your pup some of the benefits without having to switch his diet over whole-hog (and having to pay for that whole hog).
Each bag is full of freeze-dried balls of grass-fed protein — either lamb, beef, or chicken. Most dogs will absolutely gobble chunks of meat like that down without a second thought, so it’s good for finicky eaters. In fact, these tend to be so popular that they can be used as treats or training rewards, too.
In addition to the meat, Instinct also mixes in ingredients like flaxseed for omega fatty acids, clay for fiber, and broccoli for…well, all the fantastic vitamins inside broccoli.
While your dog may love it, you may not be so enthusiastic. It has a strong smell and odd texture — it’s chunks of raw meat, after all — so be sure to wash your hands after touching it.
This list is intended to rank toppers based on what dogs will prefer, though, so while any queasiness you may have is certainly warranted, it’s not enough to knock Instinct All Natural out of the top spot.
2. Stella & Chewy’s Grain-Free Dog Food Topper – Best Value
You have a wide variety of flavors to choose from with Stella & Chewy’s Grain-Free, including traditional options like beef and chicken, as well as seafood dishes like salmon and cod. That allows you to feed your dog something you know he likes, rather than buying a flavor and hoping for the best.
This topper uses all of the animal, too, including organ meat. That gives your pup a lot of essential vitamins and minerals that are lacking in many dog foods. Just in case any are missing from the protein, though, there are lots of other healthy ingredients as well, like spinach, kelp, and probiotics.
Even with all these quality foods, Stella & Chewy’s won’t break the bank. As a result, we consider it the best dog food topper for the money.
It’s not perfect, of course. Each bit crumbles like dust in your hands, so while that makes it easy to spread over kibble, it also leads to a lot of waste. You’ll likely need to pair it with water, too.
That’s not enough to cause us to penalize this topper too harshly, though, and it’s certainly worthy of our #2 spot.
These “Proper Toppers” from The Honest Kitchen are made of clusters of superfoods, including humanely-raised protein sources, to give your dog a delicious dose of nutrition with each meal.
The manufacturer uses human-grade food, so you can rest assured you’re not giving your dog any dodgy ingredients. Beyond protein, there are also foods like apples, pumpkin, kale, and blueberries — you know, all the stuff you should be eating, too.
Your dog will get a massive amount of antioxidants with each meal, and since there’s so much protein inside, he’ll feel full without packing on extra pounds.
Of course, all those high-quality ingredients come at a cost, and this premium topper is priced accordingly. The serving size is fairly large as well, so one bag won’t last long.
If you can afford to feed your pup The Honest Kitchen Proper Toppers, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything better. The cost knocks it down a few spots to #3 on this list, however.
4. Wellness Core Grain Free Dog Food Toppers
You’ll need a bookmark to make it through the ingredients list for Wellness Core Grain Free. Ready? Here goes: freeze-dried beef.
That’s it — that’s all that’s in each bag (they have other flavor options, too, but those ingredient lists are similarly short). That’s obviously great for owners who are worried about giving their dogs a bunch of unnecessary fillers or chemicals, as you can be certain that your dog is eating pure protein and nothing else. It’s a good choice for pets with food allergies, too.
It also makes it extremely likely that your dog will love these. All you have to do is find a meat he likes, and there are plenty of options to choose from.
The downside is that you miss out on some of the wonderful ingredients found in other toppers, like vegetables, probiotics, and the like. Feeding your dog premium meat is somewhat expensive.
It’s hard to improve on nature, and Wellness Core Grain Free doesn’t try. We’d like to see a little bit more nature mixed in, though, which is why it only comes in at #4.
5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Toppers
You get an assortment of flavors to offer your pup with each order of Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Toppers. There are 16 three-ounce packages in each box, with four each of salmon, duck, beef, and chicken.
That lets you mix things up a bit so your dog doesn’t get bored with the same-old supper. Each one is grain-free as well, reducing the risk that you’ll have any digestive issues on your hands.
Since you’ll likely use an entire package with each meal, there’s no need to worry about resealing anything, and the food should always be fresh.
The downside is that all that individual packaging drives up the price, and you may be frustrated by how small the packages are, considering how much you’re paying. Also, there’s no guarantee that your dog will like all four flavors, so there’s a chance that a portion of the box could be wasted right off the bat.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Toppers are great for dogs who get bored easily, but you may want to start with something more reliable, like one of the options listed above.
6. Basics Flavors Food Topper
Basics Flavors comes in a little shaker bottle, allowing you to mix your pup’s food without getting your hands smelly and dirty. You can choose to either sprinkle a little bit on or pour a heftier amount (depending on how good Fido’s been).
The available flavors are all things dogs love, like peanut butter, red meat, cheese, and chicken. Of course, they’re also things that pups are supposed to eat in moderation, so this topper is more designed to encourage finicky eaters than to add an extra dash of nutrition.
It mixes into a tasty little broth if you add water to it, and gives your dog a little extra hydration to boot. However, the smell might put you off your own dinner, and if your dog doesn’t care for it, it will be impossible to separate the topper from the kibble.
There’s sweet potato and sweet potato flour inside, which can cause digestive issues in some pets.
While it’s not going to pass for healthy food anytime soon, Basics Flavors can add some zest to your dog’s kibble — provided he likes it, of course. Until they add some more nutrition, though, it won’t rise too much higher on these rankings.
7. Herbsmith Kibble Seasoning Dog Food Topper
Herbsmith Kibble Seasoning is like a mix between Basics Flavors and The Honest Kitchen Proper Toppers, in that it’s a shaker bottle filled with human-grade ingredients. While it combines the best of those two toppers, it also keeps their worst elements, then adds a few more of its own.
It’s made of top-notch meat, so your dog should wolf it down, and you shouldn’t have to worry about any unnecessary hormones, antibiotics, or other scary chemicals making their way into your pup’s body.
There’s also zero gluten or grains inside, minimizing the risk of digestive issues.
However, you’d better hope your dog has a sensitive palate, because the bottle is ridiculously tiny. It feels more like sprinkling fish flakes onto your dog’s food than adding a delicious topper.
And if you do decide to be generous with the serving size, you’ll run out of the stuff in a couple days — and that can get expensive fast. As a result, this might be fine for toy breeds, but you’re wasting your money if you have anything bigger than a Pomeranian.
Of course, Pomeranian owners read these reviews too (we hope), so they may find that this is just what they’re looking for. Herbsmith Kibble Seasoning isn’t versatile enough for us to recommend it too heartily, though.
8. I and love and you Wet Dog Food Topper
Unlike many of the other options on this list that use freeze-dried or other dry ingredients, I and love and you is a wet topper. You get a dozen sealed packages in each order, each of which includes a protein mixed with broth.
The broth really dresses up dry kibble, so your pup is likely to scarf this stuff down quickly. If you get a chance to look at it before he does, though, you’ll likely notice that it’s a lot heavier on gravy than it is on meat.
There are five or six good chunks per package, to be sure, but given the price, you’d be forgiven for expecting more. The meat chunks are big enough that it’s easy for your pooch to just pick them out and ignore the rest of his supper, too.
We do like that they have montmorillonite clay and ground flaxseeds, though, which gives your dog added fiber and omega fatty acids. We just think he could get even more nutrition if the portions were more generous — and they should be, for the price.
None of this is to say that I and love and you is a bad topper, per se; we just think you can get better results for less money from some of the other options shown here.
9. Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Beef Toppers
The most important thing you can do with Vital Essentials is keep it as far away from the Folgers as you can, because the stuff looks just like freeze-dried coffee. While that’s not a mistake you want to make first thing in the morning, it is something that will definitely wake you up.
The idea behind it is you sprinkle a little bit on kibble and then add water. It then turns into a kind of pâté that’s very attractive to dogs. Forget to add the water, though, and all you’ll do is make your pup’s food dusty.
In addition to remembering to add water, you have to measure the stuff out, which can be a pain first thing in the morning (especially if you haven’t had your beef-flavored coffee yet).
There’s plenty of organ meat inside each pouch, which gives your dog lots of essential nutrients. There are also ingredients like herring oil, which is nutritious, yet also increases the risk that your dog will turn up his nose or have an undesirable reaction.
It’s hard to see why you’d go through any extra trouble to feed your pet something like Vital Essentials, but if you’re willing to put in the work, it’s a fine enough topper. It’s just that we can think of eight other ones that we’d try first.
If you’re needing something extra to convince your dog to eat his breakfast, we recommend starting with Instinct All Natural. It’s made with chunks of freeze-dried, grass-fed beef, and it’s a great way to incorporate elements of a raw diet without also having to shoulder all the added expense such a diet entails.
For a less-expensive option that’s nonetheless packed with vitamins and minerals, there’s Stella & Chewy’s Grain-Free. It includes organ meat, vegetables, and probiotics — all cornerstones of a healthy canine diet.
Making any sort of choices about what your dog eats can be overwhelming, so we hope these reviews have made the decision easier. The toppers above are all sure to be hit with both your pet and your vet — and that should make you happy, too.
Featured image credit: jagdprinzessin, Pixabay
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 9 Best Dog Food Toppers – 2020
- 1. Instinct All Natural Dog Food Toppers – Best Overall
- 2. Stella & Chewy’s Grain-Free Dog Food Topper – Best Value
- 3. The Honest Kitchen Proper Toppers – Premium Choice
- 4. Wellness Core Grain Free Dog Food Toppers
- 5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Toppers
- 6. Basics Flavors Food Topper
- 7. Herbsmith Kibble Seasoning Dog Food Topper
- 8. I and love and you Wet Dog Food Topper
- 9. Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Beef Toppers