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Enhance Your Dog’s Kibble with 3 Ingredients

Boring ole Meat Cereal. Look at it.

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Not something I’d want to eat day in and day out. Fortunately, our dogs are less discerning. Even if they’ll eat it, there are problems inherent with the format. Technically yes, its ‘nutritionally’ complete. In a sprayed on synthetic vitamin sort of way. As with any highly processed food though, is some value lost in the extrusion and high temperatures required to make kibble? Are our pooches, with their short digestive tracts capable of extracting the full value from such a source?

Doubts aside, kibble is damn convenient. Scoop, Scoop, Done. We are used to it. The dogs are used to it. Homemade food is a heck of a lot more effort. There’s still a bag or two of kibble in my pantry. There probably always will be.

So how’s about a happy medium?

Enter the contents of yesterday’s Kibble Enhancement Pack. If you’ve read my dog food manifesto, you know that for all it’s flaws, there are ways to enhance kibble. To compensate for what it lacks, thereby improving your dogs overall absorption, and getting more bang for your dog food dollar.

The formula is easy.
High quality kibble + raw + essential fatty acids + enzymes = a vastly improved diet.

A little more on the components individually…

Raw. It’s gross. It’s often cost prohibitive. The health benefits can not be ignored. Amino acids! Live enzymes! All those whole food elements perhaps missing in kibble? Raw’s got ‘em. Improved weight management. Dental health. Even the alleviation of allergies. And it’s not all or nothing. Some raw is better than none. Add it to kibble, or substitute a meal now and again. Even if you’re not a fan of raw meat, there are options. Freeze dried options (like those from Primal) can be used as treats, crumbled over the top of kibble, and even rehydrated with a little water to make an appealing gravy. So add some raw meat or freeze dried or even raw veggies. Focus on the raw and get some of that goodness in there.

Essential Fatty Acids. You know how when you open a sack of dog food the inside of the bag is a little greasy? Those are your fatty acids. Sprayed on the kibble as its cooling fresh from the extruder, breaking down during transport, evaporating once you open the bag. Not that there were necessarily enough of them to begin with. Salmon oil, Anchovy Oil, Cod Liver Oil, even Flax. There’s an argument that meat based EFAs are best, but no matter the base their inclusion goes beyond skin and coat health. Although that alone is reason enough for me. Less shedding? Anytime. Cognitive function. Joint inflammation. Cancer suppression. Sound arguments for adding a squirt or two to each meal. What’s comes on kibble just don’t cut it.

Digestive Enzymes. Our dogs are at a disadvantage. Short intestines, not designed for our modern starch based diets. That’s bad enough. Then, we provide no live foods to replenish their over-taxed gut flora. Help them out. Give them a fighting chance to get as much value as possible from their commercial food. We can do this with yogurt, cottage cheese, even goat’s milk. Or it can be even easier. Optagest is my go-to product. A plant based prebiotic, sweet to the taste, not temperature sensitive. Prebiotics activate the existing probiotics already present in your dogs digestive tract, to encourage growth of good bacteria and provide overall balance. A powder is easy sprinkle in their bowl, easy to keep on hand, and doesn’t spoil in the fridge. Oh so handy to have for dogs (or cats!) not used to diet changes. I’ve found that after an initial introduction period, it need not to be given daily. A couple times a week or in moment of ‘unfortunate crisis’ will do.

In whatever form you choose, these three items should be some part of any dog’s diet. However, I’m only scratching the surface. These may be important, but the opportunities for improving upon kibble are limitless; raw meaty bones, kelp, pumpkin, mushrooms, along with most (but not all) of the items found in your fridge. For better or worse, kibble is here to stay. Embrace it’s flaws as well as it’s convenience. The beauty is, with kibble as the complete and balanced base, you can’t muck things up too badly. Alone is it enough to do our pet’s justice? Maybe not. Lucky for us, supplementing is easy and your dog will love you for it!

Ready to get started? Enter the drawing for the ‘Kibble Enhancement Pack’ I’m giving away later this week! An opportunity to try all of the above for free.

What, if anything, do you add to your dog’s dinner? What do you think of supplementing?

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Comments

Crystal Wayward
Reply

Our dogs get lots of “people food,” including raw veggies from the garden, raw and cooked meat scraps, pumpkin when they need it, and some kelp sprinkle I bought based on your recomendation. Luke the golden retriever really loves carrots and strawberry tops. Everyone loves melons — they will even eat the skins!

Tracy
Reply

When you say raw do you mean like totally raw meat?
What kind /how much?
Less shedding is a major goal for me. It’s amazing how much an 11lb rat terrier can shed.
At our house dog hair is a condiment (stolen from Pinterst)

dogsordollars
Reply

Totally raw meat, yes. To begin with it’s usually easier to use a commercial product. Raw meat has high phosphorous levels on its own, and should be balanced with calcium. Items store do that for you. I don’t worry about that so much if it’s a small amount fed in conjunction with kibble.

For dogs new to raw, I’d stick with the same protein source as the kibble. Chicken kibble, chicken raw. Can’t hurt ease the transition.

Tracy
Reply

Hmmm that might not work as we us Salmon kibble. Ok so last night I cooked for my dogs. I don’t even like to cook for my people. Chicken livers (I cooked those), raw sweet potatoes & ras spinach along with their kibble. The loved it!!! This AM I gave them a tablespoon of non fat,no sugar plain yogurt with their kibble. Again devoured. I need to read some more but I am liking giving them new tastes. I feel bad that they eat the same boring food day after day.

Karawynn @ Pocketmint
Reply

I used to feed Tessa half-raw (Darwin’s) and half-kibble, but then she developed permanent diarrhea. Taking her off the raw food stopped the diarrhea. :/

So thanks for the Optagest pointer. I might give it a try …

dogsordollars
Reply

Optagest comes in small little .99 doses too. Perfect for food transitions or again those moments of unfortunate crisis.

Just out of curiosity (because I always have more questions for you ;)) were you feeding the raw and kibble mixed together or as separate meals?

dogsordollars
Reply

Some debate about that, which I mostly think is bunk. It ‘shouldn’t’ matter. That said, I’d try separating the two and see if you got the same reaction to raw on its own. After a transition period, and with the inclusion of some pre/probiotics.

Karawynn @ Pocketmint

We did the half-kibble, half-Darwins fine for … somewhere between one and two years, before the diarrhea started. I don’t have any idea what changed.

Samantha
Reply

One of our dogs is prone to Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis and can bleed to death, and no matter what dry food we’ve fed him it seems to increase his chances of attack by giving him diarrhea. So now they get a mostly homemade diet and that seems to work.

To that I like to add Good oils/Fats, raw eggs for Omega 3, assorted veggies, cooked pumpkin is a fav and has a hormone in it which helps his tummy they also get lots of raw veg from the garden.

I have been wanting to start them on probiotics as I am curious to see if it will help with the weird reactions he gets to certain foods.

Tracy – We have a rat terrier and I swear he moults 10 times as much as our long haired dog. Little white hairs in everything.

dogsordollars
Reply

Dalmatians. That’s all I have to say about shedding. Dalmatians.

That sounds like an excellent diet, and a great way to control a life threatening disorder. Thanks for sharing!

Tracy
Reply

You feel the pain – can’t sit down after you get dressed in the morning. HA!!!

dogsordollars
Reply

We just don’t own any black clothing. All colors are chosen by their ability to camouflage white dog hair. ;)

Carley
Reply

I’m so glad you wrote this – Sometimes I feel like such a hack with my kibble, canned, raw rotation!

If I fed strictly raw, Loala alone would eat 5lbs/day (+ new doberman puppy = off the chains $$)!

I have a question about the phosphorus ratio.

I buy our raw food from our butcher. I get ground Draper Valley Farms chicken, and what they call a “supplement,” which is (beef) gross inside stuffs ground up into a lovely pate and then frozen into chubs.

They also get raw meaty bones.

Thoughts on the phosphorus ratio? Is ground raw meat + meaty bone + commercial kibble/canned enough to balance? I can also buy ground bone in, but it’s $3.19/lb instead of $1.49/lb for just meat

I suppose I should be pureeing veggies into the mix, but it’s so convenient to feed them frozen chubs straight from the freezer, which I guess is the convenience of pre-prepared raw.

Economically friendly thoughts/suggestions?

dogsordollars
Reply

I would be concerned about feeding raw meat regularly without some sort of calcium addition. Especially for big dogs, it can take a toll on bones and joints. That said there are options. The cheapest I’ve found is ground turkey necks. If you can get someone to grind the whole neck you’ve got appropriate calcium built in. If they add some “offal all the better. What your doing now, I would at least supplement with ground egg shells. Save the shells, lightly toast in the oven, mash or coffee grinder. Viola! Calcium supplement. Some debate about whether egg shell is as easily absorbed, but its better than nuttin’. At least till you find some turkey necks. ;)

Kimberly C
Reply

I’ve got three healthy pups (*knock on wood*) that are all relatively young (3, 5, & 8 years). Other than previously having some benign tumors on the oldest removed several years ago, they’re all slim and shiny and energetic. I’m a big proponent of keeping dogs slim, so we’re super dorks and weigh our dogs every 3-4 weeks so we can modify diet amounts accordingly. They all get Great Life lamb kibble and some infrequent raw bones, but that’s it..

I’m intrigued by the idea of rotating in some raw diets and adding digestive supplements, as I believe it’s a long-term gain, but worried about upsetting stomachs and possible health reactions. They’ve all lived on pretty much just commercial dry kibble their whole lives. I’m guessing my answer is to start slow/small and start with similar protein?

dogsordollars
Reply

Yep, that’s your answer. Or at least where I’d start. Dogs that have had raw bones are at an advantage digestively. It might not be as bad as you think.

Also, three cheers for skinny dogs! I’ve an upcoming post about that very topic. We are also diligent about keeping the Mutts lean.

Kimberly C
Reply

Also, amusingly, I’ve worked previous jobs where I’ve taken care of zoo animals and fed them raw diets (Natural Balance), digestive supplements (Purina FortiFlora), rotational whole-body food (pre-killed rats, rabbits, fish), salmon oil supplements, and custom dry kibbles. It seems awful silly for me to balk at doing such at home. Even coyotes enjoy an occasional raw yam! Dogs aren’t that removed from their wild counterparts.

dogsordollars
Reply

They aren’t its true. Sometime we just don’t make the leap between one area of lives to the other. I learned all about the benefits of raw milk for dogs. Got really into it. It was a couple months before I realized… Oh, this might actually be good for me too. ;)

Trish
Reply

Great post! as far as fatty acids, can you just buy the stuff? I have been feeding my blue heeler a couple doses of fish oil a day, as she is very itchy. She has gotten 2 allergy shots but is still miserable. my horse vet recommended the fish oil – I cut open a pill and smear it on a treat.

Wish I could keep my dogs slim. I feed them free choice, and they arent’ too bad, with the exception of the Hound Dog, who is fat as butter – but she does the most running. Oh well. Next time I have several dogs I will try to keep from being bottom of the pack and set some rules.

dogsordollars
Reply

It would take me forever to open all those pills! ;) Yes, I just buy a pump bottle and each dog gets a squirt. Usually common in pet supply stores. Don’t pay more than $20 for a 16oz bottle.

If I free fed my dogs, I can not even imagine what my food bills would be like! Given the choice, they’d eat me out of house and home. I’ve no doubt.

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