Using Food Toppers for Your Dog: An Easy-to-Follow Guide

Written by: 

Dr. Danielle Conway, DVM ACVIM Nutrition Board Eligible, CVA, VSMT  

Nutrition board-eligible veterinarian with extensive experience in integrative medicine and nutrition.  

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Using a food topper for your dog can be a great way to enhance their mealtime experience and add extra nutrition to their diet. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use a food topper for your furry friend, including ButcherBox For Pets’ Chicken & Quinoa Recipe Topper.

Is it Complete and Balanced?

The most important aspect of utilizing a food topper is to first understand if the topper is a complete and balanced food that you can incorporate into your pet's meals, or if it is intended for intermittent and supplemental feeding. In other words, is the food for flavor and fun, or is it expected to meet your pet’s minimal essential nutrient content? 

If it is not complete and balanced (flavor and fun), it should not contribute more than 10% of your pet's total daily calorie intake. This 10% also includes treats. All the treats, food toppers, meal enhancers, and chew toys should not contribute more than 10% of your dog's total daily calorie intake. This is important because it could unbalance your pet's diet and increase their daily calorie intake, which can add up quickly in a small animal. Often people don't realize how quickly these foods can add up!

Example of How to Estimate Treat Calorie Intake

Your pet should have no more than 85 calories from treats for a 50 lb dog needing approximately 850 calories per day. (850 calories per day x 0.1) = 85 calories from treats per day. 

For instance, if you provide your dog with 1 oz (approximately 28g—a typical cheese serving in the US), it's akin to giving an average person the equivalent of two and a half hamburgers!

Choose the Right Food Topper

There are many different types of food toppers available for dogs, including meats, broths, or even dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Select a food topper that complements your dog's regular diet and does not disrupt their nutritional needs. It is worth comparing the topper to see if the macronutrient content (protein, fat) is comparable to your pet’s regular diet to avoid GI upset, especially in sensitive dogs. 

ButcherBox For Pets Chicken & Quinoa Recipe Topper

ButcherBox For Pets’ topper is meant to accompany their Premium Nutrition Dog Food. It’s made with real, whole ingredients like chicken, quinoa, green beans, and carrots. Not only does it provide additional nutrients, but it adds loads of flavor and hydration when added to dry food—plus, it’s shelf-stable!

★  Absolutely Excellent! Dogs love it more than anything else. It's a big hit! Both my dogs actually go to the potty more than before, good for their gut health! Will be the go to for dogs food! - Colette C., verified member

Read the Instructions

Before using any new product, carefully read the instructions and feeding guidelines provided by the manufacturer. This will ensure that you're using the food topper correctly and feeding your dog the appropriate amount. 

Measure the Correct Amount

Using a measuring spoon or measuring cup, measure out the recommended amount of food topper based on your dog's size and dietary requirements. This helps ensure you are not overfeeding, which can lead to weight gain, digestive disturbances, and unbalanced vitamin and mineral intake.

When adding ButcherBox For Pets’ topper, feed 2 tablespoons per 5 lbs of body weight per day. Adjust as necessary depending on your dog’s activity level and other treat intake.

Add to Your Dog's Food

Once you've measured out the appropriate amount, simply sprinkle or mix the food topper into your dog's regular food. I recommend evenly distributing it throughout the meal so that your dog gets a taste of the topper with each bite.

Woman fixing her dog dry food and topper

Observe Your Dog's Reaction

Some dogs may be hesitant to try new foods, while others may eagerly devour anything you put in front of them. Pay attention to your dog's reaction to the food topper. If they seem to enjoy it, you can continue to use it as part of their regular meals. If they're unsure or reluctant, you may need to experiment with different flavors or textures to find one that they like.

★  My 3 dogs absolutely LOVE this topper. I love that I’m feeding my fur babies real, organic food. - Carol W., verified member

Monitor Your Dog's Health

As with any changes to your dog's diet, it's essential to monitor their health and well-being after introducing a new food topper. Watch for any signs of digestive upset or allergic reactions, and consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Store Properly

Properly seal and store the food topper according to the manufacturer's instructions to maintain its freshness and quality. When using ButcherBox For Pets’ topper be sure to refrigerate between uses and discard after 3 days to ensure optimal freshness. This will ensure that it remains safe and palatable for your dog to enjoy.

Avoiding Over-Palatability and Picky Eating

While on one hand, we want mealtime to be fun and enjoyable for all involved, the downside of making your dog’s food too palatable is that you could create a little furry monster who requires a bevy of constantly rotating fun additives to consume their meals. Before you know it, you have a dog who holds out for only Filet Mignon or Lobster tail. I compare this to a toddler who will try to hold off on eating their meal to get more ice cream. Some gentle tough love may be necessary. 

Also, it is totally OK for your dog to skip meals if they are a picky eater. This behavior is normal in their wild counterparts. If your dog is maintaining their body weight, skipping a meal or two can be totally healthy and normal for your dog. If your dog shows signs of skipping a meal, pull their food up after 15-20 minutes and try again at the next scheduled mealtime. This approach reinforces a routine and helps prevent the development of bad eating habits.

By following these steps, you can effectively use a food topper to enhance your dog’s meal.

Example of How Quickly Food Can Add Up for Your Pet’s Calorie Intake

Let's consider a hypothetical scenario where we track the calories consumed by a small dog throughout the day. For this example, we'll use common dog treats and foods, along with their approximate calorie counts:

Morning Meal: Dry dog food (1/2 cup = 200 calories)

Mid-Morning Treat: Small dog biscuit (30 calories)

Lunchtime Meal: Wet dog food (1/4 can = 100 calories)

Afternoon Treat: Dental chew stick (50 calories)

Evening Meal: Homemade meal with chicken and rice (1/2 cup = 250 calories)

Bedtime Snack: Peanut butter-filled Kong toy (200 calories)

Total calories consumed throughout the day: 830 calories

In this example, a small dog might consume 830 calories in a single day through regular meals and treats. While this amount may vary depending on factors like the dog's size, age, activity level, and specific dietary needs, it illustrates how quickly calories can add up, especially if the dog receives multiple treats throughout the day.

It's essential to be mindful of portion sizes and the calorie content of the food and treats you give to your dog to prevent overfeeding and maintain their overall health and weight. Additionally, consulting with a veterinarian can help you determine the appropriate daily calorie intake for your specific dog based on their individual needs.

Final Thoughts

Using a food topper for your dog can be a great way to enhance their mealtime experience and add extra nutrition to their diet. By following the guidelines above, you can ensure that your dog enjoys their meals while maintaining a balanced and healthy diet. For the ultimate topper that combines complete and balanced nutrition, flavor, and ease of use, consider the ButcherBox For Pets Chicken & Quinoa topper. This topper not only enhances the taste of your dog’s meals but also supports their overall health with high-quality ingredients.

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