The majority of the world feeds kibble. And while the fresh food revolution is quickly spreading, they'll always be some that cannot feed 100% raw, which is completely respectable & understandable. Thankfully, there are things as a health-conscious pet owner that one can do to better kibble, such as adding in Kibble Boosters!
Replacing 20% of dry foods with whole fresh foods is enough to make a huge difference. A study by Purdue University showed that adding fresh vegetation to a processed diet helps prevent/slow the development of bladder cancer.
Kibble Boosters are easy to incorporate into everyday meals and make eating exciting and nutritious. Here is a list of some easy additions to the bowl.
Kibble is void of much moisture due to manufacturing. Therefore, it is crucial to add hydration back in. Unlike humans, dogs are designed to gain water primarily from their food. Soaking the kibble 5-10 minutes before feeding can ensure that your dog stays adequately hydrated. You can soak it with raw goat milk, bone broth, or even warm water!
Raw Goat Milk
Raw Goat Milk can be found pretty much anywhere. Goat milk is filled with moisture and is one of the key staples for an upset tummy protocol. While raw goat milk is preferred, pasteurized can be fed too. Goat milk can also be a great addition if your dog is a picky eater.
Filled with hydration, quality nutrients, anti-inflammatory properties, and more. Here is a super easy recipe you can make at home. If buying premade bone broth, make sure there are no onions, garlic, preservatives, or sugars.
Fruits & Veggies
Quality, low-glycemic fruits & veggies add in polyphenols, phytonutrients, antioxidants, prebiotics, and more. While dogs do not need a significant carbohydrate source, adding in small amounts of quality vegetation can have immense health benefits. Here is an easy homemade veggie mix, or you can buy any appropriate premade blend. It is essential to properly prep the plant matter by steaming and blending to make the nutrients as bioavailable as possible.
Mother nature's multivitamin. There's a reason that wolves consume the liver of their prey before anything else. Whether raw, freeze-dried, or dehydrated, organ meats are rich in many nutrinets. Every organ meat will provide a slightly different array of nutrients. When first introducing, make sure to go slow and only feed up to 2-3% of the meal as it can cause some rocket butt (aka diarrhea).
Dogs with difficulty digesting kibble, gas, or any digestive issues can benefit from adding a digestive enzyme. Quality digestive enzymes include:
Adored Beast, Healthy Gut | Digestive Enzyme [use “GSDSTORMY15” to save!]
Good bacteria (probiotics) in the gut have many benefits, such as aiding in the immune system, obesity issues, and more. It has such a significant influence that an imbalance of bacteria can lead to health issues such as leaky gut or yeast. Incorporating probiotics can keep the microflora diverse and balanced. More on probiotics supplements here.
Medicinal mushrooms are high in beta-glucan, antioxidants, & B-vitamins. They're super easy to add either in powder form, or you can make your own mushroom broth.
Eggs are a vast source of nutrition. Eggs are one of the complete sources of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Feeding them to your dog is a great way to boost their protein intake & quality nutrients. Eggs are also a great source of vitamin A, riboflavin, folate, selenium, iron, fatty acids, and more.
Some owners are wary of feeding eggs due to enzyme inhibitors in the egg whites. These can interfere with digestion, especially in young/old animals. Enzyme inhibitors in egg whites can negatively interfere with dogs' health if eggs are fed in abundance. But a few times a week will not harm the dog at all. It’s perfectly safe to feed your dog several raw eggs a week, as long as it’s not a mainstay of their diet. If you can get your hand on some pasture-raised eggs, you can feed the shell too! Feeding the shells of grocery store eggs is not recommended since they are sprayed with chemicals to sanitize.
Fish is rich in vitamin D and omega-3s (EPA & DHA). As AAFCO has no minimum requirements for omega-3s, incorporating fish or fish oil can provide essential fatty acids. You can feed seafood (except shellfish) raw or canned. Suppliers that sell raw fish can be found here.
The sourcing and type of fish you feed are vital. Higher predator fish such as tuna and king mackerel will be higher in heavy metals, toxins, and radiation. You also don't want to source your fish out of the Pacific ocean since that's where most pollutants are found! Stick to lower-level fish such as sardines, smelt, and anchovies to avoid high levels of mercury & other toxins. Other great seafood to feed is green-lipped mussels, blue/black mussels, and oysters.
Raw Meats & Premade
Any type of raw meat and/or premade raw is a great addition! Just remember to keep it 20% or under and be wary of rich proteins such as lamb and venison as they can cause some rocket butt if fed in large amounts. For a list of favorite premade raw foods, click here.
All you need is to fill the bowl with 20% fresh whole foods to make a big difference! If a dog were fed 1 cup of kibble per day, you would take .20 cups (20%) out of the bowl and add any of the Kibble Boosters mentioned above. This way, you will not have to balance out the dry food with the fresh foods, and you can still get some real food into the bowl. Click here for guidance on adding Kibble Boosters.
Mixing Kibble & Raw
A common concern with mixing kibble and fresh foods are safe due to digestion rate and pH levels. Unfortunately, there is no answer as there have been limited studies on the gastric pH of kibble vs. raw-fed dogs. The few studies out there don't focus on digestion but rather on the metabolism of certain drugs. But what is known is that the gastric pH will still be acidic whether they are raw fed or not. If the pH were alkaline, it would result in malnutrition due to the inability to break down nutrients.
If a drastic pH change is needed to digest kibble vs. raw (which is not confirmed), a healthy system should absorb the nutrients just fine. The digestive process is not like a traffic jam. If they do digest at different, their system is more than capable of handling it as we know meat and edible bones break down at different rates. Fresh food is not an "all or nothing" mindset, and kibble boosters are a great way to find a middle ground.
You can take many steps to improve a dry food diet. The most crucial step is to continue researching and discovering what works best for you and your dog. Whether using a high-quality kibble, feeding 50/50 raw/kibble, or adding in kibble boosters, any amount of fresh food is better than none! I hope you learned something new today & Always Keep Exploring!