How To Make Dog Kibble Better And Healthier: Full Guide

How To Make Dog Kibble Better And Healthier: Full Guide

Dana Scott

Are you one of the many dog owners who find feeding a raw diet impractical? Despite the growing popularity of raw feeding, the majority of dogs still rely on kibble for their meals. This could be due to cost, convenience, or the hassle of handling raw meat.

But don’t worry ... there are ways to bump up the nutritional value of your dog’s kibble. By adding fresh, nutritious ingredients, you can significantly enhance your dog’s diet and overall well-being.

So if your dog is eating kibble for any reason, here’s how to make his dry dog food meals more nutritious and beneficial by adding a variety of boosters or dog food toppers.

6 Ways To Make Kibble Better And Healthier For Dogs

1. Avoid Harmful Ingredients

Let's start with what to avoid. To ensure you’re feeding your dog the best possible kibble, it's essential to read ingredient labels carefully. Look out for harmful additives and low-quality ingredients that could negatively impact your dog’s health.

Also, avoid dog foods that contain artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. These chemicals have been linked to various health issues. Opt for kibble that uses natural preservatives like vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) and rosemary extract.

Many commercial kibbles use GMO grains like corn, soy, and wheat, which are often treated with pesticides such as glyphosate. Glyphosate is a probable carcinogen and has been associated with kidney and liver damage. Legumes, commonly used in grain-free diets, can also pose risks due to their high lectin content, which can interfere with nutrient absorption and digestion.

2. Add Fresh Food To Promote Good Gut Bacteria

The health of your dog’s gut is crucial for his overall wellness. Good gut bacteria support the immune system and help in digestion. Unfortunately, the high processing temperatures and long-term storage of kibble often destroy these beneficial bacteria.

Adding fresh foods that are rich in probiotics, such as fermented vegetables, can help promote healthy gut bacteria. Probiotics support your dog’s immune system by protecting against harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They also help the body absorb essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and iron.

To make probiotics more effective, you can also include prebiotic foods in your dog’s diet. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that feeds the good bacteria in the gut, enhancing their benefits.

Some excellent prebiotic foods to add to kibble include mushrooms (cooked or powdered), garlic, dandelion greens, and burdock root.

Some kibble brands may include prebiotics, but again the nutrtion is cooked out during the high heat process. They're often listed under names like fructooligosaccharides (FOS), chicory root, inulin, guar gum, or beet pulp. You can also find prebiotic supplements or those that combine both prebiotics and probiotics for added convenience.

3. Enhance Digestion With Fresh Vegetables

Enzymes play a key role in breaking down food and aiding nutrient absorption. While some kibble may include added enzymes, these often don’t survive the high-heat processing. So adding fresh vegetables rich in enzymes can significantly benefit your dog’s digestion.

Simply adding raw carrots or other veggies to your dog’s kibble isn’t effective because dogs lack the enzyme cellulase, which is necessary to break down plant cell walls. Instead, lightly steam or purée vegetables using a food processor to make them digestible and retain their nutrient value.

Alternatively, you can add a digestive enzyme supplement to your dog’s food. These supplements, available in powdered form, can be sprinkled onto kibble before serving to aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.

4. Add Whole Food Nutrients

Synthetic vitamins, often found in kibble, are lab-made and can be less effective than natural, whole food-sourced vitamins. Over time, synthetic vitamins can clog your dog’s cell receptors, reducing their efficacy. In contrast, natural vitamins from whole foods are complex and easily recognized by the body, leading to better absorption and utilization. This can improve overall health and reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies or toxicities.

To boost your dog's intake of natural vitamins and minerals, consider adding blended or lightly cooked fruits and vegetables to their diet. These additions can provide essential nutrients that are often lacking in processed kibble. Some great options include:

  • Carrots: Rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A.
  • Blueberries: Packed with antioxidants and vitamin C.
  • Spinach: A good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron and fiber.

    Blending or lightly steaming these vegetables makes them easier to digest and helps release their nutrients.

    Functional foods are another excellent way to enhance your dog’s diet. These foods offer additional health benefits beyond basic nutrition:

    • Greens and Sea Greens: Such as kelp, broccoli sprouts, chlorella and spirulina, which provide a range of vitamins and minerals.
    • Berries: Especially blueberries and cranberries, for their antioxidant properties.
    • Broccoli Sprouts: Known for their high sulforaphane content, which supports detoxification.
    • Herbal Blends and Mushrooms: Including options like reishi, shiitake, and turkey tail mushrooms, which can support immune function and overall health.

      5. Supplement With Omega-3 Fatty Acids

      Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for supporting cognitive function and maintaining healthy skin and coat. They're essential for balancing the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids commonly found in many commercial dog foods.

      While fish oil is a popular source of omega-3s, it has several drawbacks. Fish oil is highly unstable and can quickly become rancid, which makes it potentially harmful rather than beneficial. Additionally, fish oil can contain toxins such as heavy metals and dioxins, and its production contributes to overfishing, depleting ocean ecosystems.

      For safer and more sustainable sources of omega-3 fatty acids, consider:

      • Green Lipped Mussels: These are rich in omega-3s, including EPA, DHA, and ETA, and are more bioavailable than fish oil. They are sustainably farmed in New Zealand.
      • Sardines or Other Oily Fish: Canned sardines, packed in water without added salt, can be a convenient and nutritious source of omega-3s. They are also lower on the food chain, making them less likely to accumulate toxins.

        6. Vary The Food

        Just like you wouldn’t want to eat the same meal every day, neither does your dog. Feeding the same kibble day in and day out can be monotonous and may not provide all the nutrients your dog needs for optimal health.

        Instead of sticking to one brand or formula, try rotating different brands and proteins. This approach ensures that your dog gets a wider range of nutrients, reducing the risk of nutrient deficiencies or excesses that can occur from feeding a single type of food. Different brands have different nutrient profiles, so varying them can help cover nutritional gaps.

        Most manufacturers use similar formulas or vitamin premixes across their product lines, only changing the protein source and a few ingredients. By rotating brands, you expose your dog to a variety of ingredients and formulas. This practice can help prevent the buildup of excess nutrients and deficiencies.

        For example: excess vitamin D has caused health issues in some dogs, including kidney failure and even death. The FDA has issued warnings about this, making it crucial to avoid over-reliance on a single brand or formula.

        If your dog is accustomed to a single type of food, start rotations gradually to prevent tummy issues. Begin by mixing small amounts of the new food with the old, gradually increasing the new food as your dog’s digestive system adapts.

        The Problem With Dog Kibble

        This blog is about natural kibble boosters ... but we can't help but mention that kibble isn't ideal for pet food, and you should still try to make the switch to feeding fresh food when you can. If you can't fully make the switch to a fresh food diet or homemade dog food, canned dog food can also be an improvement.

        Kibble is typically high in starch, which is necessary to bind the kibble pieces together. However, dogs don't need starch in their diet, and high starch content can contribute to obesity and other health issues.

        Plus, the high-temperature processing used to manufacture kibble destroys many of the natural nutrients in the ingredients. This necessitates the addition of synthetic vitamins and minerals, which are not as easily absorbed or utilized by the body.

        Synthetic vitamins in kibble are poorly absorbed and can even be harmful over time. Additionally, the high heat used in processing kibble can create harmful byproducts, such as carcinogens and toxins. These factors make kibble a less-than-ideal food choice for your dog. That said, you can significantly improve it by incorporating the tips above!


        How to make kibble taste better for dogs? To make kibble taste better for dogs, try adding a bit of small fish (mackerel or sardines) or mixing in some cooked ground meat. This can entice even a picky dog to eat more enthusiastically.

        What can I add to my dog's dry food to make it healthier? You can add fresh veggies like broccoli sprouts to your dog's dry food to make it healthier. This provides extra nutrients and helps create a complete and balanced diet for your pet.

        Should I soak my dogs kibble in water? Soaking your dog's kibble in water can help soften it, making it easier for your dog to chew and digest, especially beneficial for older dogs with sensitive dog's teeth.

        Does adding water to kibble make it better? Yes, adding water to kibble can make it better by improving its texture and making it more palatable for your dog, while also helping to keep your dog hydrated directly from their dog's bowl.