Adding Life To The Bowl: Kibble Boosters
Updated: 5 days ago
Around 96% of the whole 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.
But there are certain things as a health-conscious pet owner that one can do to better kibble, such as adding in Kibble Boosters!
Did you know that replacing 20% of dry foods with whole fresh foods is enough to make a huge difference? So much so that dogs with bladder cancer fed green leafy vegetables reduced the risk of development by 90%. Any amount of fresh food is better than none.
Kibble Boosters are super easy to incorporate into everyday meals and make eating exciting and nutritious. Here is a list of some easy additions to the bowl.
Since kibble is absent of pretty much all moisture, it's important to add hydration back in. Unlike humans, dogs are designed to gain water from their food and, of course, water. Soaking the kibble 5-10 minutes before feeding can ensure that your dog stays properly hydrated. You can soak with raw goat milk, bone broth [recipe here], or even warm water!
Raw Goat Milk
Raw Goat Milk can be found pretty much anywhere (yay!). Goat milk is filled with moisture, probiotics, digestive enzymes and has immense anti-inflammatory properties. This is one of my key staples for an upset tummy. But remember... these benefits deteriorate when pasteurized. Research has also found that goat milk aids the body in absorbing important nutrients from food. A fantastic brand is Answer's Pet Food as it is so high-quality and fermented.
Filled with hydration, quality nutrients, anti-inflammatory properties, and so much more. Here is a super easy recipe you can make at home. If buying premade bone broth, make sure there’s no onions, garlic, or sugars.
Fruits & Veggies
Quality, low-glycemic fruits & veggies are add in polyphenols, phytonutrients, antioxidants, prebiotics, and more. While dogs do not need a large 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, as shown below. It is essential to properly prep the plant matter by steaming and blending to make the nutrients as bioavailable as possible.
Phytoplankton is small but mighty, giving a huge punch of nutrients! A wonderful brand is Adored Beast Apocathery. Phytoplankton is rich in anti-cancer & anti-inflammatory properties, detox effects, antioxidants, omega-3s, phytonutrients, and amino acids.
Phytoplankton is half of omega-3s by weight and has a potent antioxidant called superoxide dismutase (SOD) that protects cells from free radicals. Plus, phytoplankton can be sustainably grown in filtered water on farms, so we don't have to worry about heavy metals or radiation. A small sprinkle is all it takes to reap the benefits of phytoplankton!
Mother nature's multivitamin. There's a reason that wolves consume the liver of their prey before anything else. Whether it's raw, freeze-dried, or dehydrated, organ meats are rich in B-vitamins, vitamins A, D, E, and K, folic acid, and omega 3s. Every organ meat will provide a slightly different array of nutrients. When first introducing, make sure to go slow and only feed up to 2-5% of the meal as it can cause some rocket butt (aka diarrhea).
Digestive enzymes allow for better nutrient absorption, aids in the prevention of leaky gut (which is very common in kibble-fed dogs), and helps bring the microbiome to balance. A quality digestive enzyme is a Healthy Gut (a digestive enzyme + pre/probiotic).
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.
It’s important to be aware that not all mushrooms are grown the same. Many companies will only grow the mycelium, made in a lab (grown on grains like oats and rice rather than on wood), and only a small part of the mushroom with significantly lower medicinal properties. Quality mushroom supplements should be grown on wood and contain the fruiting body, which has all healing benefits.
Eggs are an important source of nutrition and not only for those who eat them but also for the chick living inside it. Eggs contain all the nutrients necessary to grow a new chicken. This is why eggs are also 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! It is not recommend to feed the shells of grocery store eggs since they are sprayed with chemicals to sanitize.
Fish counts as a whole prey and is rich in vitamin D,omega-3s (EPA & DHA), boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation, and more! The omega-3s in fish also lower the chances of metabolic diseases. Studies have linked the intake of omega-3s to reduce the chances of type-1 diabetes and other auto-immune disorders.
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.
You can feed them raw or canned. A great canned brand is Wild Planet. Suppliers that sell raw fish can be found here.
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 it can cause some rocket butt if fed in large amounts. For a list of favorite premade raw foods, click here!
All you need is fill the bowl with 20% with fresh whole foods to make a big difference! If a dog was fed 1 cup of kibble per day, you would take .20 cups out (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.
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 the metabolism of certain drugs. But what is known is that the gastric pH is still going to be acidic whether they are raw fed or not. If the pH were alkaline, it would result in malnutrition due to being unable to break down the nutrients.
If there is a drastic pH change needed to digest kibble vs. raw (which is not confirmed), a healthy system should be able to absorb the nutrients just fine. The digestive process is not like a traffic jam, so 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.
There are so many steps you can take to improve a dry food diet. The most important step is to continue researching ways to achieve a more holistic lifestyle. 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!
As always, Always Keep Exploring!