Caitlin UltimoNutrition / Pet Diet Tips

The Benefits of Toppers

Many dog and cat owners have already discovered—and may be using—food toppers. Often pet owners will use these products as nutritional supplements to traditional dog food or as flavor enhancers to entice picky eaters to eat more. If you’ve ever wondered if these products really live up to the hype—or if you’ve never heard of them before and are interested in learning more—we’ve got some answers.

Dr. Stephanie Liff, DVM, is the medical director of Pure Paws Veterinary Care of Hell’s Kitchen and Clinton Hill. In her experience, Dr. Liff says she often sees clients using toppers for palatability and taste more than for adding nutrition to their pets’ diets. “I will discuss with people whose pets are not eating well, ways to encourage them to eat better, including toppers,” she adds.

In fact, Dr. Liff says that she’s had the most success with Stella & Chewy toppers for dogs, as well as low-sodium chicken or beef broth for dogs and tuna juice for cats. If you’re looking for more options, though, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chunky Beef Bites Trail Toppers are made with real beef steeped in gravy, making it hard for dogs to resist, while The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Turkey Recipe Proper Toppers contain light and crispy superfood clusters your dog is sure to love.

Of course, cats have a bunch of tasty topper options to pick from as well. For example, your picky cat might enjoy Wellness TruFood Shredded Chicken Breast Grain-Free Topper, which gives your cat’s regular meals an extra protein boost while still tasting delicious, or Halo Mix’n Mores Freeze-Dried Salmon & Turkey Cat Food Toppers, which bring a meatier flavor to your cat’s meals.

If you haven’t yet jumped on the topper bandwagon, Dr. Liff said she often suggests her patients start with fish oil first. “I find that nearly all of my patients are willing to eat this on their food, but I do not use it for the flavor,” she says. “I use it for the benefits of the fish oil.” The benefits of fish oil are many, including anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat many abnormalities.

While toppers can be a great way to try to get grazers to eat, if you’ve tried them and they don’t work, don’t fear. “There are several home-cooked pet food options on the market now that are extremely palatable, but also nutritionally balanced,” says Dr. Liff.

For your fussy cat who’s anti-toppers, you might try the Tiki Cat King Kamehameha Luau Canned Cat Food Variety Pack. This way, your cat can try a different dish for every meal, each one featuring a high-protein, low-carb formula.

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