5 Basic Steps to Improve Your Kibble Dog Food with Real Food
Step 8 of 9 in the Dogly Improving Kibble Channel
with Brittany Evans of CaninesHouseOfNutrition, Nutrition Advocate

Feeding just 20% real, whole foods with your dry dog food can significantly impact your dog's health for good.

Pet parents often ask "am I feeding the best dog food" or "how can I select the best dog food brands for my dog" to keep them healthy or address any health concerns. The answer to that question is not as simple as you may think. With all of the options and conflicting information out there, it can be hard to decide what's best for your pup.

The good news is a simple change to dry dog food can make an enormous difference for your dog.

Studies show feeding even 20% fresh food in our dogs' diets reduces disease and illness significantly with just an easy addition of a small amount of whole food, quality ingredients.

Let's talk about how we can all make this small switch today to boost the ingredients in your dogs' diet to give your dog every health advantage you can!

How to make the switch to fresh whole foods and replace 20% of your kibble dog food...


Step 1: Kibble/dry dog food is seriously dehydrating, so hydrate!

Before we get into the 20% fresh food/dry food switch, let's talk about healthy hydration. In another guide I explained how all dry food - whether grain free kibble, regular dry kibble, whatever - is unnaturally dry for dogs (and cats btw) and that dehydration puts a strain on your dog's digestive system and overall health for pets. The best dry dog food is hydrated dry dog food!

We can fix this by simply adding fresh water and letting the kibble soak in warm water for a couple of minutes before feeding. (If you've heard the myth that dry pet food cleans dogs' teeth, it's just that - a myth, totally false.) Even better than or in addition to water, if you want to add moisture for the hydration of a "wet food" but also with a ton of nutrients, then level up and add bone broth or raw goat milk - both superfoods for your dog and easy for you to pour over kibble!

Why bone broth is great to add to your pet food

Bone broth is nutrient-dense and supports the immune system and promotes overall gut health. It also promotes joint health as it is loaded with chondroitin, glucosamine, and collagen that protects your dog's joints and strengthens bones. Bone broth also contains multiple amino acids that have an anti-inflammatory and healing effect on the whole body, so it helps with dogs who suffer from environmental allergies, hip and joint pain, arthritis, bouts of diarrhea, chronic colon issues…etc. 

These amazing benefits and healing properties are the same for humans as well, so make a big batch and drink some bone broth with your dog (it's all human-grade ingredients, after all)!

Why dog owners should know about goat milk

Raw goat milk is another go-to addition to dry dog foods, adding enormous benefits to your dry pet food without having to make the leap to a raw diet. My favorite is fermented, which gives the added benefit of probiotics, so important to dogs' gut health (and ours honestly – so if you’re not taking probiotics… do it now).

Raw goat milk is super nutrient-dense, with essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and enzymes that aid in digestion and support a healthy immune system, combatting environmental & food allergies and disease (all those benefits of feeding a fermented raw food in an easy, pour-over form). I highly recommend raw goat milk for all dogs, working dogs, dogs at all life stages including for puppy health - and even more so for senior dogs.

Step 2: Take JUST 20% of your dry dog food out & put fresh whole foods in

For all dog owners feeding kibble, let's get started with the 20% fresh, whole foods challenge! Remove 20% of your dog's current kibble amount. Then add in fresh, whole food (meat, eggs, fish, fruits...) to that 20% pie space. We'll talk about the many simple food replacement possibilities in a minute.

But first, why remove 20% of your dog's dry food?

Studies show when pet owners feed just 20% fresh food to your dog as part of a regular dry dog food diet, there's a significant decrease in disease and illness. So, even if you're feeding kibble, you can make this small adjustment today to your dog's meals to create a vastly healthier and happier dog -- and set up your pup for greater longevity as you continue on your dog's nutrition journey.

The rule of thumb is 20% because you don’t have to worry about nutrient balance if you're only replacing 20% of kibble with fresh food. If you do want to gradually increase the fresh, whole foods and replace more than 20% over a period of time, then you'll need to balance the fresh food portion to match nutritional standards in your dog's meals since there can be a risk of deficiencies in specific nutrients if not planned with the proper nutrition make-up of a balanced diet. (When you get to this, I can help you with tools you can use or work with you 1:1 to create a nutrition/recipe plan for your dog.)

Added emotional bonus: dogs love to eat fresh foods (like the eggs, fish, etc we talk about below) and every meal seems more joyful than the last!


Step 3: Add eggs to your dog's kibble - the perfect protein

Eggs are one of my favorite foods to recommend as an easy addition for pet parents who feed kibble. Often called "the perfect protein," an egg is a great source of animal protein perfectly balanced with the essential amino acids, healthy fats, and nutrients your dog's body needs. (And great protein to counter the overabundance of carbohydrates in most kibbles for many health reasons including weight management.)

Try this

Eggs are incredibly versatile, economical, and easy. Whether the egg is raw, scrambled, hard boiled, whatever, the nutritional profile stays the same, so however you are most comfortable feeding the egg, just start there.

Remember, the best recipes for your dog is the simplest - whatever gives your dog the unadulterated nutritional value in the most bioavailable way and simple process (fresh or light cooking).

I like to give raw eggs to my dogs - including the shell, ground up, (just make sure the egg is organic and clean from any sprays, etc. on the outside). Added bonus with the egg shell: it includes a membrane which is composed of the natural anti-arthritic joint-supporters collagen, glucosamine, and chondroitin. (And I have three dogs - trust me, it doesn't get much quicker, easier, and better for the nutritional value for the effort than an egg!)

Chicken eggs are easiest for me to find so that’s normally what I feed, but I love switching it up when I can find duck eggs and quail eggs. When it comes to which eggs are best, free-range, pasture-raised eggs have the most nutritional value - but even if you can only find organic eggs from the grocery store (or what you can afford), that's perfectly ok too.


Step 4: Add fish to dry kibble - your secret weapon as an anti-inflammatory and skin & coat shiner

Kibble is high in omega 6s and low in omega 3s making it really inflammatory. So by adding fish to the kibble, we increase the omega 3 levels and therefore, decrease inflammation. Omega 3s are vitally important to skin and coat health, as well as brain function, and this is something that kibble really lacks.

Try this

The best and easiest way to include fish in your dog's diet is to buy canned sardines in water, which can be found at any grocery store. The rule of thumb is 1 oz of sardines per 35 pounds of dog per day.

Remember you can share your own human grade fresh food with your pets

Most likely, you have more-than-a-plateful of high quality food like salmon or other types of fish available to share with your dog. Bits of salmon skin make an exceptionally good topper to your dog's bowl - with plenty of all-important Omega 3s. Nothing's simpler than letting your dog eat a bit of what you eat (sans sauces, etc. of course) as part of a meal made healthier.

Whether you're adding fish, eggs, or a meat, you can feel great knowing that the protein you're adding is so much more nutritionally valuable than what you're replacing. In most kibbles what you're replacing includes things like chicken by products and other ingredients no one recognizes. When you boost your dog's bowl yourself with real food, you're confident you know exactly what you're giving your dog - and it's a pretty good feeling.

Step 5: Add fresh fruits and greens to your pet food - your dog's antioxidant armor

We're diving into fruits and greens more deeply in the Fresh Food Channel here on Dogly, but I wanted to start your thinking about what's in your fridge or freezer that could be a super easy topper for your dog. Blueberries - fresh or frozen, kale, spinach, oranges? They're jammed with antioxidants for your dog's immune system, to fight allergies, and the list goes on.

More on these in the Fresh Food Channel, but meanwhile take inventory of what you have on hand - and maybe stock up ... they're great food for you too!

Learn about the the importance of researching and making informed decisions about what to feed your dog, while also exploring the benefits of natural, unprocessed diets that promote animal welfare and overall health.

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Next up in the Improving Kibble Channel on Dogly

Now that you know how to replace 20% of your dog's kibble with fresh food ingredients, you're ready to learn how to enhance your dog's kibble with super foods in the following step-by-step guide. Go there next or you can check out other ways to expand your nutritional knowledge for your dog in learning which nutrients your dog could be missing in his/her diet or what it means to feed your dog for a certain life stage.

Hop over to the Improving Kibble Channel if you'd like to ask a question in the Community discussion or start any of the step-by-step guides in Food Guidance or Food Enhancers.

And if you ever need more personalized nutrition guidance, please reach out!

Brittany Evans of CaninesHouseOfNutrition

Nutrition Advocate
Dogly loves Brittany because she shows us how we can help our dogs live truly well with the right nutrition for their whole lives.

Brittany guides you

Home Cooking - Basic Nutrition - Herbs - Joint Health - Detoxing - Gut Health

Brittany is certified

Certified Canine Nutrition & Health - Certified Raw Dog Food Nutrition Specialist - Usui Reiki Practitioner - Certified Canine Herbalist