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5 Healthy & Cheap Foods to Boost your Dog Kibble every day

If you’re feeding your dog dry food, you’ve probably noticed the bag proudly proclaiming it as “Complete & Balanced.” While that’s reassuring, it doesn’t mean you can’t boost the nutritional value even further. Dry kibble is convenient, but there are simple & cost-effective ways to elevate each meal, & you likely have these items in your fridge or pantry.


Complete & Balanced Dog Food

So, a ‘complete and balanced’ bowl of dry food, or bowl of any food for your dog is an interesting claim. What does a complete & balanced DIET look like versus a complete and balanced MEAL?


Before I go into the Top 5 Foods you can feed your dog to boost the nutritional content of that complete & balanced meal, I’d like to just give you some ‘food for thought’ (bad joke I know!). Pick up a bag or can of dog food & pretty much the first thing you will see is the term ‘complete & balanced’ plastered all over the packaging. But what does this even mean? Is there any such thing? 


Next time you’re out shopping check out the pre-made range of frozen meal options for humans. Do you see the promise printed on the box that it’s a complete & balanced meal? Nope! You’ll never see it because it simply is not possible to make a meal that will supply us with everything we need to be healthy! The term “complete and balanced” didn’t emerge from a scientific breakthrough in pet nutrition. Instead, it was crafted by savvy marketing teams with one goal in mind: to sell more dry dog food. And boy, did they succeed! Walk down any pet food aisle, & you’ll be bombarded with brightly coloured bags an&d cans boasting this enticing promise.


But the term “complete” can indeed be incredibly misleading when it comes to pet nutrition. Imagine feeding your dog the same meal day in and day out, believing it’s providing everything they need for optimal health. The truth is, just like us, dogs thrive on variety & a diverse array of nutrients. Imagine sitting down to the same meal every day—monotonous, lacking essential nutrients, & downright boring. You’d be deprived of key vitamins, minerals, & fibre. So why don’t we apply this logic to our dogs’ diets? Dogs, like us, thrive on variety & a diverse range of foods. 


Okay, so what can you add to their dinner tonight to make it so much better? And as a bonus, there are two simple fuss-free recipes for a crunchy omelette and meatballs at the end!


1. Water, Bone Broth or Coconut Water

Dry Kibble contains less than 10% moisture content, in comparison a raw or cooked diet contains around 70%. If you only feed your dog dry food, despite having fresh water available, almost all will show clinical signs of dehydration. This ongoing dehydration can lead to more serious issues like Kidney Disease as their bodies are under constant stress. Imagine you living on 3 meals a day of food with less than 10% water content? Imagine a plate of dry Salada crackers & nothing else! You’d be in a constant state of thirst!


So, add moisture to the bowl. Bone Broth is an amazing superfood made by leaching out the nutrients from bones as the name suggests. As a bonus, it enables the dog’s gut to be able to digest & extract more nutrients from the Kibble. Coconut water is packed full of electrolytes, rehydrating on a cellular level (plus it tastes great!) If you don’t have either of these on hand, simply adding a splash of water to their bowls will help to rehydrate it & enable easier nutrient absorption.


2. Cooked Vegetables for Dogs

Almost all dogs love warm cooked veggies, they are an excellent way to get fresh, real foods packed full of vitamins, minerals and wonderful insoluble fibre into their diet. Just a note on Vegetables - they need to be lightly cooked to enable your dog to absorb the nutrients. Raw veggies have a tough cellular structure that dogs short digestive systems simply can not break down. A raw carrot in our house is a wonderful treat, my dogs (yup, all 5 dashies!) love these to bits, I know they love the crunch, and they have some teeth-cleaning benefits, but I also know they aren’t able to absorb very many (if any) vitamins from them. 


So what veggies can you feed your dog? It’s probably easier to list those that you should NOT feed rather than those you can. 


Avoid all starchy white vegetables like potatoes, yams, cassava (Tapioca), Sweetcorn & peas should be fed in moderation (high in natural sugars). All chillies, & ‘hot’ herbs like coriander. NEVER feed your dog onions of any kind, they are very toxic. 


Vegetables such as Pumpkin, Kale, and Broccoli are excellent sources of insoluble fibre (they are a Prebiotic source good for digestion). Anything and everything green are fantastic additions as are mushrooms and red capsicum as it’s packed full of Vitamin C. 


Garlic is in small amounts, despite popular thinking is very good for dogs as it's packed full of antioxidants. Limit to 2 cloves of garlic per 1 kilo of cooked veggies.


3. Eggs for Dogs

Eggs are nature’s super powerhouse of nutrition, offering a range of essential nutrients. While you can feed them cooked or raw, it’s advisable to cook them if your dog’s primary diet is kibble. One easy & beneficial way to incorporate eggs into your dog’s diet is by making a “Crunchy Omelette” once or twice a week.


Here’s a simple method: crack some eggs into a bowl, whisk them up, & pour them into a non-stick pan. Allow the mixture to partially cook through, similar to making an omelette. Then, sprinkle crushed eggshells over the top, cover with a lid, & allow it to cook through. Once cooled, slide the omelette out onto a board & cut it into bite-sized servings. You can then store them in a zip-lock bag & freeze them for convenience.


Eggshells are packed full of calcium, which is excellent for your dog’s skeletal health, & particularly beneficial for breeds like Dachshunds. By adding this nutritious treat to your dog’s diet, you’re providing them with an extra boost of essential nutrients.


4. Sardines

I am 100% an advocate for feeding dogs in the most natural way possible, & this is why I firmly believe that the addition of some oily fish like Sardines or Salmon for example is a million times better than reaching for a supplement containing those omega fats we know to be beneficial for things like joint & coat health. The other kicker with these types of supplements is that more often than not they are synthetic. That is they are produced in a chemical lab, using a complex chemical process. Why are they synthetic I hear you ask? Simple answer it’s cheaper to make those fatty acids than extract them from the food source that these oils are found in!


Whole Raw Fresh or Frozen Sardines for Dogs

If you can get your hands on frozen raw sardines from your Fishmonger you are on a winner!  They are Packed with calcium which is vital for healthy bones & heart health. Sardines are especially high in calcium as they have tiny pin bones that contain a perfect balance of phosphorus & calcium. One of the highest protein-rich foods, these guys contain a whopping 17 grams of protein per 100 grams of fish. In comparison 100 grams of red meat contains only around 15 grams. They’re a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids & are helpful for heart health. Salmon is a popular source of Omega-3s, but don’t count out sardines! They are much, much cheaper! They’re one of the best sources with up to 1.8 g of Omega-3’s in a 100 gm serving. 


Tinned Sardines in Springwater for Dogs

Canned sardines are an excellent easy addition & are luckily still a nutrient powerhouse! Not only are they still rich in calcium, selenium, & protein, but the biggest benefit is that they’re incredibly convenient & cheap! Make sure you always get the ones packed in Springwater with no added salt, or oil, & use this water as well at dinner time to hydrate the dry Kibble. 


5. Homemade Cooked Meat Balls (Perfect for Crate Enrichment Treats)

This last one is a nice way of getting some quality meat-based protein into their bowls, or you can use these as super high-value training or enrichment treats throughout the day. If you have a dog on crate rest this one is for you as they are a mess-free way to feed them using a snuffle mat for mental stimulation! You can make these up in a large batch & freeze. They are a great enrichment boredom buster, simply break up the meatballs into tiny pieces & hide them in a rolled-up towel or stash them in a puzzle toy.


Ingredients

500gm of Mince

(you choose, Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey or Pork are all readily available in your Supermarket)

2 Eggs including the Shells

1 Can of Chickpeas, drained well & mashed (High in Plant-Based Protein & insoluble Fibre)


Method

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. With wet hands roll out small balls, around 2cm in diameter. Line a baking tray with Parchment (Baking Paper). Space the Balls out and cook in a 180-degree oven for 25 minutes. The longer you cook them the drier & firmer they become. An Airfryer is brilliant for these, it will reduce the cooking time. Allow to cool, & pop them into a Zip Lock Bag or freezer container. Freeze. The Chickpeas are full of insoluble fibre & great to help those dogs on crate rest/reduced movement pass their stools easily.


So, there you have it, easy, cheap & convenient real foods you can add to your dog’s ‘complete & balanced’ dinner tonight giving it a valuable nutrient boost! 


Just like us, they need a varied diet to flourish & live their best lives. Dog nutrition is actually really simple. Just like us, a basic knowledge of balancing a diet, & providing a variety of foods, will ensure your dog is getting the nutrition that ensures their long-term health.




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