Freeze-dried food toppers are flying off the shelves, and it’s no wonder! These incredibly useful and versatile mixers are perfect for a variety of purposes. There are many ways to incorporate toppers into your pet’s diet and enjoy amazing health benefits as a result.
One excellent use for our toppers is to foster a smooth transition between your pet’s current meal and the simple and natural raw food diet you want to feed them! A complete dietary transformation is a big change for your pet that can be tricky to navigate, but toppers make the switch quicker and easier. We’ll walk you through the steps of how to do this, and go over the many options for customizing your pet’s meals even further.
1. Introduce the Taste of Raw
If your dog has never tried raw before, try feeding your pup a handful of food toppers immediately after they’ve done a trick or any behavior worth “earning” a reward. This automatically puts the positive association in Fido’s head that what you’re giving them is a Good Thing (although the amazing taste of real meat conveys that anyway)!
If you have a kitty, offer the topper while they’re in a relaxed, content state — such as purring in your lap or settling down after a play session. Once they catch a whiff, your best furiend is sure to be intrigued by the tantalizing scent of real, raw meat!
We’ve found that most pets have a three-part reaction when they’re first introduced to our toppers: 1. A deep sniff 2. A curious lick 3. Immediately eating it all and looking to you for more!
2. Add Raw Toppers to Meals
After you’ve introduced your pet to the taste of raw, you can start adding freeze-dried meal toppers to your pet’s food directly.
You can add the topper as dry flakes simply sprinkled into or on top of your pet’s regular meal, or use water to turn it into a gravy or pâté that will soak into your pet’s normal food. Either way, your kitty or pup will soon get used to the smell and presence of the topper in their dinner.
Be aware that because our toppers are protein-rich, you may have to decrease the amount of your pet’s normal kibble or food to keep their caloric intake the same.
3. Transition Slowly
Once your dog or cat is familiar with (and even looking forward to) the delicious gravy topper drizzled over their food, it’s time to transition to a raw diet for good!
Haven’t decided yet which healthy raw food option to feed as the main staple of your pet’s new diet? We’ll help you choose a new food that’s perfect for your pet.
Vital Essentials Frozen Food is available as patties for dogs and as patties or tubs for cats. It keeps in your freezer until you’re ready to feed, and requires very little prep — just thaw and serve! One of the main advantages of frozen food is that it’s cost-effective compared to similar freeze-dried options. Purchase our frozen options at your local independent pet store. Have more questions on how to feed frozen food for dogs or cats? We’ve got you covered!
Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Food is available as patties, nibblets or mini nibs. Nibblets and mini nibs are dry with a satisfying crunch, while patties can be fed dry or moist. Freeze-dried food and treats are conveniently shelf stable in a cool, dry place. Buy them online or in store — whichever suits your busy schedule! We’re here to help with everything you need to know on freeze-dried food for dogs or cats.
Whichever form of healthy raw meals you ultimately choose to feed, it’s best to take a full week or two to make the transition. Changing your pet’s diet too quickly can cause GI upset, so use your best judgment as you monitor your kitty or pup.
During the transition period, slowly change the ratio of old food vs new food in each meal. This will wean your pet off their previous diet, while you continue to add a consistent amount of topper throughout.
The advantage of using a topper (especially in gravy or pâté form) is that it soaks into both the old and new food with the same familiar smell and taste your dog is already used to. This helps bridge the gap during the transition so your pet is less likely to preferentially pick out the old food and leave the new food (or vice versa!).
4. (Optional) Reduce or Eliminate Toppers
Once your best furiend’s previous food is completely eliminated from their meals, you’re free to use the same process to slowly reduce the amount of topper you add, until your dog or cat is enjoying a hearty meal of entirely mini nibs or patties!
If you’re using mini nibs or feeding the patties dry, just be aware of how important it is to keep your pet properly hydrated. This is particularly true for cats. Always make sure your buddies have access to clean water, preferably a running fountain, as most pets instinctively find running water more appealing to drink from.
Of course, one way to keep additional moisture in their diet is to stick with nibs-and-gravy or patties-and-gravy mixed meals, if that’s working well for your pet. It’s completely up to you and your observations of what works best for your kitties and pups!
5. (Optional) Keep Spicing it Up!
For a more interesting and varied meal and different balance of nutrients, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally changing the proteins, toppers or treats you use in your pet’s meal.
One option is to keep your best furiend’s main meal the same (beef patties or chicken mini nibs, for example) but switch up the topper between beef, chicken and turkey every few months. Even if you aren’t using toppers once your dog or cat is on a completely raw food diet, you can still rotate proteins for your pet’s main meal.
In fact, there are many ways to supplement your best furiend’s diet to keep them both happier and healthier! We love to toss a few treats on top to keep dinner exciting, or mix in green tripe for a tasty health boost from this “carnivore superfood.”
Transitioning to a raw diet is just one way to utilize Vital Essentials freeze-dried meal toppers — but ultimately, you’re free to “Serve Your Way, Any Way!”
You can still add toppers to your pet’s regular meals as a gravy or dry flakes to boost protein levels and get great health benefits, even if you don’t transition to a fully raw food diet. If your pet particularly loves the taste, our meal toppers can even be fed as a complete and balanced diet all on their own — or, perhaps there’s another use for our toppers that works best for you and your fur-family!