What’s the Scoop on Pet Food Topper Supplements?
A Brief Consumer’s Guide to Pet Food Enhancement Using Toppers, Broths, Gravies, & other Mixers
As the inventors of SuperGravy, we at Clear Conscience Pet have 12 years of experience in the field of pet food enhancement. In fact, SuperGravy was the very first holistically formulated instant gravy and broth mix for dogs when it was first launched in 2010. We were way ahead of our time, because our many previous years of experience in the natural pet food industry had shown us that there was great need for a healthy solution to picky eating and more serious appetite depression in dogs caused by illness and emotional trauma.
Since that first SuperGravy launch, we have dedicated our hearts and our resources to this issue. Along the way, Clear Conscience Pet has won 25 awards for nutritional excellence and innovation. We are humbled by this recognition, but what matters to us far more is that we have helped thousands of dogs and their human guardians by dramatically improving the taste, digestibility, functionality, and sheer enjoyment of their daily meals. We have numerous reviews and heartfelt testimonials affirming that we have achieved a very high level of expertise in this area.
Now, big money companies have entered the “Pet Food Topper” category, and the number of products on the market has exploded in the last three years. Current estimates put annual sales of Toppers at over $150 million in USA sales, and that doesn’t even count canned dog food, the most common dry food mixer. The bottom line is that a large and growing percentage of consumers have become more educated and concerned about how they feed their dogs. One big change is that the most engaged pet parents have decided that plain dry kibble and other foods aren’t enough, so they are seeking to enhance their pet’s food with healthy Toppers, Gravies, and Broths.
We know that you have hundreds of Pet Food Topper choices, and although companies with the most advertising get the most attention, that doesn’t mean they are the highest quality or the best choice for your dog. We have written this analysis of the category to help guide your choice and make you a more educated consumer. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide the best way to bring better health and greater joy to your beloved dogs.
Toppers are available in several types and at a wide range of price points. The three dominant forms of Toppers on the market are:
- Liquids/ Wet Toppers: includes premade broths, frozen broths, ready-to-use wet gravies and sauces, purees in pouches, and canned pet food used as a mixer/topper
- Easy to use, just open the container, pour it on the food bowl, and stir; or in the case of canned, throw some chunks in the bowl. Adds palatability and hydration, nutritional value varies depending on product
- High quality canned foods (preferably with 80% meat or more) are a fairly easy way to add more meat as a source of digestible animal protein to your dog's diet; this is very important for carnivore health
- Liquids are very expensive, especially for large dogs since it takes a lot of liquid to hydrate big bowls of dry food. A quart of liquid bone broth or goat's milk costing $6-$10 may only last 3-4 days for a medium to extra-large dog, so that’s about $2-$3 daily or $60-$90 more a month added to the family pet food bill.
- Canned dog foods are also quite expensive. Large (11-13 oz.) cans that previously cost about $2 have increased to $3.50-$4.00 over the past couple of years and are rising even more in the current inflationary environment. After opening and refrigerating for multi-day use, canned food becomes hard and lumpy, making it very easy for clever dogs to pick it out and walk away, leaving you frustrated and wasting food and money when you toss the rest of their food in the trash.
- Liquid toppers and cans are NOT earth friendly. They are 80 to 99% water, so they generate a huge carbon footprint from shipping and storing tons of water. They take up more space in stores, they cost a lot more to ship, and they generate more post-consumer waste than any Topper option.
- Premade liquids and canned foods generally can’t include Live Probiotics and active Enzymes because they must be cooked or pasteurized for safety
- Freeze Dried Toppers: This category has emerged as a “spinoff” of freeze-dried complete pet diets. These are essentially the exact same products, but they are sold in different packages and labeled as Toppers. This marketing strategy helps freeze-dried pet food makers to introduce their products to dry kibble users as a Topper, with the goal being to switch customers over completely to freeze-dried. The problem is, although freeze-dried foods are generally very nutritious, they are not designed to be food toppers. They don’t blend well with food, even when moistened they stay “clumpy” in the bowl, and they can be removed by clever dogs from the bowl.
- Typically made with high quality meat, fish, and vegetable ingredients so freeze-dried Toppers can be a nutritious add-on to dry dog foods. Many dogs find freeze-dried food attractive because of the high meat protein content, so it can help with picky eating.
- Very expensive, $2-$3 per day if added as recommended to a big dog’s daily meals
- Some dogs find freeze-dried food bland, especially if they are kibble eaters accustomed to the tricks that kibble makers use to make their food taste better
- Clumps Up in water so it doesn’t mix well with dry food. This also makes it easy for dogs to “steal” the freeze-dried pieces and walk away. Wetting freeze-dried food doesn’t form a gravy or other infusion, it just makes the chunks moist
- Freeze-dried is extremely dry at about 3% moisture, so it’s more than 333% dryer than kibble. This means that it’s essential to rehydrate any mix of freeze-dried and kibble very thoroughly for optimum digestion and nutrient absorption and to prevent dehydration and urinary tract problems.
- The ultra-cold temperatures used in the freeze-drying process typically do not allow for live Probiotics and active digestive Enzymes. Processing also degrades the potency of natural food-based nutraceutical supplements, so it is difficult to make multi-functional freeze-dried toppers
- Dry Mix Toppers: SuperGravy® and other dehydrated powdered dry Gravy and Broth mixes are the fastest growing segment in Toppers. The reason is because they offer the best combination of nutritional benefits, value, sustainability, convenience, and versatility among all Toppers. Instant dry Topper mixes are simply scooped on top of food and stirred well with water to form a gravy or broth Topper right in the bowl. They can also be mixed with water in a container to make a supply of broth that can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Broth can be added to food, or it can be served as a healthy hydration option that provides protein, energy, and digestive benefits between meals, on outings, or during exercise and canine athletic events.
- The Best Value in Toppers; Example: Our SuperGravy® costs as little as 60 cents per day to add to any dog’s food
- Very convenient, mixes up in a minute;
- DOGS LOVE GRAVY so it’s a great solution for Picky Eaters;
- Small serving size of concentrated ingredients means it’s low in calories and fat per serving, so it doesn’t disrupt the diet and cause tummy troubles;
- Infuses food completely so dogs can’t cheat by stealing the good stuff, they must eat their meal to enjoy the Topper;
- Dry Toppers can be safely cold processed which allows the inclusion of Live Probiotics and Active Digestive enzymes for daily gut microbiome and immune support;
- Palatable dry toppers are the ideal delivery system for any functional supplement since cold processing preserves the potency of natural nutrients;
- One lightweight pouch enhances weeks of meals so it’s the most convenient and earth-friendly Topper option
- Delicious gravy is addictive! Once a dog experiences “energized food” with the exciting smells, tastes, and hydration of a superior quality gravy or broth, it’s hard to get them back to plain kibble or clumpy freeze-dried without enhancement. But with a cost-effective product like SuperGravy, there is no reason to deprive your dog of this healthy and JOYFUL eating experience
- Not yet as widely available in retail stores as liquids or freeze-dried, so dry Topper mixes are still easier to find online. Why not more retail? It’s simple: instant dry mixes are Topper category “disruptors” because they cost so much less to use than other options, so stores hesitate to upset the market. Retailers have been persuaded by corporate brands with big promotional budgets to fill their available space with expensive freeze-dried and liquid Toppers, but that will start to change as consumers learn that they can get a much better product for far less, and start asking retailers to stock these options.
THE NEXT GENERATION: TOPPERS FORMULATED AS SUPPLEMENTS
Along with interest in food-enhancing Toppers, there has been tremendous growth in the category of functional pet supplements to boost mobility, gut health, skin and coat, immune health, and numerous other preventive health and wellness functions. Based on their mixability, cold-processing options, palatability, and value proposition, dry mix functional Topper/Gravy mixes have emerged as the next generation hybrid between palatable comfort food and advanced functional supplementation.
It’s difficult to get dogs to take their supplements, as anyone who has tried to “hide” a pill or capsule from a dog can attest! This makes tasty gravy or broth powder mixes an ideal “delivery system” for a wide variety of supplements. One Dry Topper/Supplement mix can supply multiple benefits. At Clear Conscience Pet, we have embraced this concept with SuperGravy as the pioneer in this category over the past several years. All four formulas are now enhanced with our “Trigestive™ gut health support complex of Live Probiotics, Prebiotics, and active Digestive Enzymes. Bon A’ La Goat with Bone Broth and Goat’s Milk includes our Bioactive Turmeric Complex, an advanced natural anti-inflammatory for greater mobility and cellular health.
These active ingredients can only be maintained and delivered at full potency through our proprietary cold processing manufacturing method. The Trigestive™ complex improves any pet food by improving digestibility, critical nutrient absorption, and boosting the immune system by increasing the population of beneficial organisms throughout the gut microbiome. The beauty of using a gravy Topper for this purpose is that dogs get these health benefits every day, with every meal. SuperGravy also provides antioxidants and other natural vitamins and minerals. We don’t do this with synthetic supplements like typical pet supplements; we use only whole superfood ingredients like Chia Seeds, Kelp, dried vegetables, and delicious proteins like natural Beef, Pork, Yogurt, and Cheese that dogs LOVE. This is truly the marriage of Holistic Health Supplementation with Artisan Crafted Whole Superfoods.
TOPPER SUMMARY: Yes, it’s true that there are hundreds of options on the market to enhance your pet’s food. Whatever you choose, as nutritionists, we encourage you to feed a hydrated diet to your dog. You can do that by adding SuperGravy and water to your chosen food to form a deliciously nutritious gravy topping, or by using another form of wet or frozen moist food. With SuperGravy instant Gravy/Broth food topper mixes, you can deliver great taste, supplemental nutrients, and daily hydration. We humbly submit that our SuperGravy® Dehydrated/Powdered Mix Toppers are the healthiest, most palatable, most convenient, and BEST VALUE among pet food toppers.
By Anthony Bennie
Founder and Chief Nutrition Officer
Clear Conscience Pet LLCCape Coral, Florida