Meal toppers are ascending in the pet food category. Think of them like parmesan sprinkled on your spaghetti or granola mixed in your yogurt. These enhancers increase foods’ palatability with extra flavor and texture. Meal toppers also can add valuable nutrients to a dog or cat’s diet.

Innovative brands are expanding this product segment to meet the demand for these trending meal additions, for which sales grew 21 percent in 2018 . Toppers can be powder, oil, dry, freeze-dried, frozen or broth, and there are topper rolls that can be broken or crumbled into the amount needed. As meal additions, they can be served on top of canned food or dry kibble. Others can be mixed into food or served alone as a treat.

Benefits of Toppers

Flavor for picky eaters: When a pet is not eating well, a topper can increase interest in a necessary diet or food. The aroma of a flaked fish topper can make cats run for a meal. Pouring broth over kibble can revitalize an older dog’s interest in mealtime.

Increased nutritional value: Toppers can add protein, vitamins and minerals without unnecessary ingredients or added carbohydrates. Some toppers add superfoods like fruits and vegetables, and many are limited-ingredient foods. Others provide oils and supplements that can help with skin, coat, heart and joint health.

Weight control: Some toppers and mixers are low in calories and high in fiber, which may aid weight control.

Digestive health: Toppers can soften dry food, promote good digestion and help with constipation or diarrhea.

Hydration: Liquid toppers add moisture for pets who do not drink enough water.

As meal toppers increase in popularity with pet parents, they may become an additional item that is part of regular food purchases. For others, seeing toppers in the dog and cat food aisles or the check-out area can prompt impulse buying.

Whether meal topper sales are intentional or indulgent, pet specialty retailers should find it highly palatable to know that more topper SKUs are on the way from leading brands in the coming year.