You may have heard of the benefits of bone broth for humans but did you know that providing bone broth for dogs can make a positive impact on your pup’s health as well?
Slowly simmering bones in water makes for a nutritious brew for both humans and dogs. Bone broth has been a go-to medicinal food for the sick and weak for generations in various cultures. Chicken noodle soup has its roots in bone broth. The comfort food has been shown to help those with upper respiratory infections recover faster.
Bone broth is now widely accepted as a superfood for humans. It is quickly becoming a popular food to give to dogs, and with good reason.
Simmering leftover bones in water for many hours breaks down the attached tendon, cartilage, meat and bone marrow into the liquid, forming a nutrient-rich broth. Although bone broth is very nutritious, it is not a food replacement. It should be considered a supplement and incorporated into your dog’s feeding routine. Your dog still needs the calories and fiber found in her regular dog food.
There is a lot of buzz surrounding bone broth for dogs as well as humans. Some of that buzz can get create confusion. We clear up some of the common misconceptions associated with bone broth, below.
Regular Stock is Just As Good
Bone broth and chicken or beef stock are two very different types of food when it comes to your dog. Both can be consumed by humans safely, but stock is not a safe food for your pup. Stock has ingredients that are poisonous foods for your dog, such as onions and garlic.
Stock typically has added sodium. Dogs get plenty of salt from their meat-rich diets. Therefore added salt should always be avoided. Packaged stock is often made from bouillon or soup and sauce mixes, which can contain artificial meat flavoring and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Neither of those things are good for Fido!
The quality of the bones and meat matters. Some stock is made with meat and bone from animals treated with hormones or antibiotics that should not be present in your dog’s diet. You can’t be sure unless you know the source of the bones in a product, which is easiest done by verifying with the manufacturer or by buying the ingredients and making the broth yourself.
In addition, stock is cooked at high temperatures for a shorter amount of time and therefore does not provide the same nutrition as slow-cooked bone broth. A longer cook time at a lower temperature makes for a healthier broth.
Giving a Dog a Bone is the Same Thing
There are mixed reports on whether or not you should give your dog a raw bone as a treat. Never give your dog a cooked bone as it can easily break apart into splinters that are very dangerous if ingested! Giving a dog a raw bone creates risk of exposure to dangerous bacteria.
Dogs’ wolf ancestors enjoyed raw meat and gnawing on uncooked bones as the main components in their diet. The nutrients in bones, from the cartilage, tendon and marrow, can take a long time to get to and consume by chewing on a bone.
We can be sure that wolves are better equipped to get to those nutrients than our domesticated pups. Being that our dogs are not wolves and may not be able to get to all the nutrients in a single bone on their own, bone broth is a good alternative.
Raw is Better, Nutrients Get Boiled Away
A commonly held belief about foods is that raw is always better for maximizing nutrition. We won’t argue with this one, vitamins B and C are vulnerable during cooking, but thinking about bone broth in this way is illogical from the start.
Consider the amount of time it would take your pup to gnaw away at a safe bone and consume all the nutrients therein. It would take a while, right? Then consider the amount of time it would take your dog to consume a portion of bone broth. Bone broth provides more nutrients in much less time – more bang for your buck!
Bone broth really is a superfood. The coveted liquid contains many nutrients that provide some impressive health benefits for your pup.
Bone Broth Nutrients
The variety of vitamins and minerals in bone broth is impressive to say the least. The superfood boasts provides some amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, including arginine, glutamine, glycine and proline.
Bone broth boasts a variety vitamins and minerals such as chondroitin, gelatin, glucosamine, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6, iron, thiamine, potassium, calcium, silicon, sulfur, hyaluronic acid, magnesium, phosphorus potassium, niacin, riboflavin, zinc, copper and trace minerals, to name a few.
These nutrients help your pup’s body support key functions and improve Fido’s longevity and day to day health. Bone broth aids in digestion, joint health, immune system support, appetite encouragement and skin and coat.
Bone broth keeps things moving and that’s a big positive for your dog’s digestive system. Metabolic function is negatively impacted in humans due to lack of amino acid glycine in our diet. The same may be true for our dogs. Fortunately, bone broth is rich in glycine from gelatin and therefore helps support a healthy metabolism.
Bone broth can be the best thing for a dog that has had a stomach ailment. If your pup has been sick to her stomach with vomiting or diarrhea, try fasting her for 24 to 48 hours to let her body recover then give her some bone broth to quickly replenish the vitamins and minerals in her body.
For more information on helping your sick dog recover with the help of bone broth, read this article.
The collagen from cartilage breaks down into gelatin through the cooking process. Glucosamine is a key nutrient in bone broth, and in combination with gelatin, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid, vital for your pup’s joints. Fido’s body uses the gelatin to rebuild collagen between bones allowing them to “glide” with minimal friction.
Gelatin also helps form and maintain strong bones, which takes the pressure off of aging joints. These nutrients help your dog’s body repair and improve the collagen in his ligaments, joints, tendons and arteries.
Immune System Support
Your pup’s immune system requires nutrients to keep it functioning well. The vitamins and minerals in bone broth bolster the immune system. For example, vitamin C is an important nutrient used by your immune system to help fight infections. Bone broth just so happens to be rich in the stuff.
The small and large intestines are one of the largest organs involved in the immune system, being that they provide an important barrier to ingested pathogens. A healthy digestive tract means that the immune system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep your pup healthy.
Fact: your dog finds bone broth delicious. It’s tasty! Bone broth is a perfect meal for pets that have had digestive trouble, have trouble eating, are picky eaters, or simply don’t have an appetite. Veterinarian Dr. Becker provides bone broth for animals in hospice care when they will no longer eat solid food. She finds that they will usually lap up broth. Always consult a veterinarian if your pet is experiencing a loss of appetite or trouble eating.
For encouraging your dog’s appetite, try offering some bone broth as is or soak your pup’s kibble in the liquid before giving it to him. Chances are your furry family member will happily and immediately start lapping the broth up.
Skin & Coat
Bone broth is great for your pup’s skin and coat due to the gelatin from collagen in the broth. In humans collagen supplements have been found to support and improve skin elasticity and moisture.
Vitamin C and the various B vitamins in bone broth are all beneficial to skin and fur. Vitamin C helps your pup’s body produce collagen, which is a vital protein for healthy skin, claws and fur. Vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, riboflavin (B-2) and thiamine (B-1) found in bone broth are one half of the B vitamin complex that promote cell growth and division, which promotes a healthy coat.
How to Make Your Own Bone Broth for Dogs
Bone broth is very simple in preparation but does take hours to cook. Set aside all day if you can. To make the broth you’ll need 1-2 pounds high quality meat bones, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and pure filtered water.
You can use beef, chicken, duck, goose, turkey or even fish bones. Seek out high quality, preferably organic and free range or wild caught where applicable. Fish should always be wild caught to reduce the risk of mercury poisoning. Beef thighbones or “soup bones” are perfect for this if you can find them at the store.
Put all the ingredients in a stock pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and leave for a minimum of 16 hours and up to 24 hours.
For a more detailed recipe, see “Bowser’s Basic-‘n’-Beneficial Bone Broth” at Lucky Puppy Magazine.
Plan to be at home during the entire process. We strongly recommend only cooking bone broth during waking hours so you can be awake and present in the event of an accident.
You can also cook bone broth in a slow cooker. Place all the same ingredients in the vessel and cook on low for 18 to 72 hours.