Everything you need to know about bone broth for dogs, because why should we get to have all the fun.
Does your dog have digestive issues, sore joints or an unhealthy looking coat or skin? Then bone broth might help your furry friend.
Properly made bone broth is low in dog allergens and can help to stimulate the appetite of picky eaters.
These are all great additions to any diet -- for humans or dogs.
If you are out here looking for a delicious and nutritious topper to your pup’s regular meals, bone broth fits the bill.
Let’s get into it.
What is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is an ancient superfood that has many health benefits for both you and your dog. Think of it as a thick, gelatinous broth that is high in collagen protein, hydrating electrolytes and amino acids that we don’t typically eat while on a western diet.
You can make bone broth out of just about any types of animal bones, although beef and chicken are the most common.
You also may find lamb, duck, bison or fish bone broth. There are endless opportunities.
Bone broth is simmered at a low heat for hours upon end. The low heat is needed to extract the nutrition from the bones.
You end up with a deliciously nourishing broth for sipping, cooking or to be used to brighten up your dog’s meals.
Bone Broth Benefits for Your Dog
Bone broth is full of important vitamins, nutrients and proteins. The amino acids and nutrients in bone broth are important to helping your dog maintain adequate collagen levels in their body.
Much like humans, as dogs age, collagen production slows. When they stop turning over new collagen, their bodies become less resilient and they will age faster.
Bone broth is full of gut healing nutrients and joint building minerals to keep your dog healthy and happy.
Keep their Coat Full and Healthy
You may notice changes in your dog's skin and fur as they age. Collagen is a huge part of skin, hair and fur. It is needed to keep these parts healthy and happy.
The gelatin and collagen in slow cooked bone broth is great for your dog’s skin and fur. Human studies show that consuming collagen improves skin hydration and elasticity (1).
How does this work?
Eating bone broth and other collagen rich foods help to repair damaged collagen fibers and build new collagen on chronically aged skin.
Your dog will develop new connective tissue around their fur and skin, making it look and feel more hydrated.
Protects Dog’s Joints from Wear and Tear
The amino acids in bone broth are shown to be protective against joint pain, wear and tear for your canine friend.
Bone broth is full of collagen and hyaluronic acid which helps to lubricate and cushion joints. They do this by increasing hydration and proteoglycan content around joints and tendons. This helps to improve symptoms of osteoarthritis (2).
Bone broth also has glucosamine and chondroitin. These are two natural compounds in joint cartilage. They’ve also been shown to help lessen symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Multiple studies have found that glucosamine and chondroitin can decrease joint pain and lessen the symptoms of osteoarthritis (3).
All of the above work together to gradually repair the connective tissue in your dog’s joints, leading to better movement and less pain and irritation.
Supports Digestion and Gut Health
Digestion is the ultimate benefit of bone broth for your dog. The key to proper digestion is gut health. Your dog’s gut lining may get damaged from eating things not intended for dogs.
You know… the random things they find in the park that they shouldn’t be eating.
My dog eats all types of things… many of which I only find out about when I go to pick up his poop the next day.
Anyways, these foods cause inflammation in your dog’s gut lining. This inflammation gradually breaks down the gut lining and digestive tract, giving your dog bad digestion. If you’ve ever had a dog with digestive issues, you know it’s not great.
Two amino acids in bone broth help build your dog’s digestive system by decreasing inflammation and building new tissue in their gut.
These amino acids are glycine and proline. Glycine in particular is needed for your dog to produce new connective tissue in their digestive tract.
Better digestion means a happy pup!
Finally, glycine is used to manage many inflammatory intestinal issues such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease (4). It’s potent stuff that makes up around 1/3rd of gelatinous bone broth.
Essential Nutrients To Boost Your Dog’s Immune Function
Bone broth boasts an impressive list of vitamins and minerals -- many of which are difficult for your dog to get from other food sources.
In bone broth you’ll find calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, glutamine, glucosamine, hyaluronic acid and collagen or gelatin.
These are all in easily digestible form, meaning no upset stomach for your pup.
The nutrients in bone broth support important bodily functions like nerve signalling and muscle contractions. It also improves the longevity of your dog.
Finally, the proteins in bone broth ensure a healthy digestive tract for your dog. This is an important first step to boosting your dog’s immune system (5).
Free from Common Pet Allergens (Dairy, Chicken, Grains)
If your dog has a sensitive stomach then you’ll be happy to hear that bone broth is low in many common dog allergens.
There are no grains, animal byproducts, gluten or dairy in properly made bone broth. Some dogs are allergic to chicken, in that case beef bone broth is the best way to go.
Stimulates Their Appetite
My two dogs go absolutely crazy when I sprinkle a bit of beef bone broth on their food. One of them is a picky eater; Atlas just isn’t interested in eating a lot of food. Bone broth helps a ton!
Bone broth is perfect for picky eaters like Atlas. Try mixing bone broth on your dog’s regular food, then mixing in some water and giving it a stir to incorporate the bone broth into the other food. Your furry friend will love it.
Always consult a veterinarian if your pet is experiencing a loss of appetite or trouble eating.
Dosage And Best Type For Your Dog
Liquid or powder bone broth can work for your pet as part of their regular diet.
Try a very small amount of bone broth first to see how your dog reacts. From here you can slowly increase the amount as they tolerate it.
Half cup (liquid) with a meal a few times per week is a good starting place. If you’re using liquid bone broth, it is best to stir in with your dogs regular kibble or food.
If your dog is showing no issues then you can increase the amount and frequency.
If your dog has diarrhea or other bad signs of reaction then back off.
You can give your cat bone broth and get all of the same benefits listed above. Why should dogs get all the fun?
Precautions and Possible Side-Effects to Watch For
What side-effects can you expect from giving bone broth to your dog? On the whole, bone broth is quite safe for dogs (and cats).
You need to check the ingredient list of any bone broth you give your dog as they may be sensitive to certain ingredients.
For example, some breeds are sensitive to onions and garlic, for this reason you should be careful.
Sine bone broth typically has small amounts of onions that are simmered in the broth, you may want to check with your veterinarian. However, since the onions are simmered for up to 24 hours then strained out, your dog may be fine.
It is important to not solely rely on bone broth to feed your dog. It is not a complete protein source, so relying on bone broth alone for protein will result is your dog not getting proper amino acids to maintain health.
Moderation is key with bone broth for your dog. If your dog has serious health issues, then it is best to consult your vet before giving them bone broth.
What to Look For in Bone Broth For Your Dog
To limit the potential for risks and side-effects, you should look for bone broth made from trusted sources that is human grade.
The majority of store-bought stocks, broths and bone broth are not traditional bone broths.
Large food companies have entered the bone broth category, cutting corners and using many harmful ingredients, preservatives and additives which are not good for anyone.
Regular stock or broth from the grocery store is not safe for your pup either. Stock will have added flavours and ingredients (natural flavours, artificial meat flavour, yeast extract, MSG) which are not safe for your dog to eat.
Stocks and broths also have added salt. Dogs get enough salt from any dog food, so you’ll want to avoid these.
So what should you do?
You should look for bone broth made from organic ingredients, vegetables, water and bones from local farms (Canada or the USA). See our full checklist for buying bone broth.
You want a simple ingredient list that is free from fancy additives, herbs, spices or flavours. These may be harmful for your dog.
Look for bones free from hormones or antibiotics, certified organic is great if you can find it. You also want to source bones from pastured raised sources.
How To Make Your Own Bone Broth
Want to take matters into your own hands? Try making your own bone broth for your canine friend.
Bone broth is made by simmering meaty bones, vegetables, herbs and spices for 12-48 hours. Sounds like a large range of time right? Well, it depends which type of bone broth you are making.
For example, beef bones need to be simmered for longer than chicken bones because they are more dense. More dense bones means it takes longer to harvest and break down the connective tissue from the bones into collagen and gelatin.
To make thick, gelatinous bone broth for your dog, you’ll want to use approximately 1 kg of bones for every 2 kg of water in your recipe.
You’ll need a large stock pot, instant pot or slow cooker to make enough to be worth your while.
You should have around 1.5 kg of bones in a large pot before getting started. Here is the absolute best bone broth recipe.
Now a basic outline to make bone broth, check our recipe for specifics.
- Add bones to your stock pot, slow cooker and instant pot.
- Add water to your pot so that your bones and water resemble a cup full of ice cubes then filled with water. Try about 12 cups.
- Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boil is achieved, lower heat so broth is an aggressive rolling simmer.
- Skim foamy bits that bubble up. Learn how to skim like a pro. This ensures that your bone broth cooks properly and doesn't get cloudy.
- Simmer for 12-24 hours.
- 3 hours before your bone broth is finished, add your vegetables.
- Never stir your bone broth. It needs to simmer on it’s own.
- After your lengthy simmer is complete, remove solids (bones, vegetables), strain and store for use.
- Store in the fridge or freeze for later use.
Remove the Fat Layer Before Serving
Once you’ve strained your bone broth, you’ll want to remove the fat layer before serving it to your dog. Bone broth has many benefits, however, the fat can be bad for them to eat.
Can I Give my Dog a Bone Instead?
There’s mixed feelings about whether you can give your dog a raw bone as a treat. On one hand, your dogs’ wolf ancestors ate many-a raw bone and meat. It is the main source of their diet.
The nutrients and marrow in bones can take a long time for your dog to get to. We also know that wolves are better equipped to handle these raw foods than your dog. Since most dogs do not have the canine teeth and jaw strength necessary to get to the marrow and nutrients from raw bones, bone broth is a great idea.
This way, your pup gets the nutrition from bones without the risk of bacteria or fractured bones.
And your dog can get the nutrients instantly. You definitely get more value from bone broth compared to raw bones.
Never give your dog cooked bones as they will easily break apart and splinter. These splinters are very dangerous if consumed by your dog.
What If I Can’t be Bothered to Make it?
Bluebird Provisions certified organic beef bone broth is a great alternative to making your own bone broth. It is a concentrated bone broth full of natural collagen, and without any additives or nasty ingredients.
Summing it all up
- You can give your dog bone broth. It is a great complement to your pets diet. But remember it is a small portion of their overall diet.
- Use as a topper to your existing pet food. Simply pour liquid bone broth over their meal and stir.
Bone broth can help to stimulate their appetite, strengthen their fur and joints. It will also help their digestion and immune system.
- There are many vitamins and minerals in bone broth that are great for your dog. These include collagen, gelatin, glycine, glucosamine, glutamine, along with many electrolytes.
- There is no substitute for homemade bone broth, but there are store-bought options that are great for your pet.
Have you tried giving your dog bone broth? Leave a comment and let me know how it goes!
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the CFIA or FDA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult your veterinarian before trying anything mentioned in this article.