Figuring out how best to care for your dog’s nutritional needs can be tricky, especially when you are considering making a change from a long-term diet or when you are figuring out the best way to handle a new dog’s diet. In the process of figuring out food options, you may have stumbled upon recommendations to add bone broth to dog food.
Some sources claim bone broth works almost as a cure-all, which, unfortunately, is not backed by science. However, while bone broth is not necessarily miraculous, it can provide benefits to dogs as a yummy, healthy treat that can aid in hydration and add a bit of a protein boost to a dog’s diet.
Benefits of Bone Broth for Dogs
Here are some of the known benefits of bone broth for dogs.
Bone Broth May Entice Picky Pups to Eat
Because bone broth is—aptly—primarily made from animal bones, many dogs find the scent and taste very appetizing. As such, the addition of bone broth to kibble or other meals that your dog does not like quite as much may entice your pooch to eat more of the food.
This can be beneficial for dogs who are picky eaters, though any dog who likes protein scents and flavors is likely to enjoy it. Also, because not much needs to be added to the meal (just a few ounces of bone broth), the broth can last a long time, making it a cost-effective treat.
In some cases, bone broth may also whet the appetites of sickly dogs who are otherwise unwilling to eat (though if your dog is very sick or recovering from a sickness, it is important to check with your veterinarian before making modifications to their diet so as not to impede the healing process).
Bone Broth Can Provide Extra Hydration
In addition to the yummy smell and taste, bone broth can provide another perk for your pup: helping them to stay hydrated.
Some dogs do not get enough hydration from their regular food and water, perhaps due to a yucky water bowl or simply because they do not enjoy drinking water. In cases like these, an easy way to boost your dog’s hydration without forcing them to drink more is by modifying their diet or supplementing it with hydrating treats, such as bone broth.
You should definitely seek help if your dog is experiencing symptoms of dehydration (such as a decreased energy level and increased panting), but if your dog is regularly not getting quite enough water but is not experiencing the effects of dehydration, increasing their fluid intake through alternative means may not be a bad idea.
Bone Broth Has Some Nutritional Value
In addition to its hydration potential, bone broth also contains more nutrients than plain water. The exact ingredient and nutritional breakdown will differ depending on the brand or recipe, but generally, bone broth contains protein, some calories, and low (sometimes no) carbohydrates.
Although it can add a small protein boost to your dog’s diet, it is important to know that bone broth is not appropriate as a substitute for a meal and should only be treated as supplemental to your dog’s regular diet.
Bone Broth May Help Support Joint Health
Some sources may claim that bone broth definitely supports joint health, can regrow connective tissue, and that consuming foods containing collagen—such as bone broth—will in turn directly strengthen the consumer’s collagen.
Unfortunately, there is not currently enough evidence to fully support these claims, although it is possible that—at least for humans—consumed collagen may provide additional support for joints affected by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
It is unlikely that the collagen contained in bone broth will hurt the animal consuming it, but it may not be as useful as some sources would lead you to believe. Because it has not been not proven to be curative, bone broth should not take the place of prescribed treatments for canine health issues including arthritis; however, the warmth of the broth may be soothing to an aching dog, which may in itself be beneficial.
Risks of Bone Broth for Dogs
Although some of the claims made about bone broth’s benefits may be overblown, overall, bone broth is not a particularly risky addition to an otherwise healthy dog’s diet. It is worth noting, though, that some dogs do have allergies to certain types of meat, which could make particular types of bone broth unsafe for them to consume.
Additionally, bone broth made with humans in mind may be made with ingredients that are harmful or toxic to dogs, such as garlic or the sweetener xylitol. For this reason, it is important that any commercial bone broth you buy for your dogs be made for dogs or pets, not humans. Similarly, if you want to make homemade bone broth for your dog, make sure you use a canine-friendly bone broth recipe.
It is important to remember, as previously mentioned, that bone broth does not constitute a full meal for a dog. It can be tasty and it does contain nutrition that can add to your dog’s diet, but it cannot serve as an appropriate meal replacement.
Some dogs experience stomach upset whenever new foods are added to their diets, while others may have a negative reaction specifically to bone broth. If your dog has any sort of negative reaction—such as vomiting or diarrhea—you should stop feeding them the bone broth immediately.
Are Some Types of Bone Broth Better for Dogs than Others?
Bone broth made for dogs may come in various forms, including the classic liquid in a carton or bag, bone broth powder, or gravy-like meal topper. Liquid forms may be thick or thin, varying in texture, and some may need to be refrigerated or frozen. Generally, frozen bone broth should last longer than refrigerated bone broth.
Beyond concerns about shelf stability, expiration dates, and dog-friendly ingredients, there is not one type of bone broth that is better than the others. The best type for you will be whatever your pooch likes best. Some dogs enjoy the texture of wet food and may take to liquid broth added to their dry food, while others may prefer powdered bone broth or frozen broth cubes.
It is important to remember to feed your dog bone broth made for pets, be sensitive to your dog’s allergies, not substitute bone broth for meals, and give small portions; outside of those guidelines, though, the type of bone broth you decide to give your dog is up to you.
Can I Make Bone Broth for My Dog?
Yes, it is possible to make homemade bone broth for your dog, but you should make sure to use a recipe intended for canine consumption just to be safe.
Making bone broth from scratch is not particularly difficult, but it is time-consuming, requiring a lot of time to simmer the broth. You may also need to find a source of bones if you don’t have leftovers (for instance, from a roast chicken or rack of ribs), and you will need to be careful to discard the bones after cooking because they can be a choking hazard for your pooch.
Some dog owners find it easier to buy pre-made broth because some types of commercial bone broth last longer than homemade broth, though homemade broth is generally okay to freeze.
Although cooking for your dog can be a fun activity that helps you feel more bonded to your pet, it is important to note that homemade broth may not contain the same levels of nutrients as commercially produced bone broth. Nonetheless, many of the benefits of bone broth for your dog—such as extra hydration—will not be lost through DIY recipes.
How to Feed Bone Broth to Your Dog
The method of feeding bone broth to your dog depends on the type of product, whether it is liquid, frozen, bone broth powder. Additionally, the amount of bone broth appropriate to give your dog depends on whether the bone broth is liquid or powdered, along with your dog’s weight.
Generally, a good rule of thumb for liquid bone broth is one ounce fed per 10 pounds of weight. However, if your dog weighs more than that, you do not have to feed them more.
One way to help control portions of liquid bone broth is by freezing the broth into one-ounce portions, perhaps by using ice cube trays. Some dogs will be fine to eat or lick the ice cube broth on its own, while others may need to have it warmed up again into liquid before they want to eat it, but either way, that may be a good way to portion and save liquid bone broth.
Typically, powered bone broth is either sprinkled directly onto your dog’s food or mixed with water to make it soupier. The latter will help more with hydration, though if you are adding it because your pup enjoys the smell or flavor, you may not need to add water—follow the directions on the packaging and your pooch’s preferences.
When you are first adding bone broth to your dog’s diet, you should only give them small quantities to see whether or not they will like it. Some dogs may also become nauseous from dietary changes, in which case, it may be best that you quit feeding them bone broth. As with any dietary change, it may be a good idea to first check with your vet before adding this new food to your dog’s diet.
Though the benefits of bone broth for dogs do not make it a cure-all, for some dogs, the added hydration and tasty flavor of the broth may be very helpful. Bone broth for dogs—whether bought or made at home from a dog-friendly recipe—can be a welcome addition to a well-balanced diet.
Bone broth can be a fun, enticing treat for your dog as long as it is not substituted for meals, is made with dog-friendly ingredients, and is discontinued if negative reactions occur.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can bone broth detox my dog’s liver?
A: In short, no. Healthy dogs without liver problems do not need detoxification to keep their livers working (and neither do humans). Although a healthy dog may not necessarily be negatively affected by a detox, there is no reason to spend the money on products that claim to detox your dog’s organs.
For dogs with liver problems, the most trustworthy treatments for their livers are vet-approved and science-based. Those who choose to try to treat a dog’s medical problems with nonmedical solutions are risking their dogs’ lives and health, so consider your vet’s advice before reaching for bone broth to address liver disease.