Have you heard the talk about bone broth for dogs? I feel like it’s been popping up everywhere lately, yet it’s been around forever. I must admit I didn’t know much about it, having never researched it as a possible nutrition source for any of my dogs. Why? I have no idea and it’s as simple as that!!
So what’s changed? A few months ago I started a Facebook group called Senior Dog Care Club. It is a place where parents of senior dogs get together and ask for advice, share experiences, offer help and even just vent. Bone broth is something that’s talked quite a bit about as something very helpful for their dogs, so it only makes sense for me to write about it if it can help others. After all, that’s my entire goal not only with the group, but my Caring For a Senior Dog website as well.
So what is bone broth?
It is the liquid left over after simmering raw or cooked bones for several hours. Yep that’s it. It couldn’t be easier to make just throw some bones, water, and apple cider vinegar into a crock pot and let it simmer. Don’t worry there’s a recipe below.
What’s all the fuss about?
It’s been called an immune boosting super food, extremely nutritious, easily digestible, chock full of vitamins, minerals and a whole lot more.
Can’t I buy readymade beef or chicken stock? Surely it’s the same!
Nope I’m afraid not. Stock typically has added salt and onions, artificial flavours, and who knows what else your dog should be avoiding. You also don’t know if it is made with the meat and bones of animals fed antibiotics. Only by buying the bones yourself can you know the quality of the product you will be producing. Also, the stock is cooked at high temperature for a short period of time, which cannot provide the same nutrition as a bone broth that uses only bones, vinegar and water and is slow cooked for several hours.
What is it not?
It is not a replacement for a nutritious balanced diet but a boost when needed, and a supplement that can be added to your dog’s regular diet.
When is bone broth helpful?
- Sick dogs
- Recovering from illness or surgery
- Gut irritation
- Hospice animals who are refusing or can no longer eat
- Picky eaters
- Senior pets who aren’t eating as much as they should
- Excellent supplement for dogs of any age
How much to give and how often?
It varies depending on the circumstances. Some users give it to their dogs every day, some twice a day and others just as a boost when their appetite isn’t what it should be.
I always prefer to start small and see how things go, so one spoon on one meal would be right for me.
Consult your vet
As amazing as the testimonials and experiences with bone broth are, I still say it’s a good idea to ask your vet if it’s suitable for your dog. I contacted my vet and he said it is absolutely not the right thing for my dog Red who
suffers from pancreatitis. I was sure that would be his response, but I wanted to confirm.
Great for joints
Bone broth is loaded with glucosamine, chondroitin, gelatine and hyaluronic acid – all joint protecting compounds.
Promotes a healthy gut
Have you heard of leaky gut? There’s a lot of talk about it in humans, but it’s an issue in dogs as well. What is it? Well, the lining of the intestines contains millions of tiny holes digested nutrients pass through. Factors like a
poor diet, high stress and too much bacteria can make existing holes bigger or create new ones, and that’s what is known as leaky gut.
When things pass through the bigger holes that shouldn’t, the body sees them as foreign invaders and starts attacking them, causing allergies and food sensitivities.
Bone broth is loaded with gelatine that plugs/narrows the holes, and the glycine soothes the inflamed gut.
Healthy way to moisten dry food
If your dog isn’t always enthusiastic about eating his kibble, adding some bone broth to moisten it may get him interested. It’s also an easy way to increase the nutrition content.
Nourish a sick dog
We all know how a sick dog can lose interest in eating or drinking, and that can be very dangerous, especially in a senior dog. Weight loss, especially if he’s already underweight, and the possibility of dehydration are very worrying consequences. Bone broth will not only provide much needed nutrients until he’s feeling better, it will keep him hydrated.
Helps with poor/no appetite
Along the lines of what I just mentioned about nourishing a sick dog, if you’re dealing with a finicky eater or a dog who’s having trouble eating, adding some bone broth to his diet may spark some interest. Think about microwaving the food for a few seconds to release the smells, it helps my dog eat.
Bone broth contains the vitamins and minerals used by the immune system to fight off infection.
The liver and kidneys can be quite overworked, having to process the pollutants and chemicals faced on a daily basis. The amino acid glycine found in bone broth, helps detox those organs.
Fur, skin and nail growth
The benefits of bone broth are not restricted to the internal, but also help keep your dog’s fur, skin and nails in excellent condition.
Bone broth recipe
My research turned up so many different recipes, I stopped counting at 9. To be fair they were all pretty much the same with slight variations, so I combined them into this one recipe.
Raw, fresh, frozen or cooked bones from the butcher or your own meals (chicken, turkey, beef, duck, goose). I did read about someone who uses a whole organic chicken, cuts the chicken off to give the dogs after it’s been simmering for a couple of hours, then leaves the carcass to simmer another 20 hours or so.
Raw apple cider vinegar/regular vinegar/lemon juice – it’s up to you but ACV is most often used.
Some of the extras people use:
- Chicken feet, joints, and knuckles (joint bones have extra cartilage)
- Green beans
- Yellow squash
The most recommended way to make the broth is to use a crock pot because of the number of hours it needs to simmer. You can of course use a pot on the stove, but you couldn’t leave it there unattended so a crock pot is the safest.
Put all the bones into your crock-pot
Add enough water to cover the bones by about 2-3 inches
Add 2-4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This helps pull all of the minerals and nutrients out of the bones and into the broth
Turn your crock pot on high for about an hour to get things started, then turn to low and let cook for 16-24 hours, but 24 hours is the time most people cook it for. Keep an eye on it in case more water is needed to cover the bones
Strain well because you only want the broth, the bones will be too soft and dangerous for your dog to eat
Let it cool
What it will look like:
When it comes out of the fridge you should see a hard layer of fat on top, so just remove it and throw it away. Underneath that layer the broth should have the consistency of jelly, but don’t worry if it doesn’t it just means you
didn’t add enough vinegar so add a little more next time. The bone broth will still be beneficial and packed full of goodness.
If kept in the fridge it must be consumed within 3-4 days, frozen it can last up to one year. If you do freeze it pour into ice cube trays for easy to use portion sizes and for a treat on a hot day. What about freezing some in a Kong? That will keep your dog busy for a long time!!
Sarah-Jane England, a member of a FB group I belong to, kindly allowed me to use this image. She adds powdered pig gelatin to the broth, spoons into molds and lets it set in the fridge. It takes about one hour then she freezes them in a bag and gives one a day to her dog. Each mold weighs 6 grams and either gives it whole or heats it a few seconds until it turns to liquid, then adds to his food.
The flip side
I found more articles then I could count praising the benefits, but I wondered if I could find one that had another point of view. It’s not because I was being negative I was just wondering if it was all a bit too good to be true. After much digging I came across an article on the raw feeding community website called “No Bones About It: The Scoop on Bone Broth For Dogs.”
Here are a few articles you may find interesting if you’d like to read more about it.
Bone broth for dogs – conclusion
Well there you have it. A super simple recipe to make, but packed full of healing ingredients your dog will benefit tremendously from. Remember to check with your vet first though to discuss its suitability for your dog. Bring along the recipe in case he’s not familiar with it.
I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.