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Benefits of Bone Broth for Dogs
One of the first things I learned about when I started m raw feeding journey was that I needed to make bone broth. It's an easy dish to make, you can make a large batch in four hours, and the dogs love it. If you Google bone broth, you'll find a long list of benefits (addressed further down) and, to be honest, I'm not sure if these are all legit, but it looks good, right?
- supports joint health
- supports digestive health and soothes a compromised gut
- provides nutrients for a sick dog
- helps to boost the immune system
- offers relief from food and environmental allergies
- great for an upset tummy
- tempts picky eaters
- helps to detox the liver
- it serves as an ingredient in my golden paste
Two of our dogs developed joint issues when they were young. At the beginning of my education as a raw feeder, I learned that bone broth is great for joint health. Honestly, I never saw a difference in my dogs' joint health after adding bone broth to their diet, so I no longer give it to for joint health, instead, I just love giving it as a yummy treat or meal topper.
Common Misconceptions About Bone Broth
As a blogger, I see a lot of questions about bone broth that made me realize that there are a few misconceptions.
1 – Bone Broth is a Replacement for Bone
Bone broth is not a replacement for bone in a raw meal for dogs. Bones provide calcium and phosphorus, help clean our dogs' teeth, and satisfy their chew drive. While bone broth is very nutritious, it should be fed as a whole food supplement and not as a replacement for the bone portion of a raw diet.
If you're looking for a replacement for bone in a dog's diet, try green tripe. Green tripe offers the perfect balance of calcium and phosphorus and dogs love it. I stopped adding ground eggshells in place of bone because it would require me to balance the phosphorus. I think eggshells is a brief/temporary replacement, but not something that I feel comfortable doing over a long period of time.
2 – If Bone Broth Doesn't Gel, It Isn't Effective
While a good gel is satisfying to see and makes for a pretty picture, in my opinion, it's not necessary. The collagen that supports joint health is still there, it's just liquid. Some of my batches gel, some of them stay liquid. All of them are fed to the dogs.
However, if a gel is important, I've found that adding more apple cider vinegar helps and I usually add 1/4 – 1/2 cup. Making bone broth from duck or chicken feet produces a gel. And I've heard the pork chop bones are also great for bone broth.
3 – You Need to Throw Away the Meat
Nope! Leave the meat in there for the dogs to enjoy. Why waste a good thing? I always add the meat, fat, and gristle to my dogs' meal (everything except the bones) and count it in their meal's total weight. No point tacking on extra calories unnecessarily, right? I've also saved the meat as a treat; great for the end of a fasting day.
4 – You Have to Use Joint Bones to Make Bone Broth
Nope, again! While joint bones (the legs) and duck feet are my preferred bones for making bone broth, I've also made bone broth with lamb neck, beef marrow bones, pork bones, and even the Thanksgiving Day turkey carcass. Whenever I have bones, I'm making bone broth.
5 – Adding Garlic to Bone Broth will Make it Toxic to Dogs
This myth has been disproved many times. Garlic is only toxic to dogs in very large doses. Garlic has many benefits for dogs, including supporting a strong immune system, boosting liver health, fighting off infection, helps the body naturally repel fleas and ticks, it lowers the cholesterol, and it may protect dogs from cancer.
How much garlic can we give to our dogs? According to The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, the serving recommendation for dogs by their size is as follows:
- 10 to 15 lbs – 1/2 a clove
- 20 to 40 lbs – 1 clove
- 45 to 70 lbs – 2 cloves
- 75 to 90 lbs – 2-1/2 cloves
- 100 lbs or more – 3 cloves
I add 5-7 cloves of garlic to every 8-quarts of bone broth. Keep in mind that this is bone broth shared by four dogs that weigh a total of 300 pounds.
I wouldn't recommend adding onions to your dog's bone broth; onions are toxic to dogs and based on what I've read and feedback from veterinarians, the amount is negligible. There will always be the outliers, dogs that can eat food with onions with no problem, but I'm a “better safe than sorry” kind of woman, so I won't take a chance.
6 – Bone Broth is Toxic to Dogs
This one is interesting because it may have merit and it's a reminder to take care when sourcing food for our dogs. The theory is that some animals are raised on land that is higher in toxicity and eating grass and grains grown from that land. This impacts the health of their bones. Cooking bones for 20+ hours brings the toxicity out into the bone broth. The cooking time can also be a potential problem if the lining of your slow-cooker is made of a toxic material; the cooking time may cause the material to leach into the broth.
The long cooking times are also connected to an over-abundance of a non-essential amino acid called glutamic acid can cause an issue. High concentrations of glutamate and glutamate sensitivity can lead to neurological health issues in humans. Bone broth comes into the equation because of the long cooking times (up to 24 hours in the slow cooker), which increases the amount of glutamic acid in the broth. So it makes sense that feeding too much bone broth can cause health problems in dogs.
If this is something that you're concerned about, I recommend making your bone broth with a pressure cooker (cooking time is 4 hours) or buying bone broth from a company that uses responsibly sourced and sustainable ingredients. A company like Primalvore, Primal Pets, or Answers Pet Food.
Is Bone Broth is Overrated?
And, finally, one of the beliefs out there is that bone broth is overrated. Some feel that the belief that a dog's diet needs bone broth is incorrect and they are sharing information that debunks the benefits of bone broth. And, to be honest, I don't disagree.
Earlier on my path as a raw feeder, I learned the benefits of bone broth and I began adding it to my dogs' diet because I believed that bone broth added nutrients, naturally detoxed our dogs, and supported their joint health. Today, I have a different belief.
- Added Nutrients: I believe that anything I add to my dogs' bowl has nutrients, but the question we must ask is “how much?” and “how bioavailable are the nutrients?” I don't think bone broth can balance a raw diet nor do I think that bone broth is adding significant vitamins and minerals to my dogs' diet.
- Natural Detox: On its own, I don't believe that bone broth is a natural detox. However, I do believe that when bone broth is combined with fasting, it does support a healthier gut and system. I fast my dogs once or twice a week and I do intermittent fasting 5-6 days a week. Bone broth is a part of this regimen. Bone broth keeps me (and my dogs) from feeling hungry, making our fast more tolerable. A little bit goes a long way. By the way, I don't eat the bone broth I make for my dogs.
- Supports Joint Health: I think there is a misconception that if something supports joint health, then it can alleviate arthritis symptoms. Personally, after raising many dogs, I've learned that I need more than bone broth to ease the joint stiffness and pain that comes with arthritis. When I make bone broth using joint bones or duck feet, I believe that all of my dogs benefit from the collagen in the broth and my hope is that it'll postpone the development of arthritis. But I also add a joint supplement to my dogs' diet: WINPRO Mobility (for Rodrigo) and Nutramax Cosequin DS Plus MSM.
Although I have changed my mind about the benefits of bone broth for dogs, I still add it to my dogs' diet because I do believe that it has a place. As I stated, it makes fasting easier, but the other reasons I add bone broth to my dogs' diet include:
- Warms the belly on cold days.
- Temps a picky eater.
- Soothes an upset tummy.
- A great addition to the diet for sick dogs; when a dog isn't eating, bone broth helps to get them eating again.
DIY vs. Commercial Bone Broth
I can make 1-4 batches of bone broth on the weekend using a pressure cooker. Each batch takes about four hours to cook and another couple of hours to cool so I can transfer to jars (I use jars instead of plastic now) and freeze.
If you haven't made your first batch of bone broth yet, you should know that the smell is strong. I usually make the bone broth outside on the deck on nice days or in the garage in the winter or on rainy days. You'll love my easy bone broth recipe, and while making bone broth is easy, there are commercial brands that make bone broth too (as stated above).
Primalvore Bone Broth
Primalvore offers free-range chicken and grass fed beef bone broth that is fortified with additional collagen and turmeric. The collagen supports joint health, and the turmeric acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, while offering pain relief and turmeric may offer a line of protection from some cancer.
- Curcumin: Can it slow cancer growth?
- Turmeric, Cancer Research in UK
- Does turmeric have anticancer properties?
Primal Pets Bone Broth
Primal Pets offers bone broth, sourced from four proteins: beef, pork, chicken, and turkey. These are marketed as a meal topper that adds extra moisture, nutrients, and collagen to the diet while support joint health, liver health, and gut health.
Answers Pet Food Fermented Bone Broths
Answers Pet Food is arguably one of the best brands on the market (many will say that they're the best – just ask around). They offer two bone broths – fermented fish stock and turkey stock with beets. Both of these are fermented products which adds even more of a nutritional boost. The fermentation promotes the body's anti-inflammatory responses while supporting gut health and the immune system.
- Could Fermented Foods Boost Your Health?
- Fermented Foods Can Add Depth to Your Diet, Harvard.edu
- What are the Best Fermented Foods?
While DIY bone broth is inexpensive and easy to make; it can be nice to have commercial bone broth on the market in case you're out of your magical recipe. And, there are commercial products that do more than what I can offer at home. This is why I order fermented fish stock by the case.
Bottomline About Bone Broth for Dogs
While bone broth is seen by a super healthy addition to a dog's diet, others may not think that it's that big of a deal. Personally, I think that it doesn't hurt my dogs to add a yummy treat (warmed in the winter) to their bowl. As I stated previously, bone broth is inexpensive and easy to make. It isn't a cure all, but it's something that my dogs love, so why not add it to their diet? But that's more of a question for me than for you. I updated this blog post because it's a reminder that we have to do our own homework when thinking of our dogs' health and nutrition because one person's success story is another person's “ehhhhh.”