dog eating

Bone Broth for Dogs: Health Benefits and How to Make It

Pet parents are singing praises for the rich taste and awesome nutrient-richness of homemade bone broth. It’s a soup craze du jour that is not going to lose steam anytime soon. If there’s any indication, it will continue to become a staple in many dog bowls as more and more animal lovers are slowly appreciating not only the nutrient-richness of the bone broth but also its versatility. Given alone or mixed with dog food, bone broth that’s specially concocted for man’s best friend are packed with some of the dog planet’s most useful nutrients and substances that will easily turn them from weak and sickly hounds to energetic, strong, and healthy superdogs.

dog eating broth

What’s in Bone Broth?

The most natural thing that people who are not really keen on consuming bone broth, let alone give it to their furry pals, ask is why they would want to try such a dish. Before we run through some of the reasons why you should give this soupy concoction to your dog, it is important to have a clear understanding of what it is.

Bone broth involves using the animal parts that are typically left out after processing. These typically include the bone and attached meats or flesh, tendons, bone marrow, ligaments, and sometimes even skin. When we say bone, it’s not just the bone itself but rather all the different tissues that are attached to the bone. This is where the nutrient benefits of bone broth come from. As such, it would really be wise to pick animal bones that still have meat, fat, tendons, ligaments, and skin still attached to it than one that is purely bone. Your dog will simply love the flavors that these animal parts will impart on the broth.

Now, let’s see if we can decipher what’s in this soupy, nutritious concoction.

  • Proteins

It is easy to think that bones don’t contain proteins, only minerals like calcium and phosphorus. On the contrary, the bone matrix is composed of a structural protein called collagen. This is one of the most important proteins in any animal including us humans. It makes up the matrix upon which all other building blocks are placed. Think of it as the rebar (reinforcing bar) on your construction project where you pour your cement mixture. These rebars hold your construction mixes together. This is the same with collagen. Without it, the different elements needed by tissues and organs will simply crumble.

Take a look at our review of the Best High Protein Dog Food.

In addition to collagen, bones that still have tendons and ligaments in them are rich in gelatin and keratin. Gelatin has been shown to provide a host of benefits such as the maintenance of skin health, optimum digestive function, aid in the control of blood sugar, and even help ease painful joints. Keratin, on the other hand, is also a structural protein that forms a very tough, impermeable barrier on the surface of the skin and other organs. We are all familiar with keratin from the hair care products that we use.

But bone broth is not only well-known for collagen, keratin, and gelatin. It is also rich in proline and glycine. You may think proline is an essential amino acid. Unfortunately, it’s not. But this doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t give any benefit to your dog. One of the functions of proline is in the promotion of tissue repair and cellular regeneration. If there is tissue injury, it is one of those nutrients that will help facilitate the healing of the injury and stimulate cells to grow. It also works in the production of collagen. Proline can also enhance the ability of arteries to dilate and contract more efficiently, helping regulate blood pressure.

For its part, glycine is well-appreciated for its ability to promote a more balanced digestive function while also providing your dog excellent antioxidant protection. To a minor extent, this non-essential amino acid can also help regulate glucose metabolism so your dog will have the energy that it needs.

If you also include the flesh in the bone, you will definitely give more amino acids to your pet than just glycine and proline. As a whole, a cup of bone broth can have as much as 9.4 grams of protein. If meats, skin, ligaments, and tendons are also included, the protein content can still be increased.

  • Minerals

Bone broth, being made of bones, is naturally rich in calcium and phosphorus. These minerals are structurally important when it comes to the maintenance of bone strength and density. Calcium is the fundamental component of bones. However, it is not its only function. It also serves in the proper contraction of the muscles, the propagation or generation of nerve impulses, and the formation of blood clots.

Phosphorus, while it helps calcium in the strengthening of bones, is more important in the synthesis of both RNA and DNA. These contain the nucleic acids that code for how the different parts of the body have to be built and positioned relative to one another. Phosphorus also plays a role in the way the dog’s body uses and stores available energy while helping the kidneys get rid of toxic metabolites.

Read here our guide on the Best Calcium Supplements for Dogs.

Potassium is also found in bone broth. This mineral is important in the generation of nerve impulses while maintaining the integrity of the cells. It is most helpful in the maintenance of more stable blood pressure and acid-base balance.

In addition to these minerals, bone broth also contains trace amounts of sulfur, silicon, and magnesium.

Now, here’s the tricky part. These minerals are found deep within the collagen matrix of the bone. As such, it is imperative that the soup or broth you are going to make will include ingredients that will somehow unlock these minerals. Typically, the addition of a naturally acidic ingredient is often enough to release these minerals into the broth.

  • Joint-Friendly Nutrients

If you happen to get a bone that still has plenty of soft, spongy tissues at the tips, then you’re also giving your pet glucosamine. In mammals, glucosamine is found in the synovial fluid, the fluid that provides lubrication for the joints. Synovial fluid is produced, in part, by the cells found in cartilage tissues.

Glucosamine helps in the formation of cartilage tissues and facilitates its repair as well. In many ways, it can also contribute to the overall health of the joints by producing healthier cartilage that also produces sufficient amounts of synovial fluid. Some say glucosamine can also help retard the progression of joint problems like arthritis and could potentially help restore the integrity of cartilage in inflamed joints, although more empirical studies are in the works.

Bone broth can also be rich in chondroitin. Its principal function is in the inhibition of certain enzymes that degrade or break down cartilage. It also helps in the creation of new cartilage tissues. It is, therefore, important in keeping your dog’s joints healthy and fully functioning.

Hyaluronic acid is also found in bone broth, especially if you use the entire joint capsule of the animal. It is a natural substance that has many interesting benefits, but more importantly in the formation of synovial fluid. In humans, hyaluronic acid is typically injected into the inflamed joints of someone who has osteoarthritis. If this can minimize joint pain and reduce joint stiffness, imagine what it can bring to your pet.

These are the nutrients that are typically found in bone broth. Depending on the other ingredients that you put into the soup such as apple cider vinegar, parsley, mushrooms, and many more, you’re looking at significantly improving the nutrient profile of this doggy soup.

bone broth

Why Give Bone Broth to Your Dog

Based on the nutrients that we have listed above, it should already be clear what bone broth can give to your pet. However, just in case you want a more definitive list of the reasons why you should give your pet bone broth, here it is.

  • Comfort Food for Dogs

Can you remember your mom making you warm, hearty soup whenever you were sick? Not only is it refreshing, soups also comfort the soul. We’re not saying dogs have souls or that you should give the bone broth piping hot, but the calories and nutrients found in bone broth can help your sick dog recover a lot faster. Whether it is given as is or mixed with its favorite kibble, bone broth can give the energy and nutrients that your dog needs. It will heal a lot faster and get up on its four feet sooner than you expect.

  • Protects Your Dog’s Joints

The glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, and chondroitin in bone broth should help make sure that your dog’s joints are as healthy as they can be. From the more efficient production of cartilage cells to the formation of synovial fluid or joint lubricant, your dog’s joints will be able to maintain its full functionality. Additionally, the presence of collagen can provide for a stronger matrix upon which the various elements of the joints can be fixed.

The proteins contained in bone broth can help in the more efficient synthesis of immune system cells. Glycine, for example, is especially important for its antioxidant properties so you can bet your furry pal will be less prone to infections and other diseases where a compromised immune system can be at fault.

  • Healthier Digestion and Soothes Dog Tummy Issues

The rich blend of minerals and proteins with antioxidant properties can also help ensure healthier digestion while addressing a number of tummy issues stemming from inflammation. Not only are you giving your pet a nutritious broth, you are also making sure that it gets to digest and absorb the other nutrients that is found in its ordinary dog food.

How You Can Make Your Dog’s Own Bone Broth

One of the most obvious benefits of bone broth is that it is super easy to make. We don’t recommend getting a pre-packed bone broth from the grocery or supermarket as these can be laced with a lot of ingredients that can be harmful to your pet. Instead, we strongly suggest getting the best meaty bones from your butcher and get ready to make a delicious broth out of it.

  • Put All Ingredients in a Stockpot or Slow Cooker

All you need is a good-sized stockpot and put all of your ingredients inside. You can place bones with bone marrows, raw pig’s feet or knuckles, chicken feet, and even oxtail. The choice is up to you. You can also add roughly chopped parsley (this should only be added a couple of minutes before the completion of the cooking process), celery stalks, and even sliced carrots. Add a few drops of olive oil plus about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar then enough water to reach about an inch or two from the lid of the pot. Remember, you’ll be simmering this for a long time so the water will be naturally reduced. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can always substitute it with the juice from half a lemon. You can even add mushrooms if you like.

  • Get Cooking

Bring this to a boil. Let it simmer slowly. For best results, you’ll want to simmer this for a whole day. You can also leave it slow cooking overnight. Make sure to check it once in a while to remove the particulates that float on top. Before you finally turn off the stove, add the chopped parsley, and wait for a couple of minutes more. Turn off the heat and drain everything into another stockpot. Remove the bones, but leave everything else – tendons, skin, ligaments, bone marrow, cartilage, and others – in the broth.

You can store the bone broth in glass jars for up to a week in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can place it in freezer-safe containers or even in ice cube molds. This can lengthen its shelf life by up to 6 months. When ready to serve, simply thaw it and your dog will be relishing on a really tasty treat.

Dogs love bones. And if you turn it into a broth, they will surely love it, too.

You may also like our guide on Dog Food Storage Containers.

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  1. Dr. Marty Becker, DVM, Can Dogs Eat Turkey Bones? A Vet Weighs In, Vetstreet
  2. Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM, Why Bones Are Not Safe for Dogs, VCA Hospitals

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