Not only does bone broth boast plenty of health benefits for dogs, but it also makes for a great food topper for picky eaters.
We spoke to a vet expert about the benefits of bone broth for dogs and how much to serve, as well as how to make it, where to buy it, and more.
Remember, pet parents looking to incorporate new foods in their dog’s diet should consult with their veterinarian beforehand.
What Is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is a clear, silky soup made from animal bones, such as chicken, beef and turkey bones, as well as connective tissue.
The bones typically simmer gently on low heat in water along with a medley of veggies and herbs for a few hours. The longer the bones simmer, the more collagen is extracted—and collagen promotes skin, coat and joint health in your dog.
9 Health Benefits of Bone Broth for Dogs
1. Excellent Source of Nutrients
“One of the key benefits of bone broth for dogs is that it serves as an incredible source of nutrients,” says Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, a veterinarian at Animal Hospital of West Monroe in West Monroe, Louisiana, and the co-founder of How To Pets.
Bone broth is packed with calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium—“all essentials for a dog’s health,” Dr. Ochoa says, adding that “dogs need a balanced and nutrient-rich diet to thrive and keep various diseases at bay.”
2. Promotes Good Hydration
Because it’s a liquid, bone broth supports your dog’s hydration needs. It’s what Dr. Stephanie Howe, DVM, a pet health representative at Chewy, calls “a tasty source of hydration.”
Bone broth is a terrific way for picky eaters or dogs dealing with mild digestive issues to increase their water intake.
3. Aids in Weight Management
Because it’s rich in protein and low in fat, Dr. Ochoa says bone broth helps your dog feel full without unnecessarily increasing their calories.
4. Improves the Immune System
The essential nutrients and minerals in bone broth can help boost your dog’s immune system.
5. Increases Palatability
Bone broth can excite even the most discerning eaters. Nothing beats putting your pet’s food bowl down and seeing that tail wag.
6. Improves Skin and Coat Health
The gelatin and protein collagen present in bone broth help improve your dog’s skin and coat.
7. Promotes Joint Health
Bone broth is a natural source of glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. These compounds support joint health and are especially beneficial for older dogs.
8. Supports Liver and Lung Health
Bone broth contains glycine, an amino acid that helps detox the liver and support lung health. “It helps the liver in efficiently processing and eliminating toxins, contributing to improved liver health,” explains Dr. Ochoa.
9. Improves Gut Health
Bone broth soothes inflammation and irritation in the digestive system, thanks to its amino acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
“The gelatin found in bone broth is fantastic for promoting good digestive health,” adds Dr. Ochoa. “It helps maintain the integrity of the gut lining, making it great for dogs with sensitive stomachs.”
How To Make Bone Broth for Dogs
Earlier, we briefly discussed what bone broth is. But what we didn’t mention is how easy it is to make with our simple vet-reviewed and vet-approved bone broth recipe for dogs.
To make a homemade bone broth, you’ll need just a few simple vet-approved, pet-safe ingredients, including:
- Animal bones (we like to use chicken backs, wings, drumsticks or thighs, but you can also use turkey bones or beef bones)
- Dog-friendly veggies, like carrots and celery stalks
- Dog-friendly herbs, like fresh thyme
Let the ingredients simmer in an Instant Pot, stockpot or slow cooker; let it cool and remove the solidified fat; then serve.
Never add salt, onion or garlic to the bone broth, as these ingredients are toxic to pets. Garlic and onion, in particular, can lead to anemia, lethargy, vomiting, red or brown urine and loss of appetite, among other symptoms, when consumed by dogs, Dr. Howe says.
Also, cooked bones can be very harmful if swallowed by a pet, “so it is vital to ensure that there are no bones left in the broth when serving it to your pet,” Dr. Howe says.
Dogs can enjoy various varieties, including beef bone broth, chicken bone broth and turkey bone broth.
Vet-Recommend Store-Bought Bone Broth for Dogs
We know cooking isn’t for everyone, but do not—we repeat, do not—pick up any bone broth from the grocery store. Many premade bone broths include ingredients harmful to your dog, like garlic and onion.
Instead, Dr. Ochoa recommends the following brands of bone broth for dogs:
- Brutus Bone Broth: Renowned for their premium-quality bone broth, Brutus guarantees the absence of harmful ingredients in their product. The nutrients are beneficial to your dog.
- Solid Gold: Offering a variety of dog-friendly bone broths, Solid Gold ensures none of their products contain harmful ingredients. These broths are enriched with superfoods and high-nutrition meat cuts.
- Primalvore: An organic bone broth uniquely crafted for dogs, free of onion, garlic and other harmful additives.
How To Serve Bone Broth to Dogs
How much bone broth can you give your dog? A general rule is to give 1 ounce of bone broth per 10 pounds of your dog’s weight, says Dr. Ochoa.
So, a 20-pound dog could have 2 ounces of bone broth in a day, while a 100-pound dog could have 10 ounces per day.
As for how to serve bone broth to your dog, you have a few options:
- Food topper: Add it to your furry friend’s dog food—either wet or dry food.
- Warm drink: Serve it alone or alongside their kibble.
- Frozen dog treat: Pour the appropriate amount of broth into ice cube trays, freeze and serve one cube a day.
But wait! Before giving bone broth to your dog, keep all of the following vet advice in mind:
If you’re giving your dog bone broth for the first time, start with smaller amounts and watch your dog’s reaction to consuming it, Dr. Ochoa says. You can gradually increase the amount of bone broth until you reach the recommended serving, provided there are no signs of health or digestive issues.
Space It Out
Distribute one serving of bone broth across several meals instead of giving your dog the entire serving at once.
“For example, if your 50-pound dog gets bone broth three times per day, each serving could be about 1.67 ounces,” Dr. Ochoa explains.
For dogs with kidney issues, the high sodium content of bone broth can be problematic, says Dr. Ochoa. So, always consult your vet before feeding it to your dog.
Don’t Replace Meals
Bone broth doesn’t provide many calories and is not considered a complete diet. So, it should never replace meals and, instead, should be served as part of a well-balanced or veterinarian-recommended diet, Dr. Howe says.