One of the Most Healing Foods You Can Feed Your Pet

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

bone broth for dogs

Story at-a-glance -

  • Bone broth is a nutrient dense meal supplement or treat for any pet, and especially dogs and cats recovering from tummy troubles, picky eaters, and older animals with declining appetites
  • Bone broth is easy to digest and works well when you need to add flavor, moisture and extra nutrients to your pet’s meals
  • Bone broth is both inexpensive and easy to prepare using chicken, beef, or soup bones
  • One segment of the pet population may not do well consuming bone broth are histamine-intolerant animals, as this nutrient-dense superfood contains a lot of naturally occurring histamine, which can exacerbate some health conditions, including chronic systemic inflammation

Bone broth is an excellent bioavailable source of vitamins, minerals and nitrogen, with potent healing properties. It can help relieve joint and stomach pain and supports the immune system.

Bone broth is also a great after-fasting food for animals recovering from gastrointestinal (GI) irritation or illness. If you have a finicky pet, you can use it as a topper on food. If you have an older pet with a declining appetite, feeding bone broth provides very concentrated nourishment and helps keep the GI tract functioning.

Bone Broth is a Nutrient-Dense Meal Supplement or Treat

Bone broth is inexpensive to make, easy to prepare and, best of all, incredibly nutritious. When you simmer bones in water overnight (or longer), it allows all the minerals and marrow to leach out into the water, providing your pet with a variety of nutrients in an easily absorbable form, including:

Calcium, phosphorus and other minerals

Components of collagen and cartilage

Silicon and other trace minerals

Components of bone and bone marrow

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate

The “conditionally essential” amino acids proline, glycine and glutamine

The boiled down cartilage and collagen in the broth is excellent for animals with achy joints and may help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Cartilage is also known to support immune system health while the amino acids in bone broth (such as glycine, proline and arginine) fight inflammation.

The minerals in the broth help support bone health, as does the collagen. The gelatin in bone broth may also support muscle growth, making it useful for athletic as well as elderly pets.

Bone broth is also easy to digest and provides excellent support for the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, bone broth provides a highly concentrated source of nutrition for pets that have recently been sick, are elderly or have become finicky eaters.

It’s not a balanced diet, but it works well for a snack or for pets who are refusing to eat. You can also add the broth to your dog’s or cat’s regular meals for added flavor, moisture and nutrition. Freeze it in ice cube trays to make a perfect summer cool-down treat. It will even help your pet detox from the environmental pollutants she encounters on a daily basis. As noted in Dogs Naturally magazine:

“The liver is the master organ of detoxification. The dog’s liver is under assault daily as the poor dog lies on carpets and floors treated with chemicals, walks on grass that’s been treated and sprayed with poisons, consumes foods with toxic and synthetic ingredients, and suffers through toxic dewormers, flea and tick preventives, drugs, antibiotics, vaccines and more.

The liver was never meant to suffer this onslaught and its capacity to detoxify is limited by the availability of the amino acid glycine. Guess what has tons of glycine? Bone broth!”1

How to Make Your Own Bone Broth

It's easier to make bone broth than you might think. Start with the highest quality ingredients you can find, including organic, pastured chicken, beef, or bones. You can use a whole organic chicken (pets will enjoy the meat, too) or look for organic beef thigh bones (soup bones).

Fill your pot with pure water and add the bones plus a splash of organic apple cider vinegar. Acetic acid (vinegar) helps leech the minerals from the bones into the stockpot water. Let the mixture simmer on the stove for up to 4.5 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone and you can remove it (and any skin) from the pot.

Return the broth (including the bones) to the stove, add another splash of vinegar, and continue simmering for another 24 hours to be sure all the nutrition is pulled from the bones.

After 24 hours, run the broth through a strainer to remove the cooked bones and bone fragments. You can either discard these or run them through a food processor and add them back into the broth. With very little effort on your part, you'll have a superfood that will provide your pet with comfort and nutrition year-round (and as a bonus, you can eat it too)!

As I mentioned earlier, if it’s still warm in your neck of the woods, you can pour some broth into an ice cube tray, freeze it, and offer your dog bone broth popsicles as a delicious, nutritious treat.

In my experience, both dogs and cats love bone broth. In the following video, I demonstrate my method for making bone broth using organic chicken. This was a batch I made for my dog Ada, who was coming off a 24-hour fast after a bout of GI inflammation, vomiting and diarrhea.

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Histamine Intolerance; Why Some ‘Superfoods’ Aren’t So Super

Animals can have the same genetic variants as some humans, HNMT and ABP1 gene anomalies, causing them to be histamine intolerant. This means they have genetic variations, or Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNPs, pronounced “snips”) that prevent the normal clearance of histamine from the body.

This results in a buildup of histamine, which looks an awful lot like allergies (itching, red and miserable pets); however, these animals have negative allergy test results.

Functional medicine vets are aware of this possibility and design low-histamine diets around this potential, once all other root causes of allergy-like symptoms have been ruled out. If your dog appears to have allergy symptoms but has negative allergy test results, histamine intolerance could be the problem. In this case, feeding low histamine foods, avoiding fermented foods and low-histamine bone broth is a good idea.