Yes, that’s my dog, Lipton, in the picture! We’ve been trying out a bone broth made specifically for dogs recently. Bone broth for dogs is becoming quite popular and for good reason. It has similar health benefits as it does for us humans, and there are now quite a few companies that make a bone broth for dogs. This follows the growing trend of feeding our beloved four-legged pets a better quality diet than conventional dog food.
Even scientific studies are confirming the health and nutrition benefits of bone broth. More on that below. But first, if you’re new to the bone broth craze, let’s first answer the question…
Bone broth is made by simmering collagen-rich bones (and other collagen-rich animal parts) in water for extended periods of time in order to break down the bones and collagen into more easily digestible nutrients. Bone broth contains nutrients such as minerals and amino acids, many of which are not easy to obtain in our highly processed, modern diets. Chicken, beef, and pork are the most common sources used to make bone broth but many types of poultry (turkey, pheasant, etc.) and game (deer, elk, etc.) can be used as well.
Bone broth has seen a huge resurgence in recent years because it’s now recognized as a staple of native diets all over the world with a myriad of health benefits. Even modern science is starting to confirm how bone broth benefits our health.
Bone broth is very similar to culinary stocks and broths that are used as a base for soups and stews. It can be used in the exact same way and it’s often simmered with vegetables and herbs for more flavor.
The main difference is that bone broths are simmered for a much longer time period in order to extract as many nutrients as possible. They’re often consumed on their own as a tonic for various health issues, especially digestive issues. In particular, it’s the nutrients from the collagen in bone broth that have so much value to both our health and our dogs’ health.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and makes up our joints, lining of internal organs, digestive tract, hair, skin, nails, and so forth. In a nutshell, it’s the glue that keeps us connected and jiggling. Yes, jiggling. That’s a good thing. We need to jiggle, just like Jell-O. Guess what makes Jell-O jiggle? Collagen. Well, more specifically gelatin but gelatin is basically cooked collagen. A long and slow-cooked collagen-rich bone broth will be rich in gelatin. You can easily see it when the broth cools. Yes, it will thicken and jiggle. A long and slowly simmered collagen-rich bone broth has many proven benefits. Including dogs!
Because collagen has similar roles in our bodies as in dogs (and all mammals), there are some similar health benefits.
This is probably the biggest reason humans consume it. Numerous digestive health diets such as the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Diet liberally incorporate bone broth. This extensive article details the many digestive health benefits and beyond. Dogs can certainly benefit too. Bone broth is rich in several amino acids, in particular, proline, glycine, and glutamine which help reduce inflammation and restore gut health integrity. Studies have shown that these benefits extend to animals as well. (source, source)
There’s a reason chicken soup (and other bone broth-based soups) has been used in countless cultures to treat the common cold, respiratory issues, and other illnesses. A famous study by the University of Nebraska confirmed how chicken soup mitigates inflammation. While the study didn’t identify the specific nutrients which had the anti-inflammatory effect, we know that many of the amino acids that support digestive health also support immune health. In fact, there’s a growing body of evidence showing the intricate connection between gut health and immune health. Let’s also not forget that bone broth for dogs is free of potential allergens and hard-to-digest ingredients in kibble like wheat, soy, various starches, and canola oil.
But there’s one very specific benefit I’m looking for and you might be too.
My sweet pup, Lipton, is an English golden retriever. Isn’t she adorable? I think she’s the cutest dog ever.
Lipton is 10 years old now. Golden retrievers and other large dog breeds are very prone to joint issues as they get older, especially in the hips.
Many suffer from osteoarthritis and other inflammatory issues brought on by a diet of poor quality food, aging, and/or genetic predispositions.
I feed Lipton a good quality homemade dog food diet but still, I want to ensure I’m doing as much as I can to prevent painful joint issues as Lipton gets into her senior years.
Collagen can help support and repair the connective tissue in dogs’ joints. In particular, glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid are nutrients in gelatin that can help keep both our joints and our dog’s joints healthy over the long term.
That said, there are many different types of collagen, each with different roles in the body. Recent scientific research is starting to pinpoint undenatured type II collagen, the main structural protein in cartilage, as the specific type of collagen that can help with joint problems.
Undenatured means not processed by high heat and/or chemicals. This is common in the bone broth supplement industry. Undenatured type II collagen is the active form of type II collagen that has proven to be beneficial to joint issues like arthritis.
This study in the Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics showed that a supplement of 10mg per day of undenatured type II collagen over 90 days led to a significant reduction in pain a well as an increase in physical activity. It also showed no adverse effects at 10mg per day.
Furthermore, according to this study, undenatured type II collagen has been reported to be more effective than glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements.
This is why bone broth for dogs, especially older ones where joint issues are a concern, should have undenatured type II collagen.
Absolutely! Just make sure not to include onions, a common ingredient in bone broth for humans, as onions can be toxic to dogs. I fed Lipton, my English golden retriever, homemade bone broth off and on for quite a few years. But once I started working on my New England soups cookbook, I had less time (and less freezer space) to make chicken and beef bone broth.
Making bone broth is certainly not something that everyone has the time, energy, and resources to do regularly. That even includes me. That’s why I’ve started supplementing Liptons’ diet with a bone broth product specifically made for dogs.
I found Active Dawg through an online search and I was impressed with their ingredients. I ordered some and I’ve been using it with Lipton for a while now with good results. In particular, here’s why I really like their product:
Active Dawg bone broth is enriched with undenatured type II collagen. In fact, each tablespoon contains 10mg which is exactly the amount used in the study above that showed significant benefits.
I want the best for my best bud and a product without chemicals is important to me. In fact, Active Dawg is the only certified organic bone broth for dogs that’s also enriched with undenatured type II collagen.
When I was researching dog bone broth, I found a popular company with some slick marketing. But when I looked at their ingredients it was full of flavorings like yeast extract and natural flavors.
These can be (and often are) included in organic foods too. Natural flavors may sound good but they’re a deceptive marketing term. They’re actually lab-made flavorings. A properly-made, long-simmered bone broth should not need added flavorings. Active Dawg contains only chicken bone broth and absolutely no flavorings, fillers, preservatives, or GMOs.
Many companies don’t say how long they simmer their broth for. Remember, bone broth needs to be simmered for an extended time to withdraw the nutrients. Active Dawg simmers their chicken bone broth for 24 hours.
Active Dawg is a dehydrated bone broth in powdered form which makes it quite versatile. For starters, it lasts longer than liquid versions. That also means you can take it with you when you travel. You can also give it to your dog in different ways. You can sprinkle it on top of your dog’s food. You can rehydrate it to moisten kibble which will add flavor and nutrients. Or you can rehydrate it and give it to your dog as a drink. Here’s a little video I made which includes how I use it with Lipton…
Active Dawg is a small family-run company in Florida. Their products are not available yet in stores or on Amazon. You can buy their chicken bone broth, as well as their other products right here on their website:
Finally, remember that bone broth for dogs is a supplement and not a replacement for meals. Start slow and give your dog a small amount to start. Notice if there are any issues like diarrhea. It’s unlikely as bone broth is very well tolerated by most dogs. Different breeds, ages, diets, and health issues mean all dogs are different. If you have any concerns, be sure to consult with your vet.
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.