I’ll say it right out, in case you are here looking for still MORE support for giving bone broth, this useless and time-consuming concoction, to dogs. It is a wishful-thinking-driven fad, fueled by the re-packaged, misguided high protein/fat “Keto” and “Paleo” diets that are currently fashionable for humans.
The claims that are being made about this so-called ‘food’ defy logic, reason and true science. They rely on the same kind of thinking that causes people to strain their kidneys eating 10 times as much protein as their bodies actually need every day. Namely, that eating big muscles gives us big muscles, etc. Here’s what nutrition/beauty blogger Kimberly Snyder says about this idea:
“The problem with that logic is that this is simply not part of our body’s natural process at all. Your body is no more likely to take that collagen you are eating and put it in your bones, joints and skin than it is to grow a head of thick lustrous hair for you if you simply eat a big plate of hair every day!”
Let’s start a new fad: Eating eyeballs improves eyesight! Fertility problems? Eat some ovaries! And while we’re following this crazy line of thinking, we’d have to conclude that eating human parts would be much more beneficial than eating, say, cow or pig parts.
If that’s how we think nature works, we’ve way underestimated and misunderstood her, as usual.
Dog owners in the dark
Note that everything above was NOT written with dogs in mind. That’s because there seems not to be a single dog owner on this planet, raw feeding or otherwise, who is willing to think critically about this and many other similar dog food fads. At least that’s what we have to surmise from the avalanche of favorable bone broth articles that comes up when one Googles “bone broth fad for dogs”. The ONLY reference that even contains the word “fad” is one that lists the 5 “myths” of bone broth, #1 among them being that it is a fad.
At least it can truthfully be said that where dogs are concerned, the original food (bones) is actually a normal and natural part of the diet. However, that’s where the good news ends. Bone broth is mostly water, cooked collagen (gelatin), a bit of inorganic (destroyed) mineral matter and fat, unless the latter is cooled and removed.
Are cooked bone PARTICLES any more digestible than whole cooked bones?
Cooking does not improve protein, collagen and other nutritional constituents of bones. Every raw feeder seems to know this, because we are frequently cautioned to feed ONLY raw bones and not just because cooked bones are brittle. What fans of both broth don’t seem to realize is that they are also nutritionally worthless.
That’s why cooked bones are dangerous. When cooked bones are eaten by a dog, they are NOT dissolved in the stomach acids like raw bones are. They pass the stomach intact into the intestines where they can cause blockage and perforation. We all know this, so why on earth are we assuming that PARTICLES of cooked bone have magical healing properties or even constitute nutritious food? They are too small to block or perforate the intestine, but they are certainly not going to be taken in and used by the body any more than a larger piece of cooked bone.
Dogs cannot get what they need from bone broth. It’s like trying to raise termites on ashes instead of wood. The only thing positive about bone broth is that it’s mostly water and water is a legitimate natural nutrient for dogs. Considering that water is free, or nearly so, that dogs already get too much fat and have ZERO need for cooked protein or collagen, there’s not much good to be said about bone broth.
A lesson in removal of cause
When people get themselves and their dogs into a health mess and decide that they want to facilitate “natural” healing, they sometimes opt to feed their dogs nothing but bone broth for a given length of time. They often refer to this as a “fast”, but it is not a fast. Fasting is a very specific thing, and a bone broth diet does not qualify. Nevertheless, as I state in my recent fasting article, this often constitutes removal of cause. That’s because when the dog is eating nothing but bone broth, s/he’s not eating the crap that caused him/her to become diseased in the first place.
Even though bone broth may share some of the harmful ingredients that commercial pet foods have (cooked proteins, abundant fat, etc.), its only saving grace is that it is EXTREMELY dilute. The same favorable outcomes that are mistakenly attributed to bone broth diets could likely be had by feeding a dog nothing but severely watered down commercial dog food. If you wouldn’t consider buying a can of dog food, adding a few cups of water and pouring it into your dog’s dish, then bone broth shouldn’t be on your radar.
And incidentally, I say positive outcomes are “mistakenly attributed” to bone broth because no food or diet cures anything. When the diet is changed, the body is just no longer being harmed and overburdened by the previous diet, so it can heal itself.
Is bone broth really “mineral rich”?
Nutritionally, bone broth is not worth the trouble it takes to cook it. Almost all the articles you can find extolling the virtues of bone broth just pound the same insupportable idea that bone broth is “full of minerals”. You may be surprised to learn that there is far less mineral matter in a cup of bone broth than in a small serving of kale or 1/4 cup of milk (not that either of these things is necessarily healthful for dogs, either; I’m just using them as comparison). Here’s an article written by someone who made bone broth from wild venison bones and grass fed bison and then had the broth analyzed for nutrient content: Bone Broth Analysis Article.
And bear in mind, the above article was written by someone who was biased IN FAVOR of this ridiculous concoction, like almost everyone is. When these kinds of outcomes are seen in studies by “research scientists”, by the way, they end up in the dust bin, never to be seen again. That’s why so much “research” seems to favor what industry wants it to. But back to the topic of “How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Food for Dogs””.
If you need further convincing that bone broth is NOT “rich in minerals”, here’s a pdf of a study that was conducted in 1934 by King’s College Hospital in London that shows the same result: bone broth is a poor source of minerals. You’d think in all these years since then, people would have left behind this idea that putting something in water and destroying it with heat makes it better, especially where bones are concerned. Cooked bones have never been eaten by dogs in the entirety of their existence on this planet. How could a creature adapt the ability to digest something it has never had the opportunity to eat? Is nature that random and unpredictable? I don’t think so.
Different foods have different properties
Where dogs are concerned, there is only one class of food that is made better by cooking, and that is vegetables. And it’s easy to understand why. Vegetables require grinding teeth to break through the cellular membrane and release nutrients. Lacking the proper teeth, amylase would do the job, but dogs don’t have that in abundance either. So, cooking veggies makes them more bioavailable and more appealing to dogs. Dogs will often eat cooked broccoli, for example, but will hardly ever touch raw broccoli. The same goes for yams, sweet potatoes, peas and squashes. It’s still unknown whether dogs actually have need of vegetable matter, but we do know that dogs who eat vegetable meals (fed separately from meat meals) are typically healthier.
That has more to do with what veggies DON’T contain than what they DO, however. Cooked vegetables aren’t a necessary part of a dog’s diet and cooking definitely destroys nutrients. It just breaks down cell walls, as well, which makes part of the food more usable. More info about that can be had in my articles about dogs eating fruit and whether they are carnivores or omnivores.
Older is not necessarily better
Fans of bone broth call the eating of it an “ancient” practice, but that’s not even true for humans, never mind dogs. Truly ancient humans had no desire nor means to cook bones in a pot of water, and the only way a dog ever got cooked meat of any kind would be foraging after a forest fire, which would not happen frequently enough for them to adapt the need for cooked meat.
If it works, don’t fix it
The proper feeding of dogs is simple, easy, cheap and uncomplicated. It has been that way since dogs were domesticated. All we have to do is apply it. We have no need to invent something new when the old way works so well. The more we ignore faddish products and ideas and stick to simple basics, the healthier our dogs will be.