The truth about the bone broth trend
Every year or two, there is a new trend or topic that people like to ask about more than usual. For a while, people asked more about, for example, turmeric, coconut oil, fish oils and omega oils, sardines, the ketogenic diet, and other topics.
Recently, I have seen more questions about bone broth for dogs, which prompted me to write the following summary.
HOW IS BONE BROTH PREPARED AND IS THERE A GOOD RECIPE?
Bone broth is prepared by long-term cooking of bones and here is an example of a bone broth recipe:
- 2000 ml (2 litres) of water
- 3000 gm (approximately 7 lbs) of organic or non-medicated bones
- 2 tbsp of vinegar to increase the acidity and to aid bone softening during the cooking process
Bone broth can be made from poultry, medium-sized animals, or large animal bones. Usually, they are cooked in a pressure cooker on low heat for 12 to 24 hours. Water has to be added periodically as it evaporates during cooking. Some recipes also call for the addition of vegetables for extra flavour and additional nutrients.
IS BONE BROTH WORTH THE WORK OR COST IF STORE-BOUGHT?
Before you dive into preparing bone broth for your dog, you may want to read the following lines. While I am not against adding bone broth to your dog’s diet, I will let you decide if it is worth it by answering the most frequently asked questions.
IS BONE BROTH A GOOD SOURCE OF VITAMINS FOR DOGS?
Vitamins such as Vitamins C, thiamine (B1), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), and folate (B9) are vulnerable to cooking, which makes bone broth a poor source of such vitamins. When it comes to vitamins in general, their content decreases with cooking; and this is why fresh food is always the best source.
Generally, plants seem to be a much better source of vitamins; however, even with plants, the vitamin content depends on the quality of soil and their freshness. This is one of the reasons why I use fermented whole food vitamins for my canine patients to ensure they receive the full spectrum.
IS BONE BROTH A GOOD SOURCE OF MINERALS?
While most blogs and articles proclaim that bone broth is mineral rich, there is surprisingly very little research published on the mineral content in bone broth. However, I have come across one experimental reference where the author cooked different types of bone broth and analyzed them for mineral content.
It appears that minerals are not released into the bone broth, which is surprising considering how many articles say the exact opposite. For years, I have been supporting the idea that the cooking of bones and heat processing of bone meal makes minerals much less bioavailable, in addition to the fact that feeding COOKED bones to dogs is dangerous.
The experiment mentioned above confirms that the mineral content in bone broth is even lower than in vegetable broth which is surprising. It appears that minerals in bones bind to the bone matrix during cooking, which makes them less soluble, and that plant-based minerals are much more bioavailable.
SHOULD LEAD AND HEAVY METALS BE A CONCERN?
Leaded gasoline of the past and industrial pollution, in general, have been the biggest sources of environmental lead in food and water.
About 90 percent of lead content in the body is deposited in bones, and it is practically impossible to monitor each food item we serve to our dogs for heavy metals. With the worldwide food chains being closely connected to heavily polluted China, I suggest that you stay away from commercially produced bone broths.
If you are curious and wondering about the quality of your dog’s food with regards to mineral levels and heavy metals, you should consider hair testing. It is an accurate and inexpensive method to determine if your dog’s diet contains lead and other heavy metals.
ARE ORGANIC AND NON-MEDICATED BONES THE SOLUTION?
Even if bone broth is not an ideal source of bone minerals, the composition of the local soil minerals may be high in some elements and low in others, which makes the mineral balance less complete.
Nature “designed” the whole nutrient chain in such a way where wild animals would roam free receiving a full spectrum of minerals that would then be passed onto the canines. Unfortunately, the modern age has made mineral supplementation more complex, and this is why I use algae-based mineral support for dogs.
DOES BONE BROTH CONTAIN OTHER BENEFICIAL NUTRIENTS?
It appears that bone broth is most rich in amino-acids and proteins. However, because raw meat is already a protein-rich source, the labour-intensive bone broth preparation makes little practical sense.
IS BONE BROTH GOOD FOR YOUR DOG’S JOINTS?
There is no doubt that feeding raw bones provide the ideal building blocks for your dog's bones and joints. Perhaps bone broth would make more sense in humans because we do not eat bones. However, when it comes to dogs, a good free-range organic bone is nutritionally superior and, in my opinion, much closer to nature.
- What bones are good for dogs?
- What natural supplements to give your dog?
- How many supplements are too many for your dog?
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM