I’ll say it right out, in case you are here looking for still MORE support for giving 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. Right?
If that’s how we think nature works, we’ve way underestimated and misunderstood her, as usual.
Here’s another bone broth debunking article, for those of you who are still reading.
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. In other words, the article claims that bone broth is NOT a fad.
Isn’t bone broth a natural food for dogs?
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. 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. They are also nutritionally worthless, and the particles that color the water they are cooked in even more so. So, it is curious why there has been so much acceptance of bone broth in raw feeding circles.
I think it has to do with the lingering dependency that most raw feeders still have on medical belief. When problems arise, they are just as likely as kibble feeders to seek out some potion or other to “cure” their dogs. Their drugs of choice just happen to be a little less harmful than the pharmaceutical variety. So they are not immune to the lure of a magic elixir that needs no evidence or particular grounded rationale.
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.
(Incidentally, I say above that positive outcomes are “mistakenly attributed” to bone broth. That’s 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. The body, and ONLY the body, heals itself. We just need to get out of its way.)
Cooking rarely improves food, nutritionally
Nutritionally, bone broth is not worth the trouble it takes to cook it. Where dogs are concerned, there is only one class of food that is made better by cooking, and that is vegetables. 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. More info about that can be had in my articles about dogs eating fruit and whether they are carnivores or omnivores.
Very old practices aren’t necessarily good, even if they are “ancient”
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 specific need for cooked meat.
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 that can be said 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, cooked minerals or cooked collagen, there’s not much good to be said about bone broth.
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.