When you’re feeling under the weather, nothing beats the soothing power of a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup. And if your dog is refusing to eat due to an upset stomach or ongoing illness, one of the most popular fixes is to pour a little chicken broth over his food. After all, chicken-flavored anything is the key to a dog’s heart and stomach.
But is chicken broth good for dogs? As it turns out, veterinarians approve of this home remedy. However, not all chicken broths are dog-friendly.
If you’re wondering whether what you have in the pantry is safe for your dog to eat, read on for everything you need to know about chicken broth for dogs including health benefits, how to prepare it, and a few creative ways to add it to your dog’s diet.
Can Dogs Have Chicken Broth?
In short, yes—chicken broth is a generally safe addition to make to your dog’s diet. “I routinely recommend chicken broth as a palatability enhancer for dogs with picky appetites,” says Dr. Valerie Parker, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and associate professor of clinical small animal internal medicine and nutrition in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
That said, be sure to take a look at the label before you feed your dog any ol’ store-bought chicken broth. Many broths contain additional ingredients like onion and garlic, both of which can be toxic to dogs, says Dr. Deborah E. Linder, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and research assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton, Massachusetts.
Beyond this, even low-sodium broths can be very high in sodium, which may be a no-no depending on your dog’s unique dietary needs, she says.
As is true any time you change your dog’s diet, make sure to check in with your veterinarian before you add chicken broth to his food, especially if he has an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, cancer, or heart disease.
Can Dogs Have Chicken Bone Broth?
While Parker notes that there are no studies evaluating the use of chicken bone broth in dogs’ diets, the same rules apply when you’re examining the label. Avoid chicken bone broths with added aromatics like garlic and onion, and opt for a low-sodium or homemade bone broth if you’re watching your dog’s salt intake.
Benefits of Chicken Broth for Dogs
Ultimately, the main benefit of chicken broth for dogs is probably what you have in mind for it already—enticing your pup to eat when he’s not feeling super hungry.
As for other health claims—a cure-all for gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and constipation, a shiny coat, and more—researchers have yet to dig into them just yet.
How to Make Chicken Broth for Dogs
If you don’t have any chicken broth at home, it may be preferable to make it yourself anyway. “Homemade chicken broth is fine for dogs, and it’s sometimes the easiest way to find a broth that excludes onion and garlic,” says Parker.
Here are steps to prepare homemade chicken broth for dogs:
Step 1: Bring chicken meat to a boil in plain water with no seasoning, says Linder.
Step 2: Lower the heat and allow it to simmer uncovered for three to four hours, skimming any foam off the top as necessary.
Step 3: Strain the liquid to remove all chicken meat. Allow it to cool to a safe warm-but-not-hot temperature.
Step 4: When it’s the right temperature, pour some over your dog’s food.
While chicken and rice is another popular home remedy for dogs with an upset stomach or loss of appetite, this will almost always result in an imbalanced diet, says Parker. Again, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian before making any major changes to what goes on your pup’s plate, especially if he’s not feeling well.
Other Ways to Use Chicken Broth for Dogs
All in all, any food that isn’t a part of your dog’s complete and balanced diet formulated by a certified veterinary nutritionist (think: their dog food) should make up less than 10 percent of his total daily caloric intake (like treats and snacks), says Parker. Because chicken broth is generally a low-calorie food with about 15 calories per cup, it fits the bill for a great treat or palatability enhancer to add to your dog’s food.
Here are a few creative and fun ways you can add chicken broth to your dog’s diet:
Make homemade dog treats. All you need to whip up these veterinarian-approved dog treats is flour, oats, peanut butter, and chicken broth.
Cool off during the dog days of summer with chicken brothsicles. Freeze your dog’s favorite low-calorie treats like strawberries and dog-friendly veggies such as green beans and pumpkin puree with chicken bone broth in popsicle or ice cube trays. If your dog’s a chomper, stuff them inside a chew toy in order to avoid damaging his pearly whites, suggests Parker.
Create soft-serve “ice cream.” Blend together dog-friendly fruit like seedless watermelon or cantaloupe with plain, unsweetened yogurt and chicken broth to make a dog-friendly version of ice cream. Pour it into a mold or toy, and voilà!
Spoil your pup with a mini chicken pot pie with whole wheat flour, chicken broth, shredded chicken, carrots, and peas.
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