Can Dogs Eat Chicken Broth With Onions?

Photo by Marco Verch on Flickr

Chicken broth has been a nutrient-rich delicacy for humans for centuries now. It’s also one of the most common home remedies for canine diarrhea. Chicken broth is often recommended for dogs with an upset stomach to soothe their digestive system and for spicing up food for dogs who are picky eaters, and they always love it. 

But not all chicken broth is dog-friendly. Basic chicken broth is simply chicken boiled in water, but certain spices, vegetables and herbs are added for more flavour and health benefits. However, some of the spices and veggies that make up the recipe may be potentially harmful to our furry friends.

Can dogs eat chicken broth with onions?

Chicken broth is great for dogs, adding some of it to your dog’s dry kibble makes it more palatable and delicious and dogs love it. 

Bone broth is especially rich in collagen, which is great for bones and joints, and glycine, an amino acid that plays a significant role in detoxification and muscle growth. Chicken stock and bone broth are excellent sources of proteins for your dog, but without onions. Onions are toxic to dogs, and it can be fatal when consumed in large quantities. 

Dogs may eat chicken broth with a small amount of onions, but even this isn’t advisable because it can have a cumulative effect and eventually become a case of severe onion poisoning. Giving your dog chicken broth is great, but skip the onions. 

Are onions toxic to dogs?

Yes, onions are toxic to dogs because they contain an oxidant n-propyl disulphide which can cause severe oxidative damage to red blood cells in dogs. When a dog eats large amounts of onions, the n-propyl disulphide bonds to the oxygen molecule in the blood thus interfering with the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen. 

And when the red blood cells are unable to transport oxygen, the dog’s body will erroneously perceive them as invaders and destroy them. This process where the red blood cells are destroyed faster than they are made is called hemolytic anaemia and can be fatal. 

If only a small amount of onion is eaten at a time, your dog will probably be fine but the problem with this is that the toxin builds up in a dog’s system over time and eventually reaches a point where ingesting a tiny amount of onion will trigger hemolytic anaemia. 

Onion toxicity will also depend on the size of the dog and the amount of onion consumed, for instance, a 3-pound Chihuahua may show severe symptoms of onion poisoning after eating small pieces of onions while a 180-pound Saint Bernard will eat the same amount of onions and have no problems at all. 

Any form of onions will have this effect on dogs; raw onions, cooked onions, fried onion rings, onion juice or powder. Dogs have been known to suffer severe symptoms of onion poisoning by eating baby food because it contains onion powder. 

How much chicken broth with onions should you feed your dog?

Giving your dog any amount of chicken broth with onions is not recommended at all because even though very small quantities may be initially harmless, the toxin accumulates in the dog’s body and will eventually manifest at some point. Therefore, it’s much safer to keep your dog away from any chicken broth that contains onions or garlic. 

If you must give your dog chicken broth, and you should, ensure it doesn’t contain onions or any other spices that may be harmful to your dog. Plain chicken or bone broth is always best. 

You should also be careful with commercial chicken broth as they tend to contain onions, garlic and some other spices that can harm your dog. Even though the spices may be in small quantities, remember that the toxin compounds in the dog’s system and will gradually cause anaemia. 

Should dogs be fed chicken broth made with store bought cubes?

Adding chicken stock made with store bought bouillon cubes is safe for dogs, and it adds an appetizing meaty flavour which dogs love. 

You can use either beef or chicken bouillon cube to add some flavour to your dog’s meal, you can also use some of it to spice up your dog’s treat recipes and ensure they are more palatable for your canine companion. 

Dry chicken or beef bouillon cubes, bouillon powder or canned bouillon liquid are all great options, but remember that some of them may contain small quantities of onions and can be salty. 

Therefore, they should be used very carefully and in moderation to avoid any negative effects. Alternatively, you can find canned chicken broth and bone broth that are specially made for dogs and do not contain any of the ingredients that can be potentially harmful to dogs. 

Why is home-made chicken broth better?

Home-made chicken broth is much better than the store-bought variety because it gives you the liberty to customize the recipe to suit your dog’s unique needs. When you make your chicken broth, you get to use real chicken and add healthy vegetables like carrots, green beans, celery, etc., while leaving out onions, garlic, and other unhealthy ingredients including MSG and preservatives. 

Making home-made chicken broth is also easy, and it doesn’t take much time, you only need fresh boneless chicken breast and some veggies. There are actually store-bought chicken broth or bone broth are specially made for canines, and they are safe for dogs. 

But they may still contain high levels of salt and preservatives which are absent in home-made chicken broth. It’s always better to make your own chicken broth but if you must go with the store-bought option, ensure you stick with organic and non-GMO chicken broths.

What is a tasty dog safe recipe for chicken broth?

Making your own chicken broth or bone broth for your canine companion is pretty easy. It requires only a few ingredients and won’t take much of your time, with the steps below you can make a tasty and healthy chicken broth for your dog.

For this recipe, you only need the following; 

  • 1 whole chicken or a variety of animal bones 
  • 5 to 6 litres of water
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar 
  • Healthy vegetables (Optional)

Cooking instructions

  1. Place the whole chicken (or animal bones) in a large crockpot and add plenty of water to completely cover the meat or bones. 
  2. Add about 3 to 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This is an important part of the process because it helps facilitate the extraction of essential vitamins and minerals from bones.
  3. Set the crockpot to cook on high for at least an hour, then turn it down to low and let it simmer for about 12 to 24 hours. 
  4. After that, turn off the pot and remove the meat or bones from the liquid. Use a strainer or sieve to do this. You don’t have to discard the chicken meat, you can cut into small pieces and add them to your dog’s meal
  5. Set the liquid aside and let it cool for a while. When it cools down, a solid layer of fat will form on the top layer, scoop up the fat and dispose of it. Now your broth is ready for your furry friend to enjoy. 
  6. The broth can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days or stored in the freezer for up to a month. 
  7. You can add some broth to your dog’s normal food to make it more delicious, or you can serve just the broth with plenty of healthy vegetables in it such as carrots, green beans, celery, broccoli, etc.

What is the best broth for dogs?

Chicken, beef or pork bones can be used separately or together for making bone broth, no one of them is the absolute best for dogs. In fact, the best bone broth is made from a combination of all three, plus small meaty cuts to add more flavour and nutrients. 

The mixture of bones should include; oxtails, neck bones, ham bone, turkey bones, chicken feet, beef marrow bones, etc. Ensure you use only organic bones and beef bones should be only grass fed because they generally contain more nutrients. 

Is garlic safer than onion?

Onions and garlic are both members of the allium family, and they both have similar effects on dogs because they both contain thiosulphate which is toxic to dogs. Garlic toxicity is very similar to onion toxicity in many aspects. 

First, like onions, the effect is not instant except if the dog consumes large amounts of garlic at once. But in small quantities, both onions and garlic will show no negative effect, however the toxin they contain tends to build up in the dog’s system. Symptoms of garlic toxicity include, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, appetite loss, etc. 

Closing Thoughts

Chicken broth is an excellent source of nutrients for dogs. Bone broth is especially rich in collagen and amino acids that promote bone health and helps detoxify the liver and kidneys. But, chicken broth with onions or garlic should not be given to dogs, because these spices contain a chemical compound (n-propyl disulphide) that has been found to trigger hemolytic anaemia in dogs. 

Home-made chicken or bone broth is much safer and healthier for dogs because you decide what goes into the pot and exclude potential poisons and unhealthy ingredients, plus it’s quite easy to make. However, if you can’t find the time to make it, then you can opt for store-bought bone broth which is specially made for canines.