Sometime ago, I wrote two posts about chicken broth.
This one is about using chicken broth and onions.
And this one is about whether chicken broth can cause diarrhea.
Those posts have been popular with my readers and they have been asking more questions and wanting more information.
In today’s post I’m going to be looking at a popular brand of chicken broth, made by Swanson and exploring how dog friendly they are.
As a gentle introduction, I want to provide my definition of chicken broth.
What is chicken broth?
Chicken broth is the product of slowly cooking chicken bones for twelve hours or more in a mixture of water, vinegar and vegetables with a bit of seasoning.
As the bones are boiled for such a long time, they begin to dissolve adding a rich flavour and incredible nutrients to the mixture.
Bones from any animal can be made into a broth.
As you can imagine it is a practice with a long history stretching back thousands of years.
And the health benefits are said to be immense.
But what makes Swanson’s chicken broth so special and should we consider feeding it to our dogs?
Why do people use chicken broth with their dogs?
There are two main reasons why you might want to be feeding your dog chicken broth.
Firstly, it would be to liven up a dull and interesting bowl of kibble.
Secondly, and more importantly, you might want to use broth to tempt a dehydrated or ill dog to drink.
The most common reason that dogs become dehydrated is because they have had a bout of severe diarrhea.
And when I say this I’m not just talking about a dog that has one or two runny stools in one day.
I’m talking about diarrhea that goes into a second day and shows no signs of ending.
The first thing that you need to do is to phone your vet and the second thing would be to get the dog to drink as much fluid as possible.
And a chicken broth is going to be more tempting to a dog than a bowl of water.
Having looked at what chicken broth is and how it might be used with a dog, it is time to be brand specific and focus on Swanson.
5 main ingredients in Swanson chicken broth
The most special thing about Swanson’s broth is how popular they are.
Currently, there are three different varieties of Swanson chicken broth:
- Chicken Broth
- Organic Chicken Broth
- Natural Goodness Chicken Broth (Low Salt)
Let’s take a look at what the ingredients are.
The ingredients in the standard chicken broth and the low salt variety are very similar.
Here they are in order of quantity:
The organic variety and the low salt variety contain two of the same minor ingredients:
- Onion juice and
- carrot juice
Quite a variety, I’m sure that you’d agree?!
Are any of these ingredients toxic for dogs?
Onions are highly toxic to dogs but I’m pretty sure that the quantity of onion juice within these products is too low to endanger your dog.
I have written a detailed post about broth that contain onions.
I think that more worrying is the amount of salt that is used in these products.
To place it into some kind of context, a one cup serving (240 ml) of the standard variety of Swanson chicken stock contains nearly 40% of the recommended daily allowance for an adult (person not dog.)
The same portion from the low salt broth still contains 25% of the recommended daily allowance for an adult.
Which is insane really.
Salt has a similar impact on dogs as it does in humans.
If their diet contains too much salt over the medium to long term then it could significantly raise their blood pressure.
Another worry that you might have if your dog ingests too much salt is salt poisoning.
A condition which is a bit of a myth.
As long as a dog has access to plenty of drinking water, they are highly unlikely to suffer from salt poisoning.
Having looked at this brand of chicken broth in lots of detail, it is time to look at how much you should be feeding your dog.
How much Swanson chicken broth should I feed to my dog?
The amount of Swanson’s that you should feed to your dog, depends on the reason why you are using it.
If you are going to use it in order to make kibble more tasty and appealing then we are talking a few tablespoons.
However, if you are using it with a dehydrated dog then you will be using it in much larger quantities.
Either way, just be very mindful of the salt content in the broth.
3 ways that chicken broth may benefit dogs
There have been no studies that I’m aware of looking into the widespread benefits of bone broth on the health of dogs.
As is quite typical, the most detailed studies have been carried out with people and the results of these findings have been applied to dogs.
Partly this is by enthusiastic dog owners and partly it is by the pet food industry.
In this section, I will focus on the three most powerful health claims but there are more.
Vitamins and minerals
Scientists have known that animal bones contain lots of vitamins and minerals.
When these bones are dissolved these nutrients are released.
They include calcium, magnesium and potassium- all of which are known to strengthen bones.
Another mineral which is found in bone broth is gelatin.
Gelatin is known to support digestion in two ways.
Firstly, it binds water and by doing this food is able to move through our digestive tract more easily.
In rats, gelatin has been shown to protect and heal the lining of the digestive tract.
But does it have the same effect in dogs?
The third way that this wonder liquid might be good for your dog’s health is in the way that it can prevent inflammation.
This is because of some of the amino acids- specifically arginine.
A study of asthmatic mice showed that a dose of this amino acid reduced their symptoms of asthma.
And inflammation is thought to be one of the causes of a number of society’s most serious health conditions- such as heart disease and diabetes.
Alternatives to Swanson Chicken Broth
In this section I want to look at three main alternatives to Swanson’s chicken broth: dog friendly broth, homemade broth and stock cubes
Dog friendly broth
The first alternative is to buy a dog friendly chicken broth.
Yes, I kid you not you really can get dog friendly chicken broth and the range is huge.
Broth is a “topper” or something that is added to their food or put on top of it.
And in the US, dog owners currently spend $5000 million a year on toppers.
There are two main differences between dog chicken broth and ones made for people.
Dog broth doesn’t contain any salt- instead they contain a mixture of sweet potato and some herbs.
And instead of costing just under $5 for a 50 oz can, it could cost you over $30 for a 12 oz pouch!
If that has stunned you, then I do have a much more budget friendly option- homemade chicken broth.
There are a huge variety of recipes available online which you can follow- but remember if you see any recipes that contain onion or garlic then leave them out as they are toxic for your dog.
If all of this is beginning to sound like too much hard work, then you might consider an easier option- stock cubes.
After all, we all have them in our cupboards.
Stock cubes have some of the same drawbacks that Swanson’s broth has (mainly the large amounts of salt.)
I don’t think it is as outrageous as it seems.
Just as some people might consider using chicken stock cubes, others might reach for a can of cream of chicken.
Cream of chicken soup has the same disadvantages as chicken stock cubes and more.
Because it has more ingredients and more calories.