Should I Dilute Chicken Broth For My Dogs?

Should chicken broth be diluted for dogs? ¹

Hello, everyone! Well it seems that I just can’t get enough of anything to do with bones and broth.

In previous posts I have written about post 1 and post 2 and post 3 but in this post I want to explore whether you should dilute chicken broth for your dog. 

Before I answer that question directly I want to quickly sort out what I mean by broth and words such as stock and bouillon.

Do they mean different things or do they all describe something which is essentially the same?

What is chicken broth?

Chicken broth is made by simmering chicken bones in water and vinegar for a few hours. 

It is a really fantastic thing to do because it is a very healthy thing for your dog to eat and it means that you waste less- because when you buy a chicken, you are putting the carcass to good use.

Just make sure that after you have made the broth, you discard all of the bones.

Cooked bones have very little nutritional value to dogs and they can also choke on them, so just chuck the bones in the bin.

Chicken broth vs chicken stock vs chicken bouillon

There is a lot of confusion about the true differences between broth, stock and bouillon. 

A quick look on some of the top “human food” blogs reveals that the biggest difference between stock and broth, is that stock is made with bones and broth isn’t!

Broth vs stock vs bouillon…²

So that lands us in a bit of trouble doesn’t it? 

I think in the dog world, dog owners regularly use the broth to describe a savoury liquid that has been made by simmering bones.

So what about bouillon? Well, it seems that bouillon is the same as stock!

Hmm confusing, isn’t it? I think that in this post I will just use the words broth and stock to mean the same thing.

If you want more details I have written a detailed post about chicken stock cubes.

Now that we (haven’t) got that cleared up, let’s move on and talk about whether chicken broth should be diluted before being given to a dog?

Should you dilute chicken broth before you give it to your dog?

To me, I don’t think that there is a need to dilute bone broth before your dog eats it.

After all, broth is mostly water anyhow.

But there might be a couple of exceptions.

Firsty, if your dog is dehydrated and the priority is to get more water into your dog.

At that point, you might want to dilute your broth because your dog’s body needs water more than it needs the vitamins and minerals from it.

Secondly, if your dog is refusing to eat or drink and your only option is to tempt them with a store bought chicken broth that you know contains salt.

Hopefully, the added flavour will tempt your dog but you do need to be wary of the salt content and the best way of doing this is to dilute the broth. 

Other than that, there is no reason that I can think of to want to dilute it. 

A high quality homemade or store bought chicken broth should not contain salt as it is totally unnecessary flavour wise.

They should only contain: bones, water, apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) and maybe vegetables.

After simmering, these ingredients contain a long list of essential and very healthy vitamins and minerals. 

Highlights include: calcium and phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, vitamin A and omega 3.

It would be pretty hard for a dog to overdose on them.

However, it will be a good idea to “spread the goodness” and not give the broth to your dog all at once.

If you want some serving size suggestions, a couple of manufacturers of good quality dog broths have some guidelines which you can find here and here

How is it different from chicken stock cubes?

To me the difference between chicken broth or stock and stock cubes is that stock cubes come in powdered form and need to be added to water.

I associate stock cubes with brands such as Oxo where the biggest ingredient is wheat flour, followed by salt- which makes up 25% of the cube.

Can dogs have store bought chicken broth?

Store bought chicken broth? Take a close
look at the ingredients…

I was just about to write and say that there is nothing wrong with store bought chicken broth in and of itself.

Although you cannot beat homemade chicken broth, many people just don’t have the time to organise the ingredients and cook it.

And then I just looked on Amazon to double check myself and I have changed my mind- there is one thing very wrong with store bought chicken broths.

When you are thinking about buying chicken broth in a store, it is most likely that you are thinking of a product which has been made for human consumption and not dogs.

Broths which are made for people have very high sodium levels anywhere between 10% and 25%, which is totally inappropriate to give to your dog.

In fact one of the more high end chicken broths has a salt content of 26% and even a brand that makes a broth for dogs, has a people’s version with a sodium content of 19%. 

So for store bought broths just look very carefully at the ingredients.

You want as few ingredients as possible beyond bones, apple cider vinegar and water.

Be very wary of salt and any other artificial additives. 

Can dogs eat shop bought chicken soup?

The honest answer is probably no.

And for the same reasons that in an ideal world you wouldn’t regularly feed your dogs stock cubes or ready made broth.

Chicken soup contains the same huge quanties of seasonings which aren’t that healthy for your dog.

And it contains more calories as well.

Chicken broth for dogs with diarrhea

Chicken broth is an excellent treatment for your dog with diarrhea– as long as the diarrhea is not related to a much more serious underlying condition, such as tumors, liver or kidney disease

With an underlying condition, just check with your vet to see if using chicken broth is something that is going to help your sick dog. 

One of the effects of diarrhea is dehydration. This is because diarrhea contains lots of water.

A high quality homemade broth might be an excellent way to rehydrate a dog that is suffering from diarrhea for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, broth should be more appealing than plain water because of all the wonderful smells and how delicious it tastes.

Secondly, the minerals and vitamins that are in a broth are thought to be very beneficial to the digestive system.

One of the most important is gelatin, which is thought to help the digestion of other foods because of the way that it interacts with water

Of course, I can’t mention any type of illness without a word of caution.

Diarrhea and dehydration if ignored for too long can be fatal.

By all means use chicken broth as a way to treat a sick dog, but if there is no improvement within a day then your dog should be seen by a vet. 

Can dogs eat chicken broth with onions?

No- to put it simply.

Any part of an onion- the leaves, skin and juice whether they are raw or cooked are toxic to dogs and could potentially be life threatening.

It gets worse as it is not just onions but any members of the onion family (which includes white onions, red onions, leeks, garlic, shallots and chives.)

All of these vegetables have a chemical within them called N-propyl disulfide which robs the blood of the oxygen that it needs to carry around a dog’s body. 

Your train of thought might lead you to ask how much onion a dog needs to eat in order to be poisoned and the answer is about 100g per 20 kg of dog

And so if you have got some spare chicken broth which has been cooked with onions then in order to play it safe, keep it away from your dogs.

Next time, just don’t add the onions!

Chicken broth ice cubes for dogs

Writing as I am in temperatures that are touching 30 °C, and with a dog who is fast asleep and exhausted lying next to me, any thought of ice is very refreshing.

I have tried giving ice cubes to my two dogs on hot days before and although they are happy to bite into them, they rarely finish them.

They just look at me as if I have just cheated them- as if a plain ice cube is just well too plain. They liked the initial crunch but were then disappointed that it was water and nothing else. 

And I know that my dogs don’t mind frozen stuff. 

Very occasionally, they have been fed frozen chicken breasts and before as well as some of their raw food diet- when I have mistimed how long it will take to defrost their breakfast!

Freezing chicken broth will obviously make the cubes much more appealing and will also ensure that they lick up every last morsel- otherwise there will be a bit of a horrible gloopy mess to clear up on a hot day!

Freezing chicken broth is a great idea anyway because most of us have more spare space in our freezers than fridges.

Once it is in the freezer, it is fine for about 6 months.

Whereas if you put all of your broth into your fridge and plan to use a little bit each day, then before you know it you will have forgotten that it is there and after 6 days or so you will be forced to throw it out. 

Closing Thoughts

If there is one thing that I would like you to take away from reading this post, is that there is no need in most cases to dilute a chicken broth that is made from just chicken bones, water and apple cider vinegar.

Just give it to your dog neat and make it a regular but not everyday addition to their diet. 

And beyond that if you possibly can, make it at home instead of buying it from a local store. 

Photo Credits

¹ Photo by Liz West on Flickr

² Photo by Stu Spivack on Flickr

³ Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr