Stuck on stock? When we share dog treat recipe ideas, we often say to use an unseasoned low-sodium broth or stock. Tricky indeed as this is almost impossible to find if looking for a ready-to-use product. We’re often asked what kind of broth we use when making treats, but there are no special recommendations or secret recipes in reply. We make our own unseasoned low-sodium dog-friendly stock and broth for making homemade dog treats. It’s easy, healthy, and free! Pawfect!
Stock vs. Broth
I tend to use the words broth and stock interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same. In technical cooking terms, stock is liquid from slow simmering bone. It can have other ingredients, but always includes bone. Broth is liquid from cooking just about anything (bone, meat, herbs, veggies, etc.). Yes, there is a certain irony in than given that we call simmered bone liquid bone broth and not bone stock. Hmmm… Oh well! It’s much of a muchness in terms of doggone deliciousness, though!
Shopping for Dog-Friendly Stock or Broth
If you are buying stock or stock for dogs, look carefully at the ingredients for any unsafe add-ins. Double-check the nutritional break-down (especially the sodium). Most ready-made human products are very salty, even the low(er)-sodium products. Look for a genuinely low-sodium product, not just reduced. No-added salt is even better if you can find it. Depending on where you live, there may also be some dog specific products available but they’re not common here in NZ so we haven’t tasted tested any ourselves.
Making Dog-Friendly Homemade Stock or Broth
With very little effort or expense, you can also make and store your own no-added salt stock or broth. This is a great way to have stock or broth on hand for your dogs (or your humans). It gives you complete control over the base flavours and any optional add-in seasonings.
Saving Poaching Liquids for Use as Stock or Broth
Most of the broth I use is simple cooking water saved from preparing meat for the dogs’ homemade breakfasts. I used to do this in the oven, but it was always so messy. Now I almost exclusively use the slow cooker. This makes beautifully tender meat, even if I’m cooking tougher cuts, and leaves me with lots of poaching liquid that I then filter, chill, skim, and save for future use. Free stock or broth!
Depending on the meat(s), the poaching liquid can be rather messy, like the example shown. If needed, after the meat is removed, I pour the liquid through a colander into a catch pan to filter out the solids. For a clearer broth, this can be repeated through a finer sieve or filter. In the case of chicken breasts as pictured below, I know the solids are all little bits of chicken and a-ok to be included with the rest of the chicken chopped for the dogs, but in other cases I may need to manually pick through for fat or bone disposal. The liquid is chilled, and then the set fat is skimmed off the top. Depending on the meat, there may be a lot or a little fat, but I try to skim as much as I can before storage.
Freezing Stock or Broth for Storage and Easy Use
My favourite way to store is to freeze in cubes and then transfer into a container or bag. When I want stock or broth, I can simply grab a few cubes. Easy peasy! The cubes are better than freezing measured volumes (my old method). I can use as much or as little as I want at any time and I can also mix flavours of broths together. As an added bonus, they’re yummy straight out of the freezer as little ice treats for the dogs as well. The pictured frozen cubes are beef so you can see the colour difference between the chicken stock and the beef stock.
Bonus Tip: Free Flow Frozen Food Storage
If you aren’t into making homemade food for your dogs, you can do the same with poaching liquid from human cooking, but only if it’s unseasoned (or lightly seasoned with dog-safe ingredients).
Poached plain chicken, exactly like I prepare for the dogs, is also something that I have on hand shredded in the freezer. I freeze it on a sheet and then crumble before transfers into a container so that it is loose and free flow. This is one of my favourite way to freeze foods for storage. I don’t eat meat, but my husband does, so this is a handy way to have ready-use add-ins or toppings on hand for salads, pizzas, wraps, etc. Other meats work great this way as well.
Other Homemade Stock or Broth for Dogs
Occasionally, if I’m low on broth and/or we have bones that I don’t want to freeze for future dog bone broth (which can also be diluted as a standard thin/watery broth substitute), I might just make a batch of basic stock. It will be infused with flavour, but lack the jelly goodness of a true rich bone broth.
If you aren’t into the idea of simmering meat or bone, dog-safe vegetables and/or herbs can be used to make a broth. You can also substitute a different dog-friendly liquid in a recipe instead. When I use broth (or the option of broth) in treats, it’s there to add the yummy scent and flavour of meat to the treat but there are plenty of other non-meat scents and flavours that my dogs enjoy.
Other Considerations when Using Stock or Broth in Treats
Colour, Scent, and Flavour
The type of meat (or other ingredients) will determine the flavour, scent, and colour of the final broth. Fish, chicken, and turkey tend to be light while beef and lamb tend to be darker. If you include prep like broiling or grilling (common for bone broths) it will also darken the finished broth. Add-ins like veggies or herbs can also alter the flavour or scent.
The dogs care about scent and flavour, of course, but not looks. Colour isn’t really a factor unless you are aiming for a certain look of tint in a coloured dog treat. Light bases usually work better for tinting.
Clarity depends on the ingredients, cooking time, and filtering. This isn’t usually an issue for dog treats, unless you have a very specific look in mind, such as a clear translucent gummy.
Depending on your filtering, you may have chunky bits in your stock or broth (like my pictured stock). As long as these are dog-safe chunks, that’s cool. My dogs are quite pleased with a little extra meat in their treats. You can puree the stock or broth if you want to reduce the size or have a more uniform base. Big chunks can affect the texture of the treat. This may be a problem if making roll and cut treat dough, as chunky doughs are difficult to cut cleanly.
The Gel Factor
If you are using the stock or broth as liquid for dough, there may be variations in quantity or consistency depending on whether the broth is thin or slightly gelled. Work incrementally as you mix and adjust if/as needed.
A Final Word from the Dogs
From the dogs perspective, looks don’t matter. Only the smell and taste. From a treat perspective, most of these are aesthetic considerations. They make little difference to most uses, unless you are trying to create a specific look Again, the dogs don’t care!
🦴 Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas here from treats that we make ourselves for our pets, but different animals will have different preferences (likes or dislikes) and dietary needs. Some pets may have special dietary requirements and/or food allergies or intolerances. If you are ever in doubt or have questions about what’s suitable for your pet, have a chat with your trusted vet.