Chicken broth has its uses and appeals, but chicken stock is better as a tasty and relatively inexpensive way to add flavor and liquid to your dog's diet. Make it yourself and keep it on hand to spark up Rover's meals, and your own, too.
Broth vs. Stock
Chicken broth is a thin, clear liquid made by simmering raw chicken white meat in water. Stock, on the other hand, is a rich, almost viscous brew made from roasted chicken parts -- especially the feet, if you can get them -- and vegetables, such as carrots and celery. Broth stays liquid when refrigerated, while stock jells. The difference is collagen, a protein extracted in the cooking process from the cartilage in, on and around the chicken's bones. Buy whole chickens and cut them up yourself, saving the necks, backs and wingtips in the freezer until you have enough to oven-roast a batch; these parts are loaded with cartilage, and making stock with them is a way to avoid wasting valuable nutrients.
Which For What?
Chicken broth is good for dogs who are dehydrated or having diarrhea. It's basically chicken-flavored water, and the taste may encourage them to drink. Cook white rice in it to make a bland diet to tempt any dog who is off his feed because of an upset stomach. Add a little chopped or shredded chicken meat to advance the diet as he recovers. Use chicken stock to moisten kibble and increase a dog's protein intake; a cup of homemade chicken stock contains about 6 grams of protein.
Dogs need about 250mg of sodium a day. This includes what is in their food, water and treats. One cup of canned chicken broth contains 970mg of sodium. One cup of reduced-sodium canned chicken broth contains 450mg. Three ounces of roasted chicken dark meat contains 79mg and white meat only 43mg. These numbers make it pretty obvious that making your own chicken broth or stock allows you to control the amount of sodium your dog gets. Too much sodium can cause excessive thirst and diarrhea, so very salty chicken soup given to a sick dog can actually aggravate his problem.
Instead of adding salt to your homemade broth or stock, try using herbs to boost the flavor. Dried herbs work well, but with very little effort you can turn an unused spot in a flowerbed to grow your own. Herbs are hardy and need little tending, and they really brighten up foods. Some that go particularly well with chicken are marjoram, basil, thyme, sage and tarragon. Skip anything in the onion family, such as chives, leeks or shallots, which are toxic to dogs.