Bone broth for pets: benefits and recipe
It is quite simple really – add bones and water and cook. Here is more detail on how and why.
Benefits of bone broth:
There are multiple benefits of bone broth. Picking just a few benefits: bone broth contains collagen proteins which can help to repair our connective tissues such as cartilage, tendons, ligaments, bones and skin. It contains a variety of minerals including: calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. It contains glycosaminoglycans which helps to lubricate our joints. It contains the amino acid glycine which helps to stimulate digestion and aids in absorption of nutrients. Glycine is also important for synthesis of hemoglobin (in red blood cells), myoglobin (in muscle cells), growth hormone production and cellular energy production. Bone broth can help to heal damaged gastro-intestinal tracts. It also can assist with detoxification, eye health, brain, nervous system, mood and sleep.
The best bones for a gelatinous broth are bones with joint surfaces and cartilage.
Chicken whole frames, lamb necks, beef neck that is cut in pieces, hock bones, tail bones, knuckle bones all have cartilage and are good choices but your butcher may be able to assist. I’d recommend trying to find bones that come from grass fed animals.
Feet make an excellent gelatinous broth if you can find them – chicken feet, pig trotters, split calf foot. You may need to try markets or specialty butchers to find these. You can just add a couple of chicken feet to a variety of other bones or leave out the feet altogether.
Bits of tendon are also a good addition.
I prefer filtered water
1 – 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar – this helps to draw the minerals and nutrients out of the bones. Try to add this if you can.
Aromatics (whatever you have – celery, carrot, bay leaves, ginger, turmeric, parsley). Probably better leaving these out to improve palatability for cats.
Do not add onion for dogs and cats.
Add bones to stock pot or slow cooker – I usually loosely fill my pot about 2/3rd full with bones.
If you will be sharing your pets broth roasting the bones for 20 – 30 minutes prior makes it delicious.
Add optional extras – vinegar, vegetables, harder herbs.
Fill with water and cover bones and veg by a further 1 – 2 inches of water.
Bring to boil and gently simmer on low.
Simmer for 6 – 12 hours. More nutrients will be extracted with a longer cooking time. Some people leave their slow cooker on for up to 24 hours. I don’t like cooking unsupervised so on cold winter nights in Melbourne I might stop cooking overnight and stick my pot outside to cool, then bring back to boil and return to a low heat the next morning.
If you are using soft herbs like parsley add these about 15 minutes prior to finishing cooking time.
Strain and retain the liquid and discard all the bone. Veggies can be discarded or fed to your dog.
Allow to cool overnight in the fridge. A rich broth should set like a jelly on cooling, or at least have a bit of a jiggle to it when cold.
If your bone broth has not set like jelly it will still have lots of nutrients. Next time try cooking for longer, adding the vinegar or using bones with more cartilage and tendons like chicken feet.
Anything that cannot be consumed within 3 - 4 days transfer to the freezer.
I recommend freezing in portions you will use within 3 – 4 days (old jars are good for this, just fill jars to ¾ full to allow for expansion on freezing, silicon icecube trays are also good for freezing small amounts).
How to feed:
Remove the fat layer that rises to the top on cooling prior to feeding to your pet
Feed either as a treat or with meals
Cats and small dogs may enjoy 1 – 2 tsp
Larger dogs may enjoy a few tablespoons
People may enjoy using the broth as a base for a soup, adding to stews and curries or drinking like a tea with added salt and a squeeze of lemon
Can be fed daily
If you would rather buy something:
There are some commercially available pet bone broths – don’t use ones for people as they may have onion. Check your specialty pet stores. Organic Paws is one brand.
There are some dried bone broth concentrates for pets available. Fur Fresh is one brand available.
Powdered collagen or gelatin can be used. I’d recommend getting a grass fed product such as Peptipro Australian Beef Gelatin. This is usually made from skin rather than joints but will still have some of the benefits of bone broth. Can be mixed into moist food – about ¼ tsp for small dogs, 1 – 2 tsps for large dogs.