bone broth in glass bowl sitting on counter

Benefits of bone broth for dogs

What are the benefits of bone broth for dogs? Bone broth is loaded with good nutrition and essential minerals for both you and your dog. It’s a perfect supplement to any food; dry or wet, home-prepared, kibble or raw.  It’s super easy to make and it freezes nicely in ice cube trays or glass bowls, making mealtime simple.

Reasons to give your dog bone broth:

Bone broth is great for joint health. Bone broth is rich in collagens, which includes glucosamine. It also contains chondroitin and hyaluronic acid, which help keep the joints lubricated and healthy. Cartilage in joints break down with wear and tear over the years. This adds additional joint stress and can cause pain and stiffness. So, it’s especially important to give a little love to the joints of highly active or senior dogs.

Bone broth helps cure leaky gut. Bone broth heals intestinal permeability with its collagen and also reduces inflammation. The amino acid, glutamine, which is found in bone broth, has been shown to improve the intestinal barrier in both humans and animals.

Bone broth is great for liver health. Bone broth contains the amino acid glycine, which is essential to liver health.

Bone broth bolsters the immune system by helping the liver and the detoxification process, bone broth is helping your dog’s immune system work its best.

Bone broth reduces inflammation. The abundant amino acids in bone broth especially L-glutamine, glycine and arginine have strong anti-inflammatory effects.

Bone broth is great for hydration and is full of electrolytes, especially if you make it with a few vegetables. 

Bone broth is great for a sick dog or a sick mom. Bone broth, just like chicken soup, clears mucus which helps us to breathe better when we are under the weather. It’s also a great way to get a dog to add fluids if your dog is not feeling well and doesn’t want to take in water.

Types of bones to use

There are many different types of bones that you might find at the butcher. You can also save and use bones from your home cooking. Bones from a roast chicken are great if you are making chicken bone broth. All bones are rich in vitamins and nutrients including calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

Bones and connective tissue contain collagen, which breaks down during cooking. This is what makes the bone broth gelatinous when it cools. Collagen provides the body with amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.

Marrow bones and knuckle bones are great to use to optimize nutrition for your dog. But all bones work well and it’s best to use a variety. Always try to use bones from either grass-fed or pasture-raised animals.  

You can make bone broth from beef, chicken, lamb, or even fish bones. 

Making bone broth at home

Making bone broth is super easy.  All you need is a slow cooker, 3-4 lbs of bones, filtered water and some apple cider vinegar. 

If you are using frozen bones, defrost them first to help the water get to a hot enough temperature fast enough to kill off bacteria.  

Fill the slow cooker with bones all the way to the top. Then just add water to the top of the pot. Toss in about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The acid in the vinegar will help draw the nutrients out of the bones.

Set the temperature on high for the first hour and then switch it to low.  Allow the pot to simmer for 12-24 hours or more. You can also let the pot simmer for 3 days to really allow time for the bones to break down.

When your broth has cooked to the point you desire, remove the bones and carefully pour the liquid through a mesh strainer. Pour into glass storage bowls that you can keep in the freezer.

It’s helpful if each bowl is about the right amount to last about 5 days. An alternative method is to pour into ice cube trays for individual servings. Keep about 5 days worth of broth out for immediate use before freezing.

About the fat

When the broth has cooled, you will notice a layer of animal fat on top. You can place the batch in the refrigerator overnight and then scrape off the fat before placing it in freezer storage containers. You can either discard the fat or keep it in a jar in the refrigerator for your own use. To keep the fat from going bad, you’ll want to cook off the moisture for long term storage or try to use it within a week.

Another method is to allow the fat to remain on the top while it’s frozen, giving a layer of protection to the broth below. The nice thing about this method is when you scape the fat off, you will have a small serving that you can use before it goes bad.

Animal fat is healthy for dogs, and feeding a little is fine. You just don’t want to over-do, which could potentially lead to pancreatitis. All that fat is also a lot of extra calories.

The fat you scape off can be used to flavor a dish for yourself and is excellent with beans cooked in the crockpot.

Adding vegetables as a prebiotic and for flavor

Adding a few vegetables while the broth is hot allows just enough softness. A little kale, dandelion, grated cabbage, and burdock root are great choices to add a little probiotic to the broth. Carrot, zucchini and parsley are all great for flavor and fiber.

If you add kale, dandelion, parsley or cabbage, go lightly and only add about 1/2 of one leaf. A few sprigs of parsley are plenty. Dandelion, kale, parsley and cabbage all contain oxalates that can form calcium oxalate kidney stones. They do have great value, so don’t be afraid to use them, just go easy.

Reusing the bones

You can reuse your bones from bone broth. Just rinse them off and place them in a freezer bag and place them in the freezer until you are ready to make your next batch. You can do these two or three times or until the bones disintegrate. The nutrients will be a little different than when you are making it with the connective tissue or marrow attached, but you will still get plenty of benefits.

Feeding bone broth to your dog

When it’s time to serve the broth to your dog, warm it to room temperature and pour over their food. Dogs should never be served anything that is hot to touch.

For every 10 lbs, feed about 2 tablespoons, or one ounce.  For an 80 lb. dog, feed about 8 ounces, which is one cup. Don’t get too caught up on the exact amount to feed. Bone broth is food, so it’s okay if you give slightly more or slightly less. One ounce per 10 lbs, is a good rule of thumb to aim for. You might want to start with one half that amount for a few meals to allow your dog to get used to it.

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