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We've all heard a lot about the value of bone broth as super nutrition for dogs (for ourselves too), with powerful healing and preventive capabilities. All bone broths are not created equal though.
One way to be sure your dog is getting the real deal, the most nutrient-dense bone broth with all its wellness powers, is to make it yourself. And luckily enough, it's easy! It just takes time when it's simmering, and meanwhile you can be doing a million other things.
What makes bone broth so good for dogs?
Bone broth is great for supplemental feeding as a snack, energy booster, joint support, or meal topper. Making your own bone broth for your dog is simple, and you'll be giving your pup a treat dense with nutrients to be well and stay well.
Super rich in collagen and more...
Bone broth is rich in collagen that supports joint health, gut health, and promotes healthy skin and coat. It’s filled with minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium which help to strengthen bones and build muscles. Plus, it contains essential and non-essential amino acids like glycine and proline.
What do essential amino acids and glycine do for dogs?
Remember in a previous guide we talked about non-essential vs. essential amino acids and their role as building blocks of protein in a dog’s diet? Amino acids and glycine are important for a number of metabolic processes, including muscle development, immune function, and growth. Glycine is also an antioxidant that helps to support healthy inflammation response.
The key to bone broth is the collagen - and getting the broth to gel
Why? And what does "getting the broth to gel" have to do with it?
When your bone broth gels that means there is an abundance of collagen available in the broth - and rich, highly bioavailable collagen is your holy grail in making your homemade bone broth.
Collagen can have many beneficial functions in the body including structural support in connective tissue, muscle, and skin. It can also play a role in joint and bone health. Collagen-rich, gelled bone broth can be an excellent addition to preventive joint care and management in aging dogs or a younger athletic dog or those with orthopedic issues such as being three-legged.
Collagen delivered through your homemade bone broth is especially valuable because it's easily absorbed in your dog's digestive system to get to work doing all these good things throughout your dog's body.
What it means to "gel" bone broth
When I say gel bone broth - I mean that once the bone broth has cooled, it should be a jelly-like substance. That substance is gelatin which contains the nutrient-rich collagen.
Okay, so what's the KEY to getting the broth to gel?
Organic, grass-fed bones with lots of grit and gristle in them. The last batch I made contained two giant grass-fed beef bones from a local farm with connective tissue, gristle, marrow, some meat, and some fat. I also added in the turkey neck I happened to have from our Thanksgiving turkey (any left-over bones are great), and two duck necks, both from local farms as well.
What are the best bones for bone broth?
Beef bones are probably what most people think of with bone broth, but yours doesn't have to be beef bone broth. You can make it with with chicken bones, turkey bones, or lamb, veal, and pork bones… you name it. So when you think beef bone broth recipe, you can open your options and think any bone.
These are all collagen-heavy bones that with the proper simmering will give you a stock that's gelatinous at room temperature. If you get that jello-like texture, you got it right!
What about type of bone by joint, etc for bone broth?
A wide range of bone types within each source contain plenty of collagen and are great for your broth. Your beef broth bones, for example, can come in many forms:
- Marrow bones
- Meaty bones like oxtail, shank, and short ribs
And when you're using chicken, chicken feet have loads of gelatin.
Different bones in bone broth deliver some different health benefits
We tend to think of collagen as a single entity but there are different types of collagen depending on the source with some nuances in their benefits.
Tell me more...
Making beef bone broth gives you types I and III. Types I and III form the foundation of our skin, nails, and tendons. Type II is mainly found in chicken bone broth and exists almost exclusively in our tendons, making your chicken broth collagen a great promoter of joint health and healing.
What's the role of the organic apple cider vinegar in bone broth?
If you've been following our other guides in the Basic Nutrition Channel as well as the Allergies Channel, you know we love apple cider vinegar for its many benefits in its many uses from promoting a healthy gut to managing allergies to fighting yeast infections on itchy skin and paws and on and on.
We add apple cider vinegar because it plays a vital role in making bone broth by helping draw the collagen and other nutrients out of the simmering bones as they cook on the stove and your slow cooker. It's also, of course, a healthful ingredient on its own as an immune-boosting antioxidant and contributor to a healthy, balanced digestive system as always.
How to make bone broth pro tip 1: Store extra bone broth in right-sized portions to make life easy
You should have plenty of bone broth with each batch, more than enough for future use as healthful snacks or with meals.
- I like to pour leftover bone broth into mason jars for easily accessible portions to store in the refrigerator. It keeps well in the fridge for 7 days.
- You can also freeze it for longer-term use. The jars are a good portion size to freeze and heat individually which works well in the microwave in the glass jars (sans lids, of course.)
How to make bone broth pro tip 2: Warm your bone broth to multiply its appeal for your dog
Dogs appreciate warm foods especially with cold temperatures and if they are prone to getting chilly. Warming foods like bone broth creates a great aroma and we all know how dogs respond to scent.
- Warm bone broth is great for dry or sore throats. It's also a perfect appetite stimulant if your dog isn't feeling well and not interested in food - with the added bonus that it delivers much-needed nutrition and tummy soothers.
How to make bone broth pro tip 3: Add your favorite, nutritious extras to your heart's content
Bone broth is a wonderful base for other things you might want to add like:
- Turmeric - 1-2 tsp, and it’s a good idea to add in a little black pepper with turmeric to exponentially increase its absorption
- Squash, sweet potatoes (cooked and peeled)
- Chopped celery, beets, kale, fresh herbs, chard (cooked)
(No onions! I don’t do garlic in the broth because Mylah can’t have it but if your dog is okay with garlic you can add a bit.)
A couple important side notes on homemade bone broth...
Not for all dogs
Bone broth is often talked about as a cure-all in the dog world as something that can help just about anything. While it has major benefits, bone broth isn’t for all dogs.
Dogs with liver conditions and those prone to histamine reactions might not benefit from bone broth. As with anything you introduce to your dog, watch and see how your pup reacts. You always want to be sure it's a good fit for your individual dog.
Be aware of fat in bone broth
Also, if you’re making bone broth at home with bones, connective tissue, or meats that contain unknown amounts of fat (and you can see lots of fat in your final product), be aware that fat can cause an upset stomach. Dogs prone to having issues with fat, dogs with pancreatitis for example, should avoid bone broth that could contain unknown amounts of fat.
In any case, if you see a layer of fat on top as your bone broth cools, you can skim off the excess to limit the fat content.
As you make your dinner plans, be sure to think about saving any appropriate parts from your turkey, chicken, etc. that can serve as the base or a wonderful addition to your bone broth.
Have fun making this easy bone broth recipe and watching your dog happy and thriving with every bite and slurp.
Next up in the Home Cooking Channel on Dogly
Now that you know how to make bone broth and have a go-to bone broth recipe, learn more about the vitamins and nutrients that power homemade food if you haven't already in the step-by-step guide here.
Or hop over to the Home Cooking Channel if you'd like to ask a question in the Community discussion and start any of the other step-by-step guides in Home Cooking Basics or Recipes.
I hope this guide on how to make bone broth has been helpful. Bone broth is a great way to add healing and nourishing elements to your pup’s diet, which will help your dog stay healthy and happy for years to come. Enjoy the bone broth making process and all of the deliciousness that comes with it! Happy cooking from Dogly!