When the leaves start to fall from the trees and the days become colder and shorter, a hot meal or beverage is the ultimate comfort food. While you might not share your cup of coffee or bowl of spicy chill with your dog, there is a meal that will put a warm glow into both of you.
Bone broth is a long forgotten superfood that’s inexpensive, nutrient packed and easy to make. Here are five reasons you should consider bone broth for your dog.
Bone Broth Is Good For Joints
In the book Deep Nutrition, Dr Cate Shanahan writes “The health of your joints depends upon the health of the collagen in your ligaments, tendons, and on the ends of your bones. Collagens are a large family of biomolecules, which include the glycosaminoglycans, very special molecules that help keep our joints healthy.”
Bone broth is loaded with glycosaminoglycans and you might even be familiar with one of them: glucosamine. Not only does bone broth contain super amazing amounts of glucosamine, it’s also packed with other joint protecting compounds like chondroitin and hyaluronic acid.
Moreover, the glycosaminoglycans from bone broth are resistant to digestion and are absorbed in their intact form. According to Dr Shanahan, they act like hormones, stimulating cells called fibroblasts, which lay down collagen in the joints, tendons, ligaments, and even the arteries.
Bone Broth Helps The Liver Detox
The liver is the master organ of detoxification. The dog’s liver is under assault daily as the poor dog lies on carpets and floors treated with chemicals, walks on grass that’s been treated and sprayed with poisons, consumes foods with toxic and synthetic ingredients, and suffers through toxic dewormers, flea and tick preventives, drugs, antibiotics, vaccines and more.
The liver was never meant to suffer this onslaught and its capacity to detoxify is limited by the availability of the amino acid glycine. Guess what has tons of glycine? Bone broth!
Bone Broth Promotes A Healthy Gut
The lining of the intestines contains millions of tiny holes that allow the passage of digested nutrients to enter the body. Stress, poor diet and bacterial overgrowth can cause more holes to open or to become bigger…this is called leaky gut.
The problem with those big holes is that things can pass through that aren’t meant to, including undigested food matter, toxins and yeast. The body will notice those undigested food particles as foreign invaders and start to attack them. This is how allergies and food sensitivities develop.
Bone broth is loaded with a gooey substance that can plug up those leaky holes: gelatin!
Bone Broth Is Great Nutrition For Sick Dogs
Have you ever had a dog with terrible diarrhea and had trouble getting him back on solid food? Or a dog who is convalescing and doesn’t have a great appetite but you know he needs more nutrition?
Bone broth to the rescue!
Studies conducted in the 1800’s showed that when there is plenty of gelatin in the diet, the body’s need for protein from meat sources can be reduced by as much as fifty percent! Bone broth is also an excellent source of important minerals and can bolster the immune system (think chicken soup)!
Bone broth is also loaded with glycine, which aids digestion by helping to regulate the synthesis of bile salts and secretion of gastric acid.
How To Make Bone Broth
If you’re convinced of the benefits of bone broth for your dog, then grab a pot and let’s get cooking!
Margarat Nee from The Art Of Dog recommends the following for making bone broth:
Add An Acidic Acid
This helps draw the minerals out of the bones more thoroughly. Raw apple cider vinegar is most commonly used (It’s well regarded by herbalists for its ability to draw minerals out of plants). Lemon juice may also be used.
Cook For A Long Time
This is necessary to get the full nutrition out of the bones. There is no magic time, but try simmering it for 24 hours in a crockpot. You could do it on the stove as well, but be sure you don’t leave the simmering broth unattended.
You can use raw or cooked bones but be sure to include joint bones with cartilage. You can collect and save cooked bones from your own meals in the freezer but be sure to rinse any sauce off that may be irritating to your dog’s digestive system. Turkey wings and legs are a good raw choice.
Completely cover the bones with water; add the vinegar or lemon juice. Cover by about two inches of water, but not too much more, to keep the broth dense. For a regular sized crockpot, use about two to four tablespoons apple cider vinegar. Turn your crockpot to high just to get it started for the first hour, then switch to low and let it go for the day.
When your broth is finished, strain the bones (do not feed these to your dog!). If you used bones with meat attached you’ll need to strip them by hand. Once it’s chilled, skim the excess fat off the top of the broth if you wish (there may be less than you expect). The remainder is your broth. If it has a jelly-like consistency when it’s cold you’ve done a good job of it!
You can freeze this broth in small containers (even ice cube trays) for easy dispensing. Or you can store it in your refrigerator for about four days.
Packing A Punch
You can add nutritious extras to your broth while it cooks. Try:
Dandelion root *
“Italian” herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, fennel seed)
Astragalus Root *
Burdock Root *
Shiitaki mushrooms *
*Strain these ingredients before using the broth
While bone broth isn’t nutritionally complete for exclusive long term feeding, you can use it as a base for a complete meal or as a supplement for your dogs regular diet.
Bone broth is a healthy way to moisten dry food, hydrate your dog when he’s sick, and you can even share it with your dog and reap the same benefits! Make bone broth a regular part of your cooking repertoire this winter.