What is bone broth?
Bone broth is the liquid stock that results from cooking bones at a low temperature over a long period of time. Bone broth is said to be a great immunity builder (source). It is also said to contain all of these beneficial vitamins and minerals: vitamins D, K and C, iron, thiamine, potassium, calcium, silicon, sulfur, magnesium, and phosphorous. It is ideal for dogs who are prone to allergies and sensitivities - bone broth is said to help maintain a healthy digestive system. It is also great for joint health because it contains glucosamine and chondroitin. This means, it could strengthen your dog's bones, teeth, joints, and nails. Besides building up a sick dog's health and helping them eat, it can also be added to your healthy dog's regular balanced meal once every day (depending on the type of broth made) or intermittently throughout the week to supplement their raw, kibble or wet food diet.
Is bone broth beneficial for your dog?
There is some controversy over the fact if bone broth contains a beneficial amount of nutrients at all. I came across two studies that had similar results (source 1) and (source 2).
As the first source states "...just because you are breaking down the physical structure of bones using heat and water, doesn’t mean that any “released” minerals will automatically go into solution (in ionic form). This is apparently hard to do unless you use industrial strength acids...Any new ingredient, substitution or change in process can have a big influence on the end result, often in unpredictable ways".
The first source seems to come to two possible reasons why the experiment concluded the way it did. The first possible reason was that "the minerals are being bound out of solution through chemical reactions in the broth". As mentioned in the source, this could mean that certain minerals and proteins are coming into a reaction with each other, that, in result, those minerals are actually being precipitated out of the broth (and are not actually staying in the broth itself). The second possible reason was that even though the bones might be breaking down, they aren't necessarily being "'released' from their glyco-protein matrixes in the bones...", they are just being broken down into smaller particles, which is the sediment seen at the bottom of bone broth. The sediment was also tested for concentrations of various minerals (ex: calcium, phosphorous, sulfur etc.). It turned out that when the sediment was tested in the study, it contained significantly more mg/L of mineral content than the liquid broth/stock itself. For example - calcium content: liquid broth = 16.7 mg/L & sediment = 2764 mg/L.
Using the information from these studies, it is valuable to point out that dogs on raw-fed diets are said to usually not need bone broth, since they already get their vitamins and minerals from nutrient dense meat, organs, vegetables (if you feed BARF), meaty bones and certain supplements (i.e green lipped mussel, mushroom etc.). However, the diet that would benefit the most from bone broth are kibble-fed diets, dogs with compromised immune systems, dogs with recurring joint issues or dogs that require more nutrition and fat (such as dogs who are breastfeeding). When kibble is being made, many of the nutrients are being lost in the process (however, higher quality kibble, do usually contain higher amounts of vitamins, minerals and protein than a traditional grocery store kibble). So even though bone broth may not contain a dense amount of nutrients it would still be highly beneficial to those mentioned above.
However, from doing some research that contradicts the research in the two sources I referenced, in my opinion and like many others, a raw-fed diet also benefits from bone broth, especially when combined with something like turmeric paste or other beneficial herbs.
In this recipe, I will also include turmeric. Turmeric is a great addition to bone broth, as many dogs don't find turmeric paste appetizing to eat. Incorporating turmeric paste into bone broth makes turmeric paste more palatable for dogs. Since the active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, and curcumin has a low bioavailability (difficult for the body to absorb), it is important that you first make a turmeric paste and then add it to your broth 5 minutes before the broth is done. Turmeric, when prepared correctly in the proper form, is very beneficial to dogs on all types of diets (raw, kibble etc.). Turmeric is mostly know for its anti-inflammatory properties and anti-cancer properties (I am currently working on publishing a paper about curcumin and its synergistic tendencies against melanoma cancer cell growth). It is very beneficial for dogs who suffer from gastrointestinal issues, hot spots due to allergies and sensitivities and inflammatory joint issues. It is also great for dogs who are fed warming proteins such as chicken or fed kibble diets that are made up of primarily chicken. Chicken, when fed in a high amount, can cause inflammation in your dog's body. As with any supplemental feeding it is very important not to over supplement! Always look for an allergic reaction when feeding anything new to your dog.
If you are just feeding the paste (with the coconut oil), start of at 1/4 tsp. for small dogs and 1/2 tsp. - 3/4 tsp. for medium & large dogs. The normal dosage is 1/4 tsp. per 10 pounds of the dog's bodyweight.
*Consult with a holistic veterinarian or regular veterinarian if you're dog is prone to ailments such as kidney stones, because turmeric can increase urinary oxalate levels and should not be given to those predisposed to such ailments (source) & (source).
I include the plain bone broth and turmeric bone broth supplement (but not in the same week) in my dog's balanced raw food diet a couple of times during the week. I like to rotate the supplements I include in my dog's meals so they aren't getting the same thing every single day or week, and their bodies can "rest". I usually just freeze the bone broth in bite sized cubes (about 2-3 tbs. for my 45 and 60 pound dogs and about 1 tbs. for my 10 pound dog). When it gets colder (i.e. winter), I serve bone broth in its gel form and not frozen. In addition to other bones, I used grass-fed beef marrow bones in this recipe. Grass-fed bones are higher in vitamins and minerals. You can source bones for stock/broth from almost any butcher (just make sure it is hormone and antibiotic free and preferably grass-fed/grass-finished), but you can also find bones on raw-feeding supplier sites such as rawfeedingmiami.com and hare-today.com. If you are using marrow bones in this recipe (I used about 50% beef marrow bones, it is important to note that you should only feed marrow bone broth supplementally, as too much marrow is not good for you dog).
Turmeric Paste Ingredients (if supplementing WITHOUT bone broth):
Turmeric Paste Ingredients (if supplementing WITH bone broth):
Bone Broth Ingredients:
Turmeric paste is very easy to make!
Homemade Bone Broth
Fill the bottom of your slow cooker with the raw bones. If using mostly marrow bones, be aware that this will be a very fatty broth and some dogs are sensitive to a lot of fat (as mentioned before, it is also said that too much marrow is not good for dogs, which is why marrow bone broth is usually fed supplementally and not every day).
Then add enough water to cover the top of the bones (as mentioned before mine was 1 inch above the average height of the bones).
Simmer on low heat for at least 24 hours.
After 24 hours or more, remove the bones and cooked meat that might have fallen off the bones. I split my bone broth into two parts, one that will contain turmeric paste and one plain bone broth. At this point you would want to add your turmeric paste while the broth is strained and is still hot. I added about 2 1/2 tbs of turmeric paste to half of my broth.
After cooling down, pour the strained stock into a tupperware or glass jar, and put it in the fridge.
After you let it cool over night in the fridge, a hard layer of fat should form on the top, this can be taken off (I take all of it off, but some people keep half of it and mix it in with their broth, either is recommended). Although, for my smaller dog Dot, who at the moment requires more fat in her diet, I kept some mixed in for her.
For the turmeric bone broth, some of the turmeric paste might settle to the bottom after it has been cooled, not to worry! Just mix it in to the bone broth after it is done cooling off in the fridge over night and after you remove some of the fatty layer on top.
Your bone broth should also solidify slightly and become a gelatinous texture after it has cooled. This batch made about 8-9 cups of bone broth.
For this batch I put my bone broth in molds and froze them.
DISCLAIMER: It is always important to do your own research first in regards to raw feeding or feeding fresh foods for your pet (dog or cat). Every animal is different! What may work great for some may not work great for others. It is important to know that if you are a beginner at raw feeding, there are tons of ways to feed fresh raw foods to your pets (commercially prepared, freeze dried etc.). Starting out can be a little difficult, so if you do your research accordingly, then you'll have more knowledge about EVERY aspect of raw feeding. Remember, if you are not ready to feed a raw diet to your pets, wait to transition and utilize the help of experienced raw feeders, connect with integrative veterinarians, read books geared towards a holistic dog diet and gain knowledge from all of your research so you can effectively give your dog the nutrition it needs to thrive. There are also a few amazing raw-feeding consultation services, which help you in the areas of meal prepping that are specific to your dog's needs. Check out theprimalpet.com for custom raw meal plans! "The Raw Fed Pet" site is only for informational/educational purposes and is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical conditions.
Did you know?
GREEN LIPPED MUSSELS ARE GREAT FOR JOINT HEALTH?
"In addition to their inflammatory healing properties, these mussels are considered a superfood because they contain a huge variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, Omega-3 fats, antioxidants, enzymes, and many more nutrients" (source).