In the colder months of the year, I'm sure lots of us get out our crock pots and slow cookers to make something yummy for dinner. Lately, the time of year has little to do with why my crock pot is out and everything to do with BONES.
There is an Ayurvedic saying - "Without proper food, medicine is of no use, and with proper food, medicine is of no need". Now, there are certainly exceptions and living by that saying doesn't mean that you'll never need to take medicine. In my opinion, it's more a way of saying that our health begins with food, and I couldn't agree more. In the day and age of putting everyone and all our pets on supplements and prescription medications, I love looking to food for natural sources of those things. While my sweet dog May isn't on any prescribed supplements or meds, I like to add things to her diet that keep her ahead of the curve and will hopefully prevent her from ever NEEDING to be on anything.
Bone broth is one of my favourite supplements. One of her favourites, too.
Yesterday I was going through my freezer because it is far too full of dog food (I have an insulated box sitting on the balcony in the good old Canadian Freezer since we couldn't fit it all inside...) and starting pulling out some bones - a nice big beef knuckle and some small marrow bones. The knuckle is WAY too big for May to eat (and dangerously hard, for that matter), but she loves nibbling on a marrow bone (and burying it in our bed - yuck!). Then I took a quick stroll to the local butcher and got a pig's foot. At home, I found some baby bok choy, fresh turmeric root and garlic and the most important addition - Apple Cider Vinegar. I covered everything with water and cooked it on low for 24 hours.
Let me explain the magic part!
I get knuckle bones specifically for broth - there's not much meat on them and they are full of good stuff like glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. Glucosamine is a popular supplement and almost every larger dog is on it in some way, and I love giving it to May in a natural and more easily accessible source. Glucosaminoglycans are a biomolecule (they fall under the umbrella of collagens) and they are necessary in maintaining bone and joint health. When glucosaminoglycans are extracted from bones in broth, they are resistant to digestion, which means they are absorbed intact and behave like hormones. They stimulate fibroblasts and these cells increase collagen in joints, tendons and arteries.
The pig's foot - the Trotter - is absolutely loaded with collagen, and really helps get that gelatinous consistency with your broth. That's how you can see that you got all the good stuff out. I also like to use a variety of bones for flavour.
Turmeric is a powerhouse anti-inflammatory. It can be added to your dog's diet in Golden Paste (which is a mixture of coconut oil, fresh pepper, ground turmeric and distilled water) or you can slow cook it in broth to extract the active ingredient, curcumin.
Garlic is an excellent addition to a dog's diet. There has been much discussion over garlic and whether or not it is dangerous for dogs (based on the fact that it contains thiosulphate, which can be dangerous. However, garlic contains such small traces of thiosulphate that a dog would have to consume an enormous quantity to see any detrimental effects) and I feel pretty strongly that the benefits outweigh any potential dangers, when fed in appropriate quantities. It is antiviral, antifungal, it's a natural antibiotic, it boosts the immune system, makes the dog less attractive to fleas and is helpful in preventing other parasites.
I added the bok choy because I had it, and because I like to add something leafy to the broths I make. There's something like 70 antioxident phenolic compounds (basically these are great at scavenging free radicals and are being researched as cancer prevention). It's the 11th richest food in vitamin A, it's full of zinc, omega-3s; we should all be eating more bok choy! I am a big fan of adding whatever is in my kitchen - carrots, celery, broccoli, spinach, kale, the list goes on. May won't eat vegetables if I give them to her, so I disguise them in meat flavoured juice and it works.
Apple Cider Vinegar is the last ingredient and arguably the most important (maybe after the bones...). I add a few tablespoons over the bones directly and then add water. The ACV draws minerals out of the bones so you're getting the most that you can. Some people use lemon juice too, and that's not wrong either. I just drink ACV every day and always have it in the fridge, and it's well known for extracting minerals out of plants as well.
On top of all the good stuff that bone broth will introduce to your dog's system, it also helps the liver filter out the bad stuff - pesticides, chemicals, toxic treatments (dewormers, flea treatments, tick preventatives etc.). Our livers can only do so much and is limited by the availability of glycine, which, you guessed it, is abundant in bone broth!
It's also gentle enough to be given to a sick pup, especially when it comes to diarrhea. Bone broth is soothing and helps improve digestion.
Though I haven't mentioned it yet, bone broth is just as good for humans as it is for dogs - maybe even better! The healing benefits that it offers work for everybody. If you're not one for eating a scoop of it (I fall into that category, it's just too gelatinous!) add it to soups or stews or sauces!
I've added some links with extra information and some step by step bone broth recipes!
Mercola - a Healing Diet Staple
Dogs Naturally Bone Broth Recipe
Mercola - Pet Bone Broth - Soul Food
Paleo Leap - Eat This Bone Broth
Keep The Tail Wagging - Bone Broth Recipe
Hope you enjoyed this and learned a little!
Let TAB know your favourite Bone Broth recipes, and get slow cooking!