Bone Broth for Dogs and Cats

17 Nov
Recently, our 3 year old Labrador became very sick.  He was vomiting and became lethargic very quickly.  Knowing that something had to be wrong since our Hugo was usually very full of energy and mischief, we took him into the vet immediately.  After all the diagnostics came back that Hugo’s health was not in danger, his last test, for Giardia, did come back positive. It was decided that his symptoms were either from the Giardia and/or having possibly eaten a wild, toxic mushroom while on a walk.  Whatever the reason for his illness, I thought I would share his treatment protocol and discuss the nutrition benefits of bone broth and how this is key for Hugo’s supportive care.
As Hugo’s GI tract is under stress (diarrhea and stomach upset) our focus is to support his body through gentle, easy to digest food, and key supplements.
Getting Hugo on a bland but nutritious diet is our first step. We want to calm his stomach and also give his body vitamins and minerals to help him heal.  Bone broth has been used for hundreds of years as a nutritive and healing medicine.  There are many different ways to prepare bone broth; there isn’t just one way.  There are many types of bones you can use as well!  But there is one good rule to remember:  NEVER GIVE YOUR PET A COOKED BONE.  Feeding cooked bones is dangerous as they they shard and can perforate the intestines and cause death.  We are not going to feed the bones, we are going to draw out their nutritive minerals into the water via slow cooking – thus bone broth!  As I said, there are many ways, but this is how I prepare bone broth.
I use a whole, organic chicken from Whole Foods, put it in a large pot large enough to cover the chicken with water, add Apple Cider Vinegar* (~1 tsp per gallon of water), cover it with a lid, and simmer until the meat falls off the bones. This takes about 2 and a half to 4 hours depending on the size of the chicken and the heat. Since Hugo hadn’t eaten in about 24 hours, he was pretty hungry (good sign!) so I used this boiled chicken meat for his first bland meal.  I added goat’s milk and Bentonite clay. Bentonite clay is a “healing” clay, taken internally not only for it’s abundance in minerals, but also for it’s ability to draw out toxins from the body. We are also giving him a supplement containing herbs including Berberine, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Gentian Root, Black Walnut Hull, Goldenseal Root, and Sweet Wormwood. This is a supplement that often works well for dogs (and people) with Giardia that conventional medication no longer affects.  These herbs and supplements have proven very effective in creating an unfriendly environment for parasitic organisms such as Giardia.
*Note: Apple Cider Vinegar is a source of acetic acid we add to help extract the minerals out of the bones.
Okay, back to the broth.  The bones from the carcass of the chicken will now be used to make bone broth, which will give Hugo many essential nutrients that will assist him with his healing.  As I mentioned before, we DO NOT FEED COOKED BONES TO DOGS so after we separate the meat from the bones, put the bones back into a pot, add water, a little apple cider vinegar, and simmer for 16-24 hours.  During this process, the bones release their minerals and marrow into the water.  Skim the layer of fat off the top, let cool, and…. Voila!  You have just prepared bone broth!  You can freeze excess broth in containers or even ice cube trays (fun as a summer treat!) to thaw and feed as needed.
The cooked chicken meat will be used for bland diet throughout the week and can be helpful to use for the transition back to Hugo’s regular raw food diet when his system is mended.  For Hugo’s meals this week, I will add bone broth, goat’s milk, and cooked white rice to the boiled chicken meat.
As I mentioned earlier, bone broth has been used for nourishment for hundreds of years and for various reasons for people and pets! You can make bone broth for your pet who is experiencing GI issues, like Hugo, or perhaps for a finicky, senior, or anorexic pet. Other benefits include support for joints, the immune system, and skin and coat health.  You can also make bone broth as a winter comfort for your pet and add it to his/her meals for yummy and nutritive reasons! A lot of pets will eat bone broth towards the end of their lives, when lapping is preferable to chewing.  And it will be a delicious comfort.
What you will need to make chicken bone broth:
  • Water
  • Raw bones (or 1 raw, organic whole chicken if you need the meat)
  • Braggs Organic, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (any vinegar or lemon juice will do if you do not have Braggs)
  • Large pot with lid


Note: *bone broth is not a complete diet and should not be used as such

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