By Dr. Becker
Dogs enjoy a cool treat on a hot summer day just as much as we do, but resist the urge to let them lick a human popsicle or ice cream bar, which will be full of sugar, artificial colors, and other ingredients your pet is better off without.
Instead, make her a batch of her own bone broth popsicles. Rich in minerals like calcium and phosphorus as well as collagen and bone marrow, bone broth has become the "it" superfood for humans… but it's actually an old-time staple that pets will adore too.
In the winter, you can tweak this recipe and give your dog warm bone broth right in a bowl. But during the "dog days" of summer, the popsicle form is likely to be a big hit.
Bone Broth Popsicles
- Healthy water
- Organic bones: consider chicken, lamb, bison, or beef
- Organic vinegar: Bragg Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (suggestion)
- Make bone broth in a stock pot (see bone broth recipe here)
- Separate broth from bones
- Grind bones in food processor until pulverized
- Mix pulverized bones with broth, pour into an ice cube tray, and freeze (note: if your dog is a gulper, freeze in a loaf pan to prevent him from inhaling the ice cubes)
- Offer to your dog all summer long for a mineral-rich, delicious treat that keeps him hydrated and happy
Why Bone Broth Makes an Excellent Treat for Your Pets
Bone broth is inexpensive to make, easy to prepare and, best of all, incredibly nutritious for pets. When you simmer bones in water overnight (or even longer), it allows all of their minerals and marrow to leach out into the water, providing your dog (or cat) with a variety of nutrients in an easily absorbable form. This includes but is not limited to:
Calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals Components of collagen and cartilage Silicon and other trace minerals Components of bone and bone marrow Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate The "conditionally essential" amino acids proline, glycine, and glutamine
The boiled down cartilage and collagen in the broth is excellent for dogs with achy joints and may help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Cartilage is also known to support immune system health while the amino acids in bone broth (such as glycine, proline, and arginine) further fight inflammation.
The minerals in the broth help support bone health, as does the collagen it contains. The gelatin in bone broth may also support muscle growth, making it useful for athletic dogs and elderly pets.
Bone broth is also easy to digest and provides excellent support for the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, bone broth provides a highly concentrated source of nutrition for pets that have recently been sick, are elderly or have become finicky eaters.
It's not a balanced diet, but it works well for a snack or for pets who are refusing to eat. You can also add the broth to your pet's regular meals for added flavor and nutrition. It will even help your pet to detox from the environmental pollutants she encounters on a daily basis. As noted in Dogs Naturally magazine:1
"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!"
Are You New to Making Bone Broth?
It's easier to make bone broth than you might think. Start with the highest quality ingredients you can find, including organic, pastured chicken, beef, or bones. You can use a whole organic chicken (pets will enjoy the meat, too) or look for organic beef thigh bones (soup bones).
Simply fill your pot with pure water, add your bones, and then add a splash of vinegar. Acetic acid (vinegar) helps leech the minerals from the bones into the stockpot water. Then let the mixture simmer for up to 4.5 hours.
At this point, the meat will be falling off the bone and you can remove it (and any skin) from the pot. Return the broth to the stove, add another splash of vinegar, and continue simmering for another 24 hours to be sure all the nutrition is pulled from the bones.
When the second round of broth is done, run it through a strainer to remove the cooked bones and bone fragments. You can either discard these or, as discussed in the recipe above, run them through a food processor and then add them back into the broth.
With very little effort on your part, you'll have a veritable superfood that your pet will crave and which will provide comfort and nutrition year-round (and as a bonus, you can eat it too)!
Looking for more homemade pet treat recipes? Check out my free e-cookbook, Homemade Treats for Healthy Pets: Nutritious Recipes for Your Cats and Dogs. This e-book is filled with homemade dog and cat food ideas, which are personally formulated by my mom and me and that I'm sure your pets will love. Over 20 species-appropriate recipes – crunchy morsels, savory treats, and even pet-friendly desserts – are included for cats and dogs.