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Food and Cooking

Bone broth | Old time recipe reduces pet joint pain?

Bone broth | Old time recipe reduces pet joint pain?

Ever wonder what that magic ingredient was in grandma’s soup that made it so good-tasting and nourishing? Chances are it was bone broth, and your pet might benefit from it, too.

by Leon Pantenburg

I still use the 15-foot canoe that carried me all the way to the gulf.

In her younger days, Belle went everywhere with my family. This is a fishing trip on Oregon’s John Day River.

“Gotta go check in with the old bitch,” was my announcement at the end of class.  I teach newspaper production and writing at a local community college.

Immediately, some students think gangsta rap and assume the worst. They exchange wary glances, wondering who I am disrespecting. The English majors, or students who’ve heard this before,  groan and roll their eyes.

That comment is good for a yuck once a term, and then it rests until the next batch of students arrives.

My office supervisor is a Lab named Belle. She’s held that position, along with other responsibilities, since she was 12 weeks old and my kids picked her out at the Humane Society shelter. Belle will turn 16 in August.

Belle is absolutely superb in her number one job requirement, which is hanging out with me.

The hiring committee picked Belle out of all the other puppies at the shelter.

In 2000, the hiring committee (my kids) chose Belle out of all the other puppies at the shelter.

Other duties include sleeping in my home office next to the computer,  listening as I read first drafts aloud, and assuring her human doesn’t spend too much time on the computer before going outside. She also walks me about 1-1/2 miles every night, in all sorts of weather. Three years ago, Naga, another black Lab, came on the scene as a trainee and eventual successor.

Like any old dog – in human years she’s almost 112 – Belle has developed a few age-related problems. She has a little more trouble getting up these days and doesn’t run and bound around like she used to. She is already on an arthritis medicine to ease the aches and pains in her hips. But Belle still insists on taking me and the trainee on the nightly walk.

Several weeks ago, I was making lentil soup, and had thawed out some elk bone broth to use as a base. I dribbled some broth on Belle’s food, and she seemed to do better on the walk that night. I started adding broth to her food regularly and the improvement has been very noticeable. Belle is more frisky, shows more energy,  doesn’t sleep as much and gets up from her bed easier.

This is no surprise to anyone in the know about bone broth. The broth is loaded with vitamins, nutrients and taste. (Here’s more info on making and using bone broth.)

To make bone broth, you first boil, then turn down the heat and simmer bones in water. I used elk bones from last year’s harvest, and broke them open with a hammer. You can probably get beef or pork bones from any butcher or supermarket.

Making bone broth is easy - just boil bones in water.

Making bone broth is easy – just boil bones in water.

The elk bones were put in my shrimp boil pan on the outdoor propane cooker, then simmered for several hours. Water was added as needed. This causes the nutrients to leach out. These nutrients include minerals from the bones but also the nutrients that are contained in the meat, skin, bone marrow, cartilage and tendons that attach to bones.

After this story came out, homesteader Karla Moore commented: “I make bone broth frequently. If you add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the water it helps to leach out more of the minerals. And no, you won’t taste the vinegar.”

When you decide it’s done, let it cool, then strain out the bone splinters and other leftovers. Mine ends up being a thin gravy, and it’s a superb base for stews and  soups.

For your senior dog or cat, the broth might  supply nutrients that help ease the aches and pains of growing old. And even if it doesn’t, the broth adds a good taste to otherwise predictable dog or cat food.

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View Comments (3)


  1. Leon

    05/13/2016 at 12:33

    Yeah, Belle and the kids are a lot older! We were going to get another German Shepherd, and en route to the breeder’s kennel and stopped at the animal shelter to let the kids pet the puppies. (We knew they would each want one!) Jimmy and Mary saw Belle in the puppy area, and made the choice on the spot. Wherever the kids were, Belle was always nearby. Every day with her is a gift.

  2. Kathleen E Knudsen

    05/13/2016 at 09:25

    Adam & Phon regularly eat bone marrow and use broths in their cooking. I am not so far advanced! I loved the photos of the hiring committee and you and your pup in the water.

  3. Karla Moore

    05/10/2016 at 19:22

    I make bone broth frequently. If you add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the water it helps to leach out more of the minerals. And no, you won’t taste the vinegar.

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Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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