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
“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.
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.
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.