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Bone Broth, Fish Broth and Veggie Broth for Cats, Dogs and You!

bone broth for cats and dogs

One of the best things you could ever feed your animal or yourself when they're not well or have a loss of appetite is, broth. 

Since the 12th century broth has been known to help heal everything from the simple cold or flu, used as a prevention to infectious diseases, right through to modern science using it to help people with cancer or bone disease. 

We've listed out a few recipes below for you to try, but the importance of bone broth in your's and your pet's diet is that the vitamins and minerals from the broken-down bones have a wealth of healing properties in them to help re-balance the intestines and give the body the nutrition it needs.

Broths are great if your pet is recovering from a major operation, is ill or even just unwell. By feeding your cat or dog food that is nutritious, delicious, full of naturally occurring minerals and vitamins in an easy digestible way, means the body's energy can focus on healing not digestion. 

It's also a great solution if you're on a budget as it's an easy way to give your pet a healthy nutritional option to boost their immune system as broth is its own form of medicine.

Some of the basic areas where bone broth can help are; gut issues – it can help restore friendly bacteria in the gut, help with allergies, reduce inflammation, auto-immune boost, hydration, providing the muscles with proteins, detoxification of the liver, renal issues, increased collagen to help with anti-ageing, anti-tumor, joint pain and arthritis.

Some of the natural minerals and vitamins your pet can benefit from and you too if you want a taste are. glucosamine, gelatin, sodium and potassium, essential amino acids that can help regenerate cartilage and heal joints, help with the detoxification of toxins in the body, glycoaminoglycans and hyaluronic acid. The benefits of bone broth for your pet are enormous and its worth getting into a habit of cooking this goodness up once a month to feed yourself, your cat and your dog.

These recipes have stood the test of time and some of the best bone broths to help heal your pet are the more basic ones with fewer ingredients, but are rich in nutrition because of the bones added. 

Over time, you might like to add in other ingredients but be mindful if those ingredients are good for your pet. As your pet heals or if your pet is in optimum health but you want to give him more mojo, then add in more ingredients to give the broth a more all-round nutritional benefit and flavour.

A good routine to adopt is to have one day a month at least, where your pet is just feed on bone broth for its meals that day instead of solid food, as the natural nutrition helps balance the friendly probiotics in your pet's gut.

See our mini series here on the importance of a healthy gut. Start with probiotics and prebiotics, then read about digestive enzymes and finish with Mitochondria, these are essential reading to ensure your pet's optimum health.

Bone Broth Basics. The basic step is don't throw away your raw bones instead pop them in a pan and begin your pet's healing broth.

You can combine bones so I often throw in chicken bones with beef bones to mix up the flavours and nutrition elements. But the best bone broths are left to cook slowly over a long period of time to enable the bones to soften and breakdown enough that all the goodness flows into the water.

Basic Bone Broth

Use bones from a few animals if you can, such as chicken, beef, turkey and goat. If you can add in chicken feet even better as they are high in chondroitin which helps with joint pain.

The perfect broth normally ends up as a jelly like consistency once it's cool, so it's a bit of a balance to get the right combination of water versus the amount of bone but ideally you want to aim for 2-3 inches of water covering the bone so as not to dilute the natural gelatin that is going to be drawn out of the bones.

Fill a pan with enough water to cover the bones

Add in 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar as this will help break down the bone and pull out the nutrition. Give it a quick stir to make sure the vinegar seeps into the water before adding in the bones.

Place the bones in the large pan. (If the bones come with some meat on them that's good as you can feed this as the first feed to your pets).

Slowly bring the bone mixture to boil, then reduce to a simmer and leave the broth simmering away on a low heat for 12 - 24 hours.

You'll start to see a froth form on the top which is perfectly fine. You can skim this off, but I tend to leave it on as it has some of the first layers of nutrition in it.

(If your bones aren't sourced organically or from grass-fed animals, it might be worth skimming off this froth as it could potentially contain some of the animal's toxins from their industrial feed).

The meat and skin will fall off the bone, this can be sieved out and feed to your pet when it's cool and the remaining mixture left to simmer away. Add in a bit more water if you need to and a little more apple cider vinegar to continue breaking down the bones.

What you want to get to, is where the majority of the bones are dissolved. Sieve out any remaining bones from the broth that haven't dissolved as these mustn't be feed to your pet. 

As the mixture cools a layer of fat will appear which is perfectly fine. I feed this as part of the mixture to my pets but if it's for yourself it's worth taking this bit out.

When the mixture is cool, pour enough of the broth into your pet's bowl to fill it and leave them to enjoy it. 

You can add just a small about to his or her existing food if you prefer but I tend to have a day where the pets eat nothing but broth to help boost their immune system and good bacteria in the gut. 

Any remaining broth pop in a bag or container and freeze for use on another day. Or, even pop some of the broth into ice cube trays as these are great nutritional and hydrating treats on hot days. 

The perfect broth has a jelly like consistency to it. If it's not jelly wobbly, you've probably added too much water but it's still good enough to eat. Over time you'll get better at measuring the amount of water you need versus the number of bones you've added to the pot. In terms of storage, broth can stay good in the fridge for upto 5 days and in the freezer for upto 6 months.

With the left over bones you removed from the broth you can pop these in your compost bin as opposed to adding them to your normal rubbish waste. Once your compost pile is actually compost these bones become a great source of added nutrition for your plants.

Bone Broth with Vegetables

Follow the steps above with regards the water and apple cider vinegar to get the broth going but add in these ingredients aswell.

  • Bones - as above you can create your broth with mixed animals bones or stick to one source
  • A few carrots chopped
  • Two or three stalks of chopped celery
  • Fresh peas
  • Some fresh garlic crushed. ( I tend to stick to about a half to one clove, as my cats won't eat the broth if it's too strong)
  • Some fresh diced ginger - about an inch no more - again fussy cats. The dogs don't mind at all.
  • Some chunks of butternut squash, sweet potato or two/three chopped parsnips
  • Add in a pinch of mixed fresh herbs (chopped) from your kitchen garden such as rosemary, parsley, basil.

As above follow the steps for how to cook the broth. For my dogs and one of the cats I leave in all the bits of vegetables but for the other cat, I take out all the veggie bits and just feed him the broth with the meat and skin. Although he refuses to eat the vegetables directly he's still benefiting from all their nutritional juices in the broth itself.

Fish Broth

This will smell the house out to high heaven but broth made form both fish heads and carcasses is super rich in nutrients, minerals and more importantly, iodine so it's excellent for both you and your pet.

Chinese medicine going back 1000's of years, regions within Asia and the Mediterranean, believe fish broth to be an important part of the diet especially for those people or animals that are suffering with health issues and thyroid problems. The fish heads themselves contain the all important thyroid gland so adding these into a broth means that whomever is eating the fish broth will have access to the much needed thyroid hormones and nourishment of the thyroid gland itself. (1)

The best fish broths are made from non-oily fish so ideally you want to avoid using fish such as salmon and mackerel as their natural oils don't cope well with long cooking times and in fact tend to make the broth rancid. 

You need your broth to be a slow simmer to draw all the nutrition out of the bones but the great thing about fish broth compared to meat bone broths is that they take a fraction of the time, think a few hours for fishy broths as opposed to a whole day for meat broths

For your fish bones, carcasses and heads, think halibut, fluke, sole, turbot, black bass, you could even add in shrimp and prawn heads and shells if you like, just stay away from oily fish.

There are two main ways to cook your fish broth.

1. Place your fish bones and carcasses in pot of water. The water needs to cover the fish mix with about two or three inches on top. Add anything between a 1/4 cup of vinegar/lemon juice upto about 2 cups, depending on the amount of fish in the pot. 

Bring the broth to the boil then reduce to a simmer. This can be left to slowly cook on a low heat but make sure throughout the cooking process that you skim the froth that forms at the top as this will generally contain any toxins from the fish. 

As before with the meat broth you can leave this to cook down or once the broth starts to simmer you can add in a few vegetables. 

I tend to find that for my pet's keeping the veggie mix simple is better as the flavours from the fish will be strong so you want to go for vegetable that will help balance the flavour such as carrots and celery rather than adding in other strong flavours that we may like. You could also add in some chunks of butternut squash to help fill out the meal, this is especially good for working dogs.

2. Saute the pan with a knob of butter or some olive oil. 

Add in a small amount of fresh garlic, a few chopped carrots and celery sticks and allow these to cook down on a slow heat. You'll know they are ready when they appear soft.

Turn the heat to high and add in the vinegar/lemon juice and let it cook away with the veggies for a few minutes or until the juice has disappeared.

Add in the fish bones, carcasses and heads. (you can remove the gills if you like but it's not necessary) and give the mixture a toss through before adding in enough water to cover the fish. 

Bring the broth to a boil. Skim off any of the the froth and then reduce to a simmer and allow it to slowly cook away. 

Your fish broth can cook away from anything from about 2 hours right through to 24 depending on the consistency you'd like. I tend to go for around 5 to 6 hours as I find that's enough to give me the breakdown I'm after. 

Make sure you strain any of the ingredients and fat out of the broth before giving this to your pet so you avoid giving her any of the bones that haven't dissolved. 

Allow to cool and feed to both your cats and dogs. Again this can be popped in the fridge, frozen in containers/bags or popped into ice cube trays.

(If you go with making ice cubes I'd recommend you use separate trays for your own ice cubes as sometimes there can be a lingering smell, taste that emits into the ice cubes you want to pop into your wine or beer! Not so good when you've got guests around and the fishy smell becomes a topic of conversation).

Vegetarian Broth

If this is solely for humans than you can add in pretty much any type of vegetable that takes your fancy. If you're sharing this with your pets I'd suggest you stick to a few basics to avoid any toxic veg and think mostly the colour green so they get the highest nutrition.

In the pan pop in a knob of butter, some olive oil or coconut oil.

Saute in some fresh parley, basil, garlic and my secret ingredient, digestive/nutritional yeast. 

Not only does nutritional yeast keep any meat eater moaners at bay if you're sharing your broth with humans, but it thickens out the broth and adds a distinct flavour that isn't just vegetables that your cat, dog and meat eater will enjoy. 

Nutritional yeast offers health benefits for both you and your pet in providing minerals, vitamins and some proteins but overall it helps boost the immune system. Just make sure you get a really excellent source of yeast that hasn't been genetically modified. If you can't find the source of the yeast on the packaging then I'd suggest you avoid using it as you just don't know what you're buying and more often than not, the yeasts have been modified and not always in a good way. Try to buy natural "Saccharomyces Cerevisiae" that hasn't had any additives or chemicals added or been blended with another yeast.

Add in your chopped veg such as celery, carrot, broccoli, spinach, peas, mushrooms (make sure these are your normal everyday shrooms as some mushrooms can be toxic to cats, so stick to the most common button mushrooms).

You could also add in butternut squash, pumpkin, sweet potato or mini green squash. I tend to stick to just one of these or the base becomes too heavy.

The mini squashes are good if you need to hydrate your pet as similarly to mushrooms, they have a naturally high water content. 

Mix the veg through with the sauteed ingredients so the flavours of the garlic, parsley, digestive yeast and basil blend together with the veg.

Leave this to cook for a few minutes on a medium heat so the flavours blend. Then add in your water. 

Bring to the broth to the boil then allow to simmer on a low heat. This needs only a short time to cook typically around half an hour to 45 minutes as the veg should be soft enough to eat but not be mushy.

As with your other broths you can drain off the water and give this to your pets once its cool, or combine a small about with their meal. 

I tend to blend the remainder of the veg down to use as one of the first feeds for those pets that are starting back on solid foods. Or for the foster pet's that come in and need an extra meal in the day as it's a great way to give them the needed nutrition in their diet without them putting on excess weight whilst they combat their need to constantly eat.

You can also mix this in with your pet's existing food if you feel your pet needs a boost and or again, pop them into ice cube trays.

You could also add in a pinch of turmeric with your other base ingredients as it's an excellent natural anti-inflammatory and helps boost the immune system.

To have a slightly different flavoured broth from just vegetables you could mix things up by adding in a good source of seaweed such as pink dillisk, springy carrageen, spicy pepper dulse, kelp, sea spaghetti, sea lettuce or nori. Seaweed is an authentic super food as it contains all the vitamins, minerals and trace elements we need.  Certain seaweeds are 10 times richer in calcium than cow's milk, have twice as much vitamin C as oranges and up to 50 times more iron than spinach so it's an excellent food source for animals and humans.(2)  It's a great natural source of vitamin B12 which is generally only found in animal products and is an excellent natural anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory food and can be eaten raw or cooked along with your broth. 

The veggie broth acts as a great cleanser for both your cat and dog's digestive system and is helpful for those pets that need to loose weight whilst still getting an excellent source of nutrition. Just be mindful that whilst your dog can go for a few days without meat your cat can't as they're obligatory carnivores, so they need meat to survive. Check out our FAQ's for more info but if you're nursing a cat back to health then you're better sticking to the bone and fish broths to start with. Then once their appetite improves add the vegetables into the bone broth and nurse them back to health that way.

Also don't forget, you can use these excellent broths to either eat along with your pet or store and use as stocks to add to your cooking later on, as they make excellent bases for sauces.

We hope you and your pet enjoy these awesome tasty broths. Leave a comment to let us know what you're pet thinks to our recipes. And feel free to share this with people you think will love it.

¡¡¡Vida natural, salud natural, mejora natural!!!

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Sally Fallon - Nourishing Traditions (1)
Marco Canera - Brodo
www.irishexaminer.com (2)

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