After weeks of snow, hail and rain, we welcome a gorgeous sunny day here in Evergreen. Blue sky, beautiful clouds and cool breeze make it a perfect day of driving a convertible (borrowed from a friend). We also set out for a BBQ on our newly finished patio. Roxie and Charlie, of course, are sunbathing by our side.
Besides enjoying fresh air like us humans do, dogs sunbathe for a particular reason – getting their Vitamin D. According to a recent study, most of the domestic dogs do not get enough Vitamin D, which is associated with multiple diseases in dogs, including heart failure and cancer. Neutered male dogs have the lowest blood serum level of vitamin D compared to other dogs, putting them in highest risks to diseases.
Vitamin D is mainly responsible for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body. Insufficient amount of Vitamin D leads to bone deformation and bad teeth. These are a couple ways of supplying your dogs Vitamin D, including home-cooked meals and fish oil/salmon oil supplement, both of which are pricey/time consuming.
We turned to another effective way to protect our pooches from Vitamin D insufficiency – home cooked bone broth. Bone broth does not contain Vitamin D itself, but when cooked right, is enriched with calcium and phosphorus. Mixing bone broth with our pooches’ dry food compensates for potential Vitamin D insufficiency. Over the last four years, we have tried different cooking method with different kind of soup bones, and developed a simple method to supply our pooches rich broth every day. Just like the home-made joint supplements we wrote about a few weeks ago, this home-made bone broth for pooches is simple, cheap, and requires only about an hour of your time each month to prepare.
– Soup bones. We find that the neck or spine soup bones in Asian/Chinese market are the best for this purpose, because:
- Smaller bones for complete cooking – Asian stores have neck bone or spine, and they will chop it for you into small pieces. Comparing to leg bones or hip bones you see in the American stores, these from neck or spine fall apart nicely after cooking, resulting in richer broth with more minerals. Lots of nutrition in the bone will remain in the sediment after cooking. The sediments from neck or spine are relatively soft and in small chunks, so you can easily break them up and incorporated into the broth.
- Budget-friendly – neck or spine bones (usually from pigs) are usually $1.19 ~ $1.29 per lb, makes the bone broth super cheap to make. We usually get 3 lb and cook it with an average size of slow cooker, and the broth from these 3 lb will last us for 3~4 weeks.
– Ice tray (similar). For easy storage/distribution of the broth. We find the quick release ones with silicone bottom and rigid sides work the best. (We got ours from Walmart.)
– Sauce/Gravy Ladle. For transfer broth into the ice trays. Regular ladle or spoon works too, but we find the ones with a lip on its side helps preventing spills.
– Plastic Food Wrap and Freezer-safe container. For any big piece of left over bones.
2. Simmering the bones slowly, for a long time, gives the best result.
To ensure the broth is enriched with minerals, the bones needs to be cooked until they fall apart and the bone marrow dissolves. We usually use a slow cooker on high overnight, for 8-10 hours. Simmering the bones on stove also works, but it will take longer to soften the bones, usually 16-20 hours.
The finishing product should look non-transparent and with lots of grease on the top. Keep the grease – it is good for the hair and the nails of your dogs.
3. Ice tray method makes it easy to store and access for the broth.
You can store the broth in any container you like, just make sure that you keep it in the freezer. Over the years, we used to yogurt containers, take out boxes, paper cups (which you can peel away for a quick release), and ice trays. We found ice tray works the best because we can easily calculate how many days of broth we have, and these silicone bottom ice trays really made popping out ice cubes super easy. the only drawback of cooking a huge batch of soup is that these trays takes up quite a lot of freezer space – we have 8 of these trays, and gives pups 4 cubes per day (2 per dog, and they only gets broth with dinner dry food), which give us 24 days worth of broth. So if you only have room in your freezer for 4 of these trays, you will need to cook broth twice a month for two dogs, or give the dogs a bit less each day.
4. Use ladle to carefully transfer the broth from your pot into ice trays, and leave them in freezer for a couple hours before stacking them. Remember to stir frequently during transfer, so the grease on top and the sediments at the bottom will evenly distribute into each cube of the broth.
5. Freeze left over bones.
There is always some left over bones, and they contain quite a bit nutrition as well. We usually separate them in small chunks and wrap them tight, then freeze them all in a container. Each night, when we pop a few cubs of broth, we will take out one portion of the bones and thaw them as well. Mixing them into their dry food while your pooch(es) drooling next to you.
Below is an example of the leg bone after cooking. They are too big and tough to fall apart. We decided to use them as Kong toy and freeze peanut butter in them as a treat, but soon found that they are too hard for our dogs teeth. We eventually threw them away , and stick to the smaller neck bone/spine since.
6. Monitor your pooches after they eat bone soup.
Our dogs love the broth and look forward to dinner everyday. They never had bad reaction to the soup. But if your dog has a sensitive stomach, monitor closely the first a few days when you start giving it the broth. Some dogs may have softer stools.
Roxie and Charlie gets lots of praise for their shining fur and energy. We think having the broth every night helped. They only eat inexpensive dry food otherwise (from Costco). Their two meals are at 7 am and 7 pm. And you can see how much more eager they are before dinners, compared to breakfasts. By 6:50 pm, Roxie and Charlie will be sitting nicely in the kitchen, looking at us intensely, sometimes whine a little bit, to remind us the spoilers. If you give this recipe a try, let us know how your pup loves it. We’d like to know!