Monday, 7 November 2016
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{RECIPE} Healthy Gummies for Dogs: Scratch + Shortcut

If you don't know where gelatin comes from you may want to turn back now before it's too late...  If you're brave and love your dog, read on. :) As noted in our post on ingredients we use for homemade dog treats and why, bone broth is a healthy homemade treat for dogs (and humans, if you're keen) and quality gelatin has some of the same health benefits.  Here's how we use bone broth for our dogs as well as a (much quicker!) healthy gummy dog treat.

Heart shaped homemade gelatin gummy dog treats

Gelatin is made by boiling down the skin, cartilage, and bones of animals - yep, the leftovers. Waste not! Yes, the same gelatin as in jello, candy, marshmallows, yogurt, dressings, medicine, cosmetics, and more (the bane of us label-reading vegetarians).  The good news is that gelatin is full of health benefits, and it's those benefits that led me to get over my ewwww factor and start making gelatin treats for my dogs. Our senior dog in particular could use all the help I can give him for his ageing joints and mobility, but bone broth (and gelatin) is also reported to be beneficial for their general health including metabolism, digestion, liver function, bones, skin, coat, etc.  I have lots of fun and fancy gelatin gummy dog treat recipes to share, but will start with two simple healthful basics as an introduction - one from scratch and a quickie shortcut.

Homemade Bone Broth Gummies for Dogs (from Scratch)


Bone broth is stock created by simmering all of the healthy goodness out of bones, which makes it very inexpensive but also kind of gross (IMO) although our dogs think it's AMAZING and nearly desiccate from drooling over the smell whenever I make it! Dogs Naturally have a good article on bone broth and dog health - my dogs closely resemble the salivating cartoon. You can use any bone broth recipe and bone combo you like, just make sure that any seasonings are dog-safe.   Since I can't be bothered bottling broth and lack the freezer space for volume storage, I decided to reduce my bone broth way down into a concentrated stock and see if it would set like jelly - after all, it's the same stuff, right? It came out way better than expected and for a long time (see update note below), this was my preferred way to make/store broth for the dogs.  

Making bone broth that sets firm enough to cut into cubes

The key to concentrating bone broth into firm gummies is to further reduce the liquid at the end of your usual liquid-covered bone simmering process. Easy peasy! Stop topping up and continue to simmer. Don't be tempted to speed things up by going too high on the temperature during reduction as you will start to break down the gelling proteins.  

🦴 You may need to experiment to find what works best for you depending on your preferred broth, simmering time, and reduction level. You can also use gelatin powder to firm up runny bone broth for use as gummies.


As the liquid reduces, I periodically turn the bones so that all parts get continuing exposure to the liquid and cut any loose cartilage bits still on the bones into the liquid for max goodness into the broth. As liquid levels drop, you can remove some/all bones, if you wish.  Once reduced, I strain the contents into a bowl or pan, refrigerate the broth until set firm, cut any solidified fat from the top, and then slice the solidified broth into bite-sized pieces. I spread them out on a tray, freeze them, and then transfer the frozen broth gummies to a small container for ready-use individual frozen storage. So convenient.

📅  In the years since writing this post, we've experimented with a lot of different dog treats and recipes. I still make bone broth and reduce/concentrate, but I'm not focused on getting it to gel super firm anymore. I just freeze it in a tray and then store the cubes for ready use. I use high quality gelatin for making homemade gummy dog treats, and use the bone broth either on it's own, defrosted to a liquid for on food, straight from the freezer (pupsicle, anyone?), or as part of my other homemade treat recipes, including gummies.

Step-by-step making and freezing bone broth for dogs

 

Quick and Simple Chicken Gummy Dog Treats


If you aren't keen to make bone broth, you can buy ready-made bone broth mixes and powders (make sure you choose one that is suitable for dogs as many human broths have added salt and/or seasons that aren't dog-friendly). but my favourite shortcut for a quick and healthy treat is to use powdered gelatin to make easy healthy dog gummies.  These are one of the most basic gummies I make, and our dogs love them so simple!

🥄 Treat Ingredients:

1 cup plain homemade (or ready-made unsalted unseasoned) chicken stock
3 tbsp quality powdered gelatin

🥄 Making the Treats: 

Measure cold broth into a small pan. Sprinkle the surface with gelatin powder and let sit for approximately five minutes or longer for the gelatin powder to bloom/gel.  Gently stir the mixture over low heat until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Take care not to shortcut with high temperatures or overheat, as this can reduce the setting strength of your gelatin.   Remove from heat and pour into a glass pan (cut and slice) or silicone molds (shapes). Chill to set. 

Tips and Tricks:
  • My preferred dog treat stock is simple unseasoned broth saved from preparing homemade food. It can be difficult to source ready-made unsalted and unseasoned stock.  
  • Anything not fully dissolved in your liquid (e.g. little bits of stuff in your stock) will settle, as you can see on my treats.  You can always strain the stock before making your gelatin mixture, if you wish.
  • In my experience, 3 tbsp of gelatin powder per cup of liquid makes firm gummies, but if you prefer, you can use more gelatin for added supplementation or less for a jigglier jelly treat with lower gelatin content. Individual gelatin powders may be a little stronger/weaker. Find a ratio that works for your preferences and, of course, your dog.
  • See our comprehensive post on making and storing homemade gelatin gummy dog treats for additional information about making gummy treats including helpful gummy making tips, troubleshooting, and safe treat storage.  


Dalmatian dog begging for homemade gelatin gummy dog treat shaped like a heart

🦴 Hungry for more tasty treats?  You can explore from our treat navigation page, hop straight into our homemade dog treat ideas in the blog archives, search the blog from our sidebar, or use the labels below this post to find other recipes that might be of interest. Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas here from treats that we make ourselves for our pets, but different animals will have different preferences (likes/dislikes) and dietary needs. Some pets may have special dietary requirements and/or food allergies/intolerances. If you are ever in doubt or have questions about what's suitable for your pet, have a chat with your trusted vet.

4 comments:

  1. I love this! Do you think it would work with gelatin added in the bone broth? A group of us make and share so we don't have to store lots at a time. I freeze mine into ice cube trays and add to Gracie's food but gummies sound so much better.

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    1. Hi Megan! How awesome that you have a group of bone-broth making/sharing friends! Have you ever done a treat swap (like a cookie exchange, but for your dogs)? Might be fun for Christmas! :)

      The quickie treats at the end of the post can be make with any dog-friendly liquid as long as it's not too acidic (like juice) which can affect the jelling process. If you are using a bone broth, you might not need as much gelatin as an ordinary liquid as these can often be kind of jelly-like on their own when chilled, so the gelatin would just be adding that little extra oomph to set things firm. Some experimentation required. Let me know how you go, and if Gracie likes her gummies. Have fun!

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  2. Love the idea of giving bone broth but don't think I could handle making it. Gelatin I could do maybe. Do you think it would work as a topping just sprinkled on food plain?

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    1. I agree with the gross factor, but the things we do for our dogs! :) As for gelatin, as long as you dog tolerates it well and you are giving a suitable amount for weight, it's all the same whether sprinkled or mixed into jelly/gummies.

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