Monday, 24 June 2019
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FAQs, Tips, and Troubleshooting: Broth/Stock for Dog Treats

Frozen cubes of healthy homemade broth/stock for making dog treats

When we share a treat recipe idea that's made with broth (or the option of broth), we say to use an unseasoned low-sodium broth or stock. Tricky indeed as this is almost impossible to find if looking for a ready-to-use product. We're often asked what kind of broth we use when making treats, but there are no special recommendations or secret recipes in reply. We make (or save) our own. It's easy, healthy, and free! Pawfect! 

I use the words broth and stock interchangeably, although they're not quite the same. In technical cooking terms, stock is liquid from slow simmering bone while broth is liquid from cooking (bone, meat, herbs, veggies, etc.) but it's much of a muchness in terms of doggone deliciousness!

If you are buying broth/stock for dogs, look carefully at both the ingredients for any unsafe add-ins and double-check the nutritional break-down (especially the sodium). Most ready-made human products are very salty, even the low(er)-sodium products. Look for a genuinely low-sodium product, not just reduced. No-added salt is even better if you can find it!  Depending on where you live, there may also be some dog specific products available but they're not common here in NZ so we haven't tasted tested any ourselves. 

With very little effort or expense, you can also make and store your own no-added salt broth. This is a great way to have broth on hand for your dogs (or your humans) and gives you complete control over the base flavour and any optional add-in seasonings. 

Most of the broth I use is simple cooking water saved from preparing meat for the dogs' homemade breakfasts (more on that in another FAQ post). I used to do this in the oven, but it was always so messy that now I almost exclusively use the slow cooker. This makes beautifully tender meat, even if I'm cooking tougher cuts, and leaves me with lots of poaching liquid that I then filter, chill, skim, and save for future use.  

Depending on the meat(s), the poaching liquid can be rather messy, like the example shown below for chicken breasts. After the meat is removed, I pour the liquid through a colander into a catch pan to filter out the solids. For a clearer broth, this can be repeated through a finer sieve or filter.  In the case of chicken breasts as pictured below, I know the solids are all little bits of chicken and a-ok to be included with the rest of the chicken chopped for the dogs, but in other cases I may need to manually pick through for fat or bone disposal. The filtered liquid is chilled, and later the fat is skimmed off the top. Depending on the meat, there may be a lot or a little fat, but I always try and skim out as much as I can before storage. My favourite way to store is to freeze in cubes and then transfer into a container or bag. When I want broth, I can simply grab a few cubes. Easy peasy! The cubes are better than freezing measured volumes (my old method) as I can use as much or as little as I want at any time and I can also mix flavours of broths together. As an added bonus, they're yummy straight out of the freezer as little ice treats for the dogs as well. The pictured frozen cubes are beef so you can see the colour difference between the chicken stock and the beef.

Saving poaching liquid to use as broth/stock for making homemade dog treats

If you aren't into making homemade food for your dogs, you can do the same with poaching liquid from human cooking, but only if it's unseasoned (or lightly seasoned with dog-safe ingredients). Poached plain chicken, exactly like I prepare for the dogs, is also something that I have on hand shredded in the freezer. I freeze it on a sheet and then crumble before transfers into a container so that it is loose/free flow (my favourite way to freeze foods for storage). I don't eat meat, but my husband does, so this is a handy way to have ready-use add-ins or toppings on hand for salads, pizzas, wraps, etc. Other meats work great this way as well.

Freezing cooked chicken on a sheet pan

Occasionally, if I'm low on broth and/or we have bones that I don't want to freeze for future doggy bone broth (which can also be diluted as a standard thin/watery broth substitute), I might just make a batch of basic broth for the boy knowing that it will be infused with flavour but lack the jelly goodness of a true rich bone broth.

If you aren't into the idea of simmering meat or bone, dog-safe veggies and/or herbs can be used to make a broth, but you could also substitute a different dog-friendly liquid in a recipe instead.  When I use broth (or the option of broth) as a liquid in treats, it's there to add the yummy scent and flavour of meat to the treat but there are plenty of other non-meat scents/flavours that my dogs enjoy.

The type of meat will determine the flavour/scent and colour of the final broth. Fish, chicken, and turkey tend to be light while beef and lamb tend to be darker. If you include prep like broiling/grilling (common for bone broths) it will also darken the finished broth.  Add-ins like veggies or herbs can  also alter the flavour/scent. Clarity depends on the ingredients, cooking time, and filtering. From the dogs perspective, neither colour or clarity matter, only the smell and taste. From a treat perspective, it makes little difference to most uses, unless you are trying to create a specific tint in a coloured dog treat. Again, the dogs don't care! If you are using the broth as liquid for dough, there may be variations in quantity/consistency depending on whether the broth is thin or slightly gelled, so work incrementally as you mix and adjust if/as needed.  

🦴 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.

Heart shaped gelatin gummy dog treats in a glass treat jar

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