Everyone’s talking about turmeric … the miraculous superfood that can prevent or cure almost any disease you can think of.
And it’s not pure marketing hype. There are thousands of research studies proving its amazing health-boosting abilities … and its safety. Even conventional doctors and veterinarians realize its potential … and may recommend it for arthritis, cancer or autoimmune problems. It may even help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
So, are you wondering “can I give my dog turmeric?” I’m going to highlight some of the ways turmeric can help your dog. But first, I want to clarify what turmeric is, because it can get confusing.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a root grown in India and other parts of Asia. It looks like a smaller version of ginger root, except under the skin it’s bright orange. It’s a culinary spice used in Asian cooking … the one that gives Indian and Thai curries their yellow color.
People tend to use the words turmeric and curcumin to mean the same thing. But that’s not quite right.
Turmeric refers to the whole root … or the jar of turmeric spice you buy at the grocery or health store.
Turmeric contains Curcumin. Curcumin is the ingredient in turmeric that provides its therapeutic benefits. Turmeric contains about 2% curcumin by weight. This translates to 136 mg of curcumin in 1 tablespoon of turmeric.
When you read research studies, they usually refer to curcumin that’s extracted from turmeric … because curcumin is where most of the health-boosting qualities come from.
You can use turmeric root in cooking and in your dog’s food, or you can buy powdered supplements. Powders or capsules may be in the form of turmeric or a curcumin extract. So which of the two should you buy?
It depends who you ask. There’s a difference of opinion about which is best.
Conventional practitioners prefer standardized curcumin extracts … because they know exactly how much curcumin is in a dose. But holistic practitioners often say turmeric is best. That’s because all the root’s constituents work synergistically together … and that can’t happen in a curcumin extract.
In this article I’ll provide dosing recommendations for whole turmeric, not curcumin extract.
Whether you buy curcumin or turmeric, absorbability is an important factor. I’ll talk about that a bit later.
I’ll also discuss why some dogs shouldn’t take turmeric.
So now, let’s look at the main reasons to give turmeric to your dog.
Top 5 Benefits of Turmeric For Dogs
#1 Pain Relief
Turmeric is an effective pain reliever for pain, whether chronic or acute. As a proven anti-inflammatory, it can help manage arthritis pain and stiffness. There are countless clinical studies showing its efficacy in treating arthritis.
And it’s not only for chronic conditions like arthritis. It can also work well for acute pain from injuries. One 2014 study found that curcumin was as effective as ibuprofen for pain relief.
Note: even if you don’t use turmeric, please don’t ever give your dog ibuprofen … it’s toxic to dogs.
Conventional vets love prescribing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They use them for all kinds of pain … from chronic arthritis to joint injuries and even post-surgical care. But NSAIDs have many dangerous side effects. They can even cause death.
So it’s a good idea to avoid giving your dog NSAIDs. Turmeric can produce the same pain relief without the risks.
#2 Cancer Prevention
Cancer is a leading cause of death in dogs. About half of all dogs over 10 years old get cancer. There are many factors that cause cancer … but turmeric can help prevent and treat it.
Laboratory tests show turmeric interferes with several critical molecular pathways that spread cancer. Studies also note it has minimal side effects and doesn’t cost much. It’s also easy to find at your health food store.
Turmeric can help …
- Control tumors
- Stop metastasis
- Prevent new cancer growth
- Increase apoptosis (cancer cell death)
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties may also help prevent cancer. Chronic inflammation contributes to cancer … and research shows that controlling inflammation can help with cancer prevention.
One study showed turmeric diminished the growth of cancer cells in dogs … in this case, when combined with rosemary extract.
Giving turmeric can help prevent cancer. And if your dog has cancer, talk to your holistic vet about how it can help treat him.
# 3 Detoxification
Turmeric can help detoxify your dog’s body. In today’s world, overexposure to toxins can strain the liver. The liver is well known as the detox organ … but it handles many other vital functions in the body including:
- Converting food to energy
- Detoxifying toxic substances
- Excreting toxins into the intestines
- Storing vitamins A, D, E, K, some B vitamins and minerals
When the liver isn’t working right, it can lead to a number of symptoms … such as allergies, skin problems, chronic inflammation, thyroid disease, digestive issues and obesity.
Turmeric improves liver function by stimulating bile production in the gallbladder. Bile helps the liver eliminate toxins. It also rejuvenates liver cells that break down toxins.
Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine both use turmeric to treat liver disorders. And you can use it to help keep your dog’s liver healthy.
#4 Cardiovascular Health
Turmeric can protect the heart in several ways.
It thins the blood, helping to prevent blood clots and improving circulation. The heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood through the body, lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.
* Caution: If your dog is on blood thinning medication, ask your vet before giving him turmeric.
Heart disease is among many health issues caused by chronic inflammation. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that help manage systemic inflammation in your dog’s body.
Oxidative stress is another factor in heart disease … and the antioxidant effects of turmeric can help manage it. Exposure to toxins leads to free radicals … which are unstable atoms that cause oxidative stress in your dog’s body. They damage your dog’s cells, proteins and DNA. Antioxidants boost health by fighting free radical damage.
And, for diabetics, turmeric can help prevent heart failure from diabetes complications.
Turmeric also lowers the risk of cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure.
#5 Brain Health
Turmeric has gained much recognition in supporting brain health. There’s growing research into the effects of turmeric in Alzheimer’s disease prevention.
In dogs this translates to slowing cognitive decline.
Turmeric protects against brain aging by improving blood flow to the brain. It also increases a protein (BDNF) that stimulates the production of new brain cells. Turmeric can also help rid the body of abnormal proteins that lead to cognitive decline.
Turmeric can cross the blood-brain barrier … where its antioxidant abilities protect brain cells from free radical damage.
So, as your dog ages, turmeric can help keep his brain young!
These are 5 of the most important reasons to give your dog turmeric. But they’re not the only ones. There are quite a few other ways turmeric can help your dog, such as …
- Managing epilepsy
- Relieving allergies and skin conditions
- Preventing cataracts
- Treating depression
- Killing parasites
- Healing digestive issues, including inflammatory bowel disease
- Treating diarrhea (turmeric is a binding agent)
- Reducing obesity and managing diabetes
How Much Turmeric To Give
You can feed your dog about ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon of turmeric per day per 10 lbs of body weight. But don’t just sprinkle it on his food. There’s something else you need to know so that your dog gets the best out of it.
Absorbability Of Turmeric
I said I’d get back to this, because it’s important. There’s only one drawback to turmeric, and that’s the fact that the body doesn’t absorb it well. The liver metabolizes it fast, limiting the body’s ability to use it.
Luckily there’s a simple fix to this problem … and that is to add black pepper when you feed turmeric. In one study, the piperine in black pepper increased bioavailability by 154%.
You can also increase turmeric’s absorbability by giving it with fat. Mixing it with coconut oil is a great way to do this.
Heat also helps open up turmeric’s benefits. So heat a little coconut oil and add your turmeric and fresh ground black pepper. Mix it into your dog’s food or give it as a healthy snack.
Not All Dogs Should Take Turmeric
Turmeric’s a safe spice with minimal side effects. But it’s a “warming” food. That means if your dog is always hot and seeking out cool floors to lie on, turmeric may not suit him. If you give your dog turmeric and notice he seems to be panting more … you may want to avoid using it.
Other mild side effects may be digestive upset or diarrhea.
Turmeric can interact with some medications, including anti-inflammatory and diabetes drugs. It may also interfere with some chemotherapy treatments. So if your dog’s on any medications, check with your holistic vet before adding turmeric to his diet. Don’t use turmeric for dogs with bile tract obstruction, gallstones or bleeding disorders. Use caution with turmeric during pregnancy.