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Health Benefits of Turmeric for Dogs

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Turmeric has recently come to the fore as a superfood, but is it good for dogs?

Turmeric has recently come to the fore as a superfood, but is it good for dogs?

If you are researching turmeric for dogs, most likely you have learned about the spice's benefits or are looking for an alternative to conventional prescription medications. The health benefits of this herb were practically unknown years ago, but with a surge of interest in alternative remedies, it has recently garnered a reputation as a superfood. But what is exactly turmeric, where do you find it, and most of all, how can it benefit your dog?

What Exactly Is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a perennial, rhizomatous plant native to tropical South Asia and related to the ginger family. Major cultivation of this herb can be found in India and Pakistan. It's commonly used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines in the form of a bright, orange-yellow powder. Because of its beautiful color, it's often also used as a dye. For this reason, if you ever decide to use this as a supplement for your dog, you need to be extra careful, as it can easily stain your clothes and carpets.

The active ingredient that makes it so popular is curcumin, a polyphenol that gives this spice an earthy, almost hot and peppery flavor and a mustard-like smell. While it's often used as a dye and a spice in dishes, it's also extensively used for its medicinal properties. In India, it was used for thousands of years and still remains popular as a part of Ayurvedic medicine.

How Is Turmeric Good for Dogs?

With turmeric's reputation for being used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties, it comes as no surprise that dog owners are now considering this herb for their four-legged companions. The benefits seem manifold, and many owners who take turmeric share it with their dogs as well! Best of all, turmeric can be easily found at the supermarket, health food store or in Indian stores. Let's take a look at some of the benefits of this multi-purpose supplement.

Curcumin for Dog Cancer

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center researchers claim that “from numerous studies, it is quite apparent that curcumin has tremendous potential for prevention and therapy of various cancers.” How does this plant work? It appears that it suppresses tumor cell proliferation acting antiangiogenically and causing cell death, explains Narda G. Robinson, DO, DVM, MS, FAAMA in his article Why the Buzz about Turmeric?

Curcumin is one of the core ingredients I use in cancer supplement programs for my patients and I have seen literal shrinkage of different dog lumps, like hemangiosarcomas of the skin, fatty tumors (lipomas), fibrosarcomas, and plasmacytomas. I rely on it a lot.

— Damian Dressler, Veterinarian and Dog Cancer Expert

Ohio State researchers found that STAT3, a protein that plays a crucial role in a tumor cell’s ability to metastasize and resist chemotherapy, is inhibited by curcumin, but the only disadvantage is that it's not well absorbed after ingestion.

Curcumin for Dog Osteoarthritis

Turmeric's benefits go way beyond its anti-cancer properties. In a group trial, dogs treated with turmeric for osteoarthritis showed significant improvement. This is due to this herb's anti-inflammatory properties. According to Vet Info, "Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory that can be safely administered to dogs and is very effective in controlling pain in arthritic dogs."

Along with Boswellia, yucca root, bromelain, and hawthorn, turmeric may help a dog with arthritis according to the Whole Dog Journal. Turmeric is an ingredient in the popular dog supplement Get Up & Go, produced by Only Natural. Unlike NSAIDs, such as dog Rimadyl which can cause digestive upset and ulcers, turmeric seems to soothe the digestive system and reduces the risk of ulcers.

Curcumin for Other Uses

To help with an abrasion, veterinarian Dr. Ron Wil from Portland, Oregon, claims you can “simply mix honey with the turmeric to form a paste and apply it to the abrasion.” It's also an antioxidant that protects against free radicals, supports the immune system, promotes good liver function, and protects skin and eyes among a long list of other benefits, explains Karen Becker in the video below. More testimonials on some of the many benefits of turmeric can be also found on the Earth Clinic website.

Turmeric for Dogs: Interactions and Risks

  • Turmeric could negate some of the effects of chemotherapy, explains Narda G. Robinson.
  • Because turmeric thins the blood, if your dog is going into surgery, the medication should be stopped some time prior.
  • Turmeric shouldn't be taken with aspirin (which already thins blood) and other NSAIDs.
  • Turmeric can also interfere with antibiotics.

Always discuss with your vet before adding a new supplement and inform him of other medications your dog takes so to prevent interactions and minimize risks.

Turmeric can cause constipation and dehydration, so it's best to make sure your dog has plenty of water. While it soothes the digestive tract, in high doses it can increase the levels of stomach acid. It's very important that you follow your vet's dosage recommendations. Also, consider that this herb stains, so prevent it from going on clothes and carpet!

Not all vets are familiar with turmeric. Before starting my dog on turmeric, I asked my vet and she had no clue about this supplement and wasn't aware of any potential interactions. She literally told me I had to conduct research on my own. If this happens to you, you may want to consult with another vet.

Turmeric Dosage for Dogs

Getting the right dose of turmeric is a bit challenging because it's not well absorbed outside of the gastrointestinal tract. Coupling it with other compounds that aid in absorption can be helpful, at times, but you should always discuss the ideal dosage for your pet with your holistic veterinarian before deciding to supplement your dog's diet with turmeric.

The dosage for turmeric for dogs is typically 15 to 20 mg per pound of body weight daily, according to Dr. Jon Rappaport DVM. In the video below, veterinarian Karen Becker discusses turmeric dog dosage by body weight, but again, be sure to speak with your vet before giving your dog this herb.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2013 Adrienne Farricelli


Tina jackson on August 02, 2018:

Can turmeric be given along side loxicom meloxicam and glco 3 supplement

Shelley at North County Dog Training on November 02, 2016:

I use Wonder Dog Superfoods. The specific I use is CBD/GLM but there is also an organic turmeric food topper as well. It's a dot com site, easy to find

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 06, 2014:

My male Rottie also developed a small lump in his mouth, I put him on turmeric and after a bit I went to look at it again and it was gone!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 16, 2013:

I am also giving turmeric to help my girl with her orthopedic problems so to prevent giving her tramadol and rimadyl. It has been helping so far!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 07, 2013:

My dog's lump on her paw disappeared after giving her turmeric capsules,-and the vets told me surgery was the only way out- amazing stuff!

Pet Artist on May 07, 2013:

What a great read! I had no idea that Tumeric could be beneficial to dogs as well.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 10, 2013:

Thanks for stopping by Midget38. My girl is on turmeric per my holistic vet advice and her lump on her foot has shrunk considerably! Of course, we first did a fine needle aspiration to rule out cancer, but now I can barely see it anymore! Another vet wanted me to have undergo surgery instead!

Michelle Liew from Singapore on April 09, 2013:

Alexadry, we eat lots of curry here in tumeric is a possible consideration. And I am glad to see that it has the same benefits for dogs as it does for us! Thanks for sharing!