Turmeric Benefits for Dogs

Turmeric benefits both people and dogs. It is a safe herb that can easily be fed to dogs with their meals. Learn more about this wonderful herb and how it can be used to boost the immunity and health of your dog.

Turmeric
Turmeric
Curcuma longa
(Ginger family)

With all the buzz about turmeric in recent years, you most likely have heard about this herb or may even be using it for yourself and your family.

The good news is, turmeric benefits dogs in numerous ways as well.

Turmeric belongs to the ginger family and contains a mix of phenolics known as curcumin. It is the curcumin in turmeric that makes this herb so medicinally powerful.

In addition, turmeric is high in vitamin B6 and minerals (manganese, iron, potassium) and contains a good source of fiber.

The Medicinal Power of Turmeric

Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The anti-inflammatory effects of this herb are comparable to those of cortisone, and the antioxidant effects are comparable to those of vitamins C and E.

Turmeric also has liver supporting and protecting properties. It stimulates the output of bile (by as much as 100%!) and increases its solubility.

In addition, it is a carminative, that is, it can help to prevent gas formation in the GI tract.

As well, turmeric benefits the cardiovascular system: it can lower cholesterol levels and inhibit blood clots. In this regard, turmeric benefits people more because dogs do not commonly have cholesterol problems like people do. However, since turmeric has an affinity with the heart, dogs undergoing chemotherapy can benefit from the herb since it can protect the heart against damage by chemotherapy medications.

A number of studies have suggested that turmeric can protect people against Alzheimer's disease. The curcumin in the herb triggers the production of an antioxidant that protects the brain against free radicals. Old dogs can also develop Alzheimer-like symptoms (canine cognitive dysfunction), and though no studies on dogs have been found, it does not hurt to add this herb to an old dog’s diet.

Perhaps the most remarkable property of turmeric is its anticancer property. It has been found that turmeric has the ability to interfere in all steps of cancer formation: initiation, promotion and progression. To put it very simply: turmeric is able to cause cancer cells to end their lifecycle prematurely - in other words, it can cause the cancer cells to commit suicide!

Turmeric Benefits for Dog Health

So what are some turmeric benefits for our dogs' health? Well, we can definitely use this herb to help with the following dog health problems:

  • Inflammation Problems: Since it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it is a good herb to use on dogs with chronic inflammation, such as skin problems, arthritis and joint pain.
  • Liver Problems: If your dog has a mild liver problem, use turmeric to help protect his liver from deteriorating further faster. (If your dog’s liver symptoms are more severe, add milk thistle to the mix).
  • Digestive Problems: Got a gassy dog? Add turmeric to his food and let the herb help decrease gas formation in the GI tract. Turmeric can also improve digestion because it stimulates the secretion of enzymes.
  • Health Tonic: If your dog is old like mine, you may want to add turmeric to his food to help support his heart and as a general antioxidant to prevent cognitive dysfunction and cancer.
  • Cancer: If your dog has unfortunately been diagnosed with cancer, then you should definitely add turmeric to his food daily to help fight cancer.

Dosage and How to Give Turmeric to Dogs


As a Tonic or For Issues Other Than Cancer

The easiest way to give turmeric to dogs is to use the dried, powdered form of the herb (be sure to get an organic product such as this one).

Dosage depends naturally on the size of your dog, but as a very rough guide, start off with these dosages:

  • Small Dogs (10-20 pounds): ¼ teaspoon daily.
  • Medium Dogs (20-50 pounds): ½ teaspoon daily.
  • Large Dogs (50-100 pounds): 1 teaspoon daily.

Dr. Randy Kidd (author of Herbal Dog Care) suggests that the simplest way is to sprinkle the dried herb on the dog’s food.

As turmeric is fat soluble, it may be better to first mix the herb with an oil (e.g. olive oil or coconut oil), and add the herbal oil mix to the dog’s food.

If you home-cook for your dog, you can also simply add the herb to the food during cooking.

You can also use it to make dog treats. Here is a recipe.

For Cancer Treatment

Dr. Dressler (author of Dog Cancer Survival Guide) suggests giving it between meals, at least 1 hour before or after food, on a totally empty stomach.

According to Dr. Dressler, the following dosages are appropriate for cancer treatment:

  • Miniature breeds: 50 mg, 3 times daily.
  • Small breeds (up to 35 lb): 100 mg, 3 times daily.
  • 36-60 lb: 200 mg, 3 times daily.
  • Over 60 lb: 250 mg, 3 times daily.

Precautions

Turmeric is a very safe herb for dogs, and there seems to be no toxicity reported at normal intake levels. Do not, however, overfeed it to your dog since large amounts may cause inflammation or ulceration of the stomach lining.

In addition, please note the following:

  • Since turmeric has blood-thinning properties, do not use it 10-14 days before surgery. Also if your dog is on blood-thinning medications (e.g. warfarin), consult with your vet before giving turmeric to your dog.
  • Research has found that turmeric can increase the risk of developing bladder stones since the herb is high in soluble oxalates. Turmeric, therefore, should not be used on dogs who are prone to the formation of oxalate bladder stones.
  • If your dog has stomach ulcers, do not use this herb since, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there is some evidence that turmeric may increase stomach acid, making existing ulcers worse.
  • If your dog is on anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. NSAIDs or corticosteroids), consult with your vet before giving turmeric to the dog. As the herb also has anti-inflammatory properties, the dosage of the synthetic drug may have to be adjusted.
  • Consult a vet first before giving turmeric to diabetic dogs. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, turmeric may lower blood sugar levels and, when combined with medications for diabetes, could cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Dog with a Yellow Mustache

If you have used turmeric before, you will know that the yellow pigment in the turmeric can stain light-colored surfaces. So don’t be surprised to see a yellow mustache on your white haired dog if you put turmeric on her food, and don’t let your dog eat on your white carpet!

Puppy

References
D. Dressler, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog's Life Quality and Longevity (Kindle Edition, 2011).
R. Kidd, Dr. Kidd's Guide to Herbal Dog Care (Storey Publishing, 2000).
S. Messonnier, The Natural Vet's Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs (New World Library, 2006).
University of Maryland Medical Center (http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric)