There’s a spice that you may already have in your cupboard that could help improve your dog’s health … and even protect him from serious disease. That spice is turmeric. And turmeric for dogs can have some powerful health benefits.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is an Indian spice … the one that gives curry its yellow color. It comes from the Curcuma longa root, which is dried and ground to create the yellow powder most people use as a health supplement and in cooking. Turmeric’s main constituent is curcumin, which is often sold separately as an extract. Both turmeric and curcumin have a long history of healing … and there are thousands of research studies showing their many medicinal uses.
The key to turmeric’s health benefits is its ability to help control inflammation.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation can be a good thing … it’s your dog’s body responding to injury, irritation or infection. When your dog’s hurt or exposed to viruses and bacteria … inflammation helps your dog heal and repair faster.
That’s acute inflammation and it’s an important part of healing. But chronic inflammation is another story. Chronic inflammation is low-grade, systemic inflammation that lasts for weeks, months, or even years. And it’s linked to most diseases …
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Dental disease
- Digestive issues
- Heart disease
That’s why keeping inflammation in check is so important.
Turmeric And Inflammation
Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. A 2004 study at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center compared the ability of curcumin vs non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control tumor cells (1). Researchers found that “… resveratrol, curcumin, celecoxib, and tamoxifen are the most potent anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative agents of those we studied.” (The researchers found that aspirin and ibuprofen were the least potent of the drugs they reviewed.)
And it isn’t just NSAIds that turmeric can replace. Research shows turmeric’s effectiveness compared to other types of drugs including:
4 Ways Turmeric Helps Your Dog
Now that you understand the role of inflammation and disease in your dog … here are a few situations where turmeric can help your dog.
1. Joint Health
Your dog’s joints experience a lot of wear and tear over their lifetime so it’s not surprising when an older dog has mobility problems. But what about young or even middle-aged dogs who should be in the prime of their life?
In 2014 a study in Thailand compared curcumin to ibuprofen in managing knee osteoarthritis. Curcumin worked just as well as the ibuprofen to reduce pain … and without the gastrointestinal side effects of ibuprofen (6)
IMPORTANT: The above study was done on humans. You should never give your dog ibuprofen … it can be toxic to dogs.
Sadly, 50% of adult dogs will develop cancer. But curcumin can be an effective treatment and preventative, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties (1). Curcumin can also …
- Boost the immune system (7)
- Inhibit cancer cell division and growth (8)
- Induce cancer cell death (apoptosis) (9)
- Inhibit metastasis (10)
In 2009, a study at MD Anderson Cancer Center at University of Texas reviewed the many ways curcumin kills cancer cells (11). The researchers concluded:
Overall, our review shows that curcumin can kill a wide variety of tumor cell types through diverse mechanisms. Because of numerous mechanisms of cell death employed by curcumin, it is possible that cells may not develop resistance to curcumin-induced cell death.
The researchers also noted curcumin’s ability to kill tumor cells and not normal cells.
3. Gastrointestinal Health
It turns out that turmeric not only reduces gastrointestinal side effects … it can help treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other gut issues. Studies have shown that curcumin can help manage gut inflammation and permeability (leaky gut) (12) … as well as control IBD (13).
It can also …
- Cleanse the colon of parasites
- Reduce flatulence
- Increase liver enzyme production to remove toxins
- Soothe intestinal muscles
- Stimulate bile secretions from the gallbladder
One Australian paper suggested that curcumin’s effects on gastrointestinal health may be the reason for its wide-ranging therapeutic properties (14). The paper summarized studies investigating the effects of curcumin on intestinal microbiota, intestinal permeability, gut inflammation and oxidative stress, anaphylactic response, and bacterial, parasitic, and fungal infections
4. Cardiovascular Health
Studies show curcumin may lower the risk of heart disease by improving the function of the blood vessel lining (the endothelium), helping to regulate blood pressure and clotting (15).
Curcumin may protect against many different types of heart problems. A 2019 review by 9 international universities analyzed studies of the cardiovascular protective effects of curcumin in conditions such as heart failure, drug-induced cardiotoxicity, atherosclerosis, abdominal aortic aneurysm, stroke and diabetic cardiovascular complications (16), calling it “the golden spice in treating cardiovascular diseases.”
How To Give Your Dog Turmeric
It’s easy to see why turmeric is such a great addition to your dog’s diet … but what’s the best way to give it to your dog? You can buy powdered turmeric or fresh turmeric root.
If you buy powder, don’t buy grocery store turmeric powder … even if it’s organic. Grocery store turmeric is intended for cooking, not as a health supplement. Health food stores are usually your best option. And if you can find one that contains added black pepper or piperine, that helps make turmeric more absorbable.
If you go with fresh turmeric root, you can buy it from a health food store or the grocery store. Buy organic whenever you can. When you get it home, crush or grate it and add a bit of black pepper.
If you want to add turmeric to your dog’s diet you can also use turmeric golden paste. Fat also helps with turmeric absorption so it’s another good thing to add.
½ cup organic turmeric powder
1 to 1 ½ cups filtered water
1 ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup MCT oil or ghee (preferably from pastured cows)
- Mix the turmeric with 1 cup of water in a pan.
- Stir on medium/low heat for 7 to 10 minutes until it forms a thick paste. Add more water or turmeric if needed.
- Add pepper and oil and stir well.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Place in a jar and store in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.
How Much Turmeric Should You Give Your Dog
Whether you choose powdered turmeric, fresh turmeric or turmeric golden paste … take your time and work up to ⅛ to ¼ tsp per 10 pounds of body weight daily, starting with a half dose and working up slowly. You can add any of the options to your dog’s food.
Cautions With Turmeric
Turmeric is safe for dogs, but some dogs don’t tolerate certain foods as well as others.
If you have a “hot” dog who feels warm all the time and seeks out cool places to lie, don’t feed him turmeric. In warm dogs, turmeric may increase inflammation – the opposite of what you want!
Turmeric can also interact with some drugs like NSAIDs, blood thinners or certain cancer drugs. Before you add any natural remedies to your dog’s diet, you should check in with your holistic vet about any medications he’s on.
Pregnant dogs should not have turmeric. It can cause premature uterine contractions which can lead to miscarriage.
Turmeric For Dogs
Turmeric can be a great way to manage your dog’s joint and digestive health, and it may help protect him from cancer and heart disease. It’s also an effective replacement for risky drugs like NSAIDs. If you give turmeric to your dog, be aware of the cautions and introduce it slowly.
- Takada Y, Bhardwaj A, Potdar P, Aggarwal BB. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF-kappaB activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation. Oncogene. 2004 Dec 9;23(57):9247-58.
- Daily JW, Yang M, Park S. Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. J Med Food. 2016 Aug;19(8):717-29.
- Kazuhiro Yoshida, Shusuke Toden et al. Curcumin sensitizes pancreatic cancer cells to gemcitabine by attenuating PRC2 subunit EZH2, and the lncRNA PVT1 expression. Carcinogenesis, Volume 38, Issue 10, October 2017.
- Siew C. Ng, MRCP, Michael A. Kamm, MD, Therapeutic Strategies for the Management of Ulcerative Colitis. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Volume 15, Issue 6, 1 June 2009.
- Wang Q, Rozelle AL, Lepus CM, et al. Identification of a central role for complement in osteoarthritis. Nat Med. 2011;17(12):1674-1679. Published 2011 Nov 6.
- Kuptniratsaikul V, Dajpratham P et al. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. Clin Interv Aging. 2014 Mar 20;9:451-8.
- Jagetia GC, Aggarwal BB. “Spicing up” of the immune system by curcumin. J Clin Immunol. 2007 Jan;27(1):19-35.
- Giordano A, Tommonaro G. Curcumin and Cancer. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 5;11(10):2376.
- Mortezaee K, Salehi E et al. Mechanisms of apoptosis modulation by curcumin: Implications for cancer therapy. J Cell Physiol. 2019 Aug;234(8):12537-12550.
- Kunnumakkara AB, Anand P, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin inhibits proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis of different cancers through interaction with multiple cell signaling proteins. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):199-225.
- Ravindran J, Prasad S, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin and cancer cells: how many ways can curry kill tumor cells selectively? AAPS J. 2009;11(3):495-510.
- Scazzocchio B, Minghetti L, D’Archivio M. Interaction between Gut Microbiota and Curcumin: A New Key of Understanding for the Health Effects of Curcumin. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 19;12(9):2499.
- Hanai H, Sugimoto K. Curcumin has bright prospects for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. Curr Pharm Des. 2009;15(18):2087-94.
- Lopresti AL. The Problem of Curcumin and Its Bioavailability: Could Its Gastrointestinal Influence Contribute to Its Overall Health-Enhancing Effects? Adv Nutr. 2018 Jan 1;9(1):41-50.
- Karimian MS, Pirro M et al. Curcumin and Endothelial Function: Evidence and Mechanisms of Protective Effects. Curr Pharm Des. 2017;23(17):2462-2473.
- Li H, Sureda A, Devkota HP et al. Curcumin, the golden spice in treating cardiovascular diseases. Biotechnol Adv. 2020 Jan-Feb;38:107343.