Written by Ella White
The benefits of turmeric for dogs have been heavily researched. In humans, we know this bright spice can act as an anti-inflammatory that helps tackle a whole host of health issues. But did you know that it has also been proven to be beneficial for dogs too?
Turmeric is a vibrant yellow spice that’s been used for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years – but you’re most likely to have come across it in your curry. The main component of turmeric is curcumin, which is known for its powerful anti-oxidising and anti-inflammatory properties. Part of the ginger family, it’s often used to add colour and flavour to dishes with its beneficial properties coming in as a happy coincidence.
Thousands of studies have shown the benefits of curcumin for both humans and animals, but since Indian food probably isn’t a big part of your pet’s diet, you need to administer them with health-giving curcumin in different ways.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been found to help fight diseases including diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and liver and gastrointestinal issues in dogs. Its antiviral and antifungal properties help to heal wounds and prevent further illnesses.
Turmeric is safe for dogs in small quantities, like as a supplement or an ingredient in their food. In fact you might notice it as a listed ingredient in their food, but it’s likely that this is for its bright colour rather than its health benefits.
If you want to know how to feed turmeric to your dog and how much they need, read on…
Like with any product that sees a surge in popularity, there will always be manufacturers looking to make money on poor quality produce. So before investing in turmeric for your dog, make sure you’re buying from a trusted company and that their products have been tested by an approved certifying body.
The turmeric you feed your dog should be medical not culinary – the turmeric in your kitchen cupboard is not formulated for its medicinal properties but for its colour and taste so your dog won’t benefit from a spoonful of culinary turmeric in their dinner. Make sure you check for quantities of cucuminoids, the active part of the turmeric root that provides the benefits you’re after.
There are a number of specific benefits that turmeric can give your dog. However, it’s worth considering whether your dog is suffering from any of the following afflictions rather than feeding them turmeric for no reason.
Inflammation doesn’t only affect dogs suffering from joint issues. Cancer, allergies, dental issues, digestive diseases, and arthritis are all caused by inflammation and though not all inflammation is a bad thing, chronic inflammation can lead to degenerative health issues in the future. In fact, many of the inflammatory diseases mentioned can exacerbate one another and even lead one issue to spread into another.
One study has found that curcumin can work as well as anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin, and it’s even been found to out-perform ibuprofen in humans with arthritis. However, if you’re concerned about inflammation causing diseases in your dog and want advice on using turmeric as an anti-inflammatory, speak to your vet before administering the treatment.
Some scientists believe that curcumin can prevent precancerous cells from evolving into cancer. As well as fighting inflammation that can lead to cancer, it interferes with the development of the disease itself. In fact, almost a third of all studies carried out on turmeric have been relating to its cancer-fighting properties. And it’s been shown to reduce the size of tumours, kill cells, and prevent more from evolving, so the results are looking promising.
Since half of all adult dogs are likely to get cancer, it’s worth talking to your vet about turmeric as a preventative option.
Since arthritis is caused by inflammation, it makes sense that turmeric could help to relieve the pain and stiffness it causes in your dog’s joints. In 2014, a study showed that curcumin works as well as ibuprofen to relieve the effects of knee osteoarthritis in human patients, without the gastrointestinal side effects that chemical medication can cause. Which leads us to the next benefit…
Problems in the gut, like IBS, are often caused by inflammation so curcumin can be an effective source of relief. A Japanese study has shown that turmeric has positive results when used to east gut inflammation and can help make the intestine’s lining less permeable.
If your dog is prescribed steroids, it can be a hard decision to make. The benefits are proven but there are also side effects that put many pet owners off giving their dogs steroids. They’re designed for allergies and joint issues, but since studies show that curcumin is just as effective in treating these problems, it could make a good natural alternative without the negative side effects. And if your dog does need to be on steroids, curcumin has been shown to help reduce the side effects they can cause.
As well as its many benefits as an anti-inflammatory, turmeric is also a powerful antioxidant. Using turmeric for this benefit can help slow signs of ageing and degeneration which ultimately increase your dog’s lifespan. Oxidants in your dog’s body can cause damage to the cells and proteins that make up your dog’s DNA, which slowly begins to wear them down. It exacerbates inflammation and leads to the chronic diseases we’ve already covered.
Though turmeric doesn’t cause any known side effects – and is in fact proven to reduce the side effects caused by other medications – large doses can cause problems. Feeding your dog too much turmeric can cause gastrointestinal upset, and in dogs with bleeding disorders it can obstruct the gallbladder.
While there are plenty of health benefits to be gained from turmeric, it’s also possible for these benefits to contradict other issues. For example, because it’s an anticoagulant, turmeric can also make clotting disorders, including some liver diseases, worse. So if your dog has any known issues that could actually benefit from inflammation, check with a vet before giving them turmeric or curcumin.
Turmeric oil is also high in fat which can cause bowel issues when suddenly introduced to a dog’s diet. Some dogs may also suffer allergic reactions to turmeric applied topically so patch testing is recommended.
We’ve already explained that the culinary turmeric in your kitchen cupboard won’t cut it when it comes to fighting inflammation and disease. So you’ll need to look out for the different kinds of turmeric designed specifically for healing your pet.
It’s easy to give to dogs, no matter which form you choose, but be aware that the bitter taste of the spice alone will be off-putting so it’s recommended to blend with their food or other flavours. Curcumin is also hard to absorb on its own, so combining it with other ingredients is recommended for easier ingestion.
The recommended daily dose of turmeric for dogs is 15mg–20mg per pound of body weight. But since curcumin leaves the body quickly, it’s best to give turmeric in small amounts throughout the day rather than in one dose.
Specially formulated medical turmeric powder for dogs can be mixed with coconut or olive oil and ground pepper to create a paste to mix into your dog’s food. The oil helps your dog absorb the curcumin, while the pepper contains piperine which increases bioavailability. This works best with wet food, and can be batch-made to use for two weeks. Large dogs need a spoonful each day while half a spoonful is enough for medium-sized dogs, and small dogs can benefit from just a quarter of a spoonful.
Turmeric liquid usually comes in the form of drops that can be added to their food. Like paste, the size of your dog will affect how much they need. Another benefit of liquid turmeric is that it is easily absorbed so can act more quickly than powder.
Chews and tablets that are rich in curcumin can come in different flavours that your dog will enjoy more than a mouthful of turmeric! They can be fed alone or within their food, and you can opt for natural ingredients that don’t include anything likely to cause further inflammation like soy or wheat.
Front of the Pack’s The One supplement contains the only form of curcumin in the world that’s proven to be beneficial to dogs. Yes – there’s only one, and that’s why you need to do your research when buying turmeric products for dogs. The One contains eight clinically proven ingredients to improve your dog’s overall health and mental wellbeing. The curcumin element helps to defend against cellular damage and block the enzymes that cause inflammation.
Speak to your vet before changing your dog’s diet. It’s likely that they will approve of curcumin that’s proven to be beneficial to dogs. And hopefully you’ll notice the change in your ill or achey dog in no time.