Turmeric for dogs: The benefits, the dangers, how to use it and an awesome recipe

If you’ve ever gone to an Indian restaurant then you have probably had curry a time or two and turmeric is what gives it the…

If you’ve ever gone to an Indian restaurant then you have probably had curry a time or two and turmeric is what gives it the yellow color. Turmeric has been used in Indian, African, and Asian dishes for centuries but the spice is becoming more well known for its anti-inflammatory properties in the West and many owners are now curious about turmeric for their dogs.

Yes, turmeric is safe for dogs, it is an extremely beneficial spice to use in your dog’s diet on a regular basis due to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and its modulatory benefits on the immune system.

Aside from being used in food to spice things up, turmeric is a common ingredient in many traditional medicinal practices as it has some extremely powerful health benefits. In fact one study found that it helped decrease chronic inflammation in dogs within 3 days to 3 months, along with other treatments for the conditions (Source)

Curcumin is what gives turmeric its tremendous health benefits, however, it only makes up about 2-5% of turmeric, which is not very much, and why many people opt to use extracted curcumin instead of turmeric.

In clinical trials, curcumin for dogs has shown efficacy against numerous ailments including arthritis, diabetes, cancer, gi issues, heart disease, immune diseases, and liver disease.

Let’s look at some of the many health benefits your dog can get from eating turmeric


10 Tremendous Health Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Turmeric

dog eating turmeric

While turmeric touts several health benefits for dogs, most are due to the spice’s tremendous anti-inflammatory and immune-balancing properties.

Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing because in short acute burst it can help the body heal and repair itself but chronic or long-lasting inflammation is extremely detrimental to your dog. Chronic inflammation is the foundation of almost all diseases. Chronic inflammation can last for weeks, months, or years and often contributes to many diseases like arthritis and autoimmune disorders.

There have been thousands of studies on turmeric and curcumin in humans (a lot less in dogs) so we will look at some of those throughout the article. One study claimed that curcumin along with other anti-inflammatory compounds like resveratrol, celecoxib, and tamoxifen were more potent at decreasing inflammation than aspirin and ibuprofen. (Source)

1. Anti-Cancer

Unfortunately, according to the AVMA, approximately 1 in 4 dogs will develop tumors, and almost half of the dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer.

So what does inflammation have to do with cancer? Chronic inflammation can cause cell mutation and proliferation creating an environment that is extremely conducive to cancer development. (Source)

Curcumin helps to decrease tumor cell growth or proliferation, metastasis, and death of normal cells (Source). In fact, the spice is now added to some chemotherapy treatments to improve outcomes (Source).

2. Immunomodulation

Aside from its anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric has been shown to be able to positively modulate the immune system via the expression of the systems cells like macrophages and t-cells.

3. Arthritis

Inflammation of the joints causes tremendous stiffness and pain in dogs. Usually, owners will notice their pup not wanting to walk up the stairs, getting up slowly, or not running and playing the way they used to. Your vet can officially diagnose your pup with arthritis by taking an x-ray and looking at the cartilage surrounding the affected bones.

Most likely your vet will put your dog on pain and anti-inflammatory medications, you should also inquire about giving your dog curcumin or turmeric powder since they have been shown to help with arthritis in both humans and dogs. Some owners even notice that they can eventually wean their pups off of over-the-counter medications in lieu of turmeric only.

4. Promotes Gut Health

The gut is known as the second brain and there is some speculation as to if the positive effects of curcumin on the gut microbiota are the reasons for its overall health effects (source). There are currently two main ways known that turmeric has been shown to help the gut

  • Pre-biotic and probiotic like effects: Turmeric extract has been shown to have better resistance to the acidic gastric environment of yor dog’s stomach than the standard prebiotic given and is digested by and supports the growth of beneficial bacteria including Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium animals.
  • Helps with inflammation in the gut: It has been shown that turmeric can help with leaky gut due to the spices relationship with the gut microbiota but it has also been shown to suppress IBD colitis in humans and reduce the relapse in patients with chronic IBD. These studies are done in humans, but they are also promising results for our fur babies. (Source)

5. Improves Heart Health

It is estimated that 10% of dogs in the United States have heart disease, this is approximately 7.8 million dogs. (Source) Studies have shown that curcumin can reduce the risk of heart disease in humans by improving blood flow and in turn help to reduce blood pressure and help regulate blood clotting factors.

6. Diabetes

Turmeric supplements have also been shown to help with blood sugar management (Source)

7. Antioxidant

Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and as we all know by now, antioxidants are beneficial for decreasing the effects of aging and cellular degradation by protecting your dog’s cells and eliminating free radicals & oxidative stress in the body.

8. Antifungal

Turmeric seems like the spice that does it all and it even wards off some fungi, like Candida Albicans, according to several studies (Source)

9. Antibacterial

Turmeric has been widely used in some cultures as a natural antimicrobial for centuries, recently it has proven to be effective in fighting off certain types of bacteria like Streptococcus. (Source)

10. Adaptogen

Just when you thought the spice couldn’t have any more beneficial properties, it turns out that turmeric is also an adaptogen! This means that it can help your dog’s body manage stress and anxiety. I wrote an article about dogs and adaptogens here so you can find out other scientifically backed adaptogens for your dog.


7 Dangers of Feeding Your Dog Turmeric

dog eating turmeric

Is turmeric dangerous for dogs? No turmeric is not dangerous in the right dosages for dogs. The spice is generally considered safe for dogs but there are some instances where it can be harmful. Here are some other things you should be concerned about when feeding your dog turmeric

1. Medicine Interactions

Turmeric can interact with some medications like NSAIDs, some cancer drugs, blood thinners, blood pressure medications, and diabetes medications. Always speak with your vet prior to placing your dog on new herbs or formulas especially if they take an over-the-counter medicine

2. Black pepper

While a small amount of black pepper probably won’t harm your dog, feeding him or her large quantities should be avoided since it provides little to no health benefits and can cause irritation to the airways and eyes. Most pet owners have no issues but there are other, less irritating options to pair with curcumin for optimal absorption.

Some turmeric contains black pepper in their formulations, so if you do not want to feed your dog black pepper always read the ingredient list

3. Constipation

While not a serious danger, too much turmeric can cause constipation in your dog. Your dog would have to eat a ton of turmeric for this to occur so this is not likely to occur, but if you notice your dog straining to use the bathroom stop feeding the spice.

4. Allergies

This is extremely rare but allergic reactions to turmeric can occur. Signs of allergic reactions to turmeric in your dog are usually:

  • swollen skin or hives
  • itchy skin (most common)
  • trouble breathing (extremely rare)

5. Anemia

Turmeric has been known to cause iron deficiency anemia in humans

6. Kidney Stones

In humans, turmeric has been associated with the formation of oxalate crystals which can increase the risk of kidney stones. Dogs that are prone to forming kidney stones should refrain from eating turmeric.

7. Overdose

If you give your dog too much turmeric over a long period of time it can cause issue like:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Incordination and dizziness

How to give your dog turmeric

How much turmeric do I give my dog?

In general, the recommended dose of turmeric for dogs is 15mg–20mg per pound of body weight per day, or more simply put, 1/8 to 1/4 tsp per day for every 10 pounds of body weight. You should start with half a dose increase to the max dose over a couple of weeks.

For example, A 9-pound dog would get 1/8 teaspoon at the lowest dose and up to 1/4 teaspoon at max dose

How often should I give my dog turmeric?

You can feed your dog turmeric daily and to ensure it still functions optimally in their body, you can use the ‘on for a certain period of time and off for a short amount of time’ method as an elimination period (for example on turmeric for 3 weeks and off for 1 week).

In addition, turmeric leaves the body fairly quickly, so it is best to give it throughout the day. Ideally, you would split your daily dose into the number of feedings you give your dog and feed at each meal, for example, a 9-pound dog would get 1/8 teaspoon in the morning and 1/8 teaspoon in the evening if you feed twice a day to make up 1/4th of a teaspoon.

How do I use turmeric so my dog processes it efficiently?

If you are simply sprinkling turmeric over your dog’s food you should probably just sprinkle it over the trash can as the spice requires paring with piperine or a fat to be used efficiently by your dog’s body. Since you don’t want to give your dog too much black pepper try using a small amount of coconut oil. You can even make frozen treats using the recipe provided from Pawsomely Delicious.

Where do I get turmeric for my dog?

There are several places to pick up ground or whole turmeric which you can grind yourself.

Health Food Store

Choose to buy your turmeric from the health food store and not the grocery store as many of the grocery store spices have other ingredients that may be harmful to your pet since they are usually made to bring out a better taste in foods and not for supplemental purposes

Grow Your Own

Growing turmeric is easy to grow if you live in a warm and sunny climate

Pre-Formulated Treats

There are a ton of over-the-counter supplements for dogs that contain turmeric, if you want to take the guesswork out of dosing these are your best bet

Which dogs should not have turmeric?

  • Pregnant dogs
  • Dogs with bile tract obstruction or gallstones
  • Dogs blood clotting issues
  • Dogs on medications that turmeric may interfere with the efficacy of the treatment
  • Dogs with allergies to curcumin
  • Dogs with kidney stones
  • Dogs getting ready to have a surgical procedure (as it promotes thin blood)
  • Dogs with renal failure or kidney disease

Summary
1. Get your turmeric from the health food store or buy one formulated specifically for dogs to prevent excess chemicals and ingredients your dog shouldn’t ingest
2. There are certain dogs that should not have turmeric
3. Turmeric should be combined with a fat for optimal absorption
4. The general dose of turmeric for dogs is 1/8 to 1/4 tsp per day for every 10 pounds of body weight
5. Turmeric leaves the body fairly quickly, so it is best to give it throughout the day


Important Facts You Should Know Before Feeding Your Dog Turmeric

  • Turmeric stains EVERYTHING, when mixed with a liquid it will stain your hands, your kitchen counters, the floors, and your dog’s fur! So use gloves or be extra careful when handling it if you are making treats
  • You may already be giving your dog turmeric so check your dog’s food to make sure it is not already in the formulation before adding it to his or her diet
  • Buy organic when possible
  • Purchase from a reputable company to ensure the pureness of the contents
  • Look for products that have a Certificate of Analysis

Below is our recipe for Anti-inflammatory Turmeric Rolls feel free to add other anti-inflammatories and antioxidants such as chia seeds to pack in the goodness

Anti-inflammatory Turmeric Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Puree
  • 1 Cup White Rice
  • ½ tbsp Turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon Coconut Oil

Instructions

  • Cook the rice until soft and slightly over cooked so that it will stick together
  • Mix together Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Puree with coconut oil, rice and turmeric
  • Roll into balls (you may want to use gloves since the turmeric stains)
  • Place in oven at 350° for 20 minutes
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool

Notes

Store in the refrigerator up to 7 days 

References