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Turmeric is enjoying its moment in the spotlight these days, from its popular use in cooking to human medicinal supplements and beyond. This bright-yellow spice is purported to have numerous health benefits for humans, so the veterinary world (and pet food and pet supplement industries) have taken notice.
But first, is turmeric safe for dogs? Yes, for most dogs, it’s safe in small amounts. Are there proven benefits for our furry friends? We’ve dug into the research into this golden root, what the veterinary community has to say about the use of turmeric for dogs, feeding guidelines, and more.
What Is Turmeric?
You might know turmeric as the spice that gives mustard and curry their vibrant golden color. It comes from the rhizomes (underground roots) of Curcuma longa, an herb that’s native to Southeast Asia. Turmeric has a long history of medicinal use, dating back nearly 4,000 years.
Because of its long-time and variety of medicinal uses in Eastern medicine, modern Western medicine took a keen interest in turmeric. In the last 25 years, more than 3,000 studies have examined turmeric and its active ingredient, curcumin, a naturally occurring chemical compound. Numerous studies have found that turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties.
Is Turmeric Good For Dogs?
Research into turmeric’s benefits for dogs isn’t nearly as extensive as it is for use in humans, but a growing body of research is finding promising benefits for our furry friends.
It’s important to point out that turmeric should complement your pup’s current treatment rather than replace it. And always check with your veterinarian before giving your pup any supplement.
Joint Problems & Arthritis
One of the most commonly promoted uses of turmeric is to promote joint health for dogs suffering from arthritis and other joint problems. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric may help reduce swelling and pain and improve mobility. A frequently cited study found significantly lower pain indicators in arthritic dogs who were fed a mixture containing curcumin for three months. A few other studies found promising anti-inflammatory benefits in animals.
The benefits of turmeric for dogs’ pain may well go beyond joint problems because inflammation is a major cause of pain in many conditions. One study comparing curcumin to ibuprofen showed curcumin to be as effective in treating chronic pain as ibuprofen. In another study comparing it to acetaminophen, researchers found curcumin as a safe alternative for acute pain relief.
Immune System Health
Because of curcumin’s potent antioxidant properties, it may help boost your pup’s overall health and improve your dog’s ability to fight off diseases. One small study compared several health indicators of dogs given curcumin-enriched dog food versus a control group of dogs given the same food without curcumin. After 42 days on this diet, the dogs given curcumin showed stimulated antioxidant systems and greater numbers of red and white blood cells.
There’s some evidence that curcumin may help reduce the risk of some types of cancer and slow tumor development. But as the American Cancer Society and other experts point out, more research needs to be conducted before it’s used as a cancer treatment. Still, some holistic vets recommend turmeric for dogs with cancer.
A fascinating study explored the use of turmeric oil as a tick deterrent. In several different experiments, researchers found that turmeric oil was able to prevent a climbing response by ticks and that it outperformed natural oils, DEET, and other ingredients as a tick repellent. However, before you slather your dog in turmeric oil, speak to your vet about how to use it safely as a tick deterrent. Turmeric essential oil must be heavily diluted when used on dogs.
Additional Potential Benefits For Dogs
Based on extensive research into curcumin in pre-clinical and clinical trials in humans and its use in traditional Eastern medicine, here are some other ways turmeric may benefit our furry friends.
- Aids digestion, soothes GI discomfort, and helps treat inflammatory bowel disease
- Helps thin the blood (lowering the risk of blood clots)
- Protects the liver from toxins
- Relieves irritated, swollen, and itchy skin from skin allergies (with topical application)
Is Turmeric Safe For All Dogs?
One of the many pluses of turmeric is its low side effects in people and dogs. However, it’s not safe for all dogs. Dogs with the following health conditions should avoid turmeric:
- On blood-thinner medications
- Upcoming surgery (due to blood-thinning properties)
- Kidney disease
- Gall bladder problems
- Iron deficiency
Are There Side Effects Of Tumeric In Dogs?
Although side effects are generally low, giving your pup too much turmeric can cause gastrointestinal (GI) issues, such as stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. And giving your pup turmeric may cause negative interactions with the current medications he’s taking. So be sure to check with your vet if your pup is on any other medications before giving him turmeric.
How Much Turmeric For Dogs?
A safe turmeric dosage for dogs per day is 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of grated raw turmeric for every 10 pounds of body weight. But you may want to start with smaller amounts, especially if your pup has a sensitive GI system.
Feeding your dog raw turmeric root (or plain turmeric powder), however, won’t result in the ultimate benefits you’re looking for. Why? When ingested in their raw root form, turmeric and curcumin have very low bioavailability, meaning they’re not absorbed well into the body to deliver optimal benefits. Turmeric also has a bitter taste, which your pup may not like.
So, you’ll need to look for products or recipes that include special ingredients to maximize bioavailability (see below). Research has shown that combining turmeric with a small amount of black pepper and healthy fat (like coconut oil or fish oil) significantly improves the body’s absorption of curcumin.
Turmeric Tip: Take precautions when you’re preparing tumeric in your kitchen. The bright-yellow color stains everything, and it’s hard to get the stain out.
How Can Dogs Have Turmeric For The Best Results?
You have several options to give your canine companion turmeric safely and effectively. Here’s the best turmeric for dogs recommended by pet experts and holistic veterinarians.
Note: You can find turmeric in many different dog foods, treats (like CBD dog treats), and dog joint supplements, but they may not have enough to provide the maximum health benefits compared to what you can find below.
Turmeric Supplements For Dogs
The simplest option is to give your pup a daily over-the-counter turmeric supplement. But it’s important to give your dog a supplement made specifically for dogs. Many human supplements contain high levels of turmeric (and possibly other ingredients) that are unsafe for dogs.
The following soft chews are all-natural and contain BioPerine, a black pepper extract, and healthy fats for ultimate body absorption. Some also include other key ingredients to support joint health.
- Zesty Paws Turmeric Curcumin Bites
- Pet Honesty Hip + Joint Health Turmeric
- Vet-Virtue Turmeric For Dogs
The Famous Golden Paste
If you’d rather give your pup an all-natural homemade solution, here’s the best recipe. The Golden Paste was created by Dr. Doug English, an Australian veterinarian, and long-time turmeric researcher.
- 1/2 cup organic turmeric powder
- 1 cup water
- 2-3 teaspoons freshly cracked ground pepper (not pre-ground)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil (raw, unrefined, cold-pressed)*
* You can substitute coconut oil with flaxseed oil or extra virgin olive oil.
In a saucepan, bring the turmeric powder and water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 7-10 minutes (until you have a thick paste). Remove from heat and cool down for 10 minutes. Then, stir in the ground pepper and oil. You can store it for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Start slowly with 1/4 of a teaspoon twice a day mixed in with your dog’s food. You can build up to 3-4 times a day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions our readers ask most often about turmeric for dogs.
Can I Give My Dog Human Turmeric Capsules?
Many human turmeric capsules contain levels that are too high in turmeric and curcumin for dogs and may have other ingredients that aren’t safe for our furry friends. However, some with lower levels may be okay as long as you check with your vet first.
Can I Sprinkle Turmeric On My Dog’s Food?
You can sprinkle grated raw turmeric, turmeric powder, or turmeric oil on your dog’s food, but that’s not nearly as effective as other ways to give your pup turmeric. Plain turmeric isn’t absorbed well by our bodies so health benefits will be minimal if you go this route.
Pain Relief Options For Dogs
If you’re not a fan of pharmaceuticals for your pup, feeding your dog turmeric is one of several holistic ways you can ease your pup’s inflammation and pain from arthritis or other conditions. Our ultimate guide on the best natural pain relief for dogs explains all of your options, from supplements and herbal remedies to alternative therapies like acupuncture and more.Tagged With: Holistic, Supplements