Turmeric for Dogs
Inflammation causes a lot of health concerns for both humans and animals. Though we usually think of joint pains when we hear the word “inflammation,” it actually causes a lot more problems than that. Brain deterioration, organ damage, allergies, and malignant tumors can all be caused by chronic inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory medications are widely available to help relieve symptoms, but they cause a lot of adverse effects like liver damage and stomach problems. Taking prescription medications for prolonged periods may actually cause more problems. Fortunately, there are safer and more natural ways to approach inflammation. Turmeric is one of these natural remedies.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric spice is derived from the bright orange root stalks of the turmeric plant. The roots closely resemble ginger both in appearance and in flavor, though turmeric is a bit sharper and more complex in taste.
Curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, is a strong natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It is widely used in Middle Eastern cooking and alternative medicine.
What Are the Benefits of Turmeric for Dogs?
Dogs can develop humanlike diseases, especially as they age. The treatment for these diseases are similar to how we treat our own human ailments. There is typically a change in diet required along with proper medications for our furry friends.
Studies have shown that curcumin has great potential in the treatment of diseases such as arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes, dementia, and cancer (1,2). These studies were done on human subjects, but there have also been reports about the effectiveness of turmeric for dogs.
Five Benefits of Turmeric for Dogs:
1) Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Chronic, low-grade inflammation is a silent killer for both humans and dogs. Inflammation may occur anywhere in the body, most notably the joints, heart, brain, liver, and bladder. Swelling causes pain, irritation, and possibly redness at the site of inflammation. Underneath the skin, swelling can eventually lead to organ damage. Symptoms may be harder to identify in dogs, as they aren’t able to tell us if they’re in pain.
Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory that may work just as well as over-the-counter prescription medications like ibuprofen (1). In fact, it’s a lot safer to take since it won’t cause stomach irritation or liver damage when taken daily.
2) Turmeric can relieve and prevent pain caused by arthritis.
Apart from treating swelling, turmeric also works as a natural analgesic. Medical experts have discovered that turmeric works as well as ibuprofen to relieve pain, again without the nasty side effects. (1)
Arthritic pain is caused by joint stiffness and swelling around the affected area. Turmeric helps to calm the inflammation, which helps to reduce pain and improve the range of motion.
3) Turmeric can treat IBD and other gastrointestinal issues.
Irritable bowel disease can cause unpleasant symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever (5). This highly uncomfortable disease is caused by chronic inflammation. Fortunately, turmeric can help relieve the symptoms of IBS through its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
Turmeric has also shown promise in helping to improve gut permeability, which is the ability of the digestive system to absorb nutrients from food (1). This will allow your dog to heal much faster and avoid losing weight.
4) Turmeric can help prevent cancer
Another sinister result of chronic inflammation is the dreaded disease cancer. The damage caused by inflammation can lead to the formation of free radicals, which cause more damage to healthy cells and may lead to the formation of cancer cells. Experts say that about half of adult dogs will develop cancer in their lifetimes (1).
The American Cancer Society declares that curcumin may reduce tumor size and eliminate cancer cells from the body (1). Curcumin is said to block the growth of cancerous cells, reduce their size, and stop them from corrupting healthy cells (1,5). Though curcumin is a promising anti-cancer compound, it’s better to take it as a preventive supplement to strengthen the body against free radical damage.
5) Turmeric can boost brain function and reduce the risk of brain diseases.
Cognitive decline in dogs happens just like it does in humans – slowly at first, but with debilitating consequences. Arthritic dogs often end up with dementia, which affects memory, coordination, and behavior (3). The development of brain diseases, including dementia and Alzheimer’s may be caused or aggravated by chronic inflammation.
Though the exact function of turmeric is still unknown, it is possible that turmeric helps to protect neurons and brain channels as an anti-inflammatory agent. Medical studies also show that dogs who regularly take turmeric have fewer chances of developing brain diseases (3).
How Long Does It Take for Turmeric to Work?
Turmeric can work in as fast as a couple of days for milder symptoms. You will notice a positive change in your dog’s movement and demeanor, indicating that the pain and swelling are subsiding. However, for more severe conditions like cancer or dementia, it may take a few weeks or even months for turmeric to take effect. Don’t lose hope, just make sure to give your dog the proper nutrients and medication daily.
Is Turmeric Safe for Dogs?
Turmeric may be safely given to dogs in small quantities, though as a potent substance, it’s certainly not without some side effects. Take care to monitor your dog closely after giving them turmeric. If your dog seems to be agitated as if he’s feeling hot, it may be because of the “warming” effects of the spice (1). This might mean that you have to give them a smaller portion next time.
Turmeric can be applied topically for inflammation, but be warned that the bright yellow color might stain their fur. Be careful not to let them lick the turmeric off, too, because it might aggravate any skin irritation.
Potential Side Effects of Turmeric (Curcumin):
Turmeric is a blood thinner and should not be given together with anticoagulant medications (2). If your dog has had too much turmeric, it may cause bruising or profuse bleeding when he’s injured. In addition, turmeric is an anti-diabetic substance, which means it may cause low blood sugar in your dog (1).
Other unwanted side effects may include (4):
- Stomach issues
- Gallbladder problems
- Iron deficiency
How Much Turmeric Can I Give My Dog?
Generally, you should give 1/4 tsp per pound of body weight. If you’re not too sure about your dog’s weight, you could follow this guide:
- Small dogs – 1/4 tsp daily
- Medium dogs – 1/2 tsp daily
- Large dogs – 3/4 tsp daily
- Giant dogs – 1 tsp daily
How to Use Turmeric for Dogs
Turmeric is great by itself, but it’s actually not as well absorbed as you would expect. You usually need to administer turmeric with a healthy fat source and a dash of black pepper.
Black Pepper & Turmeric
Piperine, the phytochemicals found in black pepper, can help enhance the absorption of curcumin by 2,000% (1). Since pepper is also a warming spice, it’s best not to add too much to your turmeric concoction. For instance, if you use 1/2 cup of turmeric to make a paste, you can add 1/2 to 1 tsp of black pepper.
Healthy Fats & Turmeric
Healthy fats, such as coconut oil, olive oil, and MCT oil, are a good vessel for your turmeric. Incorporating turmeric in oil helps to improve its absorption, and also makes it easier to give to your dogs. For every 1/2 cup of turmeric powder, you can add 1 to 1/2 cups of healthy oil.
Dog Treats (Superfoods & Turmeric)
Here’s a quick and easy recipe for a superfood dog treat:
- 1 cup of water
- 1 egg
- 3 cups of whole grain rolled oats
- 1 tbsp flaxseed meal
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 tsp of black pepper
Preheat your oven to 350F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Combine all your dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Gradually add your wet ingredients and whisk until combined. Knead the dough with clean hands and let it rest for 15 minutes. It should feel drier and a bit tacky after the resting time.
Place the dough between two sheets of baking paper. Use a rolling pin or a bottle of wine to flatten your dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Use cookie cutters to form your desired shape. Bake the treats on your lined baking sheets for about 30 minutes. You’ll want them to have a nice golden brown color so don’t overcook them. Cool thoroughly before giving them to your dog.
Turmeric is a great natural alternative to prescription medications. Not only does it have fewer side effects, but it can be taken as a preventive supplement due to its antioxidant and protective properties. Give it a try for yourself and your pet. You’ll find that turmeric not only adds flavor and color to your dishes, it also adds value to your health.