Have you heard about the health benefits of turmeric? In humans, this common spice has been found to improve arthritis, benefit the cardiovascular system, improve brain function, and even help fight cancer. Ongoing research has found that this yellow spice can be just as beneficial for your dog as it is for you. Here's everything you need to know about supplementing your dog's diet with turmeric.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric comes from a plant in the same family as ginger. When ground and dried, it has a distinctive yellow color and bold flavor. It's been used for centuries in both culinary contexts and in natural and folk medicine.
Why is turmeric so popular? It contains a compound called curcumin. Curcumin seems to slow down an enzyme in the body that turns environmental toxins into carcinogens. It may also help the body digest sugars and fats, reducing inflammation in the digestive system. These anti-inflammatory properties lead to benefits in other areas as well, making turmeric a great choice for many dogs with mild health issues.
How Can Turmeric Benefit Your Dog?
Turmeric supplementation in dogs is associated with benefits in these areas:
- Anti-Inflammatory: Inflammation is the root cause of many common health problems in dogs, including arthritis, allergies, kidney disease, digestive issues, and even dental problems. While inflammation can be beneficial in certain situations (such as if your dog is exposed to a virus or bacteria), chronic inflammation is entirely harmful. Thanks to its high concentrations of curcumin, turmeric has been found to be just as effective as many anti-inflammatory drugs in controlling inflammation in the body.
- Improves Discomfort from Arthritis: Arthritis is a common issue experienced by many dogs as they age. Years of repeated movement can lead to degeneration and injuries in the joints. At the same time, cartilage degrades, leading to inflammation and pain. The curcumin in turmeric provides the same function as many commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs - it reduces inflammation and thus reduces the pain associated with arthritis.
- Improves Digestive Function: Research shows that turmeric can help treat gastrointestinal disorders in humans, including Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Yet again, it's turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties that make it such an effective option.
- Can Impact Cancer Cells: A number of laboratory studies have shown that curcumin can have an impact on cancer, both by killing cancer cells and by keeping new ones from growing. If your dog is suffering from cancer, talk to your vet about the benefits of adding turmeric to his treatment plan. Don't stop any current treatments your dog is on. Nearly half of adult dogs today are predicted to get cancer in their lifetime. Even if your dog is not currently suffering from it, turmeric can be a great preventative measure as well.
- Improves Liver Problems: Turmeric may help slow the progression of liver problems in dogs. If your pet has mild liver issues, supplementing with turmeric may be an effective part of his treatment plan.
- Prevents Vision Issues: Vision issues, including cataracts, are extremely common as dogs age. Curcumin can help prevent the degradation of cells in your dog's eyes, reducing the risk of vision issues.
- Reduces Allergies: If your dog has allergies, her body is responding to a perceived threat with an inflammatory response. Turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties come into play yet again here, helping to reduce allergic reactions and keep your dog more comfortable.
Is Turmeric Right for My Dog?
Most dogs tolerate turmeric well and can benefit greatly from regular supplementation. However, it is not right for every dog. Always check with your vet before adding a new supplement to your dog's diet. Never stop giving your dog a prescribed treatment without talking with your vet first.
Be especially careful in giving turmeric to your dog if she has any of the following conditions:
- Blood Thinners: Turmeric has blood thinning properties. If your dog is on blood thinning medications, be cautious about supplementing with turmeric. It is also inadvisable to give your dog turmeric if he is going to have surgery in the next two weeks.
- Stomach Ulcers: In some cases turmeric may increase the amount of acid in the stomach. This can make stomach ulcers worse.
- Diabetes: In some cases, turmeric may lower blood sugar levels. When combined with diabetes medication, this can lead to dangerously low blood pressure.
- Bladder Stones: Some dogs may experience an increased risk of bladder stones when taking turmeric. If your dog already suffers from this problem, avoid giving him turmeric.
How to Find the Right Turmeric Supplement for Your Dog
There are several ways to give turmeric to your dog. Experiment to find the one that works best for them, and for your own needs. Here are a few methods to try:
- Dried turmeric: Simply sprinkle dried powdered turmeric over your dog's food every day. Choose a high quality, organic form of the herb to make sure he gets all of its benefits. The recommended dosage depends on your dog's weight. A good rule of thumb is to give your dog ¼ teaspoon a day if he is between 10 and 20 pounds, ½ teaspoon a day if he is between 20 and 50 pounds, and a teaspoon a day if he is over 50 pounds.
- Turmeric Paste: Some owners prefer to give their dogs turmeric in paste form. This allows you to include other healthy ingredients, such as coconut oil, black pepper, or cinnamon. However, it can be more time consuming than using a dried herb or a premade treat. You can find many turmeric paste recipes online, or simply mix one part turmeric powder with two parts water over low heat. Allow your paste to cool before giving to your dog. Start with ¼ teaspoon of paste with each meal. If your dog tolerates it well, gradually work your way up to ¼ teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight.
- Turmeric Treats: Turmeric treats, such as Vet-Virtue's turmeric soft chews, are a simple and effective way to supplement your dog's diet. These treats reduce the amount of time you have to spend measuring and preparing your dog's supplements. Because they are made in an NASC licensed facility, you can be sure of their quality. Unlike many providers of dried herbs and spices, all suppliers that have been licensed by the NASC must abide by a code of conduct that assures quality. A final benefit of turmeric supplements is that they taste great. Before long, getting his turmeric supplement will be the highlight of your dog's day!
Whatever form you choose, turmeric is a safe and effective way to bolster your dog's health. Talk to your vet, then add turmeric to your dog's diet to see the difference it makes.