Dogs can live their best lives when they’re not saddled with pain or discomfort. Traditional veterinary medicine has come a long way in freeing dogs from what ails them. But, what about natural treatments?
Natural treatments have been used by people for thousands of years to heal a variety of health conditions, and many pet parents are now interested in natural remedies for their pets. One of these natural treatments is turmeric.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a yellow, earthy-flavored spice that comes from the Curcuma longa plant, a ginger plant that is grown in Southeast Asia. This spice is considered to be an “immune booster” in Eastern medicine and contains many active compounds, the most active of which is the bright yellow curcumin.
Turmeric has many health benefits for people, including easing anxiety, managing heart disease, and reducing arthritis pain. Turmeric also has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Amazingly, turmeric can reportedly shrink cancer cells.
Turmeric for Dogs
Veterinary research on turmeric for pets is sparse, but it is believed that this spice has similar health benefits in pets as it does in people.
One such benefit is anti-inflammation. When it comes to inflammation in dogs, we often think of arthritis. However, inflammation is the source of many diseases, such as gastrointestinal disease (e.g., Inflammatory Bowel Disease), dental disease, and allergies. Chronic inflammation, when left unchecked, can wreak havoc on a dog’s body. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties can reduce inflammation and the associated pain and discomfort.
A potential benefit of turmeric in pets is cancer treatment. A 2016 study of several plant extracts reported that turmeric was the most effective in preventing the growth of dog cancer cells. The study suggested that turmeric could be combined with traditional cancer drugs to treat several types of cancers in dogs.
Other potential health benefits of turmeric for dogs are:
- Epilepsy treatment
- Antioxidant effects
- Antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal therapy
- Support of brain, digestive, and respiratory function
Giving Turmeric to Dogs
Turmeric seems pretty appealing, right? Fortunately, dogs can safely have small quantities of turmeric. It can cause adverse side effects, such as digestive upset, iron deficiency, and bruising, only when too much of it is given over time.
Turmeric isn’t right for all dogs. Dogs with the following health conditions should not take turmeric:
- Kidney disease
- Iron deficiency
- Taking blood-thinner medications
Turmeric can interact with other drugs and supplements. Talk with a holistic veterinarian about your dog’s current medications and supplements before giving your dog turmeric.
How much turmeric do you give a dog?
The rule of thumb is 1/8–¼ teaspoon of turmeric paste (see recipe below) per 10 pounds of body weight per day. Start by giving your dog less than the recommended dose, then gradually increase up to the maximum dose. Feed the paste only once daily at first, then at each meal.
Monitor your dog for side effects. If you notice side effects, stop feeding the paste for a few days, then resume at a smaller dose. Work with a holistic veterinarian to make sure that you are giving your dog the appropriate dosage.
Some ways to give turmeric to your dog
Turmeric is poorly absorbed when given on its own by mouth, meaning that it can go right through your dog’s body without providing much benefit. There are other ways to give turmeric to your dog.
A turmeric paste is comprised of turmeric, ground black pepper, and a healthy oil (olive or coconut). Pepper and oil enhance turmeric’s absorption in the body. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Natural Health Concepts:
½ cup turmeric powder (preferably organic)
1 cup water
1 ½ teaspoon ground pepper
½ cup coconut or olive oil
In a pot on low heat, combine turmeric powder and water and stir gently for 7–10 minutes to form a paste. Gently stir in ground pepper and oil. Let the paste cool before giving it to your dog. Store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Turmeric easily stains everything it touches, so be careful when preparing the paste and feeding it to your dog. You can mix the paste into your dog’s food.
Capsules: Not for dogs
Stay away from turmeric capsules! They are made for people and contain too much turmeric for dogs.
Turmeric is a natural treatment that has powerful health benefits for our dogs. Consult with a holistic veterinarian to determine the optimal turmeric regimen for your dog.
Content provided by JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM. Dr. Pendergrass is owner and founder of JPen Communications, a medical communications company specializing in consumer education.
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