Regular use of turmeric in the diet is common place in many parts of the world.
There are a number of natural herbs, spices and plants for dogs that are often considered outside the realm of “normal,” but offer serious benefits that work just as well for our 4 legged friends as they do for people.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family that is native to tropical South Asia. Called Curcuma longa, turmeric is gathered for its roots – much in the same way ginger is gathered. These root stalks, called “rhizomes,” are generally boiled and dried. After that, they are ground into powder. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, housing all of its beneficial properties.
Interestingly, turmeric was first used as a dye. It was also adapted as a part of Hindu medicine, largely because of its phytochemicals. Some research has indicated that the phytochemicals in turmeric have reduced the severity of lung injuries in mice, while other studies have revealed it to have anti-fungal properties.
In South Asian culture, turmeric is invaluable. It is used for its antiseptic properties and is used on cuts, scrapes and burns. It is also used as a dietary supplement and has been known to help with stomach problems.
What are the benefits of Turmeric for dogs?
There are a number of recorded benefits of turmeric for dogs, but any new treatment of any kind should be discussed with your dog’s holistic veterinarian. Always err on the side of caution before embarking on any new treatment paths.
Pain: because all dog breeds are subject to arthritis, turmeric can play an important role due to its anti-inflammatory properties. In dogs that have a little extra weight, turmeric can help with the painful inflammation that comes when arthritis takes hold. It tops the list for natural remedies for treating dogs with arthritis. However, I’m a firm believer in greens and the benefits they have of the body as a whole (including pain control), so I also recommend adding greens to the diet.
Blood Clots: Curcumin is also a blood thinner, which makes it an essential component when it comes to reducing the risk of blood clots and ridding the body of excess cholesterol. Although cholesterol doesn’t effect dogs like it does people, clots can lead to a number of problems for dogs, like strokes and heart attacks and turmeric becomes very helpful indeed.
Irritable Bowel Disease: Curcumin also stimulates bile production in the liver, which aids in digesting food properly because it helps break down dietary fats. Active dogs require diets that have at least 20 percent fat, so a little turmeric can go a long way with respect to aiding in overall digestion. Dogs that are pregnant, nursing or underweight require more fat in the diet, which means that, you guessed it, more turmeric could help.
Cancer: There are some reports emerging, albeit somewhat tentatively, that turmeric could play a role in fighting cancer. Animal and test tube studies have revealed the herb’s capability to play a role in preventative medicine as an antioxidant. It has also been proven to shut down the blood vessels that feed cancer cells in some cases, although more research is certainly needed on the subject.
Dementia: In India where turmeric is used regularly among many; the number of people suffering from dementia and similar memory related diseases is considered very low.
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What’s the downside?
As with almost anything, there are some downsides to using turmeric.
- It’s a binding agent, for one thing, which means that it can lead to constipation in some dogs. Because of this possibility, dogs should use plenty of water along with turmeric. Yogurt can also be administered to balance out the digestive flora.
- Dogs that are prone to kidney stones should not be given turmeric since it increases urinary oxalate levels.
- Also, some dogs are sensitive to turmeric and develop stomach upset. If this happens, it’s possible that you’re giving too much or that your dog is simply sensitive to the herb when added directly to their food.
- Studies in people conclude that turmeric can have a negative effect if taking drugs for acid indigestion such as Tagamet, etc. See this article by the University of Maryland Medical Center. So, I’d recommend avoid feeding turmeric and acid reducers at the same time (hopefully you’re not feeding acid reducers regularly anyway).
- They also indicate that it can have an effect on those taking prescription drugs for diabetes or if taking aspirin. So, same applies here; I would avoid giving turmeric and diabetic drugs together, and if you’re giving your dog aspirin, I also wouldn’t give the two together. Give one or the other.
Overall, however, most case studies have revealed many positive effects with dogs taking turmeric. Nonetheless, better safe than sorry.
What’s the Dosage Amount?
Depending on the dog, the dosage for health benefits is usually around one eighth to one quarter teaspoon per 10 pounds of your dog’s body weight. I always recommend starting slow and working up to the recommended dosage. Especially if you’re including other supplements.