Sophie Jackson is a dog lover and trainer living in the UK. She competes in agility and obedience with her four dogs.
In recent years, the Indian spice turmeric has been recognised as having numerous health benefits for people, and it is now being recommended as a natural health supplement for pets too.
Turmeric, also known as Indian Saffron, grows in Asia and Central America and is best known by most of us as a bright yellow spice that gives colour and flavour to spicy food. The spice we consume actually comes from the ground-up root of the plant and is widely used in Asian inspired cooking, as a dye and in teas and powders.
It has been traditionally used in Indian folk medicine for a range of health conditions, and in the last couple of decades, Western scientists have been studying turmeric to see if these supposed health benefits are genuine. They have discovered that the active ingredient curcumin in turmeric has a range of medicinal properties, including pain relief and uses as an anti-inflammatory.
With these benefits well-documented in people, it is natural for animal lovers to wonder if the same results would occur in animals. Feeding turmeric to dogs in a cooked form has become a popular choice as an alternative to traditional pain relief. So, what are the pros and cons of feeding turmeric?
The Health Benefits of Tumeric
While more studies and research are needed for some of these health benefits, the evidence so far has been promising.
A Natural Anti-Inflammatory
Numerous studies have demonstrated that curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties that can alleviate the symptoms of such problems as arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation recommends people take turmeric tablets as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Reduction in inflammation has an impact on the pain an individual is suffering, turmeric can therefore be considered a natural pain reliever. One study conducted in Thailand found that patients suffering from arthritis who were given turmeric as their sole pain relief improved as much as those being given ibuprofen.
Turmeric is a natural antioxidant and the potential health benefits of this are currently being investigated. It is such a strong antioxidant that it may be able to prevent damage to the liver from toxins, which would be of huge benefit to humans or pets who have to take drugs for other medical conditions that are hard on the liver.
Works Against Cancer
Turmeric has been shown to inhibit the growth of tumours, and it is being investigated whether taking turmeric regularly could actually prevent certain cancers from developing in the first place.
May Help Digestion
Turmeric is being explored as a potential treatment for chronic digestive ailments, such as IBS. It has been used as a traditional remedy for digestive complaints in Indian for centuries. Anecdotal evidence from patients suggests it could provide relief from digestive troubles. However, scientific evidence for this is so far inconclusive.
Potential Side Effects
In general, turmeric is considered a very safe and natural supplement, but there are side effects that have been reported and should be considered before feeding to pets.
Can Upset the Stomach
While turmeric has been suggested as a digestive aid, some sufferers of IBS have stated it has made them feel worse. Turmeric stimulates the stomach to produce more gastric acid to improve digestion but this can also have a negative effect, for instance in those suffering from pancreatitis or stomach ulcers.
If your pet already has problems with its stomach, especially if these are being treated with antacid medicines (such as Zitac), then it may be best to avoid turmeric.
Can Thin the Blood
Turmeric can thin the blood, though as yet science has not determined why it does this. This can cause patients to bleed more easily and could be a concern in those who are already on blood thinners or have a pre-existing condition such as anaemia.
May Cause Kidney Stones
It has been suggested that in dogs that are prone to kidney stones, turmeric may worsen the problem and so should be avoided.
Basic Golden Paste Recipe
To increase turmeric's health-boosting properties, it has been found that the best way to consume it is after it has been cooked. It has also been shown that combining cooked turmeric with freshly ground black pepper increases the ability of the body to absorb the curcumin in the turmeric by 2000%.
When turmeric is cooked and pepper added it is often referred to as 'Golden Paste'. You can buy golden paste online for your dogs, and you can also get tablet forms, but it is also very simple and inexpensive to make.
- 60g or 1/2 cup turmeric
- 250ml or 1 cup of water
- 70ml or 1/3 cup of coconut oil (you can also use linseed oil or olive oil)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
- Place the water and turmeric in a saucepan and heat gently for around 8-10 minutes to turn it into a thick paste. Avoid boiling. If necessary add a little more water.
- Remove from the heat and add the coconut oil and black pepper. Mix thoroughly.
- Golden paste is best stored in a fridge, you can also freeze it.
Turmeric is fed based on the weight of a pet. It is best given split into two portions during the day to get the most benefit. So a 15kg dog would have 1/4 of a teaspoon twice a day.
- Under 10kg/22lbs: 1/4 teaspoon
- 11-20kg/22-44lbs: 1/2 teaspoon
- 21-40kg/23-88lbs: 3/4 teaspoon
- Over 40kg/88lbs: 1 teaspoon
Golden Paste Treats
A basic golden paste can be added to your dog's food, but not all dogs will eat golden paste as it is. Here is a recipe to turn golden paste into a tasty treat for your dog so they will be happy to eat it. When making your golden paste for this recipe, don't add the oil as this will interfere with the setting of the gummies.
In this recipe, we are using beef gelatine as a setting agent. It contains collagen which is also good for the joints and is virtually fat-free. Goat's milk is also low fat and is better tolerated by dogs than cow's milk. Both ingredients make the gummies tasty for dogs.
- 1/2 a batch of homemade golden paste (see above)
- 125ml or 1/2cup whole goat's milk
- 4 tablespoons of powdered beef gelatine
- Pour the milk into a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatine over it, leave for 5 minutes to allow the gelatine to bloom.
- Heat the milk gently until the gelatine has dissolved. Do not overheat or allow to boil.
- Add the golden paste and mix. You should have a pourable mixture, if it remains too thick you can add a little more milk or water.
- Pour into silicon moulds or into a shallow plastic container. Place in the fridge to set. If using moulds, pop out the gummies after they are set. Store in a fridge. The gummies will last about a week.
- Small dogs can have 1/2 a gummy twice a day, depending on the size of them. Or feed a 1/4 teaspoon from the container.
- Medium dogs can have two gummies a day or 1/2 teaspoon.
- Large dogs can have 3-4 gummies a day or 3/4 to 1 teaspoon a day.
© 2021 Sophie Jackson
Can Dogs Eat Turmeric? Is Turmeric Safe for Dogs?
Yes, it is perfectly safe for dogs to eat turmeric whether you mix it in their food or give it to them baked in a treat. You can also make a golden paste which can make it easier to administer the spice to your pet.
Since turmeric doesn’t absorb well on its own in the body, you should mix it with a healthy fat or black pepper. You can add these ingredients to a paste, give it to your pet directly, or add it to their food.
Yes, it is perfectly safe for dogs to eat turmeric whether you mix it in their food or give it to them baked in a homemade treat. You can also create a golden paste which can make it easier to administer the spice to your pet.
Every dog is different, and your pet may be a picky eater or refuse to eat anything that has turmeric added to it. The supplement is available in capsule form, however, be sure to read the label if you choose to purchase a commercial product. Turmeric capsules are designed for humans and some may contain more curcumin than your dog should take.
It is a good idea to start out slow when you first offer turmeric to your pet. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, it could become more irritated if they ingest too much. It’s best to give your dog 1/5 th of the recommended dosage, based on their weight, and increase the dose gradually after that until you reach their maximum dosage.
If you keep up with trends in the health and wellness space, you’ve probably heard that the latest wonder-supplement is hiding in your spice rack. Turmeric has been shown to prevent and treat several chronic and serious diseases in humans, including cancer, arthritis, heart disease and more. Unsurprisingly, adding this supplement to your dog’s food can provide similar health benefits.
The key to the health benefits of turmeric lies in a compound called curcumin, a bright yellow chemical that makes up 2-6 percent of turmeric. The spice is understood to have anti-inflammatory and healing special effects worthy of a place in a blockbuster movie. Turmeric is safe for most dogs and will boost immunities and alleviate symptoms of many canine conditions.
Health benefits of turmeric for dogs may include:
1. Anti-inflammatory effects
2. Antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal benefits
3. Promoting heart and liver health
4. Promoting digestive health
5. Antioxidant properties, which may help prevent certain cancers
7. Treatment for allergies, epilepsy, and liver disease
9. Anti-diarrhea medication
The significance of these benefits goes far beyond the obvious. For example, anti-inflammatory benefits do help dogs with joint disease (hip dysplasia, disk disease, arthritis, etc.), but the benefits can also stop a silent killer that can express as cancer, allergies, dental disease, digestive disease and more. Turmeric can reduce low-grade, acute inflammation by releasing white blood cells to body tissues.
Research has shown that curcumin relieves arthritis pain and stiffness better than ibuprofen, and a U.K. study determined that curcumin stopped precancerous lesions from developing into cancer. It can also shrink the size of tumors and kill cancer cells by shutting down blood vessels that feed tumors. The spice has also been used in treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and hindering the development of cataracts. Using turmeric instead of steroids and other drugs can provide relief without harmful side effects.
How to Give Turmeric to Your Dog
The best way to deliver turmeric to your dog is to make a paste and add it to your pet’s CANIDAE® dog food. The substance is difficult to absorb into the body unless it’s taken with a healthy oil, like coconut oil or olive oil. Additionally, some doctors recommend giving the spice with some black pepper, or peperine, which significantly boosts the effects. Without the boosters, adding straight powder to the food is a waste of time—it will just pass through the dog’s body without being absorbed.
Recipe for Turmeric Paste for Dogs
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Heat the turmeric powder, water, and olive or coconut oil in a pan on your stove. Set at low heat, and stir until you have a thick, pasty mix. Add the pepper at the end of cooking, and use a little extra water if the paste becomes too thick. Allow the paste to cool, and store it in a glass or sealed plastic container in your refrigerator. Turmeric paste keeps for about a month.
Start dogs on a small dose, about a ¼ teaspoon added to each meal. This may be the actual dose for small dogs and puppies, but for larger dogs increase the amount each week (another ¼ teaspoon or so) until you see results. Mix in your dog’s food once per day, and consult your veterinarian with any questions.
Caution: Turmeric is a natural blood thinner, so some precautions must be taken when using the product. Dogs on blood-thinning medications may not be candidates for using turmeric. As with all supplements, consult your veterinarian before adding turmeric to your dog’s diet, especially if he or she suffers from a chronic illness.
How to Use Turmeric Externally for Your Pet
Turmeric fights infection, helps wounds to heal, and helps to stop bleeding. For wet wounds the dry turmeric powder can be sprinkled into the clean wound twice a day. (If the turmeric has mixed with blood and formed a scab, do not remove the turmeric, just clean the wound as needed and add more turmeric if necessary.)
Turmeric can be mixed with coconut oil or olive oil to make a paste. This can be applied to the skin and covered with a bandage if appropriate.