You may know turmeric as one of the latest superfoods, capable of preventing and managing a wealth of problems in humans. You may be unaware, however, that it also has a huge number of benefits for dogs.
What Is Turmeric and How Does It Benefit Your Dog's Health?
Turmeric is part of the ginger family, used as a spice in everything from curries to mustards. It has also been popular for its medicinal applications for centuries in the Middle East and India. Now, Western countries are beginning to take notice.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Among other things, turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and safe for dogs. If your dog is already taking medications, make sure you check with your vet before you start giving him turmeric. The spice can interfere with some medications, including those for bile tract obstructions and gallstones, chemotherapy treatments, diabetes drugs, and anti-inflammatories.
1. Reduce Chronic Inflammation
Whatever is causing your furry friend's chronic inflammation, turmeric can help. Studies have found it to be particularly effective in reducing arthritic or joint pain. However, it is equally useful for digestive problems, kidney disease, allergies, dental problems, and even cancer.
For arthritis, turmeric is more effective than many of the best prescription medications. A study found that itworked just as well as ibuprofen, but induced none of the gastrointestinal side effects.
When you fail to treat chronic inflammation, whatever its underlying cause, your dog suffers from discomfort for weeks — or even months or years. In addition, minor problems gradually become more serious. For instance, a bladder infection can turn into bladder cancer; inflammation in joints can become joint degeneration. Turmeric can prevent these transitions.
2. Pain Relief
There are yet other reasons why your dog may be experiencing pain. If you are unable to treat these conditions directly, your dog may need to take pills to cope with the discomfort and there is always a risk that he could suffer a bad reaction to the medication. Turmeric often controls pain just as well — without any of the side effects.
3. Cancer Treatment
Turmeric can protect your dog from cancer, by stopping precancerous cells from becoming cancerous and preventing current cancer cells from multiplying. It can even kill existing cancer cells, reducing the size of tumors. Many holistic vets prescribe turmeric in addition to traditional medications to treat cancer for this very reason.
As half of all adult dogs eventually suffer from cancer, taking steps now to prevent your dog from suffering from this disease is crucial.
Turmeric can help with both external and internal cysts — just check with your vet first that the spice would be an appropriate holistic remedy. In addition to reducing inflammation, the curcumin in the spice works as an antiseptic.
For sebaceous cysts, turmeric is particularly effective when you combine it with coconut oil and witch hazel. For internal cysts, simply feed your dog the turmeric.
5. Manage Gastrointestinal Disorders
If your dog suffers from a gastrointestinal disorder, like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you may be able to reduce the inflammation and improve the permeability of his gut with turmeric. So far, turmeric as a treatment for IBD has only undergone preclinical testing; however, the results already look promising.
6. Heal Wounds
It is common for dogs to suffer from the occasional scratch or scrape. You can speed up the healing process by applying a paste made from turmeric to your dog’s cuts. This will disinfect and kill any bacteria in the wound. Better still, turmeric has analgesic properties, meaning it will also provide pain relief for your dog.
7. Control Allergies
Rather than putting your dog on steroids for an allergy, try turmeric. Many dog owners have found that it yields results without adverse effects. In some cases, turmeric alone may prove insufficient. However, combining turmeric with steroids may allow you to reduce the dosage of the steroids.
Infections in the lower urinary tract, bladder, and kidneys are collectively known as urinary tract infections (UTIs). The typical solution is to give your dog antibiotics.
However, a better option may be to give your dog turmeric. There’s a good chance that this will clear up the infection. If your dog still has a UTI after a few days, you should see your vet for a prescription for medication.
Even if your dog is not suffering from any health problems, he will benefit from turmeric. The spice is an excellent antioxidant, meaning it can slow aging, prevent cell mutations that can lead to cancer, and increase your dog’s lifespan.
Giving Your Dog Turmeric
How much turmeric you should feed your dog will depend on his size. Dogs under 10 pounds should receive no more than ⅛ teaspoon, whereas large breeds of 50 pounds or more may benefit from a whole teaspoon. Start with a single portion a day to see how your dog responds. If you react well, you can give him a second, or even a third, serving every day.
It is always better to give your dog turmeric powder than capsules, as supplements can have too much curcumin for dogs. Simply add the powder to your dog’s meal or mix it into homemade treats.
Some dogs suffer from constipation when they first start taking turmeric. If this happens to your dog, mix the turmeric into a paste with water or kefir — this tends to solve this problem. Make up a batch and store it in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.
The great thing about turmeric is that it’s inexpensive. It’s also easy to find in just about any supermarket or health food store. In fact, it’s such a common ingredient, there’s a good chance you already have some in your spice rack. To gain the maximum benefits from the spice, include it in your dog’s raw food diet along with healthy fat (like coconut oil or olive oil) or ground black pepper — this will make it easier for his body to absorb the spice.