There are a number of natural herbs, spices and plants for dogs that are often considered outside the realm of “normal,” but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some serious benefits to exploring options that are off the beaten path.
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.
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.
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. Because clots can lead to a number of problems for dogs, like strokes and heart attacks, turmeric becomes very helpful indeed.
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.
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.
I highly recommend using an organic turmeric root powder for treating cancer or arthritis in your dog.
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.
Overall, however, most case studies have revealed many positive effects with dogs taking turmeric. Nonetheless, better safe than sorry. Studies in people conclude that turmeric can have a negative effect if taking drugs for acid indigestion such as Tagamet, etc. They also indicate that it can have an effect on those taking prescription drugs for diabetes or if taking aspirin.
How do I get it?
Turmeric is available in a number of ways, from the traditional powder to supplements. In health food stores, it is available in capsules usually in the range of 250 to 500 mg. Depending on the dog, the dosage for health benefits is usually around 15 to 20 mg per pound of body weight. *See my comment below for more specific dosage amounts.