THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF HISTORY
People have been using turmeric (the roots of a plant called Curcuma longa) for almost 4,000 years. The earliest record dates back to the Vedic culture in India, where it was used as a culinary spice and had some religious significance.
It probably reached China by 700 ad, East Africa by 800 ad, West Africa by 1200 ad, and Jamaica in the eighteenth century.
In 1280, Marco Polo described this spice, marvelling at a vegetable that exhibited qualities so similar to that of saffron.
Turmeric was later introduced Europe, where it was used as a spice and a medicine. During the colonial era, it use was also introduced to the Americas and the Caribbean.Today, turmeric is a common culinary spice and natural medicine. Its use for pets has gained popularity over recent years, particularly in natural and holistic approaches to animal health.
IS TURMERIC GOOD FOR DOGS?
In humans, turmeric has been shown to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. There has been much interest in the use of turmeric for conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease. Some studies suggest it may have cholesterol lowering effects and it is considered to improve liver function.
Turmeric root contains more than 235 active ingredients, including curcuminoids and essential oils. These compounds have the potential to benefit animals with osteoarthritis in a variety of ways, including reduction of inflammation, cartilage damage, and bone destruction.
In general, these are the most commonly promoted benefits of turmeric for pets:
Curcumin, a key active component in turmeric's is believed to have potent anti-inflammatory properties
Improved joint health
Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is believed to support joint health by reducing pain and stiffness.
Turmeric is also thought to have immune-boosting properties. It may help stimulate the production of white blood cells and enhance the body's ability to fight off infections.
Turmeric is often used to support digestive health in dogs. It may help reduce inflammation in the gut and support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
Turmeric is a potent antioxidant, which means it can help protect the body's cells from damage caused by free radicals. This makes it a popular supplement for dogs with age-related health issues.
IS TURMERIC SAFE FOR DOGS?
Generally, turmeric is safe for dogs, but not all dogs should have it, as in some rare dogs experience certain side effects.
There are some potential issues to be aware about before giving turmeric to your dog:
- Possible gastrointestinal upset: if given in large doses or if the dog has a sensitive stomach, turmeric may cause digestive issues (such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea) in some dogs.
- Increased risk of bleeding: Turmeric has natural anticoagulant (blood thinning) properties, and may increase the risk of bleeding. This is the case of special concern for dogs on blood thinning medication or with bleeding disorders.
- It may interference with other medications: Turmeric may negatively affect or interfere with the absorption or efficacy of certain medications or supplements.
- Allergic reactions: In rare cases, dogs may have an allergic reaction to turmeric, which can cause symptoms such as itching, hives, and difficulty breathing.
As with any supplement or medication, we strongly recommend consulting with your veterinarian before giving turmeric to your dog to make sure that it is safe and appropriate for their individual needs.
ALTERNATIVES TO TURMERIC FOR DOGS
If your dog needs relief from joints pain and cannot take turmeric, you may have considered NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or natural supplements.
While turmeric is much safer, NSAIDs are indeed potent and effective at reducing inflammation and pain. However, NSAIDs may have significant side effects in dogs, including the same gastrointestinal upset, or even severe liver and kidney damage.
This is why NSAIDs are prescription medications that can only be obtained through a veterinarian.
You may also consider using a well-tested and natural joint supplement for dogs containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). These are all naturally occurring substances that are commonly used as supplements to support joint health in dogs and other animals.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are both components of cartilage, the flexible tissue that cushions joints and allows for smooth movement. These substances are naturally produced in the body, but their production can decline with age or as a result of injury or disease. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are typically derived from animal sources, such as shellfish, and can also be synthesized in a laboratory.
 Gabriela Campigotto, et al. "Dog food production using curcumin as antioxidant: effects of intake on animal growth, health and feed conservation", Archives of Animal Nutrition, Vol. 74, 2020 - Issue 5
 Chand N. Standardized turmeric and curcumin. In: Gupta RC, Srivastava A, Lall R, eds.Nutraceuticals in Veterinary Medicine.New York City: Springer; 2019:10-12.
 Zhang Z, Leong DJ, Xu L, et al. "Curcumin slows osteoarthritis progression and relieves osteoarthritis-associated pain symptoms in a post-traumatic osteoarthritis mouse model". Arthritis Res Ther 2016;18(1):128.
 Kew Gardens website, section "Curcuma Longa, Turmeric"