A few weeks ago we went live on an Ask Julie Anything to talk about turmeric. After Julie ran across some alarming studies, we got talking about labelling, sourcing, and about some of the concerns with turmeric. We also did a little science experiment to show how to test your turmeric at home.
After that, we got thinking – do people actually know about the benefits of turmeric? Is turmeric good for dogs? Is it something you should be adding to your dog’s diet?
And do you know how to use it properly?
Today we’re going to answer all of those questions. We always want to give you as much information as we possibly can to help you support your animal.
Is Turmeric Good for Dogs?
Turmeric is a very popular spice in both the medical/scientific worlds as well as the culinary world. It’s what gives curry that bright yellow colour, and it has been used therapeutically for centuries.
The beneficial compound in turmeric is called curcumin. Curcumin is a polyphenol that gives turmeric its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, even anti-cancer properties. And evidence shows it can be effective in treating chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and various types of cancer (colon, stomach, lung, breast, and skin).
But is turmeric good for dogs?
Yes, turmeric can be great for dogs!
Pet parents tend to turn to turmeric most often for arthritis. And for good reason! It has been studied at great length for its anti-inflammatory efficacy. In fact, one study found that curcumin is as effective as ibuprofen for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis in humans. Plus, it has fewer gastrointestinal side effects!
But research shows that you can also use it to help:
- relieve pain and inflammation
- reduce the side effects of chemotherapy
- support heart health
- ease gastrointestinal issues – particularly things like inflammatory bowel disease
- aid wound healing and cell regeneration
- support neurogenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease
As a natural supplement, it has incredible power. But…
Concerns with Turmeric
As mentioned, there’s some concern when it comes to turmeric. And that concern comes from the practice of some (not all!!) processors adding lead chromate to their turmeric. This is done to give the spice its bright yellow colour.
For example, a 2014 Harvard University study found lead concentrations of up to 483 ppm in turmeric samples taken from 18 households in rural Bangladesh, where the allowable level of lead in turmeric is 2.5 ppm. Yes, that’s a major difference in what’s allowed and what they found. And in 2019, a study out of Stanford University showed that turmeric coming from Bangladesh, one of the world’s predominant turmeric-growing regions, sometimes contains lead.
Is turmeric good for dogs if it contains lead, even the tiniest amount? No! No amount of lead is safe. It’s a neurotoxin that’s absorbed and stored in the bones, blood, and tissues.
Over time, lead exposure can cause:
- vomiting and diarrhea
- stomach pain
- anemia and weakness
- serious damage to the organs
To make sure the turmeric you’re giving to your dog doesn’t contain lead, you want to test it…
1. The Water Test: Take a glass of warm water and add a teaspoon of your turmeric powder to it. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. If the turmeric powder settles down, it is pure. If it doesn’t settle to the bottom and leaves a dark yellow colour, it is adulterated.
2. The Palm Test: Take a pinch of your turmeric powder and rub it into the palm of your hand for a few seconds, then turn your palm over. Pure turmeric will stick to your palm and leave a yellow stain, whereas adulterated turmeric will mostly fall off.
You really want to make sure you’re using either a really good quality, organic turmeric powder, or just find local fresh turmeric and dry it yourself. Fresh turmeric lasts a long time in the fridge!
We tested our our turmeric live on camera – check out the results (the testing starts around 5:20):
Golden Paste Recipe
Ok, you’ve tested your turmeric and know it’s unadulterated. It’s time to give it to your dog. Woohoo!
Now, it’s important to tell you that turmeric isn’t very bioavailable on its own – it’s hard for the body to absorb it. So, it’s good to mix it with other ingredients so the body can use it.
That’s why golden paste is so popular. It gives turmeric the helping hand it needs so the body can get all those great benefits. For example, research shows that piperine, the major active component of black pepper, when combined with curcumin, increases bioavailability by 2000%!
It’s also very easy to make.
- ¼ cup turmeric
- 1-1 ½ cups water
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- Stir together the turmeric and the water in a pan, and heat it on medium/low heat, stirring continuously. It should start to form a thick paste. If it gets too thick, add a little more water. If it gets too watery, just add a bit more turmeric.
- Once the paste has formed, add the pepper and coconut oil and stir it really well.
- Let the golden paste cool on the counter, then transfer it to a container and keep it in the fridge. It’s good in there for about 2 weeks.
- To feed it to your pup, simply add the golden paste directly to your dog’s regular meals.
To feed it to your dog, start slowly and work your way up to 15 to 20 mg per pound of body weight. That’s approximately 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon per day, for every 10lbs of weight. Begin with a small amount (¼ teaspoon) to see how your pup reacts and what their tolerance is. It leaves a dog’s system quickly, so it’s a good idea to add a ¼ teaspoon to every meal. If you find that they can tolerate the ¼ teaspoon but the dosage isn’t strong enough, increase it to ½ teaspoons.
Note: Turmeric is a warming spice, so if you have a hot dog, perhaps limit its use. Read more on canine energetics from our friend Rita Hogan right here.
Is turmeric good for dogs? Yes, as you can see it’s well established that turmeric is not only safe for your dog, it’s also highly effective for a variety of uses. So, whip up a quick batch of golden paste and start adding it to your regular supplement rotation!