Turmeric is growing exceedingly popular in the United States, and many studies have explored its benefits for human health. This might leave you wondering, can dogs eat turmeric–and does it provide the same benefits for them?
Turmeric is good for dogs in small doses. It provides health benefits by lowering inflammation in a dog’s body and acting as an antioxidant. Turmeric also has side effects, particularly when fed in high doses, so it’s important to talk to your vet before adding it to your dog’s diet.
This article will discuss whether dogs can eat turmeric, its benefits, and possible side effects.
Is Turmeric Toxic to Dogs?
Turmeric is safe for dogs in small amounts. Like with any food, however, moderation is key. There’s a huge difference between a teaspoon mixed into your dog’s food and them getting into a whole container of turmeric, for instance.
In the right amounts, turmeric can benefit dogs’ joints, organs, and arteries by reducing inflammation in the body. It may also act as an antioxidant.
You’ll actually find small amounts of turmeric in some dog foods on the market. According to Purina, this is used as a natural food coloring and not added for nutritional purposes.
Because the amount is so small, it’s also not likely to provide the benefits we’ll discuss above. (Of course, this may vary if you find a food that does use turmeric for nutritional benefits and therefore adds more to the food than other brands!)
Benefits of Turmeric for Dogs
The major benefit of turmeric, and the most studied, is its anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin, a turmeric phytonutrient, has been proven to reduce inflammation and lower pain in dogs with arthritis.
Inflammation is key in health problems, including joint pain, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and dementia.
Of course, turmeric cannot treat any of these conditions. If you suspect your dog is in pain or ill, you must see a veterinarian to get a diagnosis and treatment plan. For instance, a dog with arthritis will be more likely to see a decrease in pain using medication prescribed by the vet than with turmeric added to their food.
Consult your veterinarian before adding anything to your dog’s regular diet.
It Works as an Antioxidant
A 2016 study showed that turmeric can act as an antioxidant in dogs. Antioxidants help prevent cell damage by fighting free radicals in the body.
Free radicals can be harmful in large amounts and are created when a dog breaks down food or is exposed to second-hand smoke or radiation.
According to Mayo Clinic, free radicals may play a role in the development of heart disease, cancer, or other diseases.
Risks of Turmeric for Dogs
Some risks to giving your dog turmeric, especially in high doses, include:
- Upset stomach (including vomiting and diarrhea)
- Bruising easier than usual
- Blood clotting issues
- Iron deficiency
- Gallbladder problems
- Liver problems
The risk factors above are why it’s important to talk to your veterinarian before adding turmeric to your dog’s diet, particularly in high amounts or as part of their daily diet.
It’s important that they get the right dose and that some dogs at increased risk are not given turmeric as a supplement.
For instance, your vet will likely recommend avoiding turmeric if your dog takes blood thinners or has a liver disease to prevent worsening symptoms.
How Much Turmeric Can You Give a Dog?
Dogs can have ⅛-¼ a teaspoon of turmeric per 10 pounds of body weight. This means a 40-pound dog, for instance, can have up to a teaspoon of turmeric daily.
As with any new food or supplement, it’s important to start small and watch for adverse reactions. Every dog reacts differently. Especially if your dog has a sensitive stomach, you don’t want to be adding a lot to their diet at once.
In addition, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian before adding supplements to your dog’s food.
Lastly, remember that supplements are almost always unneeded if you feed your dog a quality diet.
So, while you can certainly add turmeric or other supplements to your dog’s food, and they might help (especially if your dog has a disease worsened by inflammation), it’s not strictly necessary, especially for healthy pups.
How do You Give Turmeric to a Dog?
There are various ways to give turmeric to your dog. The simplest, and likely cheapest, is to mix it into their food yourself.
This is easy if you’re feeding canned food–just ensure it’s mixed adequately, so your dog isn’t at risk of breathing in the powder.
You’ll need to moisten it first with kibble or create a paste with the turmeric using water, fish oil, or another healthy liquid.
You can also feed your dog turmeric by:
- Buying or baking treats containing turmeric
- Purchasing chewable dog supplements that contain turmeric
- Purchasing liquid dog supplements that contain turmeric
Avoid human turmeric supplements, as the quantities in these supplements are too high for your dog and might increase the risks of overdose.
- Can Dogs Eat Ginger, Should They?
- Can Dogs Eat Cinnamon? What You Need to Know
- Can Dogs Eat Spicy Food Safely? What Happens if They Do?
The photo featured at the top of this post is © tarapong srichaiyos/Shutterstock.com
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