If you cook, you may already be familiar with turmeric, but for first timers, here is a quick culinary lesson. The turmeric herb, a member of the ginger family, is most commonly known for its deep orange color and is used for cooking, herbal medicine and dyes. Native to Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries, it has been a staple in cooking for thousands of years.
The bio-active compound, meaning the active ingredient or healing property, of turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is responsible for its bright orange color as well as a host of health benefits. This prime ingredient acts as a spice, but also as a pain reliever. For this reason, it’s a great food additive for pets that suffer from ailments and illnesses which cause pain.
Turmeric is now being researched extensively for pharmacological use in treating and/or reducing symptoms related to a wide range of health conditions. Clinical studies have shown that curcumin in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals which cause the painful inflammation and damage to joints affected by arthritis.
This is pretty significant for our senior dogs that may be suffering from the aches and pains associated with arthritis and aging in general. The anti-inflammatory properties, combined with the fact that turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, suggests that it’s also useful for disinfecting and treating skin injuries.
Another concern with our senior pets is ensuring heart health. Like us, our pets are susceptible to blood clots and excess cholesterol. You may have heard of LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol). Well turmeric has been found to lower LDL levels which support both heart and liver health. In addition, turmeric helps to thin the blood, reducing the risk of deadly clots that can lead to strokes and heart attacks.
It’s important not to thin your dog’s blood too much, but the right amount can be helpful. If your pet is on medication, especially those that thin the blood, check with your vet for the appropriate dosage.
What about the liver? Turmeric is good for that too. Our environment is becoming more and more toxic and that not only affects us, it impacts your dog as well. The liver plays a significant role in removing toxins from the body. Think of the liver as the main industrial center for the body. It’s involved in nearly every biochemical process required to run the body. The body’s abilities to clot blood, to breakdown harmful toxins, and to remove waste and store energy, are all affected by the liver.
It is a major player in your pet’s digestion, storing vitamins and producing bile which is necessary to break down fat. Curcumin is believed to stimulate bile production necessary for the digestion of fat in the liver. In short, turmeric boosts the liver’s ability to metabolize fat and remove waste from the body.
As with any pre-existing condition, if your pet already suffers from liver disease, you should consult your vet before treating with turmeric as some studies indicate that turmeric may aggravate existing problems.
Other benefits of turmeric include aiding in the treatment of epilepsy, helps relieve allergies, used in treating depression (yes, dogs get depressed too), kills parasites, heals stomach ailments, aids in digestive disorders and reduces gas and bloating. It acts as a binding agent and therefore is great for treating diarrhea, aids in fat metabolism and weight management, is high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals.
So how do I feed turmeric to my dog? The suggested daily dose is 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon per day for every 10 pounds of body weight. Make sure your pet has a lot of water to ensure they do not get constipated. You can feed the powder, which is most commonly available; sprinkle it right on top of your pet’s food. In order to get the full effect from feeding turmeric to your pet, it is best to feed them a turmeric recipe called golden paste.
Golden Paste Ingredients
½ cup organic turmeric powder
1 ½ cups filtered water
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup organic coconut oil
Golden Paste Direction
Mix the turmeric with the water in a pan
Start with 1 cup water and add more only if needed
Stir the liquid on medium/low heat and in about 7 to 10 minutes, it should form a thick paste.
If your paste looks watery, just add a bit more turmeric and heat it for another couple of minutes
Once you’ve got a paste, add the pepper and oil, and stir it very well.
Allow the mixture to cool, then place it in a jar with a lid and store it in your fridge. Ideally, you should store the paste for no more than two weeks … after that; you’ll want to make a fresh batch.
You can add the paste directly to your dog’s meals by mixing it with some water. Most do not mind the taste at all. Start with about ¼ to ½ teaspoon depending on the size of your dog. You can increase the amount from there.
There are several natural products available for dogs that have turmeric as key ingredient. Nupro Lyfe Spyce is a vegetarian formula that includes a medical mushroom complex combined with turmeric to support a healthy immune system which is great for dog’s who have allergies. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. A powdered supplement you simply add water to make gravy for your dog’s food or if you do a home based or commercial raw diet an excellent supplement to add to your mix.
The Honest Kitchen’s latest functional treat is their Bone Broth with Turmeric Spice. An instant powdered blend of dehydrated beef broth, turmeric, dehydrated beef, dehydrated pumpkin and dehydrated parsley that can be mixed with warm water to make a healthy and nourishing bone broth. Great for both dogs and cats, it can be served as a satisfying drink between meals, poured on kibble for a little extra moisture or used to hydrate an Honest Kitchen meal or a freeze dried raw diet. You might find it tempts a picky pet, or perks up one who’s been a bit down in the appetite department, too.
Primal Raw Goat Milk is a great way to include a daily dose of turmeric in your dog’s diet, included in their formula for its natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxifying properties. Available in the freezer at the Moab Barkery, Primal Raw goat milk is a great digestive aid as it helps pets obtain their daily need for moisture. Dogs’ bodies are about 65% moisture and unlike humans, they are designed to obtain the majority of their water from the foods they eat. By adding raw goat milk (79% moisture) to your pet’s diet, they will be gaining needed moisture as well as the benefits from the addition of turmeric.
Is there anything else you should know? Remember how turmeric is a bright orange color? Well the ancient monks used turmeric as dye to stain their robes. Be careful and mix it well with your pets food if you use it dry or as a golden paste, because your pet might end up with a turmeric mustache! Turmeric is a binding agent, so ensure that your pet has lots of water to reduce the likelihood of constipation. However, if your pet does have a pre-existing condition, is currently on medication, or is pregnant, it’s advisable to talk to your vet before feeding.