Turmeric is a perennial plant of the ginger family used for cooking, herbal medicine, and dyes. It may be most recognisable in curries, as it is what imparts the yellow colour to this dish. This spice is also believed to be beneficial for a wide variety of conditions in dogs. Curcumin, an ingredient of turmeric, contains the most beneficial components of this spice.
Curcumin is believed to be a potent anti-inflammatory, according to professionals at the University of Florida's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. This can be helpful for painful inflammatory conditions like arthritis, a common problem in dogs.
All dog breeds are subject to arthritis, but susceptibility increases for those with hip dysplasia, a genetic condition. Even for dogs without this condition, however, they may develop arthritis for the same reasons human do: old age and being overweight. Over time the "micro-traumas" joints suffer from the extra weight add up and can lead to arthritis. Dogs can also suffer from Rheumatoid arthritis, a disease involving the immune system. Supplementing with turmeric, as well as with veterinary recommended medications, may ease your pooch's suffering.
Beneficial to the Liver
Curcumin is believed to stimulate bile production in the liver, essential to the digestion of dietary fats. As working dogs need their diets to consist of at least 20 per cent fat, healthy bile production is paramount to good health. Pregnant, nursing, and underweight dogs also need a diet fairly high in fat, which means they need healthy bile production to digest it all.
Beneficial to the Circulatory System
Curcumin is a blood thinner, helping to prevent clots and excess cholesterol accumulation. Clots lead to dangerous conditions, such as stroke and heart attack in dogs, just like in humans. High cholesterol, too, can lead to a host of problems for dogs, such as seizures, abdominal pain, nervous system dysfunctions, patches on the skin, and/or cutaneous xanthomata (skin bumps filled with greasy, yellow-orange fluid). If these symptoms occur, you should call your vet immediately.
While it's important not to thin your dog's blood too much, an appropriate amount of turmeric may be helpful in keeping blood running smoothly through the vessels. Check with your veterinarian about an appropriate dose of turmeric for your dog.
Antioxidants are substances such as vitamin C or E that remove potentially damaging agents, called free radicals, from the body. Free radicals can wreak havoc in the body and possibly lead to such conditions as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Dogs need antioxidants just as humans do to mitigate this free radical damage. There are many options for providing antioxidants to your dog, including fruits and vegetables. The active ingredients in turmeric, though, will also provide an antioxidant boost to your pup's food.
Early studies on turmeric and cancer are promising, but not conclusive. Evidence comes from animal and test tube studies, in which results suggest turmeric may prevent, control, or even kill several types of cancers. This amazing property may be due to the herb's ability to stop the blood vessels that supply tumours, and/or to its preventive effect as a powerful antioxidant.
As basic cell function works the same in humans and dogs, and as dogs also suffer from cancer, many believe turmeric has anti-cancer properties for dogs as well.
Synergistic Effect With Other Herbs
Curcumin can provide a synergistic effect with other herbs, which means the herbs increase each other's beneficial effects. Bromelain, an extract of pineapple stems, is an herb that works well in this way with curcumin. Bromelain can decrease what is known as "circulating immune complexes," which can cause immune system damage. Combined with curcumin, the two increase each other's absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. In other words, by taking both curcumin and bromelain, the body will absorb more of both herbs than if they were taken alone.