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Is Turmeric Good for Dogs? Vet-Approved Benefits & How to Use

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

Vet approved

Dr. Amanda Charles Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Turmeric may have several benefits for dogs. It’s a traditional medicine that has been used for years (and it makes some pretty tasty food, too). Its bright yellow color and distinctive flavor make it very easy to identify.

The main reason why turmeric may have health benefits for dogs is due to curcumin. This substance may do things like reduce inflammation and improve digestion. However, studies on turmeric and dogs are few and far between. It certainly isn’t a replacement for veterinary medicine, though you’ll still find it included in many supplements and dog foods.

As with many herbs and spices, you’ll find all sorts of claims surrounding turmeric. In this article, we’ll look at the science behind turmeric and how to use it for your dog.

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Benefits of Turmeric for Dogs

We don’t have tons of dog-specific studies on turmeric. However, we do have some other animal studies (and even a few on humans). While dogs may not react exactly how other animals do, these studies allow us to make educated guesses as to how well turmeric works on dogs.

The biggest benefit of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory properties. It can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which often reduces pain, too. It can also reduce inflammation in the gut, improving a range of digestive disorders.

One human study from 2020 found that turmeric was very good at reducing pain in those with knee osteoarthritis.1 Its effects were similar to ibuprofen and similar medication.

Turmeric, specifically curcumin, may also have antioxidant properties.2 It may help eliminate free radical damage in your dog’s body, which prevents a range of diseases. However, it doesn’t necessarily treat any disease, and antioxidants can be found in many different foods.

Turmeric has some pain-reducing properties, too. It’s been used to treat joint pain, specifically, which is likely caused by inflammation. A double-blind study found that dogs had less joint pain when given turmeric.3 (However, the study also added green tea extract and collagen to the dog’s diet.)

turmeric in a wooden cup
Image Credit: NirmalSarkar, Pixabay

Is Turmeric Safe for Dogs?

Turmeric is very safe for dogs when used correctly. However, turmeric can have significant side effects, too. For instance, it may have anticoagulant effects, which can make bleeding worse. Therefore, it should only be used as directed by a vet. It may be particularly harmful to dogs with certain underlying conditions (like bleeding disorders).

For healthy dogs, turmeric may be an effective way to treat arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Turmeric has been claimed to do a lot of things (like treat cancer), but its anti-inflammatory effects are really the only benefit we have scientific proof for.

When turmeric is used in veterinary medicine, it’s often utilized as a natural anti-inflammatory. However, that doesn’t mean it is free from side effects.

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What Are the Different Types of Turmeric for Dogs?

There are several different types of turmeric for dogs. Which option you choose is largely a matter of personal preference and what you can get your dog to eat. Some dogs may eat turmeric treats just fine, making that an easy way to dose them. However, picky dogs may not touch these treats at all.

You can work with your vet to determine the best type for your dog. However, there will probably be a period of testing required. You really don’t know what your dog will like until you try it.

The important part is to get the dosing right. Different treats and powders have different concentrations. Be sure you’re measuring the dose correctly, and always double-check the concentration.

  • Turmeric Powder: This turmeric is exactly what it sounds like—ground turmeric root. It’s what you’ll commonly find in the spice aisle of your grocery store. You can use it for cooking (for you and your dog). Alternatively, you can also add it directly to your dog’s food (though wet food works better for this method).
  • Turmeric Extract: This form of turmeric is extremely concentrated, which is why it’s often an easier way to dose your dog. My Siberian Husky is extremely picky. So, whenever we give him anything, it’s usually in the form of an extract. Popping a dropper in his mouth is simply much easier than trying to get him to eat many of the turmeric treats on the market.
  • Turmeric Liquid: While this can be somewhat similar to turmeric extract, it is less concentrated. Often, it looks a bit like orange juice, only not quite as thick.
  • Turmeric Capsules: You can find a range of turmeric capsules on the market. Usually, they’re marketed as “supplements.” They are very easy to give to dogs if you hide them in cheese or another tasty treat. Of course, some dogs do learn to eat the treat and spit out the capsule, so you do need to supervise your canine and ensure they actually eat it.
  • Turmeric Chews: Chews are dog treats that include turmeric. They’re often advertised as an easy way to give your dog turmeric. However, not all dogs like them, and many aren’t very concentrated. Some treats will be advertised as “containing turmeric” but do not actually contain enough to do anything. On the other hand, some are very concentrated and can work for dogs that aren’t super picky.
turmeric powder in a glass container
Image Credit: Antonio_Cansino, Pixabay

How to Give Turmeric to Your Dog

There are many ways to give turmeric to your canine. You’ll probably have to try many methods before you settle on one that works, as different dogs will prefer different methods.

One of the easiest ways is to mix it with your pet’s food. You can use turmeric powder in your dog’s wet food if they do not mind the taste. Turmeric extracts can be added to foods, too, however, they also tend to taste stronger.

For picky dogs, getting them to consume a dose of turmeric extract just like you would give any other liquid medication may be the easiest option. Simply fill the vial up and stick it towards the back of your dog’s mouth (in the cheek area).

Turmeric dog treats work very well for many dog owners, but you may need to try several brands before your canine settles on a type they like. You can even make your own homemade treats using turmeric powder, which may be especially useful to control exactly how much turmeric your dog consumes.

turmeric powder
Image Credit: cgdsro, Pixabay

How Long Does It Take for Turmeric to Work?

Turmeric often starts working fairly quickly. However, it needs some time to “build up.” Your dog can only absorb so much at a time, so larger dosages aren’t always more helpful (Instead, they may cause constipation or stomach upset). Therefore, you’ll need to play the long game.

It may take up to 2 months to see the complete benefits of turmeric. Many dogs will feel the benefits of turmeric before 2 months, though—some may feel it in as little as 2 days. Side effects are often noticed after only a couple of days, too. However, more serious side effects may only show up after months of supplementing.

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Final Thoughts

Turmeric is surprisingly effective as an anti-inflammatory. Therefore, it is often used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory-causing diseases. However, it does have some side effects, like its blood-thinning properties. These may make it more dangerous than more conventional medication, especially for some at-risk dogs.

Therefore, we highly recommend working closely with your vet when dosing your canine with turmeric.

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Featured Image Credit: Tina Witherspoon, Unsplash

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