turmeric

Turmeric seems to be all the rage lately, but this plant actually dates back to around 4000 years ago.

What is it, and how can you use it to help your dog or cat?

Here is everything you need to know…

WHAT IS TURMERIC?

Native to Southeast Asia, turmeric is a plant related to ginger, and is commonly used in Asian cuisine.

The bright orange coloured root, also known as a rhizome, is what makes turmeric so special, as this part of the plant contains unique compounds that have some incredible health benefits.

THE BENEFITS OF TURMERIC FOR DOGS AND CATS

Turmeric can benefit your dog or cat in so many different ways.

It’s popular in “Integrative Veterinary Medicine” as it can support conventional veterinary medicine treatment plans. It’s well worth looking into if your pet could use some help with the following:

Turmeric Can Alleviate Pain

Cat and Dog

Turmeric contains some powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and this is all down to a compound within it known as curcumin.

Turmeric Can Help to Treat Arthritis

One of the most common factors that lead pet owners to discovering turmeric for the first time is when their dog or cat develops arthritis.

How can turmeric help with this?

Well turmeric, and the curcumin within it, is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Studies show that turmeric outperforms many conventional arthritis remedies, not only managing the pain and stiffness caused by the condition, but also giving pets more movement and flexibility.

Turmeric And Cancer?

Dog running in grass

A large proportion of dogs will end up developing cancer at some point in their lives, and, with so many factors that cause this, prevention can be difficult.

However, this is something that turmeric can help with.

How?

In a couple of different ways:

Interferes with the many molecular pathways that cause cancer to spread

Reduces chronic inflammation in the body, which is one of the leading causes of cancer

This means that not only can turmeric control and put a stop to tumours, but it can also prevent the growth of cancer in the first place by killing off any cancer cells within the body.

It’s a big call, we know. While the majority of research has been carried out with humans, there have been studies done on dogs and cats.

The results?

Definitely promising, showing how turmeric can diminish the growth of cancer cells in pets, especially when combined with other herbs.

Turmeric Helps the Liver with Detoxification

You are likely already well aware of the fact that there are so many toxins in the world today, and these can really have a detrimental effect on your pet’s health.

Toxins cause a strain on the liver, since it is the liver’s job to detoxify these substances and excrete them into the intestines.

If the liver isn’t able to detox your pet’s body properly, you may notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Allergies
  • Thyroid disease
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Skin issues
  • Digestive problems

It is so important to ensure that your pet’s liver is working optimally, and this is something that turmeric will help with.

Turmeric stimulates bile production in your pet’s gallbladder, and this bile is what encourages the liver to then eliminate any toxic substances, while supporting the cells responsible for breaking down these toxins in the first place.

Turmeric Protects the Heart

Cat and Dog play

Turmeric is a natural blood thinner. With thinner blood, the heart doesn’t need to work quite as much when it comes to pumping this blood through the body.

This then improves circulation, while also preventing blood clots, therefore minimizing your pet’s risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke.

If all of that was not enough, turmeric also protects the heart with its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a leading cause of heart disease, and anti-inflammatories can go a long way when it comes to preventing this.

Is your dog already on medication that thins the blood?

If so, make sure that you speak to your veterinarian before feeding turmeric to your dog.

Another common cause of heart disease in dogs is oxidative stress within the body.

What causes this?

Everything from pollution to UV exposure can lead to free radicals forming in your pet’s body.

What are free radicals?

Simply put, these are unstable atoms that end up attacking healthy cells in order to find the parts they need in order to “heal” themselves. Unfortunately, this only means that those healthy cells then become free radicals too, and the damage continues. This damage affects your pet at such a deep level, altering the DNA and proteins within each cell in the body.

When it comes to neutralizing these free radicals, your most powerful tool out there are antioxidants.

And yes, turmeric boasts a number of antioxidant properties. When these enter into your pet’s body, they are able to heal the damaged free radical atoms, therefore preventing them from attacking other cells and stopping the damage in its tracks.

Turmeric Protects the Brain

Just like with humans, dogs and cats experience cognitive decline with age, and conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can affect your pet in the same way it would affect a human.

In fact, research from autopsies show that dogs, just like humans, accumulate a starch-like protein in their brain as they age. This turns into a wax-like substance, which forms plaque that builds up in the brain, clogging up and blocking different signal pathways.

Many of these “connection circuits” in the brain also die off with age, contributing to cognitive decline.

Here are a few of the symptoms that you may notice in your pet if they are in cognitive decline:

  • An inability to learn new tasks
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • “Forgetting” rules or training that the pet used to know
  • Changes in sleep cycle

It can be devastating to watch your pet go through all of this and more, but this is where turmeric comes in…

Turmeric can help to prevent all of this from happening to quite an extent.

How?

In a few different ways, including:

  • Improves blood flow to the brain – this helps to protect against brain aging
  • Increases production of BDNF – this protein stimulates the production of new brain cells
  • Rids the body of abnormal proteins – these abnormal proteins would have otherwise caused cognitive decline
  • Antioxidant abilities – protects brain cells from the damage that free radicals cause

As you can see, turmeric can make a huge difference when it comes to keeping your pet’s brain as young as possible.

Turmeric Can Help with Allergies and Skin Issues

Cat with skin problems

Turmeric boasts anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties, meaning that it is a powerful herb when it comes to fighting bacteria, viruses and fungi.

The anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric also help with a number of other skin issues and allergies, treating everything from dermatitis to leishmaniasis.

If all of that was not enough, the curcumin within turmeric acts as an anti-allergen agent.

They can suppress allergic reactions and reduce itching, therefore preventing your dog or cat from having to go through an allergy flare-up.

Turmeric Helps with Digestion and Can Treat GI Disorders

If your pet is suffering from a gastrointestinal disorder, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, you are likely already giving your pet medication or supplements to help treat this.

Well, turmeric is something worth adding into the mix too…

Several studies point to the way in which turmeric is extremely effective at reducing gut inflammation and helping with gut permeability, meaning that it can treat common GI disorders such as Leaky Gut.

HOW TO FEED TURMERIC TO YOUR PET

dog tumeric

While turmeric may have some fantastic health-boosting properties, there is one major downside:

Turmeric on its own is not easily absorbed by the body, and this applies to all animals, including humans.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to get around this:

  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper – research shows that a compound called piperine in freshly ground black pepper can increase the bioavailability of turmeric
  • Fat – mixing turmeric with a fat, such as coconut oil or olive oil, increases the rate at which your body can absorb it, since turmeric is a fat-soluble ingredient
  • Heat – a small amount of heat can make turmeric much more bioavailable

GOLDEN PASTE

The best way to make sure that the turmeric you are feeding your pet can be absorbed to the maximum by your pet’s body is by cooking up some golden paste.

What is golden paste?

It is also referred to as turmeric paste, and features turmeric in its most bioavailable form.

All you need to make golden paste are these four ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup turmeric powder
  • 1 to 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Once you have the ingredients, simply follow these steps:

  • Place the turmeric, along with 1 cup of water, into a pan on low heat
  • Simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, adding more water if the mixture seems to be drying out. Make sure that the mixture does not boil
  • Remove from heat and add in the oil and the black pepper
  • Mix well and then leave to cool
  • Store the mixture in a jar in the refrigerator, and feed to your pet between one and three times a day (keep reading on for specifics on dosage).
  • The golden paste will last for about two weeks, so you will need to mix up a new batch after that.

Keep in mind that the paste may seem quite runny after you have mixed in the oil, but it will thicken up quite a bit after you have placed it into the refrigerator.

Wondering if you can freeze the golden paste?

Yes, but keep in mind that it may not be quite as potent when you do come to feed it.

There is one more thing to know about the recipe above…

It is so important for your black pepper to be as freshly ground as possible, ideally being ground right before it is added to the pan.

Why?

Because this ensures that the piperine within it is as active as possible.

Piperine in itself is a fantastic compound to be feeding to your pet, as it is believed to help with everything from nutrient absorption and metabolism to memory and the immune system.

Want your golden paste to be even more powerful?

Consider adding in a few other anti-inflammatory herbs, preferably at the same time as you add in the black pepper. This ensures that the herbs are not subjected to too much heat, meaning that they will retain the majority of their beneficial properties.

A few herbs and spices you could add to your golden paste include:

  • Cinnamon – has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Can also help to regulate blood sugar levels in your pet, helping to prevent diabetes
  • Ginger – can help with everything from arthritis to cancer to nausea
  • Oregano – high in antioxidants and flavonoids, and can help with digestive problems. Also antimicrobial and antifungal

One final tip…

Turmeric, as well as golden paste, is a vivid yellow/orange colour. As striking as this may be, the paste does stain! Make sure that you avoid getting the paste onto any clothing or furnishings, as it can sometimes be quite difficult to clean away.

Golden Paste Dosage for Dogs and Cats

Dog and cat as friends

When feeding golden paste to your dog or cat, starting off with a very small amount and gradually working your way up to the recommended dosage is absolutely crucial.

Too much too soon will result in diarrhoea, and it may even be orange in colour.

So, how much should you be feeding?

FOR DOGS: aim for a quarter of a teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight. However, no matter the size of your dog, begin with a quarter teaspoon, and increase this by a small amount every five days.

FOR CATS: again, aim for a quarter of a teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight. Begin with an eighth of a teaspoon, working your way up in small amounts every five days.

Tempted to amp up the dosage for your dog or cat?

There wouldn’t be much point…

Turmeric is metabolised by the body extremely quickly, meaning that it doesn’t stick around for long.

For maximum benefits, you want to go for frequent, but small, servings throughout the day, rather than a large serving once a day.

One more thing to keep in mind…

Turmeric and golden paste should always be fed to your dog or cat along with food.

Why?

Because turmeric is a complex whole food, and, just like other whole foods, is digested best when consumed in combination with other foods.

If you feed it to your pet on an empty stomach, it speeds quickly down the GI tract and exits the body, rather than having its nutrients absorbed as it slowly makes its way down.  

IF YOU ARE A DOG OWNER…

Happy black and white dog

Will your dog enjoy the taste of golden paste?

It’s hard to say…

Some dogs love it, while others run from it.

Fortunately, the majority of dogs out there tend to love their food, making it easy for owners to mix in a small amount of golden paste with each meal.

If your dog is particularly fussy, you may want to try one of the following tips:

  • Freeze it into portion sizes and add this to your dog’s food
  • Slice into a small piece of meat and “stuff” it with the paste
  • Mix up with a pinch of grated cheese
  • Syringe it into your dog’s mouth

WHEN SHOULDN’T YOU FEED TURMERIC TO YOUR PET?

While turmeric and golden paste may have some amazing benefits, there are, of course, exceptions.

If any of the following applies to your pet, speak to your veterinarian before feeding anything with turmeric to your pet:

  • Your pet is on medications
  • Your pet is undergoing a chemotherapy treatment
  • Your pet has bile tract obstruction
  • Your pet has gallstones

TURMERIC SIDE EFFECTS

As mentioned above, too much turmeric too soon can interfere with your dog’s digestion, not only causing diarrhoea, but also constipation.

However, other than that, there have not really been any adverse reactions reported that come from using turmeric on healthy dogs.

The same applies to humans, with the only side effects coming from consuming too much, too quickly.

WHAT ABOUT CURCUMIN SUPPLEMENTS?

curcumin

This is quite a tricky area, because curcumin supplements usually contain quite a high concentration of curcumin, and there haven’t been any studies carried out yet to determine their long term safety.

While these supplements can be useful in the long term, they aren’t really a good substitute for golden paste.

Why?

Mainly because curcumin isn’t the only active ingredient within turmeric. The other curcuminoids, as well as the oils, also known as turmerones, also have health-boosting properties. Curcumin supplements lack all of these, meaning that you are missing out on the many other benefits that turmeric can bring.

THINGS TO KNOW WHEN PURCHASING TURMERIC POWDER OR CURCUMIN SUPPLEMENTS

When it comes to purchasing turmeric, keep in mind that not all forms of this powder are created equally.

Opt for certified organic – not only will it be free of chemical inputs, the colour difference between regular and organic turmeric is quite remarkable!

The lower quality powders contain a much lower concentration of curcumin (hence the colour difference), and this active ingredient is something that you want as much of as possible.

Many brands will display the curcumin content of their turmeric on their label, so this is something else to keep an eye out for.

The same applies when it comes to purchasing curcumin supplements…

Make sure that this has come from a raw turmeric source, and does not contain any unnecessary additives or filler ingredients.

If you can find one that also contains demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin, this is a bonus, as both of these are the two other main curcuminoids found in turmeric.

Turmeric is such a powerful supplement that can help your pet in several different ways.

Whether you have a dog or a cat, keep turmeric in mind when it comes to preventing and treating various health conditions.

For additional reading on Turmeric, we recommend you check out the work of Dr. Karen Becker.

How has turmeric helped your pet?

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