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Turmeric For Dogs With Cancer

A brown dog laying down looking up

Nobody ever wants to hear that their dog has cancer. Despite the impressive evolution of veterinary medicine over the years, cancer can be a difficult diagnosis to treat and manage. Your veterinarian may be involved in the treatment of your dog’s cancer if surgery and chemotherapy are necessary. Your vet may refer you to a specialty hospital for these services. Veterinarians can also help keep your dog comfortable by prescribing pain medications and supplements.    

Natural products like turmeric have become increasingly popular in human medicine and are known for their healing properties. Human cancer patients have been known to greatly benefit from turmeric supplements, but what would happen if you gave turmeric to your own dog? Is it safe for dogs with cancer, and is there evidence to suggest that your dog could benefit from taking turmeric?    

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a root that originates from theCurcuma longa plant, which is part of the ginger family. It is used as a food coloring and a spice for foods like curry. In human medicine, it is commonly used to treat conditions involving pain and inflammation.

What is Curcumin?

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. There is very little scientific evidence that proves the benefits of turmeric and curcumin in dogs. There was one study that was published inResearch in Veterinary Science in 2016, confirming that curcumin has anti-inflammatory effects for dogs with arthrosis, which is a type of degenerative joint disease1.

How Turmeric Benefits Dogs With Cancer

Much of the information that we have on turmeric and its effect on cancer comes from human medical studies. 

According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website, turmeric has been shown to have protective effects against skin, stomach, and colon cancers. Curcuminoids, which are the substances found in turmeric, were evaluated in lab experiments and proven to help prevent inflammation and to enhance the ability of a specific detoxifying enzyme in the body. 

Studies also showed that when turmeric was directly applied to tumor cells in a lab setting, the replication of the tumor cells stopped. Although researchers have yet to determine whether or not the same result occurs inside of the human body, it is very promising for future studies for both humans and dogs.

Benefits of turmeric for dogs infographic

How To Give Turmeric to Your Dog

Your dog may benefit from taking turmeric as a supplement. Like with any new medication or supplement, make sure to get your veterinarian’s approval before starting to give your dog turmeric. This is because turmeric may interfere with how certain chemotherapeutic drugs work, and patients prone to gastrointestinal upset and kidney stone formation should not take turmeric.

Turmeric usually comes in a powder form, so it can be mixed with coconut oil and then put on top of your dog’s food. If he likes the taste of it, then he may just lick it off of the spoon!

Turmeric can also be combined with water, ground black pepper, and coconut oil to form a paste that can be added to your dog’s food. This recipe, known as golden paste, should be kept in your refrigerator and is good for up to two weeks. If you prefer not to have to mix up any ingredients, then chewable tablets may be best for you and your dog.

There are several companies that sell chewable turmeric tablets, and some products may even combine turmeric with other beneficial ingredients like coconut oil.  

Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects may be amplified when used in combination with other products like CBD oil. However, because supplements can sometimes be contraindicated for use with certain medications, you should make sure to talk to your veterinarian before starting to give your dog any new supplement or product.

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Potential Side Effects

Much of the research that exists for turmeric usage in humans and in dogs shows that there are few side effects when taking turmeric. Most researchers are hopeful that future safety studies will continue to demonstrate this.

Like with any new medication or supplement that is taken orally, there is always a chance that your dog may develop signs of gastrointestinal upset. If your dog has any vomiting, diarrhea, or signs of constipation after taking turmeric, you should avoid giving him any further doses and contact your veterinarian about what to do next.

Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties may be able to significantly help your dog with cancer. However, because turmeric may negatively impact the effectiveness of certain chemotherapeutic drugs, you should talk with your veterinarian before starting to give turmeric to your dog. If your dog’s cancer treatment does not include chemotherapy, then you may be able to start giving your dog turmeric right away.

Other Health Benefits of Turmeric for Dogs

Most of the available scientific evidence that discusses the use of turmeric in medicine focuses on its anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-inflammatory effect of turmeric can help dogs with painful joints and arthritis. Some research also suggests that turmeric has an antioxidant effect that can help prevent kidney damage from toxins. Antioxidants are responsible for removing free radicals from the body, so it is possible that turmeric can also promote heart and liver health.

Canine Cancers and Home Remedies

Cancer is typically associated with a severe illness that can come from cancer itself or the side effects related to treatment. Compared to humans, dogs typically do quite well with the chemotherapeutic drugs that are used to treat specific cancers. However, chemotherapy may not be recommended in some cases, and it can be expensive depending on how long treatment is necessary.

With supplements like turmeric, it may be possible to help slow the progression of certain cancers and keep your dog comfortable. Turmeric can be used alone or may be an ancillary part of your dog’s treatment plan. If your dog has cancer or is undergoing treatment for cancer, then ask your veterinarian if turmeric is right for him.

Meet The Author 

Dr. Erica Irish DVM


Erica has worked in the veterinary field since 2006, starting out as a veterinary technician before graduating from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. As a general practitioner in an animal hospital, she has many interests and is especially interested in dermatology, cardiology, internal and integrative medicine.

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