Health Benefits of Turmeric for Dogs

By Karen S. Johnson

Long benefitting both the taste buds and health of humans worldwide, turmeric may also make your dog feel better, heal faster and reduce his risk of contracting serious illnesses. You can apply or dose this testament to nature’s genius with your dog both internally and externally. Since its primary ingredient, curcumin, has pharmacological properties, do not feed it to your dog without consulting your veterinarian, particularly if your dog is taking other medications.

Aging Joints and Arthritis

Whether brought on by age, breed, or injury, most dogs eventually suffer from arthritis and accompanying discomfort and pain. Turmeric taken internally is recognized as a powerful anti-inflammatory; the curcumin works as an antioxidant, neutralizing molecules that can assault your dog’s healthy cells and inflame his joints.

Topical Applications

Treat your dog’s scrapes and cuts by applying turmeric directly onto the wound. Its anti-inflammatory properties may aid any accompanying swelling and pain, while serving as a disinfectant. Try it on fungal infections, as well, such as ringworm. You may need to put an Elizabethan collar on your dog to prevent him from licking the turmeric until the sore heals.

Internal Benefits

Turmeric may lower your dog’s cholesterol, detoxify his liver, prevent eye cataracts and keep his heart healthy, reducing his risk of strokes or heart attacks by thinning his blood. It’s important, therefore, that you don’t feed your dog turmeric if he is on any other medications that affect his internal organs. Turmeric may also aid your dog’s digestion, alleviate diarrhea, kill internal parasites and provide allergy relief. There is reason to believe it can help epileptic seizures, and prevent or ameliorate neurological disorders. It may even help treat symptoms of depression in your dog. And, since turmeric is a binding agent, it can be effective in treating diarrheal episodes.

Promising Cancer Treatment

Dog owners worried about canine cancer may want to try turmeric or curcumin, but research on its cancer-treatment ability is not conclusive as of early 2015. Turmeric does appear to prevent blood vessels from feeding cancerous tumors. Colorado State University's Veterinary Teaching Department began research on curcumin in cats for one type of feline leukemia in 2009; a follow-up with David H. Thamm, the veterinary oncologist leading the project, in early 2015 found that researchers were able to inhibit cancer cell growth in laboratory tests, but it took high amounts of curcumin that may be impossible or difficult to achieve in cats. Dogs metabolize many compounds more efficiently than cats, so results may differ with other species. Your dog may gain some relief from side effects of traditional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, by taking turmeric.


You can obtain powdered turmeric or ground the root yourself. Make a paste of ¼ cup of turmeric and ½ cup of water, stirring on low heat for 5 minutes. Once cooled and thickened, store in the refrigerator in a glass jar. Adding raw honey to the paste for cuts and wounds provides additional antibacterial benefits.

To feed turmeric, start with a few sprinkles of the dry powder on your dog's food and observe for any allergic reaction. If your dog seems OK, small breeds can get 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, and larger breeds up to 2 teaspoons per day. A good rule of thumb is no more than 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight. You can also feed the paste, but calculating the dose is more difficult.