Posted by camille arneberg on

Turmeric for Dogs With Arthritis: Everything You Need to Know

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If you have noticed your dog struggling to get up on the sofa or heard him groan as he rises off the floor to take his first few steps, you may be seeing the beginning stages of osteoarthritis in your dog. Especially if your dog is entering his senior years, ages seven and up, arthritis may quickly become a concern. While you should always be giving your pup a daily dog digestive supplement, it may be time to also incorporate a joint supplement into his diet as well. Luckily arthritis in dogs is very manageable and treatable with the proper medications. 

While prescription painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are an option, there is a homeopathic alternative that is better in almost every way, and it goes by the name of turmeric. The healing benefits of turmeric in dogs, especially as they relate to arthritis, are genuinely unmatched. Here is everything you need to know about turmeric for dogs with arthritis.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a flowering plant that belongs to the ginger family and is most commonly turned into a spice. According to Healthline, Turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin, which is a potent natural anti-inflammatory with powerful antioxidant properties. Turmeric is best known as the substance which gives eastern cuisine from India and Pakistan its exotic golden hue.

What Are the General Health Benefits of Turmeric for Dogs?

Health benefits of turmeric have been praised in eastern cultures for thousands of years, but western medicine is finally catching on. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and painkiller. In fact, in a 2004 study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology, turmeric went head to head with the reigning champ ibuprofen and came out the victor! This is great news for your dog suffering from osteoarthritis. Now he can take something just as effective as his prescribed anti-inflammatory without the added stress and damage that prescription medication puts on the liver and kidneys. 



How Does Arthritis Affect My Dog's Joints?

Osteoarthritis is defined as the deterioration of ligaments and cartilage in and around bones leading to chronic joint pain. Arthritis pain can be anywhere from moderate to severe, depending on how advanced the case is. Unfortunately, the effects of arthritis cannot be reversed, but they can be managed. Turmeric for joints can help reduce the symptoms of arthritis in dogs and make your pup more comfortable.

Arthritis inhibits your dog's movements, preventing him from moving with the same youthful exuberance he once did. Sometimes arthritic tendencies are only noticeable during actions that require bigger movements like jumping into the car or up onto the bed. However, arthritis can just as easily limit daily mobility. Sometimes arthritis that limits smaller daily movements is more limiting for a dog than those more intense, but less common actions. 

Depending on the source of your dog's arthritis, your dog may develop his own coping strategies that ultimately make things worse. Let's say your dog is attempting to cope with arthritis pain by favoring his left leg. The right leg, which is now seeing a lot more use, is far more likely to develop problems of its own.

For dog owners, arthritis is something that must be dealt with head-on. Pain management is critical in the fight against arthritis, and turmeric is here to help!

How Does Turmeric Combat the Adverse Effects of Arthritis?

Because arthritis attacks the joints, there are limited ways to combat the pain and swelling that come as a result of your dog's bones rubbing against one another. Cartilage is what kept your dog's bones from grinding against one another, and once this wears down, your dog will begin to experience pain and discomfort.  The lack of a buffer zone between the joints creates a sensation that is best described as dull throbbing aches. 

Due to the friction caused by a lack of cartilage, the throbbing and aching that your dog is experiencing is accompanied by inflammation. Inflammation occurs when the muscle tissue around the bones has to work harder to compensate for the insufficient cartilage.  This extra work results in a buildup of lactic acid and ultimately, chronic inflammation. 

Turmeric root, as we have established, is an anti-inflammatory agent and a natural painkiller. But how exactly does turmeric do the things it is claimed to do?

As the body digests and absorbs turmeric root, the chemical curcumin enters the bloodstream. Thanks to its high pH level, and basic properties, curcumin directly combats the inflammatory effects of lactic acid in the body, as proved by the NCBI. The ingestion of turmeric and the introduction of curcumin to the bloodstream, counteract the effects of arthritis on a chemical level. Additionally, as swelling subsides and inflammation goes down, pain and pressure from swelling dissipate. Without the added pain of inflamed muscle tissue, the throbbing and aching that your dog was experiencing is no longer present, or at least is significantly less than before. 

Can My Dog Take a Pure Curcumin Supplement Instead?

Your dog can certainly take a supplement with only extracted curcumin, but according to Healthline, it may not provide the same results. Curcumin works best when it is combined with the other curcuminoids that are present in turmeric. These other curcuminoids are named demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin. By isolating the individual molecular components of curcumin from turmeric, you lose essential chemical agents that help it to function correctly after ingestion. 

Curcumin is the chemical agent within turmeric that contains the highest marker of anti-inflammatory agents. However, the other curcuminoids that it bonds with the inside of the turmeric plant help with things like digestion and absorption of curcumin.

Taking straight curcumin is not bad for your dog, and if he has an aversion to turmeric, it may be a good alternative. However, as you increase the potency of any substance by means of isolation, the greater the risk of adverse side effects. 

More Pepper!

While turmeric is excellent, your dog's system may need a little help in absorbing the nutrients properly. Black pepper is the ultimate catalyst for turmeric. The chemical agent piperine, present in black pepper, will allow your dog to absorb the chemical agent curcumin at a rate of 2000% more efficiency. 

The chemical agent piperine is an alkaloid, which means it is a nitrogen-based organic compound. These types of organic compounds have the unique ability to permeate cell walls with ease inside the body.

According to NCBI, when combined, piperine binds with curcumin due to their compatible molecular structures. This creates an effect wherein curcumin can pass through the intestinal wall with a staggeringly higher success rate. Furthermore, piperine slows down the dissolution of curcumin by the liver, meaning more curcumin stays in the bloodstream for a more extended period.

How Do I Administer Turmeric to My Dog?

Once you have decided that turmeric is a supplement you want to add to your dog's diet, you will be left with the choice of how to administer it to him. There are several methods and products available that make turmeric consumption easy for dogs. 

Turmeric chews are a popular choice amongst dog owners, as they can be given as daily treats, or crumbled on top of food. Tinctures are another popular method of distributing turmeric extract to a dog. In tinctures, the turmeric is dissolved into a dog-friendly oil like olive oil or coconut oil and can be administered directly with a syringe or poured over food before meals.

Healthline lists the proper dosage for turmeric in dogs as ¼ teaspoon for every 10 pounds of weight. When first adding turmeric to your dog's diet, it is best to err on the side of caution, keeping the dosage low until you know how your dog reacts. Small dogs should be especially careful to avoid adverse side effects.

Store-bought supplements are usually the best way to ease your dog into turmeric use, as these supplements are all very well controlled and have explicit directions regarding dosage. Once your dog has developed an affinity for turmeric powder, you can begin experimenting with your own recipes. 




The Golden Turmeric Paste

In addition to these popular methods, you may be interested in a homemade turmeric paste like the one found in Dogs Naturally Magazine. One such paste that has many dog owners over the moon for turmeric is called "golden paste."

Are you ready for some homemade alchemy!? This delicious golden turmeric product will have your dog begging for more and may produce some pavlovian habits when he sees you reaching into the spice cabinet. 


1 cup organic turmeric powder (organic means a higher curcumin content)

3 cups cold, filtered water

3 teaspoons ground pepper - the fresher, the better, try grinding it yourself if possible

½ cup organic coconut oil 


Place turmeric powder in a small pot on the stove

Whisk in 2 cups of water slowly

Bring the mixture to a simmer, adding the last cup of water intermittently until the paste is thick

Once the paste reaches the consistency of oatmeal, turn off the heat

Stir in the coconut oil and black pepper

Allow the mixture to cool and place in a glass jar.

Refrigerate for two weeks 

Dogs can have golden paste every day but be sure to limit the quantities at first. Typically the dose of golden paste should be as follows:

0-20 lbs: ¼ teaspoon daily

21-40 lbs: ½ teaspoon daily

41-64 lbs: ¾ teaspoon daily

65+ lbs: 1 teaspoon daily

Whenever you introduce something new into your dog's diet, it is important to monitor him for adverse health effects and allergic reactions. If your dog exhibits any vomiting, excessive drooling, tremors or multiple days of diarrhea, stop the dosage and consult your vet. Turmeric is extraordinarily dog-friendly and very safe in small doses, but adverse reactions can occur, so be vigilant and start slow.

Turmeric for Brain Health

In older dogs, arthritis is often paired with dementia. Dementia itself can be a troublesome disease, and it often comes on rapidly and seemingly out of nowhere. In addition to being an excellent remedy for arthritis, the positive tumeric for dogs benefits have also been observed in its prevention of mental deterioration like Alzheimers and dementia. While the positive effects of turmeric on the brain are still not fully understood, studies conducted by NCBI have shown that those who have a diet high in turmeric are significantly less likely to develop Alzheimers or dementia. 

Turmeric for Preventative Joint Health

Even if your dog does not suffer from arthritis, joint health is a crucial part of your dog's life. To keep the rest of his body, mind, and spirit healthy, your dog requires activity and movement. Movement is integral for so many things in your dog's life like preventing anxiety and stress, keeping his gastrointestinal tract working properly, and even keeping his muscles and joints in good shape. Being pain-free is the key to keeping your dog active and moving, and turmeric is just as much a preventative for joint health as it is a solution for joint pain.

Side effects of turmeric

For all these great benefits that turmeric offers, there has to be a catch, right? Well, according to The Whole Dog Journal, turmeric doesn't have negative side effects so much as it has guidelines and stipulations. Here are a few of them:

1) Turmeric might make your dog hot. Turmeric is what is known as a "warming spice," meaning it very mildly increases the internal temperature of the body. Don't be surprised if you find your dog seeking out cool places to relax or panting a little more than usual after he eats turmeric.

2) Turmeric thins the blood. Again this is not necessarily bad, as thin blood helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. However, if combined with other blood-thinning medications, medical complications could arise. Always consult with your vet beforehand.

3) Turmeric could make your dog stink. There is a notable scent that comes from a high curry diet, but since your dog doesn't sweat the same way humans do, and because of the low dosage, this will probably never come up.

Stay Golden

Overall, turmeric is a wonderful natural remedy for your dog's arthritis. Turmeric's ability to fight pain and inflammation simultaneously make this supplement a no brainer. For dog owners looking to keep their dog naturally healthy, while still providing comfort and care, look no further than your spice rack. 




Camille Arneberg and her dog
Camille is a co-founder of PetHonesty and VP of Pup Parent Education. After watching her own family dog suffer from joint issues for years she became passionate about improving dogs' quality of life. With the help of a team of veterinarians and dog nutritionists she now helps educate other dog owners about the small but powerful things they can do to positively impact their dogs' health and wellness! She lives in Austin, TX and loves cuddling puppies, being outside and reading.