Turmeric for Pets

One of the more popular herbal products in the last few years has been turmeric. Used as a spice in cooking, this herb has also been used for the usual wide range of unrelated conditions in traditional folk medicine, particularly in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Turmeric is sometimes suggested for use in the treatment of cancers and inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, in veterinary patients. A recent question from a reader prompted me to have a look at the evidence concerning the use of this herb.

What Is It?
Turmeric is a root cultivated as a spice and herbal medicine throughout Asia and parts of Africa. It contains a plethora of compounds, however the most studied in terms of medical applications are the curcuminoids.

What’s the Evidence?
There are abundant in vitro studies examining the chemical and biological properties of compounds found in turmeric. These studies suggest antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer activity for curcumin and other constituents of turmeric. Such in vitro studies can never, of course, prove a clinical benefit for patients. Bleach kills cancer cells in a petri dish, but it is hardly a cure for cancer. However, these studies are important for identifying possible uses to be investigated and for building a plausible foundation for conducting clinical studies. The in vitro research certainly does suggest a number of potential medical uses for turmeric.

The actual clinical research, however, is sparse. As the National Center for Complementary an Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) puts it, “There is little reliable evidence to support the use of turmeric for any health condition because few clinical trials have been conducted.” Many of the studies that have been done in humans have focused on curcumin and have found that it is poorly absorbed when taken orally. Large quantities must be taken to achieve detectable levels of curcumin in the blood.

There has been one systematic review of the research concerning the use of turmeric for a wide range of conditions:

Ulbricht C, Basch E, Barrette EP, et al. Turmeric (Curcuma longa): An Evidence-Based Systematic Review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. August 2011, 17(4): 225-236.

The summary conclusions of the review have been posted here. All potential uses were given the evidence grade of C, meaning the evidence is unclear, conflicting, or insufficient to draw any conclusions. Overall, there is no compelling clinical evidence in humans supporting any use of curcumin or other turmeric compounds.

As usual, there is less evidence in companion animals. One study comparing a turmeric compound to placebo in dogs with arthritis found not significant effects in an objective measure of weight bearing or in subjective owner assessment, though there was a small difference according to the subjective assessment of investigators. There are no other controlled clinical trials. A few experimental studies have been done on potential topical applications for ringworm and bacterial infections, and one research group in Brazil has published several papers looking at specific physiologic effects of turmeric compounds in dogs intentionally injected with snake venom. These studies have little relevance to the clinical use of turmeric for treatment of arthritis, cancer, and other clinical problems.

Is It Safe?
As I emphasize frequently, any therapy that has meaningful benefits will also have potential side effects. The body is simply too complex to expect to tinker with one element and not have wide-ranging effects on other elements. Therefore, it is actually a bad sign when a treatment is promoted as having no side effects since it likely suggests that treatment doesn’t actually do anything.

Potential adverse effects have been reported for turemric, including gastrointestinal upset, possible effects on blood clotting, possible increase in the risk for some kinds of bladder and kidney stones, and interactions with other herbs and pharmaceuticals. The limited clinical research so far suggests these risks are small. However, there is far less research available than is typical for a new drug before it is put on the market, and it is not unusual for unanticipated side effects to show up after a medicine is used and studied in a much larger and more diverse population. Therefore, the best we can say about the safety of turmeric for medical use (which, of course, means doses dramatically greater than its use as a spice in cooking) is that there is no obvious evidence of great risk but that the safety profile is no more clearly established than the efficacy profile.

Bottom Line
Turmeric contains a number of potentially useful chemical compounds, of which the most studied is curcumin. There is sufficient in vitro research to establish biological effects which might have clinical benefits, so the concept that these compounds could have therapeutic value is plausible. There is very little clinical research in humans, and there is not yet any convincing evidence to support the use of turmeric for any condition. There is virtually no clinical research in companion animals, and what there is does not support claims of benefit from turmeric compounds. Finally, the limited research to date suggests a few potential risks but the significance of these is unclear.

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90 Responses to Turmeric for Pets

  1. skeptvet says:

    Without any comment, I’m not sure what you wish to say by referring to this paper. It is a narrative review in which the authors choose some studies to discuss, obviously with the intent of making the case that curcumin is an effective treatment for some diseases. While such reviews are a convenient way to summarize the research, they are subject to the whims of the authors in including and excluding studies or interpreting them as they wish. A systematic review, which makes an effort to evaluate the quality and limitations of the evidence would be more useful.

  2. Sparkle says:

    What about this study? Seems like there are some small studies showing that turmeric is effective at reducing proteinuria in certain populations.

  3. skeptvet says:

    Interesting study. It did show a decrease in the amount of protein lost in the urine in uncontrolled human Type II diabetic taking curcumin compared to those taking placebo, and there were also differences in some other proxy markers. There were, of course, also outcomes that did not show any difference, such as changes in creatinine. And no outcomes related to clinical well-being or survival were measured since it as a short study with few subjects.

    This certainly shows the potential for curcumin to be useful in treating protein-losing renal disease in uncontrolled dhuman diabetics. It doesn’t show the substance is actually useful but it lays the groundwork for clinical studies that might show clinically meaningful benefits, and these certainly should be conducted. If, in the end, further studies show a meaningful clinical benefit in humans, then it would be reasonable to study the product further in veterinary patients, who might also see a benefit or who might not due to important differences in their physiology and the type of disease they experience.

    All of this is consistent with what I have said about the compound, which is that it clearly has potential and we must continue to study it and see if it ends up providing tangible benefits to patients. It is too soon to say if it has such real, meaningful benefits to veterinary patients, or if it has any unrecognized risks, but hopefully with continued study we will know enough to justify using it in regular practice one day. For now, though, doing so is still a leap of faith based on very preliminary science.

  4. Sparkle says:

    Thanks for the reply. I’m a skeptic by nature, but also recognize that treatments that have been proven through rigorous scientific research and testing represent only a tiny slice of known substances that may prove beneficial in the future. I believe you have stated this elsewhere — that “unproven” does not necessarily mean something is not beneficial or lacks potential. And although I would love to have solid evidence for or against every treatment as it applies to every particular situation, the truth is that people often have to make decisions for themselves or for their animals, with less than perfect data. I think it’s worth pointing out that the bar that must be met for you as a professional before you “know enough to justify using it in regular practice one day” is necessarily going to be higher than for a personal decision to try a treatment in an individual set of circumstances, after weighing the possible risks and benefits, known and unknown.

  5. skeptvet says:

    the bar that must be met for you as a professional before you “know enough to justify using it in regular practice one day” is necessarily going to be higher than for a personal decision to try a treatment in an individual set of circumstances, after weighing the possible risks and benefits, known and unknown.

    This is an interesting issue. On one level, I agree that it is more understandable for a person under the psychological pressure of dealing with a sick pet to reach for unproven remedies than for a clinician, with a more objective and outside perspective, to recommend them. On the other hand, the underlying reliability of such treatment,s whether they work or not and whether they are safe or not, isn’t influenced by the emotional pressures driving us to try them. Un unproven remedy is still unproven, and therefore a risk, regardless of how desperate we are to do something.

    Personally, I don’t think it is necessarily wrong to try things for which there is limited evidence when the need is great. What I do think is wrong, and should be actively discouraged or even prohibited, is encouraging desperate people to do so, and selling them such remedies, without full and honest disclosure of the lack of evidence, or the evidence against. If homeopaths, for example, explained that their remedies contained no biologically active materials and could only appear to work through placebo effects or through some sort of vitalist spiritual mechanism, then I would not object to people choosing to use them, though I might call into question their judgment. But, of course, homeopaths don’t do this. They make strong claims about efficacy, even about supporting scientific evidence, that are manifestly untrue.

    In more nuanced cases such as turmeric, I don’t object to people trying the remedy when there is some suggestion of possible benefit based on in vitro or human literature, so long as they understand that there is not yet much reason to believe it will help, and not much evidence to ensure it won’t do harm. I have seen clients who are convinced that well-established medicine have deleterious side-effects that are unproven or even very unlikely and who refuse to use such medicines even when the need is great, yet these same clients will freely gamble on compounds like curcumin with far less information available about its risks and benefits, all out of a mistaken sense that “natural” and “unnatural” are meaningful terms that suggest “safe” and “unsafe.”

    SO while the expectation one will understand and heed the evidence certainly should be higher for doctors than patients or clients, it is still true that in the absence of much evidence, we are gambling. Part of a doctor’s job is to provide the information necessary for truly informed consent, so in cases like this, the fact that we don’t know much, and that the risks are correspondingly unclear, should be clearly communicated to clients before we support their use of such products.

    Thanks for raising an interesting and important issue.

  6. Pingback: Coconut Oil and Tumeric

  7. Pingback: Canine Nutrigenomics by Dr. Jean Dodds: Science as Windowdressing | The SkeptVet

  8. Cane Ratleer says:

    Your cat is dying of cancer. You will do what ever is necessary to ease their pain, reduce the inflammation and perhaps extend their life. If it doesn’t work your cat dies. If it works … QED. Nothing ventured nothing gained. If it works for one patient/animal then you have proof that it works for ONE. We rolled the dice, took the chance, cancer vanished. The cat lived a happy, apparently pain free life. Worked once. One point does not a trend or a study make. But for us, that one point was everything. Roll the dice. It can only get better or stay the same. (his mark)

  9. skeptvet says:

    Actually, if it doesn’t work then you have increased your pet’s suffering. Human patients with cancer treated with alternative therapies often die sooner and have lower quality of life scores. We have to get over the idea that “at least it can’t hurt” because it can!

  10. Pat hunter says:

    My grandmother is from the hills of Kentucky. I believe in what they called hill medicine, they were miles from anywhere and doctors were almost not heard of. I have a corgi who got something in his paw, kept licking it took him to the vet, they found nothing! He had licked it raw, so I decided to make a combination of Epsom salts and turmeric. Soaked it twice, he doesn’t lick it anymore. It worked for me, was it the salts or the turmeric, or both ?

  11. skeptvet says:

    Or it just got better on its own. Amazingly common, though everyone always want to believe the last thing they did is what made it happen.

  12. Christopher says:

    Studies with subjects some double blinded: http://examine.com/supplements/curcumin/

  13. skeptvet says:

    Thanks, this is a nice collection of studies. The number of trials is growing rapidly, so additional systematic reviews are available since this article was written, and others are in progress. It will be interesting to see the results of those, though so far they don’t seem to include any clinical trials of dogs or cats.

    ScientificWorldJournal. 2014 Jan 22;2014:174282. doi: 10.1155/2014/174282. eCollection 2014.

    Curcumin as a therapeutic agent in dementia: a mini systematic review of human studies.

    Brondino N1, Re S1, Boldrini A1, Cuccomarino A1, Lanati N2, Barale F1, Politi P1.

    Author information


    Dementia is a leading health problem worldwide, with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) representing up to 60% of all dementia cases. A growing interest has recently risen on the potential use of natural molecules in this condition. Curcumin is a polyphenolic compound traditionally used in Indian medicine. Several in vitro and in vivo studies have found a protective effect of curcumin in AD. In the present systematic review we aimed to evaluate the state-of-the-art of clinical trials of curcumin in AD. We retrieved three published studies, while there are several ongoing clinical trials. To date there is insufficient evidence to suggest the use of curcumin in dementia patients. Of note, short-term use of curcumin appears to be safe. Several reasons could be responsible for the discrepancy between in vitro and in vivo findings and human trials, such as low bioavailability and poor study design.

    The effects of curcumin on musculoskeletal pain: a systematic review protocol.
    Gaffey A, Campbell J, Porritt K, Slater H.
    JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep. 2015 Mar 12;13(2):59-73. doi: 10.11124/jbisrir-2015-1684. No abstract available.
    [This will be interesting when it is completed]

    J Tradit Chin Med. 2014 Aug;34(4):419-29.
    Effect of curcumin on rats/mice with diabetic nephropathy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
    Wu W, Geng H, Liu Z, Li H, Zhu Z.


    To assess the renal protective effects of curcumin administration on diabetic rats/mice.

    Databases were searched electronically and conference papers searched manually for search terms to find relevant studies. Articles were assessed independently by two reviewers. Review Manager 5.1 was used for data analysis.

    Fourteen randomized controlled experiments were included. Meta-analysis demonstrated that blood sugar levels and kidney weight to body weight ratios in the model group were higher than those in the normal group, and the curcumin group had significantly lower mesangial area to glomerular area ratios compared with the model group, and also lower levels of urinary protein, blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine.

    Curcumin shows protective effects on the kidneys of rats/mice with diabetes.

    J Neurotrauma. 2015 Mar 15;32(6):381-91. doi: 10.1089/neu.2014.3520. Epub 2015 Jan 9.
    Neurological recovery and antioxidant effects of curcumin for spinal cord injury in the rat: a network meta-analysis and systematic review.
    Yao M1, Yang L, Wang J, Sun YL, Dun RL, Wang YJ, Cui XJ.

    Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition affecting young, healthy individuals worldwide. Existing agents have inadequate therapeutic efficacy, and some are associated with side effects. Our objective is to summarize and critically assess the neurological recovery and antioxidant effects of curcumin for treatment of SCI in rat models. PubMed, Embase, and Chinese databases were searched from their inception date to February 2014. Two reviewers independently selected animal studies that evaluated neurological recovery and antioxidant effects of curcumin, compared to placebo, in rats with SCI, extracted data, and assessed the methodological quality. A pair-wise analysis and a network meta-analysis were performed. Eight studies with adequate randomization were selected and included in the systematic review. Two studies had a higher methodological quality. Overall, curcumin appears to significantly improve neurological function, as assessed using the Basso, Beattie, Bresnahan (BBB) locomotor rating scale (four studies, n=132; pooled mean difference [MD]=3.09; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.40-4.45; p=0.04), in a random-effects model and decrease malondialdehyde (MDA) using a fixed-effects model (four studies, n=56; pooled MD=-1.00; 95% CI=-1.59 to -0.42; p=0.00008). Effect size, assessed using the BBB scale, increased gradually with increasing curcumin dosage. The difference between low- and high-dose curcumin using the BBB scale was statistically significant. Neurological recovery and antioxidant effects of curcumin were observed in rats with SCI despite poor study methodological quality.

    ScientificWorldJournal. 2014 Jan 22;2014:174282. doi: 10.1155/2014/174282. eCollection 2014.
    Curcumin as a therapeutic agent in dementia: a mini systematic review of human studies.
    Brondino N1, Re S1, Boldrini A1, Cuccomarino A1, Lanati N2, Barale F1, Politi P1.

    Dementia is a leading health problem worldwide, with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) representing up to 60% of all dementia cases. A growing interest has recently risen on the potential use of natural molecules in this condition. Curcumin is a polyphenolic compound traditionally used in Indian medicine. Several in vitro and in vivo studies have found a protective effect of curcumin in AD. In the present systematic review we aimed to evaluate the state-of-the-art of clinical trials of curcumin in AD. We retrieved three published studies, while there are several ongoing clinical trials. To date there is insufficient evidence to suggest the use of curcumin in dementia patients. Of note, short-term use of curcumin appears to be safe. Several reasons could be responsible for the discrepancy between in vitro and in vivo findings and human trials, such as low bioavailability and poor study design.

    Clin Nutr. 2014 Jun;33(3):406-14. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2013.09.012. Epub 2013 Sep 25.
    A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of curcumin on blood lipid levels.
    Sahebkar A1.


    Curcumin is a polyphenolic natural compound with diverse and attractive biological activities. There has been in-vitro, preclinical and clinical evidence on the cardioprotective and lipid-lowering effects of curcumin. The present review aimed to systematically review and meta-analyze current clinical evidence on the effects of curcumin supplementation on blood lipids.

    A comprehensive literature search in Medline, Scopus, AMED, Cochrane and clinical trial registry databases was performed to identify randomized controlled trials investigating the effect of curcumin on any component of serum lipid profile including total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and triglycerides. Meta-analysis of eligible studies was conducted using a random-effects approach.

    Five studies comprising 10 treatment arms (n = 133 in the curcumin and 90 in the control group) fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis of findings did not indicate a significant effect of curcumin on any of the lipid parameters. The estimated pooled mean changes (95% confidence interval) following curcumin supplementation were 8.97 (95% CI: -4.56 to 22.51) mg/dL (for total cholesterol; p = 0.19); 16.15 (-4.43 to 36.74) mg/dL (for LDL-C; p = 0.12); -0.59 (-1.66 to 0.49) mg/dL (for HDL-C; p = 0.28) and -1.29 (-9.05 to 6.48) mg/dL (for triglycerides; p = 0.75). In the same manner, subgroup analysis of studies on patients at cardiovascular risk did not indicate any significant effect of curcumin on circulating lipid levels. There was a significant heterogeneity for the impact of curcumin on total cholesterol, LDL-C and triglycerides but not HDL-C.

    In light of the present meta-analysis, curcumin supplementation has apparently no effect on serum total cholesterol, LDL-C, triglycerides and HDL-C levels when considering heterogeneous populations. However, further randomized controlled trials with longer supplementation duration, and bioavailability-improved formulations of curcumin are warranted to be conducted in dyslipidemic subjects for a more robust assessment of the lipid-modulating properties of this phytochemical.

    Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Oct 17;10:CD008424. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008424.pub2.

    Curcumin for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis.

    Kumar S1, Ahuja V, Sankar MJ, Kumar A, Moss AC.

    Author information



    Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the colon characterized by episodes of disease activity and symptom-free remission.There is paucity of evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of complementary or alternative medicines for the management of UC. Curcumin, an anti-inflammatory agent, has been used in many chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, esophagitis and post-surgical inflammation. The efficacy of this agent for maintenance of remission in patients with UC has not been systematically evaluated.


    The primary objective was to systematically review the efficacy and safety of curcumin for maintenance of remission in UC.


    A computer-assisted literature search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and the Cochrane Inflammatory Bowel Disease Specialized Trial Register was performed on July 11, 2012 to identify relevant publications. Proceedings from major gastroenterology meetings and references from published articles were also searched to identify additional studies.


    Randomized placebo-controlled trials (RCT) of curcumin for maintenance of remission in UC were included. Studies included patients (of any age) who were in remission at the time of recruitment. Co-interventions were allowed.


    Two authors independently extracted data and assessed the methodological quality of the included studies using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Data were analyzed using Review Manager (RevMan 5.1). We calculated the relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) for each dichotomous outcome. For continuous outcomes we calculated the mean difference (MD) and 95% CI.


    Only one trial (89 patients) fulfilled the inclusion criteria. This trial randomized 45 patients to curcumin and 44 patients to placebo. All patients received treatment with sulfasalazine or mesalamine. The study was rated as low risk of bias. Curcumin was administered orally in a dose of 2 g/day for six months. Fewer patients relapsed in the curcumin group than the placebo group at six months. Four per cent of patients in the curcumin group relapsed at six months compared to 18% of patients in the placebo group (RR 0.24, 95% CI 0.05 to 1.09; P = 0.06). There was no statistically significant difference in relapse rates at 12 months. Twenty-two per cent of curcumin patients relapsed at 12 months compared to 32% of placebo patients (RR 0.70, 95% CI 0.35 to 1.40; P = 0.31). A total of nine adverse events were reported in seven patients. These adverse events included sensation of abdominal bulging, nausea, transient hypertension, and transient increase in the number of stools. The authors did not report which treatment group the patients who experienced adverse events belonged to. The clinical activity index (CAI) at six months was significantly lower in the curcumin group compared to the placebo group (1.0 + 2.0 versus 2.2 + 2.3; MD -1.20, 95% CI -2.14 to -0.26). The endoscopic index (EI) at six months was significantly lower in the curcumin group than in the placebo group (0.8 + 0.6 versus 1.6 + 1.6; MD -0.80, 95% CI -1.33 to -0.27).


    Curcumin may be a safe and effective therapy for maintenance of remission in quiescent UC when given as adjunctive therapy along with mesalamine or sulfasalazine. However, further research in the form of a large scale methodologically rigorous randomized controlled trial is needed to confirm any possible benefit of curcumin in quiescent UC.

  14. Rivkah says:

    I bought into the hype about turmeric, and tried it on my cat because he has IBD and I thought that would help with his inflammation. Well it turns out that turmeric is actually bad for IBD, which I should have checked of course but did not.

    So now he’s barfing up little foamy turmeric colored puddles, and I just called the vet.

    He was already having stomach upset, because his usual food was starting to make him sick (As does happen with IBD… Anything that has worked will not work forever, and you have to switch things out from time to time). So I was talking about it with someone in a pet food store as I was looking for something else for him to eat.

    And yeah, desperation was a factor. I think had my cat been fine and there weren’t any problems I wouldn’t have just completely trusted something that somebody who worked in a pet food store told me.

    So he’s eaten very little in the past few days, and last night for the first time he completely cleaned his plate. I gave him the new food and I sprinkled a pro biotic on it which, hopefully, will protect his stomach lining from the turmeric a little bit now.

    Meanwhile I’m waiting on a call back from the vet. Not fun.

  15. I have two cats with calicivirus for which there is no cure. This is a virus that causes inflammation of the mouth and gums. I understand that reducing inflammation is one the effects of turmeric so I am going to try it on my cats. I know someone with Crohns disease an inflammatory condition of the intestines who has experienced great improvement since taking turmeric.

  16. skeptvet says:

    Unknown effectiveness also means unknown safety. Cats in particular are susceptible to adverse effects from herbal products, so you really are just rolling the dice with your pets’ health here.

  17. v.t. says:

    Stuart, there’s very little research with tumeric in humans, and NO research in companion pets, so WHY ON EARTH would you ever use this on a cat, and as skeptvet advises, cats are susceptible to many adverse effects . .. because you heard it from a human who’s using it for chron’s and most likely has no sufficient evidence behind it’s use?

    Please, do right by your cat and consult your vet for safe options to treat your cat, your cat deserves safe and effective treatment, not something that hasn’t been studied in cats (in which you could cause harm instead of good).

  18. Carrie says:

    I’ve been giving golden paste for 8 months to my older dogs, both choc labs.
    A week ago my 10 year old suddenly started vomiting and went off her food, which isn’t her at all. She was also crying and very lethargic and had a runny tum. I took her to the vet and they ran blood tests which showed she had high liver enzyme values and a problem with her red blood cells indicating internal bleeding, she was also dehydrated but had no fever. They put a drip in and she had an overnight stay. I told them she’d had some acid reflux recently, so they prescribed Rinetadin.

    Back home she really didn’t improve much so she was booked in for sedation so they could scan and X-ray her to see if there was some sort of obstruction. Nothing was found. They changed her meds to omeprazole as Rinetadin can cause nausea and said they thought she had a stomach ulcer. A week later he redid the bloods and found exactly the same problem with the results. She was booked in for 3 weeks time to check them again, our vet said if they were no better she’d have to have an exploratory operation to see if there was a tumour on her liver.

    Two days after this our other choc lab boy started vomiting too, exactly the same symptoms as our girl. I was confused, worried…well more than worried, was this some weird viral thing that presented without a fever, unlikely! I was thinking about what was happening whilst cooking our dinner and my eyes were drawn to the turmeric powder. We’d used a new supplier and it was a much deeper shade, more of an orange than the last mustard colour powder we’d used before. I decided to google dangers of turmeric on dogs and came up with this about humans, I’ve only copied what applied to us but there were several other warnings:

    2. Gallbladder Problems

    Research suggest that normal turmeric is helpful for the normal functioning of gallbladder by stimulating the release of different digestive mediators that stabilize the functioning of gall bladder ducts; however, high turmeric intake is also associated with aggravation of liver and gall bladder conditions. This includes inflammatory conditions of gallbladder (acute Cholecystitis) and gall bladder stones or duct obstruction. It is advisable to seek the help of a healthcare provider before using turmeric (even in recommended dosages) in all such cases to prevent pain and discomfort.
    3. Stomach and Gastrointestinal Problems

    Turmeric (also known as Indian saffron) usually does not cause any gastric irritation or inflammatory reaction when consumed as part of cooked curry (suggesting a small dose); however, individuals who consume turmeric for management of chronic inflammatory systemic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and aching joints can develop turmeric induced gastric issues. Turmeric is slightly acidic in nature and is widely considered as a stimulant of gastric acid secretion. If you have a current history of dyspepsia or hyperacidity, it is strongly suggested to avoid turmeric in high doses. Individuals who smoke or use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are especially vulnerable to the side effects of turmeric (leading to dyspepsia, heartburn, indigestion, gastro esophageal reflux disease and peptic ulcers). It is indicated to consume a lot of water to minimize the accumulation of turmeric in high doses within the gastric lining. For best results, consume with food only.
    4. Bleeding

    Turmeric may inhibit platelet aggregation, and thus, theoretically, may increase the risk of bleeding. It also affects the production of clotting factors from the liver and therefore must be avoided in patients who have a bleeding tendency or inborn error of clotting.
    5. Liver Problems

    High turmeric intake is associated with liver dysfunction that may present with indigestion and jaundice. Research studies in animals have confirmed the toxic effects of turmeric on animal hepatocytes and although no human study is currently available to suggest the possible mechanism of development of complications, it is recommended by healthcare provider to limit the intake under recommended dosages only. If you are suffering from a current medical illness that involves liver, it is better to avoid or totally eliminate turmeric from your diet.

    My husband had just got home, I told him what I’d found and I googled some more during the evening whilst mopping up vomited water on a regular basis. Our boy, at 11.30 at night, suddenly vomited more water (another sign seems to be excessive drinking) but this time there was blood in it!

    Terrified I rang the vet, explained that my boy had the same symptoms as our girl and that I’d seen online that turmeric could be the problem (they know me and our dogs well lol) and we rushed to the out of hours surgery. Once there the vet said she’d been searching on her vet sites and this was a known problem and was getting more common. She gave him an anti sickness injection in order to start giving him omeprazole straight away, declared him well hydrated and we came home at 1.00am, apparently the bleeding wasn’t too much of an issue, it was caused by the stomach ulcer, she also asked me how long I’d been giving it, 8 months, but asked if I’d changed supplier at all, I said yes a month ago!

    So it seems both my dogs have a stomach ulcer directly due to giving turmeric!

    Part of me is cross with myself for not checking for dangers earlier, this stuff is actively being pushed as a cure for all despite no studies having been done. Luckily neither dogs were taking NSAIDS as well, the vet told me things would have been much worse if they had been. I stupidly got caught up in the hype!

    Another part of me is extremely thankful that I googled it and realised what was going on, if my boy hadn’t shown his symptoms when he did my girl could have had to suffer going through an operation for no reason, not good at any age but at ten there could have been serious complications.

    Another part of me is sad because I’ve had to see them suffer so much over the last week or so! I love my dogs, they are a part of my family and I, like anyone else who does so, hate seeing them so poorly! My boy is not eating much at all but I understand that he feels sick, even my girl, although much improved, is still occasionally vomiting up her food, she did so this morning. They both have weeks of meds to allow their ulcers to heal, it will be a slow progress, with more vet visits to check on bloods.

    The last part is annoyance that I’ve been lumbered with almost £1,000 of vets bills so far, if my girl had had the exploratory operation it would have been much more!

    Basically turmeric works well as an anti-inflammatory, but those that give it to their dogs in order to prevent the liver problems associated with NSAIDS should be made aware that because it works, it too can cause the same problems! At least you know the tablets have a specified strength, with golden paste you have no such assurance! I was giving one teaspoon twice a day with their food, and my dogs are big labs, not fat (well my girl is a bit, although has lost weight recently of course) but big, show types; my boy is 50.9kg and the vets say he isn’t overweight, he’s like a brown bear with an enormous head. Goodness knows what would have happened if I’d given it to my 7 month old pup!

    I’m copying and pasting this reply on as many turmeric sites as I can find; if I only stop one dog going through what mine have been through then it will be well worth my time!

    Oh and the turmeric is now in the bin!

  19. Carrie says:

    Just correcting my email address from my previous post, sorry, I forgot the *1*

  20. Carrie says:

    Spelling mistake too Ranitidine, spell checker changed it, just noticed on my copy, can you change it please, sorry to be a pain!

  21. skeptvet says:

    I appreciate the anecdote. While individual stories, good or bad, don’t provide strong evidence for the safety or effectiveness of any medical treatment, there is a strong bias towards positive anecdotes, which unfortunately misleads people into thinking that since they only hear good things these products must be safe and helpful. Showing that people have negative as well as positive experience is useful to remind us all that we need real research to effectively judge these things. Thanks again.

  22. v.t. says:

    Carrie, may I suggest… please ask your vet to report the manufacturer/product to the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM) i.e., reporting of adverse reactions – the more that owners and vets are aware they can report these things, the better the CVM can attempt to investigate and if necessary, get these products off the market.

    Here’s hoping your babies recover fully!

  23. Kate bullock says:

    I know i am very late, bur my dog has a torn ccl and is allergic to most NSAIDS. I am reluctant to do surgery because of this and other factors. It seems like a lot of people are giving tumeric without a specific dosage? From what I have read and calculated, the correct dosage is less than a teaspoon for even a 70 lb dog. I am trying a new joint supplement for my dog with tumeric in it at a specific dosage, so I am really hopeful it will help.

  24. jane mariouw says:

    check out the GreenMed Info website and plug in
    Curcumin/ Turmeric

  25. jane mariouw says:

    that is the problem: informed consent.
    rarely do mainstream doctors practice informed consent, especially regarding all the ingredients in a drug. or all the studies of a therapy. or all the conflicts of interest that doctor might have.
    the average efficacy rate of all drugs across the board is 23%.
    many diets alone have better success rates.
    herbs can be a part of a healing diet. herbs are powerful chemicals, but in whole plant form. usually safer than tbe isolated drugs made from them.

  26. skeptvet says:

    You make a number of strong claims here, none of which is supported by any evidence, only your belief. You believe vets don’t inform clients of risks and benefits of treatments, you believe there is some meaning to a vague claim that there is such a things as an “average” effect of all medications or that you know what it is, you believe diets work better than medicine, and you believe whole plant herbals are effective and safer than medicines. These are not statements of fact but tenets of your personal faith, and most of them are untrue.

  27. Cheryl says:

    Hi Kate, please don’t be put of using turmeric. I have used in a form called Golden Paste which I got from a vet website called Turmeric Life. My now 18 year old cat Maggie was diagnosed with aggressive cancer in her nose and above an eye 2 years ago. The Oncologist wanted to take the eye out, which is good to remove a section of skin, as well as she would also remove most of her nose. I did a lot of research on different natural treatments and decided to try the Golden Paste. I syringed 1 ml 3 times daily after meals as well as mixed it with Aloe Vera and rubbed it on her nose and above the eye. Once the scabs that formed fell out I used Colloidal silver. The cancer disappeared 6-8 months later. Last year she was diagnosed with breast cancer, again I fed the Golden Paste as well as Black Seed Oil and Manuka Honey. Once again my vets were amazed, the cancer has gone. I know quite a few people who use Turmeric in one form or another for different reasons in there animals with great success. As long as you do the research before hand as you cannot use it with certain drugs, I couldn’t use it in my old Pomeranian as he has heart issues and was on an ace inhibitor. I would personally do a heap of research and find an alternative natural herb to used on my animals than to put chemicals down their throat or on their skin which in the long run does more harm than good.

  28. skeptvet says:

    As a counterbalance to Cheryl’s comment, please be aware that anecdotes like this don’t prove anything. Every medical treatment ever thought up has been supported by this kind of story, yet most of them don’t really work. For thousands of years, we kept using bloodletting, dung poultices, magic rituals, and many other treatments based on stories, and we did little to improve our health and quality of life. We now live longer, healthier lives than any time in history, and a major reason why is we use science instead of random stories and guesses to decide how the world works.

    Unfortunately, our own experience just isn’t very reliable. Here are some previous discussions, and a bit of humor, to illustrate why:

    Why Anecdotes Can’t Be Trusted

  29. Paige says:

    Interesting article. I have been giving my old pooch about a teaspoon of turmeric in paste form a day to help with his joint pain. I have seen an improvement in his movement, but after this article I am weary to keep on supplementing him. I do not want to be hurting him.

  30. Tamra says:

    Skeptvet- Thank you for your tireless dedication. It is now 2019 & many scientific assessments have come & gone, studies come & gone, etc…. One glaring component to all of this which has me politely disagreeing with is regarding your statement that we are living longer, healthier lives. Research today show that we have a continuous increase in diseases like, Diabetes, Cancer, Obesity , Parkinsons, Alzheimer, etc….. Statistics also claim that people over 60 are on 3-6 prescription medications which we know have a slew of negative side effects (Suicidal thoughts anyone?)! These are basically all man made diseases,brought on by a suppressed immune system (creating Auto-immune disorders) by all the toxins we have in our environment, foods, etc.. Unfortunately, with big pharma, there will never be a cure for disease until there is a cure for greed. The FDA, in my opinion is just a regulating “puppet” for the big pharma cartel, which pays the FDA $500,000 to ‘fast track’ approval of their drug. Monsanto only needs to do GMO feeding studies on rats for just 90 days!! BTW, back in 2013 you quoted a study regarding the poor absorption rate of Turmeric. Today we now know (through research) that adding ground blk pepper or purchasing organic Turmeric with black pepperdine extract allows for bioavailability. In 2019, many of us trust Naturopathic/holistic veterinarians & Doctors who have all been conventionally trained & yet pursue functional medicine as there are benefits to both protocols. Thank You again.

  31. skeptvet says:

    The evidence regarding life-expectancy and health in humans is overwhelmingly clear that we do live longer and healthier lives. The problem is that we have forgotten how many people died young of infectious diseases and trauma who now live long enough to get chronic degenerative disease and the kinds of maladies you describe. We haven’t reached some kind of Nirvana where there is no sickness and death, and we probably never will. But we have reduced suffering and delayed death dramatically in theist 150 years.

    Evidence for increasing life expectancy
    Evidence for Decreasing Child Mortality
    Burden of Disease
    Incidence of Disease
    Lifespan and Healthspan

  32. Lynda Dionno says:

    Curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric is what is needed. The original studies came out of East India where curry is popular.

    HOWEVER, you need curcumin, an oil, usually coconut oil and black pepper. And if you are going to give it to dogs, then buy human quality that is tested. If not, you need to eat enough curry to smell like curry as you sweat it out. The cooking with oils and black pepper is what makes turmeric work in curries.

  33. skeptvet says:

    Once again, no proof that any of this advice is true.

  34. RescuerAnalyst4Twodecades says:

    We (Indians) have been consuming Tumeric for thousands of years and personally my family and I have had no adverse effects from it. We not only used it for cooking but for treating dermatological conditions, and women have used it for bathing (to reduce body and facial hair).

    As WHO (World Health Org.) defines – “Traditional medicine has a long history. It is the sum total of the knowledge, skill, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement
    or treatment of physical and mental illness.” Not everything will come with a bucket load of numbers to prove its efficacy. 🙂
    Some may just be anecdotal as internet or computers did not exist thousands of years ago. So, imho traditional medicine cannot be so flippantly dismissed (Not stating that you are but in general people should not do so).

    However, I am a skeptic as you are so I prefer to take any study with a grain of salt as I find them highly unreliable. 11 years back I was told I had kidney stones while no one in my family has it and my diet was perfect. The specialists told me to go easy on calcium rich food intake. For 10 years I followed their advice which proved to be wrong. A year back I was told to actually take more calcium rich foods and that the previous study was wrong. go figure!

    In my humble opinion, I cannot agree with doctors that think only Allopathy works and the alternative/ traditional knowledge gained over thousands of years is garbage. There are doctors that kill patients. That does not mean doctors always cause death of patients. It is a correlation. [Causality vs. correlation]. People have to read the study and draw their own conclusions and determine if the study is about a cause or a correlation (to confirm or deny a hypothesis). Did turmeric really cause the issue or was it a correlation? Are 2 test cases sufficiently quantifiable statistic? Was there another underlying cause?

    I know a good measure of rescue volunteers in India who have to resort to home remedies including Tumeric and coconut oil for various ailments as we lack 24 hr emergency vet facilities, lack actual vet specialists, and there are a very few vets that are good at what they do. It has helped resolve Mange, hot spots etc., Maybe there would be a vet who would be willing to reach out and collect evidence/ case studies to make sense of it all. While people share their personal story you dismiss them saying it is a personal belief or tenet. Many allopathic doctors “believe” that traditional medicine does not work. There is no evidence to prove that. I agree with Tamra’s comments. Both traditional and modern medicines have their benefits.

    Proper dosage and control (dietary and otherwise) is critical to not cause adverse effects or side effects. Anything in moderation right?
    Pharmacovigilance is important not only in Traditional medicine but also in Allopathy. Many vets do not share what side effects can present from the medicine they administer to the pet. I always ask my vet before blindly agreeing to a treatment plan. Fortunately I have an amazing vet who values my input and takes the time to help answer all my questions either thru knowledge or research.

    Vigilance and diligence are required no matter what treatment path we take.

  35. skeptvet says:

    Of course, I disagree. Traditional use has never reliably predicted which therapies work and which don’t. People have done all kinds of things for thousands of years without having any meaningful effect on life expectancy, childhood mortality, or many other measures of human health. Science has been much more successful than tradition and anecdote, which is why we should prefer it as evidence.

    It is also odd that you are skeptical of reports that turmeric might cause problems but not skeptical of your own anecdotes that you haven’t had any problems with it. That illustrate one of the main problems with anecdotal evidence: we use it selectively to support our beliefs but not to challenge them.

    If traditional medicine has benefits, it should be able to prove those scientifically just the way scientific treatments do. If this isn’t done, then there isn’t any reason to accept claims for such benefits based only on anecdote and tradition.

  36. Diane says:

    For what it’s worth, my (human) nephrologist tells me that recent human studies suggest that curcumin may be damaging to kidneys. Not definitive, but concerning enough that she recommends that her patients not take curcumin supplements. I don’t know how generalize-able that research is to pets, but it’s another piece of information to consider.

  37. Well, it will be interesting to see as more data with dogs emerges. I was offered a chance to enroll a dog in an IBD trial that included curcumin treatment arms at a tertiary vet center in 2018. Unfortunately, an enrollment criteria was no meds, and he was not stable enough for me to remove him from meds to try double-blinded foods.

    Anecdotally, I have found using a generous dose (reviewed by my vet) of human grade turmeric + bromelain has helped stabilize him, along with rx food and tylosin. We’ve run out, and he’s ended up on flagyl. A previous dog with advanced arthritis and what we think was myelopathy also performed better in terms of walking/stairs/stretching when we did not run out of turmeric. Again, this was an adjuvant, in her case to reduce NSAID dose. We do roughly annual labwork, though.

    Although anecdotes “can’t be trusted,” there is value in personalized care. As we learn more about genetics, epigenetics and disease, we are learning how the one-size fits all approach of broad RCTs fails to capture the nuance of how our bodies work with the world. An easy example is trying to treat every type of mild cognitive impairment the same way, regardless of ApoE variants versus potential for vascular origins.

    I do discuss supplement quality with my clients, though– and the new hot topic is probiotics, although turmeric remains popular. Thank you for mentioning this. It’s overlooked, and it’s a huge issue in the US.

  38. Ali says:

    I dont understand why You say Curcumin is not well studied and has not much science behind its use.
    There are literally hundreds of not thousands of studies involving Curcumin available! For many conditions, many oncology types, most in vitro though still enough in vivo studies, also toxicity studies for humans, mice, dogs and horses. Just google or search on PubMed.

  39. skeptvet says:

    I don’t think you’ve read my post thoroughly. I not only mention the pre-clinical studies you mention, I actually cite reviews of these studies. What we don’t have is clinical trials in dogs and cats showing cur cumin actually has meaningful benefits in real patients. That is what is needed to support clinical use. There are a couple of hundred clinical trials in humans, and the systematic reviews that summarize this literature (which you can find in Pubmed) show some small effects in some conditions (e.g. arthritis), but often these effects are less than existing treatments (e.g. ibuprofen) or there are side-effects (e.g. GI upset). My post was written 6 years ago, and since there there have been no clinical trials in dogs or cots published showing real-world benefits to Curcumin alone.

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