Can Turmeric Prevent Canine Obesity?

January 6, 2020
Canine obesity is common for a number of reasons, such as certain chronic illnesses. But there's a way to combat it using a powerful spice: turmeric!

Before getting onto the topic of what problems turmeric can prevent, let’s talk about canine obesity for a moment. Many acknowledge that some of the root causes of obesity are similar for humans as for dogs. What you eat and how much you eat has a direct impact on your health and well-being. That’s also true for dogs.

Could you or your pet lose some weight? The main idea of trying to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit. If someone burns more calories than what they consume, with time they will automatically lose weight.

However, there are also other things you can do. There are certain foods that will have an impact on your pet’s weight, and, as a result, their general health. Foods that have positive effects on health beyond basic nutrition are called functional foods. Turmeric is one of these.

What is turmeric?

Turmeric is derived from the roots of the Curcuma longa plant, which is a member of the ginger family. This spice is what adds the traditional bright orange color in Indian curries and mustard.

Curcumin is the main active component of turmeric. It has powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s primarily responsible for turmeric’s immense health benefits.

Turmeric can be used to prevent canine obesity.

The problem of canine obesity

Obesity is a common problem among dogs. Why? It’s one of the consequences of many chronic diseases that affect dogs. Some of these illnesses are heart diseases, diabetes, and osteoarthritis among others.

In obesity, an excessive growth of fatty tissue occurs, which is associated with serious metabolic conditions. In this accumulation of fatty tissue in the body, immune cells called macrophages enter which emit protein hormones that cause inflammation, called adipokines.

With that in mind, obesity is recognized today as low-intensity chronic inflammation.

How does turmeric work to prevent canine obesity?

Turmeric affects the fatty tissue that occurs in obesity in different ways. Many scientific reports show that curcumin, turmeric’s active ingredient, can inhibit the production of the precursors to fatty tissue cells. These are called pre-adipocytes.

In this way, turmeric can reduce the number of adipocytes (fat cells) in the body, as well as the fat content in fatty tissues. Investigators have also reported that turmeric can inhibit the growth and infiltration of macrophages into fatty tissue.

Further, it’s a recognized fact that turmeric can suppress the inflammatory secretion of adipokines in fatty tissues.

It’s also interesting to note the effect of turmeric’s antioxidants on fatty tissue. There are studies that reveal that curcumin, when it enters cells in the body, releases or frees an inter-cellular protein.

This protein is normally held captive in the body by another group of proteins. However, when it’s released, it promotes the growth of hundreds of cytoprotective genes. These genes protect cells against harmful agents, and include antioxidants, enzymes and other protein hormones that limit inflammation.

An obese dog.

Turmeric in food to prevent canine obesity

It’s not uncommon to see turmeric as one of the ingredients in commercial dog food and treats. Besides its magnificent health properties, it’s also good as a natural flavor enhancer. It’s a commonly available spice, so it’s easy to add to almost any food.

Bioavailability

How can you make the most advantage of turmeric’s numerous health benefits? First you need to know turmeric’s bioavailability, or in other words under what conditions it’s best absorbed into the body.

It’s important to recognize that turmeric doesn’t have an optimal absorption rate when you take it on its own. So just sprinkling some powdered turmeric into your pet’s food bowl won’t work; you have to add it to something that’s oil-based.

Add black pepper

Have you noticed that most recipes that contain turmeric also include black pepper? There’s actually a very good reason for this. What is it?

Researchers have discovered that black pepper contains a phytochemical (chemical compounds produced by plants) called piperine. This chemical can increase curcumin’s absorption in the body by up to 2000%! Black pepper also has its own antioxidants and antibacterial properties.

Add healthy fat

Healthy fat is also important to improve the bioavailability (absorption into the body) of curcumin. You could use a healthy fat such as coconut oil.

An overweight dog on a pair of scales

Prevent canine obesity: how much turmeric should you use?

While the majority of dogs don’t experience any side effects with turmeric, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you work out the correct amount for your pet. The recommended dosage for dogs is about 30 to 40 milligrams per kilo of body weight per day.

Experts also affirm that turmeric tends to exit the body quickly. With that in mind, instead of a single daily dose, add small quantities to your pet’s food at each meal or each time it eats.

Secondary effects of turmeric

Turmeric is 100% natural. Thanks to that, it’s generally considered a very safe additive. However, there are some potential secondary or side effects that you should be aware of.

Firstly, turmeric is an anticoagulant (thins the blood), which means that it’s a powerful tool in reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks. However, if your dog is already taking some other medicine that also acts as a blood thinner, this could cause other problems.

Furthermore, turmeric is an adhesive agent, which means it’s an excellent remedy for dogs with diarrhea. However, if your dog doesn’t drink enough water, turmeric could cause constipation.

So now you know some of the marvelous properties of turmeric. But take note! You might think that too much is better than too little. But really, almost anything in excess can cause problems.

Always consult your veterinarian before adding anything new to your pet’s diet. He or she can advise you on the adequate dosage for your dog’s individual needs.

  • Bradford, P. G. (2013). Curcumin and obesity. BioFactors, 39(1), 78–87. doi:10.1002/biof.1074
  • Shoba, G., Joy, D., Joseph, T., Majeed, M., Rajendran, R., & Srinivas, P. S. S. R. (1998). Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta medica, 64(04), 353-356.
  • Yadav, K. D., & Chaudhary, A. K. (2016). Anti-obesity mechanism of Curcuma longa L.: An Over view. Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources (IJNPR)[Formerly Natural Product Radiance (NPR)], 7(2), 99-106.