How Turmeric Helps In Various Canine Cancers

Canine cancer is the number one cause of deaths in older dogs. Like human cancer, even canine cancer is characterised by the abnormal growth of cells within or on the body.

Unlike normal cells, cancerous cells don’t die, they continue to grow and can even spread into the tissue of surrounding organs.

Non-cancerous or benign tumors are localized whereas malignant tumors have the tendency to spread to other parts of the body.  There are different types of cancer-based on the organ from which it originates.

Cancer is caused due to a defect in genes which may occur due to exposure to toxic chemicals or due to inheritance.

Cancer treatment is difficult because of the variety of cancers involved and late detection of cancer.

It accounts for 50% of the deaths in dogs over 10 years of age.

What are the symptoms of canine cancer?

Symptoms of canine cancer depend on the type of cancer. Some symptoms seen generally are:

  • Swellings that are persistent or continue to grow
  • Bleeding or discharge
  • Offensive odours
  • Loss of weight and appetite
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Loss of stamina and ability to exercise
  • Lameness and stiffness

Consult an oncologist for lab tests to confirm cancer or presence of tumor.

What are the treatment options for canine cancer?

Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy are the common treatment options available. A combination of these treatments is generally ascertained by the doctor based on the type and stage of cancer.

Acupuncture, homeopathy, nutritional therapy are a few of the treatment modules under alternative veterinary medicine.

Symptomatic treatment for pain or difficulty in swallowing is also given. No therapy to prevent cancer has been discovered yet.

Is there any link between human cancer and canine cancer?

The increasing complexity of human genetics and the need for experimental models shifts our attention to developing animal models to understand various aspects of cancer and also test drugs to treat them.

Generally used model is that of mice. But some features are lacking in mice model such as the complex features involved in human cancer, latent periods before cancer development, recurrence of cancer, etc.

Dog models of cancer, on the other hand, demonstrate similar features as human cancer.

Also, they are genetically more similar to humans, they suffer from a number of diseases that occur in humans and are also exposed to the same environmental toxins as humans.

Also, dog models are genetically simpler to investigate.

A number of drugs to treat dog tumors have been tested in human clinical trials.   This suggests that vice versa could be true. Drugs tested on humans could be used to treat canine cancer.

Turmeric as an anti-cancer drug

Turmeric is the ‘Golden herb’ of Ayurveda. It is popularly used as a spice in Indian and Asian cuisine. The flesh of the rhizome has a golden yellow hue and it has a bitter, spicy taste.  It has two bioactive fractions:

  • Curcuminoids: a group of antioxidants that impart the yellow color to the herb. Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid.
  • Turmeric oil: a group of organic compounds that impart aroma and pharmacological properties to the spice

Turmeric exerts its anti-cancer activity in numerous ways   :

  • It destroys cancerous cells without damaging healthy cells.
  • It prevents cancerous cell proliferation.
  • It prevents the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body.
  • It reduces inflammation.
  • Turmeric reverses multi drug resistance in various cancer cells.
  • It increases the sensitivity of cancer cells to various cancer treatments.
  • It selectively kills cancer cells and protects normal cells.

How could turmeric help in fighting canine cancer?

Herein we will go over the common cancers that affect dogs and the therapeutic effects turmeric has on each of them.

1. Bladder cancer

Bladder cancer affects the urinary system and the urinary bladder of the dogs. It accounts for 2% of the reported cases of cancer.

They are different types of bladder cancer depending on the type of cells they affect and Scottish terriers are one of the breeds that are highly predisposed to developing this disease.

It is generally caused by exposure to insecticides or herbicides. Obesity, inheritance, second-hand smoke are a few of the other possible causes.

Role of Turmeric in bladder cancer

canine cancer image1An experimental study in rats demonstrated that prevented development of lesions in the urinary bladder and lowered levels of proteins that support the growth of cancerous cells.  Curcumin powder was found to exert a protective role against bladder cancer.

Curcumin is also proven to increase the sensitivity of cancerous cells to chemotherapeutic agents, thus increasing their antitumor effect and aiding in management of cancers of the urinary system.

Curcumin in combination with other agents causes cell death and prevents cell growth in bladder cancer cells.

It increases the cell destruction effect of other chemotherapeutic agents like gemcitabine and paclitaxel.   Curcumin inhibits the activity of inflammatory chemicals like nuclear factor kappa B and cycloxygenase 2 which prevents cell proliferation in bladder cancer.

What does this mean?
Curcumin offers protection against bladder cancer and also increases the effect of anti-cancer drugs on bladder cancer cells.

2. Mammary Carcinoma

Mammary tumors are cancer affecting the mammary glands. 50% of the tumors are malignant in this case. Spayed females are at a reduced risk of developing mammary cancer. Rarely is a male dog afflicted with mammary cancer?

It is generally seen as a lump along the mammary chain. Genetic basis and abnormalities in hormones could cause mammary cancer.

Role of Turmeric in mammary carcinoma

Curcumin increases sensitivity to retinoic acid, a compound which suppresses the growth of mammary cancer cells.

As an anti-inflammatory agent, curcumin inhibits the activity of an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinases which aids in invasion and spread of cancer from mammary cancer cells.

It also reduces the activity of nuclear factor-kappaB, a protein that regulates cell growth and inflammation and thereby curbs mammary cancer.   Curcumin causes cell death in mammary cancer cells by manipulating a number of biochemical pathways.

Docetaxel and doxorubicin are two chemotherapeutic drugs administered to dogs suffering from mammary cancer.  Human studies approve of curcumin as an adjuvant with docetaxel.

What does this mean?
In addition to increasing sensitivity to anti-cancer drugs, curcumin individually destroys mammary cancer cells.

3. Canine Brain Tumor

A brain tumor is an abnormal mass of cells in the brain. It can be localized to the brain and its membranes or it can spread to other parts of the body.

Genetic factors, radiation exposure, exposure to carcinogens from food, head injuries can cause brain cancer

A dog suffering from brain cancer is likely to have seizures, demonstrate abnormal behaviour, have vision problems and a disoriented gait.

Role of Turmeric in brain tumor

Curcumin blocks brain tumor formation and destroys brain tumor cells.  It effectively suppresses the activity of proteins that are essential for cancerous cell survival and proliferation.

Researchers suggest using curcumin as an adjuvant with anti-cancer drugs like etoposide and temozolomide which are used to treat a brain tumor.

Curcumin inhibits the activity of telomerase- an enzyme that is involved in aging and proliferation of cells.  Curcumin nanoparticles have been devised that can inhibit the development of malignant brain tumor.

Curcumin inhibits activity of STAT3, a protein that is commonly used as a target in treating cancer as it is involved in cell growth and proliferation.

What does this mean?
Curcumin blocks formation and destroys brain tumor cells.

4. Mast cell tumor

Mast cell tumors are the most common type of skin tumor affecting dogs. Mast cells are a type of immune cells that help protect against the foreign body.

Mast cell tumors are aggregates of mast cells and these cells secrete enzymes which are designed to attack infection but in this case, they affect other organs of the body.

Mast cell tumors generally occur in the skin covering trunk and limb region. Boxers, pugs, English Bulldogs have a high tendency of developing this disease.

Role of Turmeric in mast cell tumor

Mast cells are generally activated in response to allergy and inflammation. Experimental studies suggest that curcumin demonstrates its anti-allergic activity by inhibiting the activation of mast cells.

One study shows that the concentration of cyclooxygenase enzyme is high in canine mast cell tumors. Researchers suggest that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) which are COX inhibitors can be used to treat such tumors.

Curcumin is a natural inhibitor of COX and it is better than NSAIDs.

Steroids are administered along with chemotherapeutic drugs to reduce inflammation in mast cell tumors.  This study shows that curcumin is as good as steroids in controlling inflammation which indicates that it could be used in treating mast cell tumors instead of steroids.

What does this mean?
Turmeric’s anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory activity can help treat mast cell tumors.

5. Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in unneutered older male dogs. There are different types of testicular cancer based on the cells of the testes it affects.

Age, breed, exposure to environmental toxins are few of the factors that control the development of testicular cancer.
Castration is one treatment option and it can be cured if detected in early stages.

Role of Turmeric in testicular cancer

Curcumin is proven to protect against side effects caused by bleomycin a drug used to treat testicular cancer.  When administered along with this drug, curcumin enhances bleomycin’s effect on biochemical pathways and induces cancerous cell death.

What does this mean?

Curcumin destroys testicular cancer cells along with anti-cancer drug bleomycin and also protects from the side effects of that drug.

featured canine cancer

6. Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer can occur in the canine oral cavity, nose, salivary glands, and upper respiratory tract. Cancer of the mouth is very common.

Difficulty in swallowing, breathing, swelling, bleeding from mouth and nose are few of the symptoms of head and neck cancer. Since these regions are very delicate and sensitive therefore a combination of treatments are used to control the disease.

Role of Turmeric in head and neck cancer

Curcumin is being developed as an adjuvant to chemotherapeutic drugs to treat head and neck cancer.   It suppresses the growth of head and neck cancerous tumors.

It inhibits the activity of protein nuclear factor kappa B which regulates genes involved in proliferation, inflammation, tumor formation and also those that are responsible for the spread of cancer.

What does this mean?
Turmeric suppresses the growth of head and neck cancer in combination with anti-cancer drugs.

7. Lymphoma

Lymphoma is cancer that affects a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes. It affects lymph nodes, spleen, stomach, skin and bone marrow.

It is generally seen in middle-aged and older dogs. Lymphoma accounts for 15-20% of the malignant tumors in dogs.

Viral particles, herbicides, chromosomal defects, exposure to paints and solvents or weak immune system can lead to lymphoma.

Role of turmeric in lymphoma

Curcumin has effective anti-cancer properties against lymphoma cells.  It improves the antitumor effect of Xray radiation used to treat lymphoma.

Ar-tumerone, a compound obtained from the turmeric oil fraction, inhibits the activity of a protein that is essential for cell survival and destroys tumor cells.   Curcumin impacts a number of molecular targets to prevent the growth of the lymphoma.

What does this mean?
Curcumin and ar-tumerone are effective in treating lymphoma.

8. Melanoma

Melanoma affects melanocytes- cells that impart colour to the skin. It commonly occurs in the mouth and toes of the dogs.  Combination of genetic and environmental factors is said to cause this disease.

Malignant melanomas can spread to lymph nodes and lungs making the case more complicated. Scottish terriers, Doberman pinscher, Cocker Spaniel are few of the breeds that are likely to develop this disease.

Role of turmeric in melanoma

Melanoma is a skin cancer that spreads rapidly and is resistant to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Interestingly curcumin is found to be effective in melanoma as it   :

  • Inhibits cancer cell proliferation
  • Destroys cancerous cells
  • Increases the effect of chemotherapeutic agents on melanoma

What does this mean?
Melanoma is a commonly occurring type of skin cancer and turmeric is popular for its therapeutic effects on skin disorders. Curcumin is effective in controlling melanoma.

9. Osteosarcoma

canine cancer image2Osteosarcoma is cancer of the bones and skeletal system. It generally affects limbs of large sized dogs.

It destroys the existing bone, leads to abnormal growth of new bones and can spread to other diseases.

Radiation, carcinogens, metal implants, bone transplants, and injuries can lead to osteosarcoma.

Lameness and swelling are the primary symptoms. Surgery is the first line of treatment in osteosarcoma.

Role of turmeric in osteosarcoma

Curcumin is found to exert its therapeutic effect in osteosarcoma in a number of ways:

  • Causing cell death of osteosarcoma cells
  • Preventing growth and spread of osteosarcoma cells in other tissues
  • Increasing sensitivity of multidrug resistant cancer to chemotherapeutic agents
  • Selectively destroys bone cancer cells over healthy bone cells

What does this mean?

Curcumin manipulates a number of biochemical pathways to destroy and control bone cancer cells.

Pet stories: What do pet owners have to say about turmeric as a remedy for cancer?

Dr. Demian Dresseler, popularly known as ‘dog cancer vet’ recommends turmeric to treat cancer in dogs.  Let us see what pet owners have to say about this.

Topical turmeric application for Skin cancer

This is a story about two dogs who were afflicted with skin cancer. 6-year-old Boxer, Abby suffered from skin cancer on his limb while her son, Drake had a tumor on his right front leg.

Among the different treatment regimens followed, the pet owners made a turmeric and coconut oil paste. They mixed 1 teaspoon of coconut oil with 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder.

To this, they add ¼ tsp baking powder and drops of castor oil.

This paste was applied daily at night with the help of a gauze pad. In case of large tumors they recommend leaving it for 8-9 hours and for small tumors they suggest rubbing the paste 3-5 times daily.

Within 30 days of treatment, Abby’s tumor disappeared while Drake’s tumor started shrinking. This is definitely a great way to employ turmeric’s anti-cancer activity.

One month of turmeric shrinks canine tumors

Owner of a greyhound shares her dog’s experience with turmeric. Her dog was suffering from mast cell cancer and fibrosarcoma since the age of two. Despite surgery, her dog would keep developing lumps in the body.

After a rigorous search through alternative medicine therapies, the owner came across curcumin. Upon the vet’s approval, the owner started her pet with curcumin.

Since then the incidence of lumps have decreased and existing tumors have reduced in size.

The owner happily shares this story on a forum for the benefit of other pet lovers.

Turmeric and black pepper combo saves a pet

This is an astonishing story we stumbled upon in a pet lovers forum. A dog was diagnosed with mast cell cancer that was so severe that he had only a week or so more in hand.

The owner started the dog on turmeric and black pepper. The dog was given 1/8-14 teaspoon full of both per 10 pounds of the dogs’ weight.

And within a week’s time when the owner took her to the vet, the vet was astonished to see that the cancer was in control. Isn’t that amazing!?

Turmeric as a part of a  diet cures cancer

Kelley, owner of a Labrador and French bulldog was devastated to learn that her Lab was diagnosed with rare cancer and had only 7 months to live.

With the help of a canine nutritionist, Kelly whipped a natural supplement derived from greens to which she added anti-inflammatory herbs turmeric and ginger.

Her lab lost its leg but cancer stopped spreading and the supplement cured it. The supplement improved her French bulldog’s health.

Kelley gave up her regular business and started manufacturing this supplement full time. Very inspiring isn’t it?


Since turmeric has not yet evolved as an aid in mainstream veterinary medicine, there is no set dosage for turmeric for dogs. Some say your pet’s weight does not affect the dose while some it does.

The following table guides you about the amount of turmeric your pet should get based on his weight

dog dosage

After deciding the amount of turmeric powder, you should opt for the following recipes since these enhance turmeric’s bioavailability.

The Golden Paste

Take ½ cup of turmeric powder and 1 cup water in a pan and stir on low flame. Develop a thick paste. Adjust the water content based on the thickness of the paste. This can take about 7-10 minutes

Add 1 ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and 70 ml coconut or olive oil and mix well to make a good paste.

Based on the amount of turmeric your pet should receive, decide the amount of Golden Paste. Start with small doses and build the dose gradually if it suits your pet.

In fact you don’t need to make a separate Golden Paste for your pet. You can just use the same one that you make, and based on the dose suggested for your pet’s body weight you could feed him that amount.

However to make the paste more palatable and less spicy add boiling water to the paste and mix to form gravy-like consistency. Let this cooldown and then add it to your dog’s food.

You can even add turmeric to your dog’s treats but this might not reach the therapeutic efficacy of The Golden Paste.
Read Turmeric Dosage For Dogs- The Definitive Guide for more details


Consult your vet before adding turmeric to your pet’s diet. Take a health practitioner’s guidance to ascertain the dose of turmeric powder suitable for your dog’s weight.

Turmeric as a seasoning in dog food should not cause any problems. To make the spicy taste tolerable please add plenty of water to the turmeric and dog food mixture.  Avoid giving turmeric powder from turmeric capsules to your pet unless advised by the vet.

Your dog may suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms on consuming turmeric, though it is a rare side effect. Discontinue turmeric if that occurs.

Turmeric in the diet does not cause any side effects but you could discontinue it in case your pet is scheduled for surgery to avoid bleeding risk. Once he is stabilized you can start turmeric again.

If your pet is pregnant, turmeric might act as a mild uterine stimulant so it is advisable to avoid turmeric then.


Turmeric is proven to be an anti-cancer agent in many studies focussed on human cancer. However this property can be extended in treating ca,ncer not only in dogs but other animals.

Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity can help curb cancer.

Including turmeric in your dog’s diet is a healthy start irrespective of whether they are afflicted with any disorder. Feel free to share your stories about your pet’s experience with turmeric.

40 thoughts on “How Turmeric Helps In Various Canine Cancers”

  1. My nine year old Boxer mix developed a dark skin tumor on her flank that progressed to an ulcerated state after about a year. There was also a lump which we suspect is an inflamed lymph node, suggestive of cancer. Previously she had another small tumor on her belly which resolved on its own so her immune system is strong. She repeatedly showed interested in a turmeric decoction I drink for my health, so I gave her a small bit to drink one day in my hand. When I saw she tolerated it without problems, I began giving her one commercial turmeric extract capsule with peperine per day (fat soluble so I give with a little ball of cream cheese). Within a couple weeks the tumor stopped bleeding and within a month has now shrunk to half or a third of its size and is a healthier pink, not red color. It still drains a lot of lymph but has remarkably improved. We combine this with long daily walks for good oxygenation which also is beneficial against cancer but I believe the turmeric is inhibiting the enzyme which causes the tumor and allowing her immune system to attack it. Additionally, she had been injured in her rear leg which led to a limp as she has gotten older but the turmeric also has helped reduce that inflammation and she now no longer limps. I am convinced her progress is due to the turmeric, and also the love and attention she receives which also helps her immune system I believe.

  2. My dog who is 12 has got oral tumour and is going for dental surgery to remove all his rotting teeth so that it does not cause more discomfort to his tumour.

    Even if he survives the surgery, his tumour will still be there. I saw this website and I would like to know how tumeric can help my dogs oral tumour. I am desperate. Please help.

  3. Hello,
    My 11 year old boxer-mix was diagnosed with cancer 3 months ago. We are not sure what type of cancer but her white blood cell count was quite high so the Vet believes it is lymphoma. She is on prednisone and tramadol as well as antibiotics for a bladder infection. She also is forming lesions on her tongue and mouth. I fear she is nearing the end, I just don’t want to give up on her though. Will giving her the golden paste interfere with all of her medications? I am going to consult our Vet but I don’t think they will encourage it. Would love to know your thoughts.

  4. Is turmeric effective for subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma? I have read that turmeric is a blood thinner? My 7 year old male, love of my life, golden retriever has a large tumor on the his left side of his chest, the tumor was removed 15 months ago but has grown back. I was using golden paste until I read that it is dangerous with this particular cancer. Please advise. He is having surgery again on January 23, I know not to use it before surgery but can I use it after? Internally and topically? Repeated tests has shown that it has NOT spread to his spleen, heart or lungs.

  5. Hi, I have a 12 year old Corgi with Melanoma. She has two tumors in your mouth. Should we apply the paste directly to those or put in her food?
    Thank you!

    • Hi. Please include the paste in her food. If the tumors are external you may consider applying turmeric paste minus the black pepper but please confirm with the vet as well.

  6. Hi,i made the paste yesterday for my dog who has a tumour near or on her spleen.She is 13 years old and a very active little dog.Can the paste be stored in a container in the fridge.I have just started to give her the paste in a little bit of cold meat 3 times a day.I only give her a 1/4 teaspoon at the moment and then i will build it up.I haven’t put the paste in her food yet as she’s not finishing it all,she leaves some and the following morning she will eat the rest.She’s on a complete food which is pellets and are soft enough for her to bite in to and the food is organic.That’s why i put the paste in a little bit of cold meat for her and she takes it no bother at all.She is a Jack Russell cross Staffie and i think with her being the crossbreed is also helping her as both these dogs are very active too.Thankyou so much for reading my comment.

    • Hi Traci. Yes you can make a batch of the paste and store it in the fridge or freeze it. It should stay fresh for 1-2 weeks minimum. Based on the odor and color you can judge whether the paste is fresh.
      You can build the dose gradually based on your pet’s health and response. Thank you for writing to us. Hope this helps.

  7. My dog was diagnosed with mast cell cancer. You mention a study that indicates it is a COX inhibitor. What is the reference information for that study? I would like to read it and any others linked to mast cell.

  8. Hi my little dog has a perianal tumour it is malignant having it removed on the 22nd may. She is on lots of meds for her heart vetmedin. Furosimide and gabapentin. To name a few. She is the love of my disabled grandsons life and ours. They wont know if its spread but say it needs to come out. Can I use the tumeric and coconut oil to help stop it growing and spreading to elsewhere. Any advice really appreciated.

    • Hi. You can start your pet on small doses of Golden Paste say 1/8-1/4 tsp a day. Preferably mixed with meals but if you give medications at that time, then preferably give turmeric at another time; maintain a 3-4 hour gap. You can mix it with water to make it more palatable.
      You can also make a paste of turmeric powder and coconut or olive oil and apply to the affected region in small amounts 2-3 times a day. Conduct a patch test prior. Many readers have found topical application of turmeric useful in shrinking tumors. A combination of oral intake and topical application should help.

  9. My shitzu was diagnosed with anal gland cancer. Has anyone heard of good results from this treatment. Started him on the paste today!

    • Hi Chandra,
      I’m curious if you’ve seen results from this. I am about to buy it as a means of avoiding surgery and follow-up for my 12.5 yr old Shepherd mix. Thanks –

  10. Our lab had a malignant bleeding tumor in her spleen removed late in the spring of 2016 along with her spleen removed. They gave her 2 months to live after the surgery. We just started her on 1 pill of turmeric per day right after I feed her breakfast. It has been two days so far, she is doing well, normal elimination, eating, sleeping, etc. What are the risks for her?

  11. My 10 year old boxer was diagnosed today with metastatic tumor on his leg and nodules were found in his lungs. I started him on turmeric paste today. I know it says to increase slowly soil only gave him 1/4 teaspoon. He weighs 75 lbs. Since he was given weeks to possible months to live should I increase quickly to fight this? He is on prednisone as of today too. Has anyone else had any luck with turmeric helping with a canine lung cancer?

    • Hi Sarah. Please increase the dosage gradually as sudden inclusion of turmeric in diet that too at high doses may not suit him. Avoid giving it at the same time as giving any other medicine. You can consider adding curcumin from good quality turmeric supplements to his paste for a faster therapeutic action. You can break 1 pill a day and add it to the paste. Around 300-400mg of curcumin in divided doses as a part of Golden Paste should help.

  12. Wonder Dog Superfoods uses organic turmeric in some of their superfood products. Already made so no worries about measuring. Good stuff!! 🙂

  13. My dog was diagnosed with splenic hemangiosarcoma end of June. She has been on a combination of Chinese supplements I’m yunnity and Yunnan baiyo. My concern is bleeding which we are trying to prevent curvumin from what I’m reading is a blood thinner which I don’t think I want to us . Any experience or advice on thi . Would love to use this for the anti cancer properties but don’t want to counteract the anti bleeding of the Yunnan baiyo

    • Hi. We do not have conclusive information of turmeric’s interactions with Chinese herbs. Turmeric as a spice would mildly increase bleeding risks since it is included in small amounts in diet whereas curcumin supplements do increase bleeding risk. It is best to discuss this with your herbalist.

  14. I have just rescued a beautiful 8 year old female lab (27 kg) who has just been spayed and had 3 mammary lumps removed. I am now awaiting the biopsy results. If they show malignancy I want to give her curcumin asap as suggested in the article above. However, I am confused. If I give her golden paste is the percentage of curcumin in turmeric high enough? If not, how do I give her the correct amount of curcumin? Would this be in tablet form for humans or something else? Please, please advise.

  15. My dog has a brain tumour. She is on prednisolone, phenobarbital and omaprazole. Is it safe to give her turmeric please

  16. I give my seven-year-old female dog Angie some of my golden milk every morning. She loves it. When she sees me prepare it she sits next to me and wait until I give it to her.


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