Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

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Intestinal Cancer and Curcumin for Dogs

Dogs will occasionally get tumors involving the stomach and intestine. Not as commonly as humans do, but we see it nonetheless.  And for those dealing canine cancer, it does not matter how common one or another cancer is if your dog has it!

One of the approaches used to help these cancers are certain chemotherapy drugs. These drugs interfere with an enzyme that is a central player in inflammation in the body.  Read the science here. And here. The enzyme is called COX-2.

Now, we are always looking for options to get better successes in the field of dog cancer.  If we can access a treatment that helps more than the old one, why not consider it?  Since we have not yet found the cure, we are engaged in the search for something better.

Well, guess what. Sometimes good old mother nature already has the answer.  And this answer may already be known in one way or another, by millions of people.

What am I talking about?  I would say there are millions of people who eat curry.  Maybe even hundreds of millions or billions, I don’t know.  At any rate, the stuff in traditional curry that makes it yellow is called turmeric.  Turmeric contains a molecule called curcumin.

This stuff has the ability to inhibit COX-2.

Well, that is pretty nice!  And guess what else?  For all intents and purposes, curcumin is not toxic. Humans eat up to 8 grams a day with no adverse effects (that’s a lot folks, we are talking horse pills).  And to top it off, it is nice for us humans to be the guinea pigs for dogs, and not the other way around for a change!

In real bodies, curcumin was shown to block a process called angiogenesis.  Read more here.  This process is used in tumors to make the body branch new blood vessels in the direction of the cancer.  This  provides a food source pipeline for tumors and helps the tumors spread (metastasis).

This stuff has also slowed tumor growth and metastasis in real bodies.  For real back-up, read this abstract.

How to get curcumin?  One easy source is upcoming Apocaps, a combination nutraceutical. You can also find it by itself online mixed with bromelain. If you are using it by itself (not in Apocaps), a dosing protocol would be about 200 mg for a 50 lb dog, given three times a day.

Here is some published literature on this exciting topic.

One of the limitations with curcumin is that it is not that well absorbed into the blood after being taken by mouth.  We would like benefits with cancers elsewhere in the body too, not just lining the stomach and intestines.

For example, squamous cell carcinomas, lipomas, liposarcomas, and fibrosarcomas seem to do pretty well with curcumin supplementation, but the stuff has to get in the bloodstream.

There are way to deal with this.  You can combine it with lecithin, a gooey foodstuff that can be bought online.  I will say it is a bit of a nuisance to give since curcumin stains everything it touches bright yellow.  But that is a way to boost blood levels.  You don’t have to do this with Apocaps by the way.

So the weight of evidence points to curcumin’s usefulness.  How about side effects?

Well, the data on this is small.  If your dog is already using drugs that inhibit the same enzymes as curcumin does, certain steps should be taken under veterinary supervision.  I suggest lowering the dose of these meds by about 50-75% for most dogs.  They include Metacam, Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Prixocam, Etogesic, Previcoxx, and so on.

If your dog is on corticosteroids like prednisone, prednisolone, triamcinolone or dexamethasone, the same advice holds.

If your dog has ulcers, or has problems with the gall bladder, you should probably avoid it to be safe, even though the risks are not high there will be a problem.

Definitely talk to your vet before starting any treatment plan for your dog.

If you would like to read more about curcumin for your dog and similar topics, check out the The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

Best to all,

Dr D

About the Author: Demian Dressler, DVM


Dr. Demian Dressler, DVM is known as the "dog cancer vet" and is author of Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog's Life Quality and Longevity. Visit his blog and sign up free to get the latest information about canine cancer. Go to http://www.DogCancerBlog.com.

  • Ed Leadbetter

    The vet gave my Collie Max two months last April ..he had a peri-anal adenoma and shadows on his lungs so the vet would not excise the tumor and said there was no hope ….I read up on Dr Aggawal where he said 8 grams of curcumin for humans so I started Max on five grams a day …. This is March and the Vet could not believe how much better he was and went ahead and removed the tumor and Max is back to his old self…Needless to say I`m a big fan of curcumin…Ed

    • Dr. Dressler

      Dear Ed, I am glad to hear this great news!
      Best,
      Dr D

  • Lynne

    Dr. Dressler,
    My Cairn was diagnosed with lymphoma last June. I started him on Curcumin and several other herbs and he is still with us! I also give him Neoplasene and think that has helped too. Life Extensions (lef.org) has a form of Curcumin that is highly absorbable. They also have most of the other things that I give my Cairn and are a great source of information. My Cairn is still doing well and its been almost a year. The vets gave him no more than 2 months without chemo which we chose not to do. Thank you for all you do to guide us through this difficult time. Lynne

    • Dr. Dressler

      Dear Lynne,
      That is wonderful news! Good work, and I am so pleased to hear your Cairn is doing well!
      By the way, do you happen to have any literature from life extensions that documents blood levels of their curcumin product after oral dosing? It would sure be helpful so see how they are dealing with this challenge.
      Best,
      Dr D

  • Mel

    We heat up curcumin in coconut milk. Both the fat in the milk and the heat theoretically increase absorption. We just put the capsules directly in the milk — they just dissolve with the heat — and warm it in a saucepan (or the microwave). We grind freeze-dried liver treats up into a powder and mix that into the curcumin-coconut milk and our dog finds it a real treat.

    We also make sure the curcumin we use is the C3 kind (patented by the Sabina corp) — I think that’s the kind most often used in trials (but am not positive of this). It also contains bioperene for increased absorption. In my experience the Doctor’s Best seems to be able to be blended into the milk a little easier than the NSI (those are the two we’ve found that are the C3).

    Our 12-year-old dog was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (and a fractured spine) in July of last year — her last xray showed that the fracture had healed; in addition, her bloodwork shows that she is continually improving. I don’t know for sure, but think that the curcumin is a big part of that (along with the other supplements we use, most of which I learned about in your book).

    So try the coconut milk. I found it much easier to administer.

  • Denise

    Are there certain types of cancers in which curcumin supplementation might actually stimulate tumor growth? Most of what I’ve read on curcumin supports what you are saying but I came across one study that claimed that rather than inhibiting the growth of tumors, it had the opposite effect.

    Our oncologist suspects my dog’s primary cancer is an osteosarcoma in his hind leg. But he also has large masses in his abdomen and nodules in his lungs. Would the use of curcumin be beneficial with this type of cancer? And if so, is this something I can purchase in a health food store such as Whole Foods? Is there a particular form that it needs to be in? I have been feeding tumeric but I’m now thinking this is probably not what he needs, correct?

  • Dr. Dressler

    Denise,
    Could you please provide a link to your source?
    There is some evidence that curcumin may help long term health of dogs. The easiest source is Apocaps (of course I am partial to it since I use it in my own patients!)
    Best,
    Dr D

  • nick

    For a more systemic effect use curcumin phytosomes. They’re fairly new. There’s a great product called Meriva that is 10x as absorbable as straight curcumin (450mg=4g). Much better than mixing with lecithin and making a mess.

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Nick,
      thanks for the information. Can you provide the data or a link showing the increased blood levels of this product compared to strait curcumin?
      Thanks!
      Dr D

  • Donielle

    I am on here to find an answer for my mother in law. She has been taking her pembroke welsh corgi to an animal hospital but they have been of no help they rush her out and dont care about the dog I am going to list her symptoms and hope for some help she is losing weight rapidly she cannot stop trying to poop and when she does succeed its bloody dark and watery the vet said to change her food we tried twice with no luck her breathing is labored and she is no longer herself……she sometimes gets energy but its not often. I dont know what to tell my mother in law but its getting to the point she cant hold any bowel movement including pee she often vomits pleese help we need to know what to do the vet is not helping ?

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Danielle,
      I am sorry but I cannot diagnose online. If things are not moving the way they should be, perhaps getting an expanded work up would be an idea, or perhaps a second opinion?
      I hope this helps
      Dr D

  • Geoff Gilbert

    My 13 year old cattle dog/lab (we think…lol) had rising ALT. 131 to 331 in a couple months. Long story short…I started him on 1 gram per day of “Meriva” (curcumin/phophaditylcholine from Indena, Italy) and after ten days we rechecked his liver enzymes. ALT had dropped from 331 to 101. That was the only change to his diet or supplements. He also had been taking Denamarin but that was not “new”. Anyway, I believe this stuff is remarkable. I found the pure “Meriva” from NOW Foods….also from Doctor’s Best.

  • Bari Liebowitz

    Hi there- thank you for your wonderful blog! I have a 9-year-old Golden with intestinal lymphoma. It has not metastasized (thankfully) and he had two sections of his small intestine removed and resected. He is doing GREAT at this point. He is undergoing the Wisconsin lymphoma chemo protocol and I also have him on Health Concerns Power Mushrooms, high doses of fish oil and CurcuVET-SA150 by Thorne. The dosage for the Curcu-VET is 150mg and recommended dose is 1 pill (150mg) per 75lbs of body weight. How much should my dog be getting in combination with the chemo? Thank you very much.

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Bari,
      glad to hear things are going well. Might look into apocaps, which have the curcumin you are looking for in addition to other apoptogens, making it a more valuable approach in my estimation.
      Curcumin has some evidence for being a chemosensitizer with some cancers and some chemo drugs, although lympho has not been studied (yet).
      If you choose to stick with the Thorne product, I might up the dose considerably. Humans take up to 8 grams of this stuff without significant side effects (8000 mg).
      Under veterinary supervision, follow the guidelines in the Guide. You can read this post for the time being:
      http://www.dogcancerblog.com/more-on-curcumin-and-dog-cancer/
      Don’t forget cancer diet, immune support, other apoptogens, and life quality increases daily..
      Best,
      D

  • Mary tichenor

    what about curcumin as a prophylactic? I have a great flat coat who is healty and seven years old. Does it work as preventative and if so how much should he take? He weighs 65 pounds and is an agilty dog exceptional!

  • bobby horner

    my chihuahua has recently been dioagnoised with stage 4 lymphoma ,with spreading through his gi track and his mesenteric lymph nodes . vet has him on prednisolone 5 mg, carafate 1gm, and fomotidine 10 mg. he is dowm from 11 lbs to 8.5 in 6 mo. should i also put him on curcumin and how much. please respond. he ‘s family.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Dear Bobby,
      Sorry to hear about your little Chihua.
      decisions about supplements should be made with your veterinarian, and I would suggest you read the Guide to become educated in this area. Having said that, I would suggest Apocaps as opposed to strait curcumin, which has doses on the bottle and includes curcumin along with other apoptogens. I’d give half a capsule once a day with food. Please have veterinary supervision
      All my best and hope it helps
      Dr D

  • Nancy Spear

    We have an 8 year old Husky/Lab mix that was diagnosed with a nasal carcinoma at the Univ. Miissouri in early March. He had 19 fractions of radiation, which was completed April 12th. He had been on Carpofen for pain as well as for the COX2 properties, but this week we have taken him off the drug as he seems to be having some side effects – slightly abnormal stool and panting (pain related)…. We are considering all options for him at this time, but I am drawn to Apocaps as they possibly have the same action as the COX2 drugs. Our vet also suggested Neoplasene, but I am concerned about him vomiting, as the Neoplasene would have to be taken orally…. if we started the Apocaps, how long should we wait – he’s only been off the Carpofen for 2 days. My vet has heard of Apocaps and said they would be fine….Thanks, nancy

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Dear Nancy,
      under veterinary supervision you may start right away as the wash out period for carprofen is pretty short.
      Good luck
      Dr D

  • Nancy Spear

    We have decided to start him on them today. Thank you for your reply. He is doing very well and I hope to keep him feeling good for as long as I can. Starting the *Dog Food Diet* today. Your book is wonderful and helped us through some tough times.

  • Heather

    Hi Dr. Dressler, I am wondering if you have any experience with turmeric being applied topically? I have a 13 yo neutered husky who has been battling perianal adenomas for years. Between anal sac removal and repeat adenoma excision, he is often fecally incontinent. He has other health issues and I no longer wish to put him through more surgery and his current adenoma is continually oozing blood and other discharge. I have read reports of turmeric ingestion resulting in rupturing of lipomas in some dogs and I would hate to chance this due to his large lipomas. I wonder if a topical turmeric paste might be of any anti-inflammatory or healing assistance, or if it has properties that would further irritate the adenomas or delicate skin in the anal area? Thanks for all you do for our best friends.

  • Elle

    Hi Dr dressier . Just found out my 12 year old beagle has a mass on he spleen . She on 5 mg of Preizone . I also sprinkle termic on her food . As I new this helped my other dog with back pain . Should I put her on apocaps and where do I purchase them ?thank you

    • Susan Kazara Harper

      Hi Elle, Sorry to hear about your beagle. Your vet must have information on how invasive this is for her and recommended treatment plans. Please do work with your vet so you have all the information and your vet know what you’re doing at home to help. Sometimes masses on the spleen can be helped with surgery… this is the stuff your vet can advise you on. Tumeric as many great cancer-fighting properties; it’s one of the main ingredients in Apocaps. If you choose to use Apocaps you an use them instead of the tumeric alone, and the other ingredients will work together and may provide a great deal of help for your dog. It’s best not to give these supplements with a main meal however. They are more effective with only a small amount of food. Please coordinate with your vet. You can get Apocaps at the http://www.dogcancerkit.com, http://www.dogcancershop.com and Amazon.com. More and more vets are carrying them as well. I hope you read The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, which is packed full of information on every aspect of getting through a cancer diagnosis, as well as a full chapter on the best nutrition so you can serve your girl only the most helpful foods. It’s also available at the Shop, or at http://www.dogcancerbook.com. There is a lot you can do to help your dog Elle. Give her a cuddle and keep going. Good luck!