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. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.