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

Intestinal Cancer and Curcumin for Dogs

Updated: February 18th, 2019

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

Leave a Comment

  1. Susan Kazara Harper on October 13, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Hi Jo,
    You haven’t said what type of cancer it is… knowing the the type and grade helps a lot in finding ways to help because you can better understand various options available to you. It is wonderful that she is defying the odds — remember that prognosis is based on averages, and your girl is obviously not average. By working on her nutrition and immune support you are giving her the chance to stay strong and thrive… it all helps. Have you looked at Apocaps? You are already using turmeric, which is one of the main ingredients. If you look at the ingredients and the reasons for combining them, you may find Apocaps is something you want to include in your protocol.
    Do you have the option to consult another vet? One who may be more open to working with you in what Dr. Dressler calls the “full spectrum” approach? You may find that a holistic vet is within reach.
    Your girl is only five, and has that wonderful youth on her side. It sounds as if you are doing an amazing job. Please use this blog to search for more information, because believe me, it’s chocked full. You may want to download the Dog Cancer Diet to match what you’re feeding and make sure you’re not using any foods that are not recommended in a cancer situation. You can get that at the home page of this blog, at as well as in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide Book.
    Good luck with everything. I hope you find a vet who will work with you on the positive note that you are setting for your girl. Give her a big, Visla cuddle from all of us.

  2. Jo on October 10, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Hello. I don’t know if you can help at all. My five year old Hungarian vizsla bitch developed a vigorous growth, which turned out to be cancer, at the top of her hind leg near her spine. She was operated on but within two weeks the growth was back and she went downhill rapidly. On returning her to the vets he said there was nothing he could do and just keep her comfortable for the next two weeks as he felt she would be gone within that time. Yet she isn’t. We are almost three months further on and although she is carrying her leg she is running around with our other dogs, even running off into the woods today. She seems interested and lovely. I have been cooking chicken for her meals and alternating with mackerel and with each giving her fresh chicken stock made with carcass and veg and ginger, garlic, turmeric. I give her cod liver oil and extra virgin olive oil and d-ribose, essiac tablets, cats claw and acetyl l-carnitine. I have said this to my vet but he seemed to think it was irrelevant and that the end was coming. I appreciate it may well be but want her to be as comfortable as possible on the meantime. However if I could find a way of providing her with a better chance of beating this disease I would obviously take it. Any suggestions – even telling me where I am going wrong – would be welcome. Thanks Jo

  3. Elle on March 27, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    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 on March 28, 2014 at 4:50 am

      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 and 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 There is a lot you can do to help your dog Elle. Give her a cuddle and keep going. Good luck!

  4. Heather on October 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    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.

  5. Nancy Spear on May 15, 2012 at 1:18 am

    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.

  6. Nancy Spear on May 8, 2012 at 6:35 am

    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 on May 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm

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

  7. bobby horner on April 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    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 on April 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      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

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