DEAR DR. FOX: Years ago, you responded to a reader who asked for help with her 12-year-old dysplastic German shepherd. You recommended adding 1 teaspoon of turmeric to the dog's food. That was back in 2005, and I have been a strong supporter of turmeric since then.
A few years after we started our dogs on the turmeric regimen, not only did it work well on our bouvier des Flandres with hip dysplasia, it also shrunk a large grade-A tumor on our pug. He was about 12 1/2 at the time, and the tumor shrunk to the size of a small grape!
I am the Florida regional coordinator for the American Bouvier Rescue League, and I posted your reply to several bouvier lists; from there, the use took off in the bouvier community. There are a lot of people who are using it as a tumor inhibitor, and it seems to be helping a lot of dogs.
One of my friends -- a reputable bouvier breeder -- asked me a question the other day, and I thought I better ask for your assistance. The organic turmeric she purchased says on the label not to take if you are pregnant. Since she was planning on giving it to both male and female dogs, will this cause a problem with breeding females?
We have been using your homemade dog food recipe for years; we had lost several bouviers over the years to cancer, but since cooking for our dogs, we have had good longevity -- our bouviers live between 12 1/2 to about 14 1/2 years. The other supplements I have added to their food are oil of oregano, coconut oil and freshly ground black pepper. My seven dogs are all lean and healthy! -- T.M., Loxahatchee, Florida
DEAR T.M.: According to Internet sources, taking turmeric as a supplement is not advisable for women who are or who intend to become pregnant because of fears of miscarriage and birth defects. I would advise similar caution with breeding dogs: Take them off such supplements until it is time to nurse. Some advocates of turmeric point to countries like India -- where this spice is regularly consumed -- to prove that there is no association with infertility, miscarriages or birth defects. But that could be an epigenetic effect of adaptation over generations.
As you will see on my website, DrFoxVet.net, I have made some changes to my basic dog food recipe, including adding ginger as well as turmeric to help digestion and joints. These basic herbs, long used by people as condiments, digestive aids and food flavorings, have some remarkable medical properties. A little cayenne pepper may help lower blood pressure; cinnamon may help reduce insulin need in diabetic dogs, as it has been shown to help humans; and oregano may help promote a healthy population of gut bacteria.
BACTERIA IN PET FOODS: ACUTE AND CHRONIC HEALTH CONCERNS OF ENDOTOXINS
Bacteria are everywhere, including pet foods. Most bacteria are harmless, and many are essential for our health and other animals' health, but some cause acute food poisoning and other serious health problems. High-temperature cooking or processing kills most bacteria, but in the process, it releases endotoxins from them. High levels of endotoxins are associated with high levels of bacteria in the animal parts -- many condemned for human consumption -- billions of pounds of which is processed into pet foods, livestock feed and fertilizer every year. This includes the remains of so-called 4-D animals -- those who are dead, dying, debilitated or diseased upon inspection at the slaughterhouse.
Endotoxins can cause shock, organ failure, trigger the release of histamine and inflammatory cytokines, cause changes in white blood cell numbers, affect blood coagulation and lead to hypertension, arthritis and asthma. They probably damage cell DNA with carcinogenic consequences.
The recycling of this vast tonnage of slaughterhouse and fish industry waste into pet food and animal feed (causing mad cow disease in the U.K.), albeit highly profitable, it is part of an unsustainable, climate-changing and costly public and environmental health problem that calls for systemic change, at the core of which must be a reduction in production and consumption of high-carbon-hoofprint beef, pork and other animal produce. This should begin with the government establishing better ways to dispose of this animal waste where polluters pay and only human-grade foods and their immediate by-products are permitted in pet foods, fish foods and livestock, horse and poultry feeds.
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