Garlic has been on every “what not to feed” list for dogs that I’ve ever seen. Like most people, I just assumed this was correct and left it alone. That being said it was also in a TON of dog supplements that we see every day. At first, I just assumed that these supplement makers just somehow magically changed the deadly garlic into something safe and extracted the benefits, but this didn’t change the fact that any other garlic was still unsafe.
This literally could not be further from the truth.
The real reason garlic is on these lists is because (just like avocado) it can harm some animals but not most dogs. It’s added as a precaution if overdose occurs or if the dogs that shouldn’t have it have too much. It’s also on the list because of studies done exclusively on garlic extracts, excessive doses or garlic mixed with other things, NOT on normal amounts of fresh raw garlic.
The other reason people fear garlic is because garlic is part of the Allium family (along with onions). This means it contains aliphatic sulfides (propyldisulfide and thiosulphate to be exact) which can damage red blood cells. Because this damage is often without symptoms it can become a concern with prolonged use. HOWEVER, the actual AMOUNT of thiosulphate present is so much less than in onions, it’s often untraceable.
It’s a heated debate but the evidence of harm is severely lacking and in proper use cases, I haven’t seen a single piece of evidence proving any cellular damage whatsoever.
In my opinion all this means is that large amounts and pro-longed use are important guidelines to keep in mind but not reasons enough not to use it.
What dogs should not have garlic?
-Dogs with anemia or who are scheduled for surgery
-Dogs with a compromised digestive tract (it could exacerbate symptoms such as IBS or leaky gut)
-Dogs on certain medications (immune suppressants, heart medications etc.) The prescribing vet will know for sure.
-Dogs with diabetes
-Japanese dogs such as Shiba Inu’s and Akita’s (I know this sounds crazy) The reasons are still not 100% clear but it has to do with their digestive system and how they break down certain things.
In these cases, small amounts should still be no reason for concern, but if your worried it’s always best to call your vet!
What makes garlic so beneficial?
Why bother with an item that has been so controversial? Because it’s an absolute POWERHOUSE when it comes to benefits. People who have years of experience and success using it have a staggering number of explanations why. A few of them are listed here.
Garlic Properties and uses:
-Antibacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-parasitic
-Immune system enhancer
-Detox – liver and digestive tract; breaks down waste before it enters the bloodstream
-Digestive enhancer – helps the body absorb nutrients, supports beneficial bacteria, eliminates harmful bacteria and balances the digestive system
-High in vital nutrients such as: vitamins A, C & B, Calcium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, germanium, amino acids, inulin, sulfur, zinc, potassium and phosphorus.
-Improves circulation and organ function (especially lungs, large intestine, stomach and spleen)
-Prevents blood clots and widens blood vessels
-Stimulates lymphatic systems to remove waste
-Cancer prevention and treatment – ongoing studies are proving this more and more!
-Natural tick, flea and mosquito repellant (after daily doses for at least 2 weeks)
-Topically for Ear infections and ear mites
That’s a pretty big deal so now,
How to safely add Garlic to your dog’s diet:
-ONLY use fresh, organic WHOLE shelled garlic from a trusted source (never jarred or dried because this voids the value)
-Always peel and mince, cut or crush directly before use (it’s suggested to then let it stand for 5-15 minutes at room temperature before serving to maximize the benefits. These activated benefits last for about an hour.)
This has to do with a reaction that takes place within the garlic. It’s not dangerous to serve garlic you chopped yesterday for example, but the active benefits won’t be nearly as effective.
-Always follow dosing guidelines.
*I often mix some in with puréed vegetables, (not ideal for benefits but a lot of people do it) I pre-measure it in this case, but I also don’t stress because my dog would need more garlic than she could ever eat to actually make her sick.
Dosing is everything
The general rule of thumb here is:
• 10 to 15 pounds – half a clove of garlic
• 20 to 40 pounds – one clove
• 45 to 70 pounds – two cloves *many stop at two for all weights but some add
• 75 to 90 pounds – two and a half cloves
• 100 pounds or more – three cloves
- 1/6 tsp for 5 lbs
- 1/3 tsp for 10 lbs
- 1/2 tsp for 15 lbs
- 2/3 tsp for 20 lbs
- 1 tsp for 30 lbs
Many people also recommend rotating one week on, one off, or every other day. I also use slightly less than the recommended dose.
I am still wary of the health warnings but try to stay on top of new research. So far hard evidence of harm seems to be lacking… significantly. One recent development was that the “major” study that supplied the information about garlic causing red blood cell damage, (that flooded the internet!) was done on literally four dogs that were given very high doses (25 cloves for a 50 lbs dog per DAY!)… plus afterward it was determined that they were totally fine. So… so far the benefits seem to outweigh the concerns and the holistic community has been using it for a very long time with great success.
We tend to use garlic seasonally, when I want to give my dog an immune boost but I know a lot of people who use it daily. As always, it is best to ask a holistic vet about holistic things, plus one who knows your pet.
It is definitely something to consider especially with winter coming up!