Is garlic safe for dogs?

Garlic for Dogs: The Benefits & Dangers

Garlic, with its potent aroma and distinct flavour, has been used for centuries as both a culinary delight and a natural remedy for various health issues in humans. However, when it comes to dogs, the safety and potential benefits of garlic have sparked debate and controversy among pet owners and veterinarians alike. In this article, we look into the question of whether garlic is safe for dogs, explore any potential benefits, and highlight the dosages that may be considered toxic.

"As someone deeply invested in canine nutrition, I have seen firsthand the potential benefits of incorporating fresh, raw, organic garlic into a dog's diet. When used in appropriate amounts, garlic can act as a natural immune booster, supporting the body's defense against various infections. Its natural antimicrobial properties can also help in combating certain parasites and external pests like fleas and ticks. However, it is crucial to use garlic cautiously and appropriately to ensure its safe and effective use for each individual dog's specific needs. - Laura Lambert, Dragonfly Products"

Table of Contents

Is garlic safe for dogs?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. In small, controlled amounts, garlic is generally safe for most dogs. However, there are crucial factors that must be considered before including garlic in your dog's diet or using it as a supplement. 

Pregnant Dogs and Nursing Mothers: When it comes to pregnant dogs and nursing mothers, caution is advised. It's essential to consult a holistic veterinarian before feeding garlic to expectant mothers. Additionally, garlic can alter the taste of breast milk, so it's best to avoid giving it to nursing dogs altogether. 

Puppies: Garlic should never be given to puppies under six months of age. Puppies younger than eight weeks do not produce new red blood cells, making them more susceptible to the potential harmful effects of garlic. For puppies aged six months to a year, extreme caution is recommended, and the dosage should be limited to half of the regular amount. 

Breed-Specific Risks: Many holistic veterinarians caution against giving garlic to certain breeds like Akitas and Shiba Inus. These breeds are more sensitive to the haemolytic effects of oxidants, such as N-propyl disulphide found in garlic. Owners of these breeds should consult their holistic veterinarians to assess any potential risks associated with garlic consumption. 

Drug Interactions: Garlic can interact with various medications, potentially leading to adverse effects. Dog owners should exercise caution if their dogs are on specific medications, including immune suppressants, heart medications, chemotherapy drugs, blood thinners, insulin, antacids, and high blood pressure drugs. If your dog is taking any of these medications, refrain from giving them garlic. 

Additionally, due to garlic's impact on blood clotting, it should not be used for two weeks before any scheduled surgery.

Is garlic toxic to dogs?

Yes and no. Garlic belongs to the Allium family, which also includes onions, chives, and leeks. These vegetables contain compounds called thiosulphates, which can be toxic to dogs if ingested in large quantities. The main concern is that excessive thiosulphates can lead to oxidative damage to red blood cells, potentially resulting in haemolytic anaemia and this is why people often question 'Is garlic poisonous to dogs?'. 

The extent of garlic's toxicity largely depends on the dog's breed, size, and overall health. Additionally, dogs with pre-existing health conditions, particularly anaemia or liver problems, should never be exposed to garlic. 

Can dogs eat garlic and if so, what are the benefits?

While the potential risks of garlic should not be taken lightly, moderate and careful use of garlic can offer some benefits for dogs: 

  • Natural Flea and Tick Repellent: Garlic has been historically used as a natural insect repellent due to its pungent odour. Some proponents claim that it can help ward off fleas and ticks when administered in small doses. 
  • Immune System Support: Garlic contains allicin, a compound with potential immune-boosting properties. In controlled amounts, garlic might help strengthen a dog's immune system. 
  • Cardiovascular Health: Some studies in animals and humans suggest that garlic may have positive effects on cardiovascular health, including reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects in dogs. 
  • Antioxidant Properties: Garlic contains antioxidants that can help neutralise harmful free radicals in the body, potentially promoting overall well-being.

The significance of Fresh, Raw garlic for dogs

If you choose to feed your dog garlic, it should be fresh, raw garlic – bulbs of garlic in the husk, ideally organically grown and sourced from within Europe. 

Never use any pre-chopped garlic that comes from a jar, garlic puree or garlic powder for dogs – it is hard to determine the origin and what additives have been included! 

By choosing fresh, raw garlic, you can ensure that your dog receives the best quality and nutritional benefits without exposing them to potential contaminants.  

How much garlic should I give my dog?

If you wish to incorporate garlic into your dog's diet, it is crucial to use a measuring spoon and follow the recommended amount per day, based on your dog's weight in kilograms:

  • 2 kg: 1/6 tsp
  • 4 kg: 1/3 tsp
  • 6 kg: 1/2 tsp
  • 9 kg: 2/3 tsp
  • 14 kg: 1 tsp

Please remember that these measurements are intended for freshly chopped garlic. To prepare the garlic properly, follow these steps to ensure the maximum benefit:

  1. Peel the cloves and mince, chop, or crush the fresh garlic.
  2. Allow the garlic to sit for a couple of minutes before use. This process helps in forming allicin, the active medicinal ingredient in garlic.
  3. Since allicin degrades quickly, use the garlic immediately after the "sitting" period to get the most out of its medicinal properties.
  4. Measure and chop the garlic, then set a timer for 10 minutes. Once the "sitting" period is complete, measure the right amount of garlic based on your dog's body weight and mix it into their food.

Feeding garlic to dogs, when done responsibly and in appropriate amounts, can offer several potential health benefits. However, it is crucial to use garlic cautiously, especially for certain breeds and in pregnant or nursing dogs, and to consult a qualified holistic veterinarian to ensure safe and effective use based on individual health needs.

With Woofs and Wags, 

Laura, Dolly & Reggie

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