We have all heard about the amazing benefits of garlic for dogs. On the contrary we have also heard the garlic may be poisonous to dogs. So, what should you believe in?
I understand that there is a lot of information available on the internet about using garlic in dogs. However, there are some details which you must know as a dog guardian so that garlic can be used as a tool in dog care and not something that will actually harm your dog in the process. I hope this article helps you understand the use of garlic for your dog.
For easy reading of the article, I have divided the blog post into the following topics:
- What is the benefit of garlic consumption for dogs?
- Which form of garlic is best for your dog’s consumption?
- Is garlic really safe for dogs?
- Is consumption of garlic safe for all dogs?
- Consumption of how much garlic and what interval is safe for your dog?
- Can garlic be poisonous to dogs?
- Symptoms of garlic poisoning dogs
- Should garlic be or not to be a part of dog care?
- Are garlic supplements safe for dogs?
- Diagnosis of garlic poisoning
- Treatment of garlic toxicity in dogs
- How can you prevent garlic poisoning in your dog?
- What are the alternatives to using garlic for dogs?
Other articles you may find interesting:
Arthritis in dogs: The DO’s and DON’Ts for a dog guardian
Allergies in dogs: signs, symptoms and treatment
Excessive shedding in dogs: causes, treatment, home remedies
Garlic is a readily and easily available remedy. It has been used for thousands of years by the Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioners. Garlic contains over 30 compounds which have been observed to provide benefits in case of a variety of conditions from skin related issues to cancer.
Garlic is also recommended by holistic veterinarians for its numerous health benefits for dogs. Following are some of the primary health benefits of using garlic for dogs.
Boosts the immune system
Garlic increases the activity of the immune cells which are responsible for killing pathogens and other harmful microorganisms. The increase in the killer cells of the population means that the invading microbes as well as cancer cells will be eliminated quickly and efficiently. Therefore, moderate levels of garlic supplementation in your dog’s diet, even if your dog is healthy, will boost his or her immune system as well as keep him or her away from cancer.
Fighting viralfungal/bacterial infections:
Garlic has some powerful antibiotic as with antimicrobial effects. It can help your dog to fight against a variety of internal as well as external viral, fungal or bacterial infections. It has even been found to be effective against parasitic infections like tapeworms and protozoan infections like Giardia.
Prevents infection in and out:
An addition of garlic to your dog’s diet, can help your dog prevent any kind of infection in the intestines, stomach, respiratory tract, throat, mouth. You can also use garlic diluted in a small amount of olive oil as a topical remedy for any kind of minor injury, ear infection as well as ear mites. This topical ointment has several antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
Consumption of garlic enhances the liver function
Garlic has been observed to have detoxifying effects. Garlic contains at least six compounds which can help in enhancing liver function by limiting toxins and preventing the accumulation of toxins which may cause in your dog.
Lowering triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels:
Consumption of uncooked garlic with food allows reduction of the triglyceride as well as blood cholesterol level in dogs. Garlic can be really useful for breeds which are predisposed to hyperlipidemia (disease in which the amount of lipids in the blood stream increases) like beagles, miniature schnauzers etc.
Garlic can act as a cardiovascular tonic:
Garlic has compounds which are very efficient at preventing formation of blood clots in the vasculature of your dog. As I mentioned before, garlic reduces the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries, thus preventing atherosclerosis. Thus, garlic can act as an excellent cardiovascular tonic for senior dogs.
Flea and tick repellent:
As mentioned in my previous blog posts, garlic can act as a very effective tickand flea preventionmethod. However, the mechanism of action of garlic in this case is not clear. It might be because of the products released from the garlic on your dog’s skin when the compounds present in garlic are oxidized.
Garlic acts best when consumed raw. If the garlic is cooked on high heat like sautéed, roasted or boiled, it will lose its goodness and the medicinal properties.
The component of garlic which gives of a strong odor is Allicin. This compound is very unstable and quickly dissipates when exposed to any kind of moisture, heat or air. Allicin is also the compound which provides garlic its antibiotic properties. Thus, if you are planning to use garlic as an antibiotic, the best way to do this would be to use either raw garlic or garlic juice. Remember to use the concoction within three hours of chopping or grinding.
If you are thinking of using garlic as supplement for cancer prevention, nutritional supplement, cardiovascular tonic or immunity booster, you can go for garlic pills. However, remember to have a consultation with your vet before you embark on using garlic as a regular nutritional supplement for your dog.
Now that we have discussed all the potential benefits of garlic, the doses as well as the form in which garlic should be used, let’s look to the negative side of the story.
Of late there have been many questions about the safety of use of garlic for dogs. The primary controversy amongst all these in regarding the safety of consumption of garlic for dogs as well as cats. Garlic contains a compound called as an n-propyl disulfide. This compound is found garlic as well as in onions [in greater amounts than garlic]. If this compound is consumed in large doses, it can lead to the oxidative damage to the red blood cells. This leads to formation of Heinz bodies in the RBCs. Heinz bodies are rejected by the dog’s body and remove from the bloodstream. Therefore, if a dog ingests large doses of this compound or large quantities of garlic and onion on a regular interval, it can lead to formation of a large amount of Heinz bodies which can cause rejection of the RBCs leading to anemia. In severe cases this may even lead to death of the dog.
So this means that garlic is poisonous for dogs, right?
The internet has points against as well as in favor of garlic for dogs. I will be presenting both of them to you in the following section:
Studies have observed that if a dog is administered garlic as per his or her body weight, there is no way that the dog would ever show any negative signs or symptoms. A study done in 2000 in Hokkaido University observed the effect of garlic and onion in dogs. In the study, 1.25 ml of garlic extract was given to the dog per kg of his or her body weight. Therefore, if the dog weighed 50 pounds, he would be administered around 25 cloves of garlic. No one would give so much of garlic to their dogs in normal conditions.
Despite of this ridiculously high amount of garlic administration, none of the dogs showed any signs of damage or garlic toxicity. Even though garlic did have a negative effect on the dog’s red blood cells, it did not lead to anemia.
Other studies have observed that the compound Allicin which is present in garlic is actually good for the dog’s health. A study done in 2004 showed that despite of using high garlic concentrations, the dogs did not develop or showed signs of hemolytic anemia. This led to retraction of the previous paper as well as proved those researchers wrong who said that garlic is toxic or bad for dogs. As per the new findings, it was concluded that garlic has the potential to prevent cardiovascular disease and promote the immune functions in dogs.
Therefore, garlic is non-toxic your dog and can be used in moderate amounts. A dog will have to eat a lot of garlic to begin the oxidative process which would lead to anemia. Furthermore, since red blood cells are regenerated regularly in the bone marrow, the number of garlic cloves consumed will have to be very high, to induce the oxidative process which would lead to formation of the Heinz bodies. Therefore, if you are administering moderate amount of garlic to your dog at regular intervals, it is safe and potentially even healthy for your dog.
Even though a small quantity of garlic administered on a regular basis is completely safe for all dogs, if your dog suffers from any of the following conditions, he or she should not be administered garlic in any form or dose:
- If your dog is suffering from anemia or is scheduled to undergo surgery soon, he or she should not be given garlic in any form.
- If your dog is still young [between the age of 6 to 8 weeks], he or she should not be administered garlic in any form since at this stage puppies do not have new red blood cell formation.
According to author Gregory Tilford (all you ever wanted to know about herbs for Pets author), consumption of 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder for every 1 pound of dog food is enough when administered 3 to 4 times every week.
According to the author Dr. Martin Goldstein (Nature of Animal Healing), you can add garlic to your dog homemade food on a regular basis.
As per expert Dr. Pitcairn, the following doses of fresh garlic is recommended to be given 4 times a week to dogs as per their size:
- 10 to 15 pounds of body weight-half clove of garlic
- 20 to 40 pounds of body weight- 1 clove
- 45 to 70 pounds of body weight- 2 cloves of garlic
- 70-90 pounds of body weight- 2(1/2) cloves of garlic
- 100 pounds of body weight and above- 3 cloves of garlic
As I mentioned before, garlic can cause anemia in dogs. It has been observed that the powdered form of garlic which is used in seasoning is a very potent poison. Japanese dog breeds like Shiba Inu, Akita Inu have been observed to be adversely affected by garlic compared to other breeds. However, the reason behind this is not clear. Experts postulate that this could be due to the presence of higher red blood cell count as well as low potassium and glutathione levels in the Japanese breeds.
Garlic poisoning can cause major damage your dog’s red blood cells. The common symptoms observed in garlic poisoning are:
- gastrointestinal upset
- respiratory issues
- abdominal pain
- appetite loss
- Hyper salivation
I have presented vidence to you both in favor as well as against the use of garlic for dogs. However, according to the AKC (American Kennel Club) as well as PetMD, garlic in any manner or form should not be consumed by your dog. In case your dog consumes even a tiny amount of garlic, consult your vet immediately. Minimal quantities of garlic, even 15 to 30 g per cage of your dog’s body weight can put your dog in danger. Some dogs may show increased sensitivity towards garlic compared to others and develop garlic toxicity symptoms much quicker. Hence if you suspect that your dog has consumed garlic any form or quantity, do not delay in consulting your vet
Studies have actually not proven commercial garlic supplements to show any positive results for dogs. Even though, as previously mentioned small doses may be safe for most dog breeds, the known risks as well as the lack of positive evidence must be taken into consideration when deciding whether to use garlic as a nutritional supplement for your dog or not. If you are thinking of adding garlic as part of your dog’s diet, consult your vet first. Administering an incorrect dose can have a drastic negative effect on your dog. Therefore, it is always better to consult with your vet before adding garlic as a nutritional supplement to your dog’s diet.
The diagnosis of garlic poisoning is basically conducted via a series of physical exams, medical history as well as laboratory diagnosis.
The physical examination involves recording your dog’s body temperature, respiration rate, weight, height, blood pressure as well as abdominal palpitation. Your veterinarian will focus on the heart rate, mucus membrane color, breathing pattern and general reflexes. He or she will ask you for certain details like previous illnesses, injuries, vaccination details and any abnormal behavior.
To confirm the presence of any gastric toxicosis, your vet will conduct a complete blood work which will include analysis of blood glucose levels, complete blood count (CBC), arterial blood gas levels, hemoglobin concentration as well as urine analysis.
Depending on the results of the tests, your vet may perform some other diagnostic tests to rule out other diseases like liver biopsy and blood clotting test. An abdominal ultrasound, CT scan and X rays may be conducted to check your dog’s liver and spleen.
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In case you suspect that your dog has ingested large amount of garlic or garlic bread or any other food items contained garlic, immediately take him or her to the nearest emergency vet care. Onion and garlic poisoning have not been observed to be fatal in dogs but your dog may need hospitalization and supportive care depending on the condition. Your vet might recommend administration of IV fluids to keep your dog properly hydrated and may prescribe oral medications to control the vomiting. In case of severe disease, a blood transfusion might be deemed mandatory. IV fluids will help your dog’s kidney and your bloodstream and flush out garlic from the system. Your vet may also conduct a gastric lavage to remove the garlic from the stomach if it has been ingested in the last two hours. He or she may want to administer activated charcoal which has been known to absorb toxins or a cathartic drug which will enhance the excretion of the toxin from your dog’s body.
Prevention is always better than cure. Prevent your dog from consuming anything which may have traces of garlic in it. Do not serve your dog any home-cooked meal or take away if there is even a slight inclination of the food containing garlic. Keep your trash area covered and prevent your dog from getting into it.
If you are looking for healthy alternatives to garlic, consider adding high nutrient vegetables and fruits to your dog’s diet like watermelon, cucumbers, carrots, blueberries, apples, strawberries and sweet potatoes.
If you ask me, I’d say, use the alternatives rather than raw garlic. Granted, garlic has its benefits. But why put your pup n harm’s way when it can easily be avoided? As far as the research goes, they have been conducted on small number of dogs as well as those belonging to some specific breeds. Thus, the information gained cannot be generalized across dogs of all breeds. Avoid using raw garlic or products which contain garlic for your pup. It is our responsible as guardians to chose what is the best dog care option for our pups.
Has your dog ever suffered from garlic poisoning? What did you do in such a condition? What treatment protocol did your vet follow to help your pup recover? Let me know in the comment section. If there is a story or anecdote you wish to share, feel free to contact me on any of my social media channels. I will be happy to post your story on the blog.