This week we want to answer your questions about garlic and dogs. People often ask us ‘Can dogs eat garlic?’ Most expect the answer to be a definite no. After all, garlic belongs to the Allium family, which includes onions and leeks, and we know they are poisonous.
However, recently there’s been a change of opinion. Some experts believe you should avoid garlic because it is toxic, but others say it has many health benefits. So, who is right?
Can Dogs Eat Garlic?
Why garlic and dogs have a poor reputation
As garlic is from the same family as onions, experts believe it’s unsafe for dogs to eat. Garlic contains thiosulfate, which is toxic to dogs. Experts decided that garlic was not safe for dogs. A 2000 study suggested potential harmful side effects of feeding dogs garlic. From that moment on, researchers declared garlic toxic to dogs:
“We believe that foods containing garlic should be avoided for use in dogs.”
However, the study has significant issues:
Researchers only tested four dogs.
They gave the dogs the equivalent of 20 cloves of garlic every day for seven days.
The study concluded this might cause a type of anemia.
None of the dogs developed anemia.
This is such a small study, and it proved nothing, despite the ridiculously high doses of garlic.
According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, for garlic to be dangerous, a dog would have to ingest around 15 to 30 grams. To give you an idea of how much that is, a typical bulb of garlic is around 5 grams. To be adversely affected, your dog would have to eat around three whole bulbs of garlic.
Other studies show that small amounts of garlic are beneficial to dogs. In fact, ‘proper dosages of raw garlic don’t contain high levels of thiosulphate’.
So, what’s the truth? Can dogs eat garlic or not?
Can I give my dog garlic, and what is a safe dose?
A 2018 study showed that a smaller dosage of garlic has health benefits for dogs. Over 12 weeks, researchers gave dogs a much smaller dose of garlic. The results showed that garlic helps protect dogs against injury or inflammation.
“These results suggest that AGE might safely contribute to the health of dogs provided that the appropriate dosage is used.”
The answer is yes, but with some conditions.
Always use fresh, peeled and minced garlic.
Do not use garlic from a jar or powdered garlic.
Do not give to puppies under 6 months. From 6 months onward feed them half the normal dose for their weight.
Don’t give garlic to pregnant dogs.
Some breeds are sensitive to garlic: the Akita, Shiba Inu and other Japanese breeds.
Don’t give garlic to your dog if they are about to have surgery.
Certain drugs interact with garlic; consult your vet if your dog is on medication.
Don’t give your dog garlic if they are anemic.
Always use the correct dose for your dog.
Safe doses of garlic for your dog
Veterinary expert Dr. Richard Pitcairn advises half a garlic clove per ten pounds of body weight.
5lbs - 10lbs: an eighth or a quarter of a clove
10lbs - 15lbs: half a clove
20lbs - 40lbs: 1 clove
45lbs - 70lbs: 2 cloves
75lbs - 90lbs: 2 and a half cloves
100lbs +: 3 cloves
Measure the correct amount for your dog. Peel and mince the garlic. Leave for ten minutes to allow the active medicinal compounds to form. Mix in with your dog’s food.
Start with smaller doses at first, to make sure your dog can tolerate garlic. Some dogs have more sensitive tummies than others. Other experts recommend only giving two cloves of garlic to larger dogs over 75lb and rotating the dose one week on and one week off.
You can always try our garlic sausages for dogs if you want to test whether they're tolerant to garlic.
Signs of garlic poisoning
Garlic is only toxic in very large doses, but you should watch your dog for any of the following when feeding garlic for the first time.
loss of appetite
blood in urine
If your dog shows signs of the above, stop feeding the garlic and consult your vet.
6 Benefits of Giving Garlic to your Dog
As well as improving your dog’s response to injury, here are other benefits of feeding garlic to your dog:
Detoxifying agent: Garlic has antibiotic and anti fungal properties. This manages healthy levels of bacteria in the gut.
Packed with essential nutrients: Garlic contains calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium and Vitamin C.
Improves digestion: Garlic stimulates the lymphatic system, helping to break down waste materials. This puts less stress on the liver and improves the digestive process.
Can help reduce risk of cancer: Studies show increased intake of garlic can reduce stomach and digestive tract cancers.
Improves circulation: Garlic is a ‘pungent’ herb. Once ingested, pungent herbs move heat up and out, widening blood vessels and improving circulation around the body.
Flea and tick deterrent: Fleas hate the smell and taste of garlic, so it is a great natural deterrent. Start feeding garlic a month before flea and tick season to prevent fleas.
Dogs can eat garlic, but in small doses, relative to their weight. We suggest feeding smaller than recommended doses and watching for any adverse signs. You can then increase to the normal dose. Remember to use freshly minced garlic and alternate weekly feeding.