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Garlic - is it toxic, or a superfood for Dogs?

Posted on October 06 2023


For many years the debate around garlic has continued with some saying it’s toxic and causes haemolytic anaemia and others saying it’s a natural antibiotic and health tonic and great as a natural flea deterrent.

So, let's look at the argument in a little more detail. Garlic actually belongs to the allium family which also includes leeks and onions. Now garlic contains miniscule amounts of a substance called thiosulphate whereas onions on the other hand contain a lot of thiosulphate.

Let's go back a few decades to the 1980’s when garlic was added to a lot of dogfood and catfood with no problems at all. Fast forward to the year 2000, when researcher Usamo Umato of Japan published a study that set the veterinary and pet-health industry on its side.

The study titled “Hematologic changes associated with the appearance of eccentrocytes after intragastric administration of garlic extract to dogs” actually used a condensed, powerful version of garlic oil and fed it to dogs over a 7 days period, equivalent to 1.25ml per kg of bodyweight – now that’s EXTREME levels of garlic. Now it needs to be noted that even at this dose, there were NO PHYSICAL CHANGES TO THE DOGS, no heinz body anaemia or anaemia whatsoever was produced. There were however some “small oxidative stress changes to the red blood cells” seen under a microscope, but again no dogs had any symptoms from this, none were sick or died. So, the study was published and interestingly it spurred a worldwide warning to not feed dogs garlic as it’s toxic!

However, many questioned this study and the dose that was administered. It was found that the dose that had been used in the study was the equivalent of 35 cloves of garlic per day – so over a week this amounted to 245 cloves of garlic!! WHO in their right mind would feed their dog THIS MUCH garlic?

So, under industry pressure, the study was REDONE in 2004 and at the end of that study they REVERSED their opinion stating, “we actually conclude that garlic is great for the immune system and great for the heart”. So interestingly the FDA reinserted garlic back into their petfood manual and petfood manufacturers began adding garlic back in. Unfortunately – many missed the revised study results and the scare-mongering continues even today.

So, in summary, garlic in fact decreases blood pressure and benefits the cardiovascular system. The best way to have garlic is as a whole clove so that the beneficial substance, allicin, remains intact – as opposed to pre-crushed, processed garlic in a jar.

Please note: There are some dog breeds of course that do have a sensitivity to garlic, mainly the Japanese breeds, so do your research if you have a Japanese breed and best avoid garlic there! For all other dogs – rest assured – garlic is great for your dog!