Garlic for Dogs - Health Benefits, Preparation, Use, Safe Dosage

Galric for dogs, health benefits, preparation, use and safe dosage
★ 6 min read
In this article:
1. Why Garlic is Good For Dogs and How About Garlic for Cats?
    1.1 The Truth

           - The debate
           - Thiosulphate and Heinz Factor Anemia

           - To good to ignore
2. History of Garlic 
3. Health Benefits of Fresh Garlic 
4. Active Medicinal Ingredients in Garlic
5. Activating The Medicinal Properties of Garlic 
6. Forms of Garlic You Should Not Use 
7. How to Include Garlic In Your Dog's Daily Diet
       - Safe Daily Dosage
8. Cautions
9. Drug Interactions
10. Other Uses for Garlic
         -  Flea, Tick, Mosquito and Parasite Repellent, Treatment and Prevention
         - Topical Treatment for Ear Infections

1.0 Why Garlic is Good For Dogs and How About Garlic for Cats?

You may have heard that garlic is bad for dogs, but in actual fact garlic is good for dogs.

1.1 The Truth About Garlic for Dogs and Cats

The Debate
The debate about whether garlic is good or bad seems to have arisen from confusion with its close cousin, the onion.  And that question has been furthered by people - professionals and public alike - who do not inform themselves about the actual properties of these foods prior to pronouncing their opinion.

Which means that their pronouncement is an OPINION and an uninformed judgement based on lack of information rather than an evidence-based fact.
Thiosulphate and Heinx Factor Anemia

Both garlic and onion contain thiosulphate, the substance responsible for causing ‘Heinx Factor’ anemia in dogs and cats. 

The amount of thiosulphate found in garlic is much lower than in onions, in fact the amount in garlic is barely traceable. For the majority of dogs garlic dosing within recommended guidelines (see further below) does not result in dangerous levels of thiosulphate.  The only dog breeds that should not be given garlic are Japanese dog breeds. For example the Akita and the Shibu Inu as these breeds have a sensitivity to garlic that is similar to that of cats (see further below).

The NCIB (National Center for Biotechnology Information) provides scientific research regarding safe use of garlic for dogs. None of the dogs in the study developed Heinz Factor. You can read the research paper here.

The fear of garlic as a healthful herb for dogs is a new fear propagated by rumor on the internet and not proven by any facts or study. To see an extensive list of foods that dogs should truly not be consuming and/or should be consuming with caution, read here.
How About Garlic for Cats? 
Cats are much more sensitive to thiosulphate than dogs. Cats are, in general more sensitive to biologically foreign substances. For example, the range of essential oils suitable for cats is considerably less than for dogs. 
A wise cat may choose to rub up against a patch of wild garlic for its insect repelling properties.
You may offer a small amount of garlic to your cat 1 to 2 times per week. No more than 1/16 tsp (for small cats), up to 1/8 tsp (for large cats), fresh minced garlic (prepared as instructed further below), administered once per day, one to two times per week. 
However you should only do this if your cat self-selects to take the garlic.  
Never force your cat to consume garlic.
Never mix or hide garlic into your cat's food or treats.
Learn how to do self-selection with your cat:
Before offering garlic to your cat, make sure you read the other sections of this article.
To Good to Ignore
Garlic is a powerful, natural broad-spectrum antibiotic. Garlic is also an antioxidant, anti-allergen, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-protozoan, anti-viral and anti-carcinogen. Garlic contains germanium, an anti-cancer agent and an anti-protozoan. Garlic can also be used topically to treat specific ailments - for example ear mite infestation and ear infections.
Garlic also contains sulfur - a natural insect repellent. More on this further below.

When garlic is ingested in reasonable amounts there are no harmful results - only benefits, and no, it won’t make your dog smell like garlic.
2.0 History of Garlic
Garlic is a member of the allium genus - garlic is considered a vegetable, and a member of the Lily family. Garlic is an ancient food crop - cherished for its vegetable bulb and flower stalk (scape), the garlic plant has been harvested and cultivated by mankind for thousands of years.

There are many types of garlic - cultivated, heirloom and wild, examples can be found here.

The word garlic comes from the Old English word garleac - ‘spear leek’. 

Garlic is divided into two main varieties - hardnecked garlic, and softneck garlic. Hardneck garlic does not store well for long periods of time, but the cloves are easier (than softneck varieties) to peel. Softneck garlic stores very well for longer periods of time, making it the most common type of garlic sold in grocery stores. All information discussed in this article applies to hardnecked and softnecked garlic.

Garlic is also an herbal plant with many health giving properties.  Garlic - when used properly, offers many health benefits to dogs.

Unfortunately, all
other members of the allium family, including - c
hives, leeks, shallots and onions are toxic to dogs.

 3.0 Health Benefits of Fresh Garlic

Health benefits of garlic for dogs
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Antibiotic (broad spectrum)
  • Anti-carcinogen, garlic contains germanium - an anti-cancer agent
    • Garlic helps to prevent a variety of cancers such as: bladder cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer; rectal cancer, stomach cancer
    • Garlic is also used to treat some forms of cancer such as bladder and prostate cancer
  • Garlic helps to regulate blood pressure
  • Heart health support to prevent
    • Heart disease
    • Heart attack
    • Hardening of the arteries
  • Helps strengthen the body's defenses against allergies
  • Helps regulate blood sugar levels
  • High cholesterol reduction
  • Garlic is high in vitamins, minerals and nutrients
  • Calcium, Potassium, Zinc
  • Protein
  • Vitamin A, B, B2, C
  • Garlic is an aid to fighting and treating
    • Asthma
    • Environmental allergies
    • Diabetes
    • Diarrhea
    • Fatigue
    • Liver, heart and kidney disease
    • Maintenance of healthy liver function
    • Ear infections and ear mite infestations
    • Stress
  • Garlic is a natural

4.0 Active Medicinal Ingredients in Garlic

Garlic bulbs and garlic scapes (the green fresh shoots) contain multiple sulfur inclusive compounds. Allinn and another enzyme ‘alliinase’, both present in garlic, but contained in separate cells gain the opportunity to combine and create a new enzyme called ‘allicin’ when garlic is chopped, crushed, minced or chewed. Allicin (an anti-biotic, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, heart healthy enzyme) is the most beneficial of the healthful enzymes in garlic.

5.0 Activating the Medicinal Properties

How To Prepare Garlic for Maximum Health Benefits
  • Chop, crush, mince or press/bruise the fresh garlic cloves (or scapes), and then;
    • Allow to sit at room temperature for at minimum five (5) minutes and better ten (10) to fifteen (15) minutes.
    • This gives the allinn and alliinase sufficient time to undergo the enzymic reaction that creates allicin - the medicinal ingredient in garlic.
    • The garlic is ready for consumption.
    • The medicinal properties remain active for up to one (1) hour after you have activated them.
    • After one hour has passed the medicinal properties begin to degrade which is why it is important to use fresh minced garlic clove or scape. 
6.0 Forms of Garlic You Should Not Use

Dry, Dehydrated, Powdered, Mixed Garlic, In Brine, Supplement
Don't give your dog garlic steak spice and similar products. This type of product contains ingredients that are not appropriate for dogs. Such as: fillers, hidden MSG, sugar, iodized salt, food coloring and other additives.
Note that dehydrated, air dried or freeze dried powdered or minced garlic or cloves in brine don't provide the medicinal qualities found in fresh, minced garlic.

7.0 How to Include Garlic in Your Dog’s Daily Diet
Garlic (bulb and/or scapes) should always be used as a "self-select" dietary supplement. Allow your dog to indicate if she wants to eat the fresh minced garlic bulb or scape. Offer the garlic to your dog, by placing the fresh minced garlic beside your dog's food. If your dog does not want to eat garlic respect your dog's indication. Like all herbs, not every herb is suited to every dog. Allow your dog to indicate suitability. Learn more about self-selection here.

Garlic for dogs, daily dosage based on body weight
Daily Dosage for Dogs by Body Weight
  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) fresh, raw minced garlic bulb or garlic scape per every: 
    •  30 lbs of body weight
    • 13.6 kg of body weight
  • For dogs less than 30 pounds:
    • 20 pound dog - 2/3 of a tsp
    • 15 pound dog - 1/2 of a tsp
    • 10 pound dog - 1/3 of a tsp
    • 5 pound dog - 1/6 of a tsp
I discourage dosing by clove. 
Dosing by clove is not a good method of dosing as clove size varies depending on the type of garlic. There are many varieties of garlic including small up to giant garlic bulbs with very large cloves. Clove size also varies within each garlic bulb. 
8.0 Cautions
  • Pregnant and Lactating Dogs
    • When used in the dosage provided above, garlic is safe for pregnant dogs;
    • The only caution around garlic for pregnant dogs is that if ingested in large quantities it can flavor the milk of lactating females (human and canine).
  • Puppies
    • Don't give garlic to puppies that are 6 months of age or younger. 
    • Under 6 months of age a puppy's red blood cell mass is not mature enough to allow for safe use of garlic. 
    • Dosing with garlic at 6 months of age or under can trigger hemolytic anemia (all dog breeds).
  •  Akitas and Shibu Inus
    • Akitas and Shibu Inus are more sensitive (than other dog breeds) to enzymes in garlic that can cause hemolytic anemia. Avoid use of garlic in the Akita and Shibu Inus' diet.
  • Garlic From China
    • Some garlic from China has been found to be contaminated with high levels of arsenic, lead and added sulfites.
  • Self-Selection
    •  If your dog does not want to eat his/her food once you have added garlic, or if you are delivering garlic to your dog in another way (without food), and your dog does not want the garlic do not force the garlic on your dog. Many dogs do have good instinct / senses to 'know' what he/she needs, and /or if the food, herb, nutraceutical or alternative medicine you are offering is not appropriate for his/her individual situation.

  •  Health and Medical Contradictions
    • Keep in mind that:
      • Garlic is a hot herb, this can make it unsuitable to some dogs and as well dogs with specific health issues and conditions.
      • Like all foods and herbs, an individual can be intolerant or hypersensitive (allergic) to specific items, including garlic.
    • If your dog has a health or medical condition(s), make sure you check garlic's suitability for your dog's specific circumstances. For example:
      • If your dog has IBS or Colitis
        • Garlic is high in insoluble fiber and sulfur compounds - as a general rule it is best  not to give fresh garlic to dogs that have IBS or colitis. 

9.0 Drug Interactions

  • If your dog is on conventional drugs make sure you check for drug interactions - the below is an example of some garlic and drug interactions...
    • If your dog is on cyclosporine:
      • Garlic may increase the rate at which cyclosprine is broken down by the body, and;
      • Might decrease the effectiveness of cyclosporine;
      • So, do not give your dog garlic if he/she is on cyclosporin.
  • If your dog is on any medication that is changed by the liver. 
  • If your dog is on a blood thinner:
    • Garlic can slow down blood clotting -  garlic may increase the efficacy of the blood thinner;
    • The dosage of the blood thinner would need to be adjusted for intake of garlic. 

10.0 Other Beneficial Uses For Garlic

Natural Wormer, Intestinal Parasites
Garlic is a natural wormer and can also be used in combination with other herbs and nutraceuticals to treat repel and avoid the development of parasite infestations. 
Natural herbal wormers:
Flea, Tick Mosquito Insect Repellent Aid
Garlic is a natural insect repellent and can also be used topically in combination with other herbs and nutraceuticals to treat and repel insects.
Natural herbal insect repellent sprays, dips, rubs:

Ear Infections
Garlic can be used topically in combination with other nutraceuticals as a topical treatment for ear infections. 
Ear infections and natural treatments:
Ear Mite Infestations
Garlic oil is a natural treatment for ear mite infestations. 
Ear mite infestations and natural treatment:
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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld.

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