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Garlic is something that has always been considered poisonous to dogs. But your dog has probably eaten garlic without you even being aware. Many burger patties and other processed foods contain garlic. If you feed your dog leftovers, chances are they are eating garlic regularly.

Being in the same family as onions, people believe garlic is as toxic as onions to our four-legged friends. Onions contain high levels of a chemical called thiosulphate, which can damage red blood cells. Garlic also contains the chemical but is it really that bad for your dog?

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Everything in Moderation

High levels of thiosulphate can cause Heinz hemolytic anemia, which shortens the life-span of red blood cells. Without enough of these cells, body tissues and organs don’t receive enough oxygen, which can lead to your dog becoming very sick. However, raw garlic doesn’t contain high levels of thiosulphate. Studies suggest you would have to feed a 10lb dog eight cloves of garlic or a 75lb dog four bulbs (or 60 cloves!) before they would experience any effects. You wouldn’t eat that much garlic so why would you feed your favorite pet so much? Giving your dog garlic in moderation can actually be good for their health.

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Garlic Is Good for Your Dog's Health

For thousands of years, Chinese medicine has used garlic because of its health benefits. In the same way that this pungent vegetable is great for humans, it’s also good for your dog. Garlic is full of minerals including inulin, sulfur, potassium, amino acids, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A and B. These nutrients help to enhance liver function, improve the digestive system, and lower blood cholesterol. Garlic will also boost your dog's immune system and can help prevent cancer.

Garlic can act as a cardiovascular tonic for your dog. It prevents fat build-up and blood clots in the arteries, which is great for the vascular system, especially in older canines.

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Garlic Helps Fight Infection

Including fresh garlic in your dog’s diet can prevent infections. It’s a natural antibiotic and antimicrobial which helps dogs fight bacterial, fungal, and viral infections, including protozoan organisms (like giardia), tapeworms, and other parasites. Eating garlic will also ward off infections in the mouth, throat, stomach, intestines, and respiratory tract. Diluting crushed garlic with olive oil gives you a tropical antiseptic for ear infections, ear mites, and minor injuries.

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Garlic Is a Flea and Tick Repellent

No one really knows why, but garlic is a very effective flea and tick repellent. Many scientists believe it’s because garlic is secreted through the skin, and bugs are put off by the odor. Whatever the reason, it seems to work. If you’re going to use garlic in the war on fleas and ticks, feed it to your pooch every day for two weeks followed by twice a week to maintain the garlic level in their natural coat oils. And start the process a couple of weeks before bug season begins to allow garlic levels to build up.

Dog Welsh Corgi prepares mushrooms for dinner with onion and garlic.
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Fresh Garlic Is Best

Cooking garlic makes it lose many of its medicinal and nutritional values. Allicin is the compound in garlic that gives it the pungent odor. When heated or exposed to air or moisture, it becomes unstable and dissipates. But allicin is the ingredient that makes garlic such a powerful antibiotic, antiviral, and anti-cancer foodstuff. Therefore raw, fresh, and organically grown garlic is most beneficial for your dog. And avoid the jars of pre-chopped garlic!

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How Much Garlic Is Good for Dogs?

By introducing garlic into your dog’s daily diet, you will help improve their immune system and overall health. As too much garlic can be bad for dogs, always follow these recommended daily doses based on the size of your pet:

  • 10-15lb – ½ a clove
  • 20-40lb – 1 clove
  • 45-70lb – 2 cloves
  • 75lb and over – 2 ½ cloves

A clove is roughly equivalent to 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic. As with all herbs, be sure to give your pooch a break from garlic for 1-2 days every week.

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How to Prepare Garlic for Dogs

Peel the fresh cloves of garlic and finely chop, mince, or crush them. Let the garlic sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the active ingredient allicin to reach full potential. Then simply sprinkle on or mix in the recommended amount to your dog’s raw food. If your pet eats dry dog food, they are likely to eat around the garlic. Try wrapping it in a piece of turkey breast or their favorite treat.

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Can All Dogs Have Garlic?

While a moderate amount of garlic is beneficial and safe for most dogs, not all should be given garlic. For example:

  • Puppies under six months old. Young pups don’t produce new red blood cells until 6-8 weeks.
  • If your dog has a pre-existing anemic condition.
  • Any dog scheduled for surgery as garlic affects blood clotting.
  • Expectant or nursing mothers. Garlic changes the taste of breast milk, which is not good for their puppies.

If in doubt, speak with your vet before deciding to introduce garlic to your dog’s diet.

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Medications Affected by Garlic

Garlic can interact with certain medications. If your dog is on any of the following, don’t use garlic as a dietary supplement.

  • Immune suppressants
  • Blood thinners
  • Heart medications
  • Insulin
  • Antacids
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • High blood pressure drugs

If your dog’s medication is not listed, check with a vet before giving them garlic.

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The Final Word

Everything in life can be toxic if consumed in large amounts. Even water and salt can kill if you consume too much of them. Garlic can be bad for dogs if they eat more than they should. But feeding them the recommended daily dosage of garlic will help your dog stay fit and healthy.

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