Is Garlic Bad for my Dog?

by Dr. Deva Khalsa on November 13, 2012

Garlic (Allium sativum) has been valued for thousands of years for medicinal purposes.  Five thousand year old Sanskrit and Chinese medical manuscripts describe the benefits of garlic. Garlic was also a valued staple for the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans.  In fact, fifteen pounds of garlic was the going price for a healthy male slave in Egypt.  When King Tut’s tomb was excavated, bulbs of garlic were found scattered throughout.

Hippocrates advocated garlic for infections, cancer and digestive disorders. The great Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder recommended it for a wide variety of ailments ranging from the common cold to epilepsy, leprosy, cancer and tapeworm. Today, garlic is grown all over the world. Although it has been primarily used as a flavoring for food, garlic is making a strong comeback as a potent natural remedy.

For as long as people have been been using garlic, they have been feeding it to their animal companions.  However, recently, the safety of garlic for dogs has come into question.  Knowledge is a powerful thing but astute pet owners should gather all the data before shunning this celebrated bulb.

Garlic is approved as a flavoring, spice or seasoning for use in pet food, yet the FDA has garlic listed in its poisonous plant database with this link Studies suggest that when garlic is fed in excessive quantities (5 grms of whole garlic per kilogram of the dogs body weight), it may cause damage to the red blood cells of dogs.

Drinking too much water can kill you but we all drink water.   In fact, we all know that drinking enough water is a healthy thing to do.  So what’s healthy and what’s too much?  Let’s get to the bottom the garlic story.  Where do you draw the line on how much garlic your dog can get in his meal?  Considering the data presented in the study referenced above does this mean the average Golden Retriever at 75 lbs would need to eat 5 full heads of garlic or about 75 cloves of garlic in a meal before there would be any adverse effect on the red blood cells. Similarly, a dog weighing mere 12 lbs would need to eat 30 grams of garlic which is a bit less than a entire head of garlic or about 8 to 10 garlic cloves to experience any adverse effects.

Case in point: do you know anyone who feeds dogs that much garlic in one meal? Furthermore, reported adverse affects from garlic add up to a total non-event over the past 22 years.  The National Animal Supplement Council responsibly records both Adverse Events and Serious Adverse Events resulting from the use of natural products.   A Serious Adverse Event is defined as: “An Adverse Event with a transient incapacitating effect (i.e. rendering the animal unable to function normally for a short period of time, such as with a seizure) or non-transient (i.e. permanent) health effect.”   900 million doses of garlic over a 22 year time span resulted in only two Serious Adverse Events and these episodes could very well have been due, not to garlic, but to another ingredient in the mix. This proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the risk of using garlic is so infintessimally low that it’s simply statistically insignificant.   Here, in a nutshell is the whole truth about garlic.   So what’s the moral of the story?  Perhaps, moderation is the key to good health.


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