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Garlic Benefits for Dogs

Garlic Benefits for Dogs: Is Garlic Good for Dogs?

Garlic Benefits for Dogs

Like many powerful herbs, garlic has been tested for a vast array of medical conditions. The following list includes the most common applications for dogs.

Garlic has a high sulfur content, and it is thought that the sulfur, excreted through the dog’s skin, repels fleas, ticks, mites and other biting insects. The sulfur excretion can also help rid the dog of bacterial or fungal microbes that may be present on the skin, helping to heal itching, irritated skin.

Fleas aren’t the only pests put off by garlic. Worms in the digestive tract are repelled by garlic. In a dog that has had repeated infestations of worms, garlic can be fed once or twice a week as a preventative.

Garlic is also a potent anti-fungal agent. It can be used topically on fungal skin infections.

Sulfur excretion also occurs in the dog’s lungs, making garlic a strong expectorant. It encourages the expulsion of irritants such as dust, spores and pollen from the lungs, and helps kill any bacteria that may be present in the lungs. This makes it a perfect remedy for hay fever, seasonal allergies, kennel cough, or any other respiratory problems.

Garlic also kills bacteria internally. Any conditions or infections that are caused by bacteria, internal and external, can be treated with garlic supplementation. It can also help prevent wounds from becoming infected.

Owners of diabetic dogs, take note: Animal and human studies have shown that garlic can reduce blood-sugar levels. Researchers noted an increase in serum insulin and improvement in liver glycogen storage after garlic administration.

In humans, garlic’s most publicized successes have concerned its ability to lower blood cholesterol and prevent blood clotting. Because it improves circulation, dogs who suffer from arthritis will benefit from periodic garlic supplementation.

Garlic also promotes the production of white blood cells, thus strengthening the dog’s resistance to infection of all kinds. That makes it a powerful treatment for dogs with low or compromised immunity (such as hunting dogs that are worked heavily in cold and wet weather, or show dogs that are taken to numerous shows or competitions). This would include exhaustion and other nonspecific conditions associated with a subtle decline in health. Garlic can help bolster an immune response following exposure to strange dogs.

Immune system support is also helpful for newborn puppies and their mothers. In this case, a smaller dose of garlic would be fed to the mother. Garlic is passed through her milk to the puppies, benefiting both by fighting infections. Due to this antibacterial action, as well as its ability to support digestive function, garlic combats diarrhea in puppies.

Human studies have demonstrated that allicin, the ‘active ingredient’ in garlic, increases the levels of two important antioxidant enzymes in the blood: catylase and glutathione peroxidase, confirming the antioxidant and free-radical scavenging potential of allicin.

Garlic has been shown to help re-colonize bacteria in the gut, so garlic supplementation can be beneficial for any dog that has been treated with conventional antibiotics, which can wipe out ‘good’ gut bacteria.

Garlic is widely thought to have anti-cancer properties. The research is promising enough that garlic is recommended for any dog with cancer.

If you feed dried garlic, whether in a powdered or granulated form, the important thing is to get garlic that has not been heat-treated. Also, if you are taking garlic tablets, it is important to know whether your brand is actually dissolving after you take it.

Fresh garlic is the least expensive option, and is the most potent form of the herb. But not everyone is willing to spend time chopping it up for their dogs to eat, and not all dogs will eat it, even if it is mixed into their food. You may have to experiment a little to determine which form is most palatable for your dog. The fussiest eaters may benefit from pure, cold-processed garlic oil, which several manufacturers produce in gelatin capsules.

Begin with a low dose, introducing garlic in increasing amounts over a week or two until you are feeding the entire dose. According to Self, an average dose of garlic for large dogs should be about one fresh, crushed garlic clove per day. If you feed pure, cold-pressed garlic powder or granules, the equivalent is about a half-teaspoon. The suggestion for medium-sized dogs is half a clove (or 1/4 teaspoon of powder); for small dogs, give just a quarter clove (or a pinch or two of the powder).

A word of caution about feeding raw garlic to your dog. A condition known as "Heinz-body anemia" can result. Although Heinz-body anemia is uncommon in dogs, it is more often seen in cats.

Heinz bodies (also referred to as "Heinz-Ehrlich bodies") is a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed. This type of anemia can occur as a result of injesting raw onions, raw garlic and certain medications. Most prominent visible symptoms of Heinz body are sudden weakness (lethargic) and pale mouth, gums and lips. Should your dog show any visible signs of Heinz-body anemia after eating raw garlic or onions, immediately stop feeding these food items, and your dog's symptoms will immediately begin to improve with no long-lasting effects.

As with any drug or herb, it’s important to watch for any sensitivities particular in your dog’s body. Some herbalists say that a high daily dose of fresh garlic, given for long periods of time, can deplete the intestinal flora. If the condition you are treating is seasonal, or if the treatment is successful, slowly decrease the dose after the dog improves and maintains the improvement.

If you are looking for a natural garlic-based flea and tick preventative during this season, we recommend Flea Free. Click here to learn all about this popular product line, and how it can help your pets, and even YOU! My Boxers are given crushed garlic (from the supermarket) and Flea Free Food Supplement, alternately.

If you’d rather stay away from garlic to begin with, but still ensure your pet is protected against fleas and ticks, we highly recommend PetZone Flea & Tick Protector. PetZone Flea & Tick Protector will replace your once-a-month flea and tick medication, and is safe for ALL animals of ALL ages, including humans. Remember, garlic is NOT safe for puppies, kittens and nursing mommas, but our Flea & Tick Protector is! Just attach to your baby’s ID tag on his/her collar and forget about it until it’s time to replace! Learn more about PetZone Flea & Tick Protector.

  • National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.
  • "IMHA: Diagnosing and Treating a Complex Disease." N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.

About Us

My name is Bree Weasner, and I’ve been bringing pet owners like you valuable information on pet nutrition and natural holistic alternatives to conventional pet care since 2001.

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