I was asked a question via Facebook by Michelle today about garlic:
‘What’s your thoughts on Garlic? I swear by the stuff, obviously in the right dosage for the right animal. Mine have it and i’d much rather give my dogs a natural remedy than some of the man made products out there that can cause skin problems, some don’t even work either, It’s great for the heart, digestive system, immune system and mine have never had fleas, worms or ticks.’
As I mentioned in my reply to Michelle, this is a slightly contentious issue as lots of people swear by garlic as a great way of keeping dogs healthy and warding off parasites but it is also know to be potential dangerous as well. So who’s right and should you feed garlic to your dog?
Well garlic has been used for thousand of years for medicinal purposes. Sanskrit records show its medicinal use about 5,000 years ago, and it has been used for at least 3,000 years in Chinese medicine. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans were known to have harnessed the healing properties of garlic as well. Small amounts of garlic are reported to not only act as a natural flea repellant, but also to have antifungal and antibacterial properties, as well as promoting the production of white blood cells thereby acting as an immune booster for dogs with low or compromised immunity. According to Charlie Fox, the co-author of The Garlic Cure (McCleery & Sons, 2002), garlic can be used to stimulate and support immune function, trigger gastric juices for better digestion, encourage the growth of friendly bacteria, and prevent infections. Apparently he’s seen garlic reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as improve blood sugar regulation and promote detoxification (whatever that means!)
However, on the negative side of the equation, like onions, garlic contains a compound called thiosulphate, which in extremely high levels can cause haemolytic anaemia in dogs. However the level of thiosulphate in garlic is so low that it has been estimated that a dog would need to eat around 50 cloves of garlic to be at risk so in the real world the risk should be considered negligible.
My main problem with recommending garlic is not the risks of anaemia which are really very low – it’s more the lack of real scientific proof that it works. Until I see some peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate it’s efficacy I’m always going to be slightly sceptical - but if you believe in it, don’t let me put you off as it might well work for your dog!