When it comes to garlic, most dog owners are divided on their opinion.
A few years ago I wrote about garlic on my website and was pleased when several people thanked me for telling the truth. And then there was this guy who told me I was going to be responsible for the death of hundreds of dogs, if not thousands because I was an idiot. I thanked him for his opinion since we are all entitled to have one, but it bothered me a lot.
Yes, I promote the use of garlic. Fresh, aromatic, organic garlic with a smell that lingers in the kitchen promising either a good meal or a good heal. So why do I go against AVMA warnings and give garlic to my dogs? I do it because common sense and an objective look at both the risks and benefits of garlic tell me it can provide great benefits to dogs with minimal risk. Remember, AMVA (American Medical Veterinary Association) members also think that raw food is unhealthy and would rather dogs eat a processed, chemical laden diet than fresh, raw free-range chicken or vitamin packed green tripe.
Why the controversy over garlic?
The primary reason AVMA is against feeding garlic is that it contains thiosulphate, which can cause hemolytic anemia, liver damage and death. However garlic only contains very small traces of thiosulphate and a dog would have to consume a huge quantity for any negative effects. Using Tylenol (acetaminophen) or benzocaine topical ointments to stop itching are far more likely to cause anemia in dogs.
Garlic’s medicinal properties
There are many health benefits to feeding garlic. Here are some things you might not know about this healthy herb:
- Garlic is a natural antibiotic and won’t affect the good bacteria in the gut which are needed for digestion and immune health
- Garlic is antifungal
- Garlic is antiviral
- Garlic boosts the immune system
- Garlic makes dogs less desirable to fleas
- Garlic is antiparasitic
What kind of garlic?
I stick with fresh, raw organic garlic and keep it on hand as a staple for both cooking and healing. If it’s fresh, I know the medicinal qualities are still there, unlike minced garlic which may originate in China and sit for months in a jar. Powdered garlic doesn’t cut it either. Kyolic Aged Liquid Garlic is a good choice if you don’t want to smash and cut every day.
How much garlic to feed
You can safely give a 1/2 clove per ten pounds of body weight each day, chopped or grated. Two cloves maximum per day for a large dog is a good guideline.
- ½ clove for a 10 + pounds
- 1 clove for a 20 + pounds
- 1 ½ cloves for 30 + pounds
- 2 cloves for 40 + pounds
My dogs are over 70 pounds but I stick with the 2 cloves.
For optimum health benefits, let garlic sit for 5 to 10 minutes after cutting and before serving (or cooking). This allows the health-promoting allicin to form, so it’s worth the wait.
To get rid of the smell on your hands, rinse them under water while rubbing them with a stainless steel spoon! I don’t know how it works, but bless the woman who told me this long ago.
A great home remedy recipe
An ear medicine I’ve kept on hand for years started out when my kids got ‘swimmers ear’ one summer. It’s simple to make and since garlic is an antibiotic, antibacterial, and antifungal it covers several possibilities.
Crush 2 cloves fresh garlic; wait ten minutes and add them to 1/3 cup olive oil. Heat in a pan (do NOT boil) for several minutes. Let cool. Strain and store in a glass bottle with a dropper and apply it directly in the ears.
The only possible drawback to this remedy is every time I smell it I want pasta and garlic bread!
Andrea is an author and natural healthcare coach for dogs. After raising three healthy kids using whole foods, homeopathy and herbs, the course of her life changed when she started applying that knowledge to her dogs. “I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!” she says, “I must have had my head stuck in a book.” Now she writes about dog health at her Three-Little-Pitties website and entertaining books when time allows.