There seems to be a misconception in the internet wilderness of medical information. Contrary to what some sites claim, that garlic is bad for dogs, garlic is good for dogs — in the right amounts.
Garlic has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. Even Hippocrates, the ancient Greek doctor known for his incredible abilities, used garlic to treat all kinds of ailments including ear infections, digestive problems, and even cancer.
As with so many other things, modern science has since proven garlic to have many benefits. Garlic is high in zinc, potassium, phosphorus and other helpful vitamins and minerals. It’s known to have great effects on blood circulation. And garlic even helps in detoxing your dog’s body. It helps balance out your dog’s immune system and gives your dog an extra boost to fight off illness and infection.
That’s not all. Garlic also helps prevent blood clots, prevent tumors and acts as an antibiotic.
So, why do so many people think garlic is bad for dogs?
Why So Many People (Mistakenly) Think Garlic Is Bad for Dogs
Despite all of the above, garlic has had a bad rap, due to a study with dogs that used totally unrealistic amounts of garlic.
The study showed that when a dog eats garlic in large amounts, it can cause extreme damage to his red blood cells and result in the dog developing a syndrome known as Heinz body anemia (onions can cause this, too). To view the study, read the PubMed article here.
As you will see in this study, a Golden Retriever averaging 75 pounds would need to eat about 75 cloves of garlic at each meal to experience negative health effects. That’s a lot of garlic. The dogs used in the study probably had to be force-fed the amount of garlic to harm them.
Think about it: would you want to eat 75 cloves of garlic? Neither do golden retrievers. The results of the study — that incredibly large portions, no-one-in-the-real-world-would-ever-feed-their-dog-this-much-garlic portions, cause dogs to get ill. Well, it would cause me to get ill, too, which is why it would never happen that I would eat that much. And no dog lover in their right mind would ever even think of feeding their dog a clove of garlic for every pound of bodyweight!
No one in their right mind would feed a dog as much garlic as this study did. No one!
There is a saying in the medical world that “the dose makes the poison.” In other words, anything that is healthy could be poisonous if we get too much of it. Take water: we all need a certain amount in order to live, but if we get too much of it at once, it will kill us.
The dose makes the poison. Too much of anything can be harmful!
Same with garlic: the dose makes the poison. So while you should not use extremely high amounts of garlic, a little bit of fresh garlic is generally safe and has been found to be beneficial to your dog’s health.
Why Garlic Is Good for Dogs with Cancer
You may have read, or heard people say, garlic is a ‘no no’ when it comes to dogs. But, we see garlic in so many recipes for dogs, for all the reasons listed above.
Dr. Dressler, in chapter 14 of his book The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, makes a strong recommendation that freshly chopped raw garlic be included as a “healthy option” at mealtime.
From the book: “there is evidence that large amounts of garlic (1/2 teaspoon per pound of body weight) causes problems in the red blood cell of dogs. I am not concerned about this for the majority of dogs, because the amount of garlic in this recipe is extremely low compared to the amounts used in the study. However, if your dog has anemia, check with your veterinary professional before giving garlic.”
Dr. Dressler also goes on to say “although it does have antioxidant effects, it’s anti-cancer effects are more important. I recommend using garlic even if you are also using Apocaps, pro-oxidant chemotherapy, or radiation treatments, under veterinary supervision.”
Recommended Amount of Garlic for Dogs
The amount Dr. Dressler recommends is 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped raw garlic for a fifty pound (average-sized) dog, added to the rest of the healthy dog cancer diet. One clove of garlic roughly yields one teaspoon, so you could think of the amount of garlic to give a 50 pound dog as one clove per meal, or two cloves per day.
You could give a little more for larger dogs, say 1.5 teaspoons per meal for a 75 pound dog. And less for smaller dogs, say .5 teaspoons per meal for a 25 pound dog and a quarter teaspoon per meal for a ten pound dog.
And remember, it’s a “healthy option,” so you don’t have to give it at every meal, or every day. As with all things dog cancer diet, there are few hard-and-fast rules in Dr. Dressler’s guidelines.
Think of it as a light flavoring to your dog’s meal, not the main event.
In this small amount, garlic is safe and there are beneficial properties that can be absorbed by your dog’s body.
How to Prepare Garlic for Your Dog
In order to get the full beneficial effect of garlic, you should chop or mince the fresh garlic before you prepare your dog’s food.
Then, wait about 10-15 minutes for the full benefits of the garlic to be released. This also mellows the flavor of the garlic, so if you are worried about your dog not liking the taste, don’t skip the waiting period. (And if you think you don’t like garlic, this might help you to like it, too!)
After chopping the garlic and waiting the 15 minutes, it should be placed on your dog’s food. You shouldn’t allow more than 20 minutes to pass because it’s most useful between the 15 and 20 minute mark.
Don’t use minced garlic from the jar at the store, this garlic is processed and is not healthy for your dog. Fresh garlic is the way to go.
Garlic in Recipes
You’ll see there are many recipes that are recommended for your dog that contain garlic. For example, if you’re cooking bone broth, you’ll use a clove or two of unpeeled, fresh garlic for your dog. This also makes a tasty treat for you, too. So, if you’re smelling the bone broth as you’re cooking it, take a bowl for yourself too after it’s finished. It’s good for your health too.
The recipes recommended in the dog cancer diet by Dr. Dressler contain garlic as well. If you haven’t seen Dr. Dressler’s recommended diet and your dog has cancer, you can download a free version of the PDF in the Dog Cancer Store. A dog’s diet can greatly influence their health and the right diet may improve your dog’s health significantly.
As you can see, a little bit of garlic can be beneficial to your dog’s health and serve as a tasty addition to your dog’s diet.
Amber L. Drake has been working with dogs for over 10 years. Throughout this time, she has served as a Canine Behaviorist and Canine Nutritionist working with dogs throughout the United States. She has worked with private clients, rescue organizations, shelter organizations and corporations. She has also been an Adjunct Instructor of Biology at a local community college teaching Animal Sciences for the past seven years and Kaplan University for the past two years.
In addition to experience in the field, she has earned a Doctor of Education (ABD), a Master of Arts in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She has completed coursework in Pre-Veterinary Science at Cornell University, Veterinary Technology at Penn Foster and Biochemistry at UC Berkeley. Drake is currently finishing a second Master’s Degree with Kaplan University.
She is continuously enrolling in additional courses, seminars and conferences to remain up-to-date in all dog-related topics. She has a desire to share her passion, knowledge and experiences with others.