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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Isn’t Garlic Bad for Dogs?

Updated: August 15th, 2019


The internet screams “garlic is toxic for dogs!” But is that even remotely true?

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 bad rap, due to a study with dogs that used totally unrealistic amounts of garlic, and, honestly, was completely overblown.

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 body weight!

Now, this does not mean you should use high amounts of garlic for recipes… but a little bit of fresh garlic is generally safe and has been found to be beneficial to your dog’s health.

Recommended Amount of Garlic for Dogs

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.

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.”

The amount Dr. Dressler recommends is 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped raw. In this small amount, garlic is generally 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 with the amount depending on the recipe you’re making. Generally, this is a clove or two. Then, wait about 10-15 minutes for the full benefits of the garlic to be released. 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, and you don’t even have to worry about cutting it in most recipes.

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.

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Leave a Comment

  1. Cloud 9 Pet supplies on November 15, 2017 at 1:48 am

    According to the research, garlic has same health benefits on the human or on the dogs. Garlic has 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. 1 or 2 cloves are best for dogs health but not more than this.

    • Kathie Waters on April 17, 2018 at 9:30 am

      I have read a number of articles that GARLIC IS NOT GOOD FOR YOUR DOG. I read articles all the time to serve my Great Pyrenees mountain dog, and German Shepard a healthy diet of fruits, veggies, grain free chicken dog food for large dogs, organic grass fed, sugar free plain yogurt, many different herbs, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, a pan of boiled no salt added chicken thighs or breast is always in my frig, as a convenience I boil enough to last one week, to cut up to add to her food adding a little broth and oils to enhance the dry grain free dog food. DO NOT FEED YOUR DOG GARLIC, there are much more healthy options, all you have to do is google to find out the options, and their benefits.

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