Isn't Garlic Bad for Dogs? - Dog Cancer Blog

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

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Isn’t Garlic Bad for Dogs?

Is Garlic Bad for Dogs?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.

About the Author: Amber L. Drake


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.

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    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.