Can My Dog Eat This? - Garlic

Can My Dog Eat This? - Garlic

We are here to bust one of the most frequently repeated myths in the world of dog food...

This is our latest post in the series covering foods that your dog can / should eat or avoid completely. We break it down into bitesize articles and will cover everything from artichokes to antelope! These are all extracts from Jo’s upcoming book called “Can My Dog Eat This?”

This is going to surprise some of you! Yes, garlic is safe!

We are here to bust one of the most frequently repeated myths in the world of dog food. Despite what some might say, garlic is not toxic for dogs and used in moderation, it can actually benefit your pets health.

Garlic has been used medicinally for over 5000 years and has many well-researched effects. It is antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory. It boosts immune function, helps digestion and has also been shown to have anti-cancer effects. It can be used to treat infections, digestive and respiratory problems.

Garlic also reduces cholesterol, blood pressure, blood clotting, and limits free radical damage. It can help kill worms, parasites and harmful bacteria in your dog.

The massive (and unrealistic), amount of garlic fed to the dogs skewed outcomes and made the experiment ineffectual as it wasn't reflective of reality.

The Study

Historically garlic has been labelled as being dangerous and even toxic, however this opinion was formed as a result of a “scientific study” in 2000 which involved only 4 dogs who were fed the equivalent of 5g of raw garlic per kilo of body weight of dog for a week (Hokkaido University). For a 20kg dog (Labradors were used in the study) that would be 100g of raw garlic per day or the equivalent of at least one whole bulb of garlic per day.

The massive (and unrealistic), amount of garlic fed to the dogs skewed outcomes and made the experiment ineffectual as it wasn't reflective of reality. That sort of flawed research bears no relevance to the medicinal recommended doses of raw garlic in your dog’s diet that we have seen in the raw food movement.

We are here to bust one of the most frequently repeated myths in the world of dog food...garlic is not toxic for dogs.

None of the dogs showed any outward toxicity symptoms, but there was an effect on their red blood cells, even though at these highly elevated doses none of the dogs developed anaemia

It is now widely agreed that the recommendations from this study were flawed. A follow up study published by Chang, et al in 2004 clearly showed that allicin is beneficial to mammals’ health, and there was no report of haemolytic anaemia in spite of the high concentrations of garlic provided during the study.

This encouraged the initial scientists to reverse their earlier 2000 recommendations against garlic for dogs and actually recommend garlic to promote immune functions and prevent cardiovascular diseases. However, the stigma remained and it is still being advised against, incorrectly, by many!

What Garlic Good For?

Garlic is high in inulin, amino acids, sulphur, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. It also contains vitamin A, C, calcium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, germanium and B-complex vitamins. Garlic contains a compound called allicin, this is the active medicinal ingredient and has an amazing range of benefits. Allicin helps to increase immunity and enhance natural killer cells which destroy pathogenic bacteria and even cancer cells.

Additional therapeutic benefits include:

  • Garlic helps support healthy bacteria in the digestive tract and eliminates harmful bacteria.
  • As a liver enhancer, garlic breaks down wastes before they enter the bloodstream.
  • Prevents the formation of blood clots (anti-platelet).
  • Decreases cholesterol build-up (anti-cholesterolemic).
  • Widens blood vessels (vasodilator) and reduces blood pressure.
  • Helps prevent the formation of tumours (anti-tumour).
  • Stimulates the lymphatic system to remove wastes.
  • Antibiotic, antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic.

Garlic can therefore be excellent for all round good health; but can also be used as a wormer, and flea and tick repellent.

Many veterinary practitioners and authors follow the dosage recommendations in Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s book, The Complete Herbal Book for the Dog which recommends:

  • 10 to 15 pounds – ½ clove
  • 20 to 40 pounds – 1 clove
  • 45 to 70 pounds – 2 cloves
  • 75 to 90 pounds – 2½ cloves
  • 100 pounds and over – 3 cloves

A more conservative approach was agreed in a 2008 report published by the National Research Council uses “available research to recommend a range of acceptable intakes according to historical safe intakes (HSI) and estimated presumed safe intakes (PSI)”:

  • A 50 lb (20kg) dog is 1.2 g/day, which is equivalent to approx. ½ clove per day (10kg dog 0.6g/day).
  • A 15 lb (7kg) cat is 0.12 g/day, which is equivalent to approx. 1/5 clove per day.
  • Susan Wynn DVM recommends 0.5 – 1.0ml maximum dosage of a 1:3 tincture, per 10kg per day for small animals.

Although garlic is from the same Allium family as onions, chives and leeks, it is much safer and can be given to dogs regularly in moderation. This is because garlic contains very little of the thiosulphate which causes haemolytic anaemia, in fact, it is barely traceable and readily excreted, hence recent studies show it’s safe when used in small amounts. It should only be fed as a dietary supplement.


Garlic should not be given to pups who are not fully weaned (minimum 12 weeks old) or pregnant/lactating bitches.

It should not be given to dogs taking immune suppressants, heart medications, chemotherapy drugs, blood thinners, insulin or high blood pressure drugs. Since garlic affects blood clotting it should also be stopped two weeks before any scheduled surgery.

Garlic should ideally be fed raw minced or crushed, or as a herbal preparation. When feeding a raw diet, the allicin degrades quickly, so raw garlic should be fed as soon as it is crushed for maximum benefit. Do not feed granules or powder as these lack active allicin.

Stay tuned for more "Can My Dog Eat This?" posts.

About these posts...

More and more owners are moving away from processed dry and tinned foods towards more natural, healthy diets for their pets. With this shift comes considerable confusion and misinformation. Are blackberries poisonous? Is garlic good or bad for dogs? What about avocado?

There is an important distinction between what dogs can eat and what dogs should eat. As with humans, dogs need a balanced diet to thrive. These posts will hopefully give you a steer in the right direction!