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Debunking the Garlic Myth

Would you feed your dog 245 cloves of garlic?





I would hope that you wouldn't. For most pet owners, the notion that garlic is toxic to dogs is a widely circulated belief.


Let's delve deeper into a pivotal study conducted in Japan in the year 2000. This research, albeit on a small scale involving only 8 healthy adult mixed-breed dogs, sheds light on the highly biased debate surrounding garlic's impact on canine health.


The study divided these dogs into two groups of four. One set received 1.25 ml of garlic extract/kg of body weight (equivalent to 5 g of whole garlic/kg) intragastrically once a day for 7 days. To put this into perspective, an average clove of garlic generally ranges between 3-7 grams. If a dog weighed 40 pounds, it would be administered approximately 20 cloves of garlic. An absurd amount that no dog, or even a human, would realistically consume within that timeframe.

The remaining four dogs were given water instead of garlic extract.


The researchers then conducted various blood tests, analyzing factors such as methemoglobin, erythrocytes, glutathione levels, Heinz bodies, and eccentrocytes, both before and up to 30 days after the garlic extract administration. Eccentrocytes result from the fusion of oxidized cell membranes lacking hemoglobin, while Heinz bodies are dense granules adhering to red blood cells, often due to oxidant-induced injury.


While the studies used ridiculously high amounts of garlic given per day, the key takeaway was that despite decreases in certain blood parameters and the detection of abnormal cell formations in the garlic-fed dogs, none developed hemolytic anemia.


Surprisingly, the researchers concluded that while garlic had the potential to affect erythrocyte membranes and hemoglobin, foods containing garlic should still be avoided for dogs. So even with these results  no dog developed hemolytic anemia. Yet they reported that garlic has  the potential to oxidize erythrocyte mem


However, this conclusion lacked substantial evidence, especially considering the absence of reported illnesses among the dogs involved.


It's crucial to note that high concentrations of almost anything can be harmful, even in human diets. This study, by using an exaggerated dosage on a minimal number of subjects, seemingly set the stage for bias. But is garlic truly toxic for dogs? I mean they only used 4 dogs. How is that a study?



Contrary to popular belief, garlic possesses medicinal properties that benefit dogs. High-quality pet foods often include garlic in their recipes precisely for these reasons. Garlic has been proven to boost immunity, reduce cardiovascular risks, aid in flea/tick prevention, assist dogs with compromised immune systems, support those fighting cancer, aid in detoxification, and serve as an antimicrobial and antibiotic agent.



However, caution is advised, especially concerning different breeds' sensitivity levels. For instance, Japanese breeds like the Shiba Inu and the Akita are notably more sensitive to garlic.


To navigate the appropriate dosage, guidelines such as those provided by Dr. Pitcairn's "The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats" can be followed:

  • 10 to 15 pounds: 0.5 clove

  • 20 to 40 pounds: 1 clove

  • 45 to 70 pounds: 2 cloves

  • 75 to 90 pounds: 2.5 cloves

  • 100 pounds and above: 3 cloves


Please start on the smaller scale to make sure your dog handles the addition well. It is always better to start small then build up. 

Keep in mind this is just a guide. I am not one to add garlic everyday. I am usually day on day off or one week on and one week off. No 2 pets are alike. 

If you have a holistic veterinarian I highly suggest you speak with them about this journey. 



In conclusion, the debate about garlic for dogs isn't straightforward. While this one scientific study suggest caution due to potential impacts on blood parameters, real-life applications and historical uses of garlic for dogs indicate its beneficial properties.


As with any dietary addition, moderation and individualized consideration for your pet's health are paramount.


Understanding the nuances surrounding garlic and its effects on canine health empowers pet owners to make informed decisions for their indiviual pet.


I hope you were able to gain some insight on the ins and outs of garlic for dogs. Feel free to comment or reach out if you have any questions.


A couple of my favorite books:


The Nature of Animal Healing by Martin Goldstein D.V.M.





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