Is Garlic Good or Bad for Dogs?

One of our readers asked the question “is garlic good or bad for dogs?”  While animals of all types have been given garlic for centuries, the debate as to whether it is good or bad for animals continues.   So lets look at the arguments for and against garlic.

The Stink on Garlic and Dogs

Myths and Realities

Garlic and dogs have a long relationship. Garlic is one of the oldest medicines in the world. It has been in use as a medicinal herb for close to 5,000 years. Many cultures throughout time have relied on garlic for its healing properties. Garlic is revered for both its antifungal and antibacterial properties. It also helps the body to build white blood cells, acting as a means to build up the immunity. Garlic has many of the same effects on dogs that it does on their human counterparts.  In his book The Nature of Animal Healing : The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for Your Dog and Cat, Martin Goldstein, DVM one of the foremost holistic vets recommends adding garlic to homemade dog food and claims to feed it to his owns dogs.  Dr. Richard Pitcairn, author of Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Catsalso recommends garlic for dogs for its therapeutic benefits.  Yet, some claim that garlic is toxic to dogs.  This issue is surrounded by both myths and realities.

Arguments For the Use of Garlic

Garlic is used in many commercial dog foods and is believed to possess antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.  It may also improve liver function and is even believed to prevent heart disease.  But one of the most popular reasons for giving garlic to dogs is to help control fleas. There are many different opinions as to why this works (or doesn’t). Some of these theories include that garlic raises or lowers the pH of the blood, making it undesirable to those little bloodsuckers. Others claim that it simply masks the smell of the dog, making them invisible to pests. I do not know which of these is actually true, but personally, I have seen it work wonderfully with some dogs and not with others. It might be a matter of getting the dosage right. It might also have to do with the individual dog’s body chemistry as well.

Arguments Against the Use of Garlic

The wide use of garlic in commercial dog foods and the sale of garlic tablets for dogs would make garlic appear to be safe for dogs. However, garlic and dogs do not always mix. Garlic has many healing properties, but it also contains a chemical compound called thiosulphate. This compound can be toxic in extremely high levels, causing hemolytic anemia in dogs. This is a serious, life threatening condition for your dog. So, yes garlic can be toxic to dogs.

But, this too is a matter of dosage. The garlic found in dog treats, dog food, and garlic tablets designed for dogs is not likely to cause this toxic reaction. They would have to eat something like 50 cloves (not bulbs, cloves) for a medium sized dog to get enough to cause a toxic reaction. A clove is one of the little sections. You would know it if your dog ate enough to cause a toxic reaction, you would be missing a lot of garlic! That would equally approximately 10-20 bulbs, depending on the variety.

This stinky weed can have many positive effects for both humans and dogs. But in the end, the decision of whether to give garlic to your dog is a personal choice.  Some dogs are extremely sensitive to various types of food so before giving garlic to your dog for the first time, speak with your veterinarian about dosage and any concerns you may have.  As for me, I will continue to give garlic to my dogs.

50 Responses to “Is Garlic Good or Bad for Dogs?”

  1. […] Is Garlic Good or Bad for Dogs? | Raising Healthy Dogs – One of our readers asked the question “is garlic good or bad for dogs?” While animals of all types have been given garlic for centuries, the debate as to whether … […]

  2. Torre says:

    With the number of dogs who eat garlic daily, it seems strange that there is no anicdotal “evidence” of somone losing a pet to this “toxin”

  3. mysticdog says:

    5,000 years plus Slaves were given a piece of bread+2garlic cloves.They say the first strike took place when the cloves of garlic was cut down to ONE I feed my dogs what I cook: fish, soup with organic garlic powder;+
    meat is only purchased for my Dogs. I almost forgot-dark (95-98% coco)chocolate too!!! Very very small amounts-5grams garlic powder +small square of dark chocolate. Dogs range (68 lbs-89 lbs).

  4. […] for both for and against giving dogs garlic. The Shocking Truth About Dogs and Garlic – PetGuide Is Garlic Good or Bad for Dogs? | Raising Healthy Dogs Garlic for Dogs | Is Garlic Safe for Dogs? It seems the message contained is that small amounts […]

  5. […] weight is toxic. Small amounts of garlic are not. I did my research and consulted my vet first. Is Garlic Good or Bad for Dogs? | Raising Healthy Dogs This site gives the pros and […]

  6. […] a read. Is Garlic Good or Bad for Dogs? | Raising Healthy Dogs Know of many people who give garlic to their dogs for the prevention of fleas & swear by it, […]

  7. Frances says:

    I am so glad that pup Bo found you!

  8. Fstop says:

    Asking whether garlic is good or bad for your dog brought me to this page. I’m super house poor living in San Antonio Texas. The week of the Jan. 20th 2014 we had some freezing weather. Late evening from under my carport I could see the shadow of a dog and its eyes hiding in between my next door neighbors cars in their drive way. I’m ashamed to admit my neighborhood had more dogs, cats, and fleas than people and that’s including all the strays. It makes me so angry people just breed and throw away these spirits.
    Over whelmed my the neighbor hood conditions I was compelled to try to shew this stray dog from the neighbor’s driveway.
    The dog would growl run and hide under neath a small white truck that also serves a fence entrance to the backyard. It was freezing cold and I gave up retreating into my little house while periodically looking checking because I did not want it pissing and crapping all over my yard that I work very hard to keep decent.
    Next morning I went outside to see if it had snowed everything was icy including the large bath towel my neighbor had wrapped around his outdoor water spicket.
    The towel had frozen so it was standing in an upside down V-shape and this medium size wet dog was laying in that frozen V-shaped towel. It was so pitiful I had to warm up some white chicken from my chicken soup and feed it to the dog.
    The neighbor had seen the old lady across the street feeding a pit bull dog the same color as the one hiding under his truck and was cursing anyone that was feeding the strays. I told him there were three in all.
    Next day I called Animal control, waited the whole day and no one came. City services in San Antonio aren’t very efficient, while taxes continue to soar.
    It was very difficult to witness this dog’s experience with in difference.
    On the third day Friday the weather was warming finally and the dog was still cowering under the neighbor’s truck and running into our back yards. Finally had his son set off a couple of fire crackers in an effort to get the dog to run off while I tried to work in my back yard.
    I heard the fire crackers and my chest filled with dread and over whelming sadness at the tragedy of indifference to life. I cursed animal control for not responding as I stomped to the front angry and worried at the same time. Went to the neighbors driveway afraid what greater horrific scene I might have to further witness. The dog was not in sight. I looked under the white truck and it wasn’t there with a sigh of relief. Heading towards my back yard I noticed the dog and called to it and so she did.
    As she approached, I could tell it was just a pup although about 35-40lbs. in size. Into my backyard we went and she sat when I asked her to wait while I fetched her some water and more chicken.
    Long story short she has to eat what I eat because after checking on the internet for what to feed a Labrador German Shepard, I’m not feeding her dog food I can’t afford and is going to poison her anymore than I would eat it.
    So I eat a lot of kale,collard greens, garlic, chicken soup, chicken, rice and other vegetables- its cheaper than processed food and better for both of us I found out. Ergo the question of whether garlic would hurt Bo my 8 month old pup. Thank you to Frances & all the commentators for your experience and recipes guess Bo and I can survive healthier for less. Great site.

  9. WAlmire says:

    Toxins are dose-dependent. If a large dosage is dangerous, that doesn’t necessarily mean a small dosage is.

  10. RG says:

    If you raise or lower your dog’s blood’s pH it will probably get rid of the fleas by killing your dog. Foods don’t effect blood pH in any kind of significant way. And that is a good thing. If you want to know what it will do, search google for metabolic acidosis, acidemia, coma, and death.

  11. Margaret Ryan says:

    Hi I was thinking of giving my syberion husky of 3-4 montbs old the inside of a garlic capsule a day but dont want harm her can u advise as very confused with all the it dangerous for them. Plus I was going to give her cod liver oil please help and advise.

  12. Tanya says:

    We started adding raw garlic (not cooked, as it loses some of its active antiviral/antifungal properties) to home cooked food three years ago for our Golder Retriever, who was 10 weeks old when he was diagnosed with untreatable cancer. The instructions were from a highly respected naturopathic vet who treated our puppy and, indeed “cured” the cancer. We have added the garlic regimen to our other 3 year old Golden, and increase the raw garlic component during flea and tick season. We never use chemicals and only receive the vaccinations required by law (rabies). Health, blood work, etc. are phenomenal and no infections! I’m a garlic fan!

  13. ANNIE says:

    Im giving mine apple cider vinegar and garlic daily….apparently we should cut the clove up and leave it exposed to the air 10 -20 mins for some good chemical reaction before we feed it to the dogs

  14. Jonny says:

    Everyone knows that American doctors are the most evil and profiteering bunch of frauds. They tell you chemicals are better than garlic for a dog. Think on it! What’s worse is that the American medical Association is even worse in getting these sleazy chemists their patents and profits to keep us sick. Veterinarians want your dog to be sick so they can operate and lord knows what else. They don’t make money otherwise. Get it? Got it. Good.

  15. az79 says:

    I was recently strongly admonished by my vet re: the fact I do not use monthly flea control chemicals and that I feed my dogs garlic insted. She said that the effect of garlic is cumulative and can cause liver failure. She spoke as if she thought I was insane and stupid. I have 2 brothers both 10 yrs & 70 lbs plus one female 3 yrs & 50 lbs. I have been feeding the older 2 garlic w dinner feeding for over 8 yrs to no adverse effect. The younger for as long as I have had her. All three are healthy, shiny coated, active, happy and flea free despite frequent hiking/river trips & living in a not so great neighborhood in the central valley of CA. I can’t help but trust experience. At 10 yrs my blond male still gets mistaken 4 a puppy. I shy away from chemical flea control mostly because it is applied on the back of the neck and all 3 spend a large chunk of their day wrestling with that exact area clamped firmly but playfully in one of the other’s jaws. I am more comfortable w fleas than them injesting toxic chemicals. Call me crazy, iI guess…

  16. Mary says:

    Will the orderless garlic pills have the same effect. I have a pupply 3 months old. I was thinking on starting her on 1 pill

  17. theMARKof says:

    Ok this is great to hear. Last year when my friend’s dog had tapeworms I read that garlic was good to use. I cut up a few cloves very finely and boiled them in water, then poured some of it over her food. WOW! We were shocked at the amount of tapeworms that came out of the dog. It definitely works for some worms I guess, but you have to keep it up for a month or so. Though that is such a better option that any kind of poison. So I guess I’m going to boil some garlic and get rid of these fleas!

  18. Lindsay says:

    Our dog thrives on daily garlic, which I gave to her for yeast issues in her ears. It helps keep her ears clear and she has been thriving since she started taking it she was a rescue dog in poor condition) about 6 – 7 months ago

  19. Frances says:

    Green beans are usually what I give my dog when they seem extra hungry. You may also want to talk to your vet about increasing the amount of protein in your dogs diet.

  20. coressa says:

    I have a lab/hound mix, & he is always acting like he’s starved even though we feed him 2 to 3 times a day. What is a good food to give him to satisfy him. He’s almost 1, & about 70 pounds. Would like to know what a good food is for a large dog.

  21. Frances says:

    I am not a vet but to my knowledge, garlic does nothing for worms

  22. jo says:

    Does anyone know if garlic will take care of worms also or just fleas?

  23. Precious says:

    I been making my own dog food for awhile.And I use chicken breast,sweet potatoes, ,brown rice with 4 or 5 garlic cloves.That I boil all my ingredients. Well my Precious is very healthy and her stool is always soiled. So pet owner use garlic its all good..

  24. Frances says:

    I really have never had a problem with giving Garlic to my dogs. So I would not worry about it.

  25. keri kopey says:

    i’ve had some experience with garlic for dogs and cats. i don’t have these animals anymore as this was a long time ago and they have passed. for the time i had them they were eating Solid Gold food which contained garlic. they loved it once they got used to it and they never got sick and they never had fleas. i have a new dog and cat, the dog has garlic in her food, the cat doesn’t. what’s strange is they are both Blue Buffalo foods. my puppy seems ok to me so far though i am a little nervous now that this debate is so intense over garlic. onions and garlic are in the same group and yet onions are considered poisonous???? i’m going to switch my dog to their grain free variety for tears and staining and it has garlic too. i feel it’s okay again in appropriate amounts. and it didn’t work on molly for fleas so far but she had them when we purchased her and she wasn’t on garlic food. hmmmm. any more thoughts would be appreciated to make my final decision to look for garlic free food.

  26. Stacey says:

    I have a 90lb pit that is almost 3yrs, I always sprinkle garlic powder over his food he has never had any issues with it! He is nice and healthy and has a nice shiny coat! my neighbor friend also has a pit and several cats ( I’ve herd they have a flea infested house) everytime they came over i would see 2 or 3 fleas on my dog, but he has never had a problem w fleas either ( he does get his monthly dose of frontline) If I ever found out that garlic was prooving to be harmful to my dog I would stop immediately!

  27. Spaniel says:

    Lol kim ur dog weighs 175 pounds?

  28. Spaniel says:

    Lol kim ur dog weighs 175 pounds?!

  29. Sue says:

    I know as a fact that if your dog has worms a little slice of garlic in some liver sausage will bring them out when your dog poops.

  30. Cheri says:

    I read an article that said it accrues in the body so that the toxicity builds up over time. Therefore, it would seem not to matter about the dose, just whether the dog is being given garlic regularly. Wish there was a definitive answer as I like the natural approach (garlic) for dealing with fleas.

  31. Frances says:

    Well he might have a little indigestion but should be ok. My lab once ate half a jar of Bug Off Garlic chewable tablets and was fine. Of course she smelled like linguine and clam sauce for a week and never ate garlic again but was now the worse for wear. There are so many differing opinions about garlic but from what my vet has told me they would have yo eat a large quantity of garlic before they were really harmed.

  32. kim says:

    My nosey mastiff got on the counter and grabbed One of those garlic butter dips and got some out of it. Granted I think more got on his bed, im not sure how much he ingested. So i wasnt sure how bad garlic was for dogs. He weighs 175lbs, so i.was thinking that small amount wouldnt be harmful…opinions??? Lol thanks

  33. Gabbydogs says:

    thanks… nothing is actually toxic of itself. it is the dose that makes them toxic. garlic is not exempted.

  34. Frances says:

    I have not tried it on a dog but I know it is a common treatment for human wart removal. I saw a few sites saying it is ok to use on dogs. I know there is a lot of debate about garlic and whether it is good or bad for dogs. I have been giving it to my dogs for years with no harmful effects. Full disclaimer, I am not a vet (just a dog mom) so this is not to be considered medical advice.

    Good luck

  35. mavis says:

    I have a very old dog,who has warts, and was told to rub them with raw garlic. not tried it yet because he might injest it through his skin, can anyone say whether this way of using garlic will be harmful or not, If not I will try it on the warts and let you know the results.

  36. Sue says:

    I always give my dogs Garlic !!! Also I rub it over their body before they walk in a new area where they may come into contact with Fleas and Ticks !!!!!!! Also use Neem Oil and Lemongrass !!!!!!!!!!!! All my dogs and we have had a few all died of old age barr one that died in a tragic accident !!!!!! I do say to people that anything in large amounts would/could have adverse effects !!!!!!!!!!As with any living thing having large quantities of anything !!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. ginny pizza says:

    can I use the olive oil cocoanut oil and garlic mix on cats? What is the ratio for the mix for dogs

  38. Frances says:

    Hi Kaitlyn, Glad it cleared up! Thanks for visiting.

  39. Kaitlyn says:

    This makes me feel SO much better about having given my dog garlic! I had heard from someone that it would help with fleas and ticks, but recently I read that it was very toxic to dogs! He had a skin condition at the time and, after reading that about garlic, I wasn’t sure if that was making him sick too. The vet figured out what he was allergic to (causing the skin problem) but I don’t think we bothered telling them we were giving him garlic. Now I feel much better about that and I know we didn’t give him too much. Plus, the medication the vet gave him cleared him up, so I guess I was just overreacting. lol

  40. I just put a mix of olive oil coconut oil and garlic on my dog because none of the others worked I put her in the bath tub and as I rubbed it in the fleas started comming off, she had a lot of them I have checked her this morn and haven’t found any.

  41. Bill J. says:

    I use 1/8 tsp of garlic power per pound of food per day…. seems to work o.k…less flea activity I have noted.. and also gives them other desired affects for health as it doers in humans. Other if clove.. 1/2 clove for each 15 lbs. is what I was told.

  42. Ann says:

    I have two rescue dogs one medium sized and one large. I have been giving them one garlic capsule for human’s a day, for years with very good results. I live in an area with lots of dune habitat with it’s population of rabbit, fox, pony and other species and my dogs have never had fleas, the odd tick yes, but that is easily solved. I actually don’t think a dog could eat the amount of garlic need to cause toxicity, and surely owners can use their common sense when giving their dog garlic in capsule form.

  43. Ann says:

    I have two rescue dogs one medium sized and one large. I have been giving them one garlic capsule for human’s, a day, for quite a few years now with very good results. I live in an area with lots of dune habitat with it’s population of rabbit, fox, pony and other species and my dogs have never had fleas,the odd tick yes, but that is easily solved. I actually don’t think a dog could eat the amount of garlic needed to cause toxicity, and surely owners can use their common sense when giving their dog garlic in capsule form.

  44. Dennis says:

    On another site having to do with Dogs and Fleas, there is a rule for giving garlic to dogs.
    In lbs. of dogs weight, as follows:
    10-15lbs 1/2 clove, 20-40 lbs. 1 clove, 45-70 lbs. 2 cloves, 75-90 lbs. 2 1/2 cloves, 100 lbs and over 3 cloves. Also states the dog will never get Fleas or Ticks again. Also rubbing the dog with Neem oil from a health food store is supposed to repel fleas. I gave my puppy a bath using 1/4 if a 8 oz. bottle of dog shampoo and 10 drops of 100% lavender essential oil. Sprinkled food grade diatamacious earth on my lawn where he does his duty and gave him 1/3 clove of garlic and haven’t seen a flea on him since. My DVM said garlic won’t hurt him given in moderation. My DVM said garlic is not toxic to dogs and garlic repelling fleas is a myth. My DVM said they treated dog taking garlic that had fleas. does anyone know what the correct answer is because I don’t want to take the chance of hurting my pet, he’s part of my family, and loved.

  45. Frances says:

    I have not received anything fro Cornell and I am on the family and friends alumni lists. While cats are more sensitive to garlic than dogs, all the research suggests that a dog would have to ingest quite a lot of garlic before it would harm them.

  46. Dennis says:

    Cornell university sent out a flyer stating that garlic like onions is very bad and even toxic to dogs. Did anyone else receive this flyer. Does anyone have any thoughts on this. Cornell is supposed to be the best place for concerns with animals.

  47. Christy says:

    I recenty heard from someone to give your dog a clove of garlic but I put it in the microwave for 10 seconds and put it in a little piece of ham for fleas and my dog loves it

  48. Cathy says:

    Thanks FOB – I’ll now use garlic carefully (we were off it) since Sid likes it and in small amounts it appears totally safe!

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