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Myth Busting Garlic Toxicity in Dogs

After I wrote the blog a few weeks ago debunking the avocado toxicity myth, I knew garlic was next. Similarly garlic has been demonized for years with everyone from vets to sales associates at our local pet shops BEGGING us not to feed our dogs garlic for fear of them getting deathly ill.

NEWSFLASH this is also bull shit with the findings taken completely out of context in order to (*DRUM ROLL PLEASE*) create fear of whole fresh food! If you’re worried about a number of ingredients being contraindicated in your pet, you’re more likely to not bother experimenting or sharing food. And this makes total sense. Why would you risk intoxicating your dog?

Well, I’m here to tell you that feeding fresh garlic is not only NOT poisonous to your dog, there are so many anti viral, anti fungal, anti parasitic, (anti inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antioxidant) properties your dogs missing out on by not eating garlic (plus think of all the deliciousness they’re missing out on too)!

So, where did this tall tale originate? Similar to avocado, a lot of our references regarding garlic toxicity in dogs came from a single study done and then taken completely out of context, decades ago. In this particular study the garlic that was fed to the dogs was in the form of extract- i.e. it was insanely concentrated. In the study noted they fed, what was equivalent to, four heads of garlic to a 75lb dog before any symptoms were exhibited. In what world are you feeding your large breed dog 4 FULL heads of garlic (or 60 cloves)?

Like any potent plant medicine, we need to be mindful that although it is safe for most, there are certain cases of life stage or illness where garlic should be avoided. They are as follows:

Puppies, pregnant dogs (we always need to check what is contraindicated during pregnancy) , dogs with anemia, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, and immune-mediated thrombocytopenia as garlic affects blood clotting.

If your dog is an otherwise healthy adult, fresh garlic (in moderate amounts) helps detoxify the body, is’ high in amino acids, vitamin A, C + B vitamins (amongst other vital nutrients), stimulates the lymphatic system and increases immunity (to help combat things like cancer).

Garlic is also great for diabetes, for swelling and abscesses, helps resolve dampness and stagnation, good for pneumonia and coughs, helps with high cholesterol and flea and tick prevention.

The way to get the most out of garlic is to crush or chop it (always use fresh) and let it sit for 10 minutes (set a timer!) to help release the maximum amount of the organic compound allicin which is one of the most beneficial constituents of garlic. After the 10 minute wait, serve your pup or cook immediately.

According to wonderful canine herbalist Rita Hogan, the recommended garlic dosages for your dog, per day, are as follows:


Dogs weighing:

4.5kg to 7kg – 1/2 clove per day

9kg to 18kg – 1 clove per day

20kg to 32kg – 1 1/2 cloves per day

34kg – 41kg – 2 cloves per day

45kg and over – 2 1/2 cloves per day

I truly hope this helps provide some more guidance and reduces the fear surrounding feeding garlic. May you cook beautiful delicious and tasty meals to share with your doggo or use it as medicine and see the amazing healing properties.

***if your dog is very warm and inflamed, because garlic is a warming food (like turmeric or ginger) it may exacerbate inflammation and should be avoided until their system is better balanced. Similarly, dogs with unresolved gut issues like leaky gut, IBS, SIBO and the like may react to garlic with a bit of stomach upset. This is a great indicator to you that your dog’s digestive system needs some help healing before reintroducing.