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Dogs and Garlic

Is Garlic Bad for Dogs?

The dogs and garlic controversy is confusing. Garlic for dogs is used in some commercial dog treats, yet you may have heard that garlic is bad for dogs!

What is the real story? Is it safe for dogs, or will it cause harm?

If you have been thinking that garlic is good for dogs, you are not alone. For years we believed that garlic could help repel fleas and ticks. And veterinarians even recommended using garlic for dogs that they treated.

However, with more recent findings, we have learned that garlic, instead of being safe and helpful, can actually harm your dog.

I first became aware of these findings a few years ago, when my brother-in-law Dave, who was a practicing veterinarian, told me to make sure that I didn’t use any garlic or onions in my Natural Pet Bakery treats.

Veterinarians were beginning to see serious cases of anemia, and they had tracked the cause to ingestion of onions and garlic, onions being the worst of the two.

Garlic can cause anemia in your dog or puppy.

Puppy with garlic

Garlic for Dogs

Veterinarians now know that garlic and onions damage red blood cells in your dog and cause a type of anemia called hemolytic anemia.

If your dog eats garlic or onions, he won't become ill immediately (as he would, if he ate chocolate). Garlic makes him ill, slowly, over time. And the type of anemia caused by garlic can, in time, lead to death.

More recently, veterinarians have issued warnings against the use of garlic (and onions) for both cats and dogs.

  • The American Medical Veterinary Association considers garlic to be "harmful and potentially fatal" to dogs. (Cats are even more sensitive to garlic than dogs.)
  • The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center consistently includes both garlic and onions in their list of top toxins reported each year.

Small dogs are more sensitive than large dogs. The body weight of a dog affects how much garlic he can tolerate.

What’s A Pet Parent to Do?

Despite all of this, we still continue to see nutritional products and dog treats on the market that tout the effectiveness of garlic for flea control and getting rid of parasites. This is particularly insidious, as well-intentioned pet owners may purchase products that are actually toxic to their dogs!

And, truthfully, there are veterinarians on both sides of the fence on the dogs and garlic issue.

Is it simply because some veterinarians have not kept up to speed on the issue? Vets, like other doctors, are very busy. And the truth is that some are more diligent than others at keeping up with current information.

Here's the bottom line on this. Dogs who have eaten a quantity of garlic (fresh or dried) will show symptoms in 3-5 days. Your dog may appear to be weak and tired and could have urine that is orange to red. If you see these symptoms, your dog should see a vet.

If you, like me, are concerned about the garlic in treats that you feed your dog—make sure that you read the ingredients carefully before purchasing dog treats or dog supplements!

And if you use a dog treat recipe from another website or a dog treat recipe book--just leave the garlic out of the recipe.

DO NOT be foolish. This is a very serious matter.

Make sure that your beloved dog does not get garlic in his food, treats, or supplements, as garlic can be very harmful!

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