Garlic For Pets

Cats and Dogs

If garlic is good for the health of people, would it not also be good for the health of your pets? If garlic can fend off mosquitoes, could it not also help animals to deal with fleas and worms? Will it put a spring into the step of your dog or cat?

Perhaps. But perhaps not.

What's good for one species isn't always good for another. Opinion about the use of garlic as a dietary supplement for pets and other animals is strongly divided. Some say it's a great animal health supplement, others that it's a dangerous poison. Both may be right.

Arguments For And Against

Many people feed garlic to their animals, it seems to be particularly common for horses, cats and dogs. Owners have reported generally improved health, better skin and a reduction in pests such as fleas. It is said that June Lockhart became a convert to mixing garlic into her dog's food to cure his fleas.

On the other hand, garlic is also reportedly toxic to many animals. Garlic - along with other alliums such as onions - contains the chemical thiosulphate. This can be extremely dangerous to pets (onions being more of a danger than garlic). The blood-cleansing properties that make garlic sulphides beneficial to humans can damage the blood cells of animals. This toxicity can result in anything from mild anemia to major bursting of the blood cells leading to death.

When does garlic change from being a healthy additive to a dangerous toxin? Figures quoted vary widely, there doesn't seem to be any agreed on danger level.

So feeding garlic to your pet would appear to be a risk. It might help the animal's health - or it might cause serious injury. The safest bet is not to give your pet garlic without first consulting a qualified vet.