Ask the Vet? Garlic

Written by Dr Rose Dileva VMD,MS,CVCP,CVA. Posted in Ask The Vet.

I am getting conflicting information from my regular veterinarian and my holistic veterinarian about garlic and if it’s beneficial to pets. I have a 68 pound Golden retriever and would like the best for her. Could you please straighten this out ?
Well, the first piece of information that is crucial to answering this question involves the amount you would give to your pet. Both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Pet Poison hot line classify garlic as harmful and toxic to pets. The truth is that giving garlic to your dog is very much a dose dependent situation.
Garlic, also known as Allium sativum, is a member of the lily family. It is indigenous to Asia but is grown commercially in most other countries. Generally, it is the bulb part of the plant that is considered medicinal. Garlic has been utilized for thousands of years by multiple cultures for infections, digestive issues and cancer. Studies have been done in humans over the past 2-3 years, particularly regarding cancer and cardiovascular diseases. It is suggested that it may decrease atherosclerosis. In dogs, garlic has anti-arrhythmic effects in ventricular and supraventricular arrhythmias. In humans, garlic has been shown to boost the immune system, enhance liver function, eliminate fungal infections, eliminate viral infections, helps detoxify the cells in the body and helps fight cancers. Garlic is also a very strong antioxidant, lowers cholesterol and reduces blood pressure.
Research and reports through history have shown garlic to be one of the best natural antibiotics. Even Louis Pasteur made note of the antibacterial properties of garlic back in 1858. Today’s research confirms garlic’s board spectrum antibacterial activity. Other studies show that garlic played a significant role in decreasing the number of deaths from a multitude of malignant diseases. It seems that some of the sulfides in garlic suppress tumor proliferation in laboratory and in live animals.
Now, the important question to ask. Is garlic toxic to dogs?? According to The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Pet Poison Help Line(855-764-7661), garlic is toxic to dogs. It is important to be informed and get the facts! It is all about the Dosage, Dosage, Dosage! According to a famous, world renowned Holistic veterinarian, it would take cloves and cloves of garlic to have any adverse effect on the dog’s red blood cells and cause them to rupture. It’s been calculated that a 70 pound dog would have to ingest 70 cloves of garlic for toxicity to occur. I doubt that any dog would want to eat that much, nor do I think a pet owner would offer that much to their pet. So, in my opinion, it is fine to offer your 50 pound dog a clove of fresh garlic with a meal. Remember, anything can be toxic at high enough doses, even water. So you need to be very careful.
Cats, on the other hand are much more sensitive to anything in the garlic family, such as chives, onions or leeks. Signs of garlic toxicity include drooling, nausea, vomiting, irritation to the tissues of the mouth, lethargy, weakness, increased heart and respiratory rates, pale gums and eventually collapse. If you suspect that your cat has ingested garlic or onion, then get to the veterinarian at once. Treatment tends to be supportive. If they have become anemic a blood transfusion may be necessary. Remember, a well informed pet owner can provide a loving and healthy environment for many years to come.

Dr. Rose DiLeva is a 1987 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s school of Veterinary Medicine. She practices alternative and conventional veterinary medicine. Dr. DiLeva is a certified veterinary acupuncturist and a certified veterinary chiropractitioner. She can be reached at her Animal Wellness Center in Chadds Ford, Pa. at 610-558-1616 for appointments and telephone consultations. Her web site is and

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