Is garlic safe for dogs?
I started adding raw garlic to my dogs’ raw meals a few times per week when I learned about its many benefits. My dogs eat a raw meat diet, but you can add garlic to your dog’s cooked meals as well, including dry dog food.
I always thought garlic was a food that should never be offered to dogs. After all, the lists of foods that are poisonous to dogs on Pinterest say so!
So what made me reconsider garlic for my dogs?
I admit it never occurred to me to question the internet hype, much like I didn’t question feeding highly processed dog food for over 3 years.
But then I saw a tweet by raw pet food brand Darwin’s Natural Pet that shared an article about the benefits of raw garlic for dogs. It was written by Dr. Deva Khalsa, a holistic veterinarian who has over 30 years of experience in her field.
Here is a video where Khalsa talks about the details:
That theoretic “aha” moment was followed by a more practical one when I noticed garlic on the ingredient list of a dehydrated bag of dog food I bought for the pups (Sojo’s pre-mix).
I figured if a holistic veterinarian and two reputable brands of species-appropriate dog food were on the same page as far as garlic for dogs, it would be safe to start giving some to my pups on a regular basis.
Can dogs eat garlic?
Yes, and it’s actually healthy for dogs! Here are some of the benefits of feeding garlic to your dog.
According to Khalsa, garlic is healthy for your dog because garlic contains:
- Anti-cancer properties
- Anti-microbial properties
- Anti-bacterial properties
- Anti-fungal properties
- Anti-parasitic properties
It’s important to understand that the natural compound Allicin is responsible for all of these benefits, Khalsa said in her video (above). Allicin, however, is only released in chopped or minced garlic and does not occur in whole cloves of garlic.
Yes, garlic is safe for dogs!
How to serve raw garlic to your dog:
How to feed your dog garlic if you feed raw dog food:
Khalsa recommends cutting or chopping the garlic up finely or mincing it with a garlic press. Then, let the garlic sit for 10 to 20 minutes before feeding it to your dog. You can just mix it right in with your dog’s usual food. Letting the garlic sit for 20 mins first allows the Allicin to reach its full health potential.
I prefer to just mix in the garlic with my dog’s raw food. If your pup is super picky and eats around the garlic, try wrapping the garlic in a piece of raw liver, some cheese or whatever else your dog loves.
If he’s still not eating the garlic, throw it in a blender with some raw food and mix it into a purée. That should do the trick!
Adding garlic to your dog’s homemade cooked food:
If you cook your dog’s meals, you could go ahead and sauté his food in garlic and some olive oil (or whichever oil you cook with) and then serve his food the way you normally would.
How to add garlic to a dog’s dry food:
If you feed a dry dog food kibble diet, your dog will probably not eat the garlic you sprinkle on top of his food, but it’s always worth a shot. I would try mixing it in with his food first. If he refuses to eat it that way, you could wrap his garlic in a slice of turkey breast or cheese, or any other treat he typically gobbles up quickly!
You can also add some chopped garlic to a batch of homemade bone broth for your dog!
How much raw garlic is safe for dogs?
Dogs can eat 1-3 cloves of garlic per day, depending on body weight
Dogs can eat roughly 1 clove of raw (or cooked) garlic per 20 lb of dog weight per day.
I got this information from Dr. Richard Pitcairn, a veterinarian and author of the book, “Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats.”
Pitcairn says it’s OK to give a 1/2 clove of garlic for every 10 pounds. I think it’s simpler to say 1 clove for every 20 pounds (same math).
Safe garlic dosage for dogs per day:
- 20 pound dog: 1 clove of garlic per day
- 40 pound dog: 2 cloves of garlic per day
- 60 pound: 3 cloves of garlic per day
If you’re not sure about whether or not to give your dog garlic, I recommend you talk with your dog’s vet or look into Pitcairn’s book.
My dog Missy weighed around 50 lbs and so I gave her about 2.5 cloves of garlic per day. I will say that I didn’t feed her garlic every single day simply because I didn’t always have fresh garlic in my pantry. I tried to feed it several times per week.
Is garlic bad for dogs?
No, garlic is not bad for dogs. However, make sure not to feed more than the recommended amount of garlic.
If garlic is fed in excessive amounts, it can cause anemia, which is a drop in red blood cells. However, according to Khalsa (she mentions this in her video on garlic above), these amounts would truly have to be excessive in order to be able to have this effect on a dog’s red blood cells.
She said you would have to feed a 75-pound golden retriever 75 to 150 cloves of garlic in one sitting to see these negative effects of garlic in a dog! Now, obviously none of us are doing that!
Can dogs eat garlic seasoning or powdered garlic?
Garlic seasoning will not harm a dog but it does not have the same health benefits as raw garlic.
Remember that the natural compound found in garlic, Allicin, is responsible for the plethora of health benefits. It only occurs when the garlic clove has been crushed or cut up.
So, powdered and cooked garlic is a lot less efficient than raw garlic. In order to reap the full benefits, it’s recommended to feed garlic raw.
Garlic for flea prevention in dogs
I’ve used raw garlic in my pups’ meals since mid 2015.
While it wasn’t able to keep Missy in remission from cancer, it seemed to have helped in keeping parasites away from her and her brother Buzz. Neither of them have (ever) had to deal with fleas. That is even after I stopped using all topical & oral pest preventatives when making healthier lifestyle choices after Missy’s first cancer diagnosis.
Depending on where you live, your dog might still need a topical or oral flea prevention. However, sometimes garlic alone seems to do enough to keep fleas and other parasites away. Garlic is not known to kill fleas or other parasites, but it seems to help in keeping fleas away to begin with.
In the comments, let me know your experience with garlic and flea prevention for your dog.
Do you have any questions?
Let us know in the comments!
Note, I’m so sorry to write that my boxer mix Missy passed away from cancer. Missy was such a sweet, sweet girl. We wanted to share this picture of her because it shows the enthusiasm she had for food! Rest in peace, Missy girl.
Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt. She is certified in raw dog food nutrition from Dogs Naturally Magazine and the author of three ebooks about balanced raw dog food. She is a blogger at K9s Over Coffee.
See all of our raw feeding articles HERE.
Sunday 1st of March 2020
Good article on promoting the heath benefits of garlic. I'm also a believer in garlic for dogs but at regulated doses. Do you have some research to support the levels you've indicated/suggested in this article? I would love to have some updated data if it's available. The report that I have is from 2008, published by the National Academy of Sciences titled "Safety of Dietary Supplements in Horses, Dogs and Cats". The levels indicated for safe consumption in this report are far lower than the levels you've suggested in this article - they indicate for dogs: 25mg/lb of body weight. This equates to 1500mg for 60lb dog (1/2 clove), 500mg for a 20lb dog (1/8th clove). This is based on a clove being ~3000mg. This question is in a sharing spirit and not meant to be a direct challenge for the sake of it. Your levels are substantially higher than the above research suggests as safe and it's an important point to clarify. Thanks and I look forward to any supportive info you can direct my way.
Saturday 7th of July 2018
Thank you so much for this! I never knew feeding garlic is so beneficial for dogs.
Thursday 24th of May 2018
Can I use the minced raw garlic readily available nowadays from stores such as Costco? Will it gave the same benefit as mincing it myself all the time? Thank you!
Thursday 31st of May 2018
Hi Catherine, I believe the Allicin only occurs in freshly crushed/minced garlic, so garlic that's been pre-minced doesn't have the same health benefits.
Tuesday 22nd of May 2018
Thank you much for this article! I am also giving raw meals to my Happy, but I did not know anything about the health benefits when adding raw garlic. I will definitely start feeding it several times a week! Is the bodily impact of dogs the same regarding the smell?
Thursday 31st of May 2018
I'm glad you enjoyed it, Lisa! Missy & Buzz never smelled of garlic after they ate it if that's what you meant ;-)