Garlic for people and animals – good or poison?

Two articles in Animal Wellness Magazine talk about garlic. The first is by Lisa Newman – Is garlic safe or not? The second is by Joan Marie Williams, Garlic – a super food for pets.  Dr. Jeff has a short post on feeding garlic and onions to your pets. He has many great topics, so it is good to sign up for his blog. And even more information in an article by Joanne Keenan in Dogs Naturally Magazine. 

History: Onions and garlic are alliums and historically have many benefits. Native americans ate over 100 types of wild onions and garlic for taste and treatment of illness. In Egypt, 1500BC, garlic was frequently used. the workers on the pyramids were fed garlic daily for stamina(1). Persians ate 25 kg of garlic a day! (whoa – that seems huge) (2). Hippocrates recommended garlic for cancer, infection, wounds, leprosy and digestive problems. Dioscorides – heart problems.  Pliny – multiple benefits. Always included in potions to counteract poisons common in Rome. Many of these benefits have been confirmed by modern science (3). Athletes used it for stamina. Prevent the plague. Onions were used as field dressings for wounds in the Civil War, and a shortage was considered a national emergency. Russians in WWII used raw garlic on wounds. In 2009, Moldova issued onion and garlic daily to the army to protect from the flu. (4) many benefits are listed at mercola, though they say it is best raw (5). Acreage of garlic in the US went from 16,000 to 41,000 in the 90s.


First, garlic benefits I am familiar with for people and animals

  1. Full of vitamins, anti-oxidants, minerals  (sulphur and others) and allicin.
  2. often repels fleas – Pet Guard Food Company has sold Garlic and Yeast tablets since the early 80s without any complaints of toxic reactions, and with many kudos for preventing fleas.
  3. Helps the liver detoxify some substances.
  4. anti-parasitic, antiviral, anti-fungal & antibacterial. Stimulates digestion. Delicious garlic condiment makes it tasty for cats. Anitra Frazier – The Natural Cat
  5. One of the top 10 herbs – Animal Wellness Natural Cookbook for Dogs
  6. topically good for wounds and ears (in an oil or water).
  7. “Eliminate worms, strengthen digestion, beneficially stimulate the intestinal tract…overweight, hip pain, arthritis, …” Pitcairn – Natural Health for Dogs and Cats
  8. 37 pages are listed in the index of Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s The complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat. the milk flow can be used as an anti-worm aid …if the nursing bitch is fed garlic. The oils of garlic enter almost every cell of the body, especially blood, urine, milk.
  9. 15 pages are listed in the index of Andrew Jones’ Veterinary Secrets. He lists one of the possible concerns about garlic (and feverfew, ginger and ginkgo – may increase potential for bleeding. I say this is not common, but worth considering if on anti-clotting medications.
    Chronic skin, food flavoring, fleas, anti-oxidant, immune enhancing.

Second, science behind the above claims (4). “One mg of allicin, the main active ingredient in garlic, is equivalent to 15 IU of penicillin. Each clove has from 7-13 mg allicin, so 3 cloves contain the same antibacterial activity as a standard [human] dose of penicillin.” While bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics they do not to garlic. In one test tube study of anti-cancer properties of vegetables, garlic blocked 100% of the growth of many cancers.

Third, some keys to using garlic for you and your pet. From robinson’s book it is important to prepare garlic properly. The beneficial allicin is created when aliinase (an enzyme) combines with a protein fragment, alliin which happens when you slice, chop, crush, chew or otherwise mangle the garlic clove. It takes about 10 minutes to complete the reaction to create the maximum amount of allicin.  So PREP THEN WAIT 10 minutes before cooking.

Greg Tilford gives many specific ways to treat with garlic in his repertory and in the 6 pages (maybe the most for any herb) on garlic in his book. (6)

(1) –


(3) The New Healing Herbs by Michael Castleman

(4) Eating on the Wild Side (2013) by Jo Robinson (has lists of clean farms to buy your ingredients at)


(6) Herbs for Pets (buy a used copy hardback for the best photos) by Greg Tilford

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