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Apart from being an essential ingredient in most dishes, garlic has been proven to have several health benefits such as boosting immunity, getting rid of bacterial, viral and fungal infections, enhance liver function, and lower cholesterol, amongst others.

As pet owners, we'd definitely like to share these perks with our four-legged companions – and in fact, many have already been doing so, by feeding small amounts of garlic to their pooches.

However, a recent study that tested garlic on dogs showed that it could lead to negative effects when ingested. When fed in excessive amounts (5g of garlic per kg of the dog's body weight), garlic can cause oxidative damage to Fido's red blood cells, leading to a condition called Heinz body anaemia, a complex disease that requires professional diagnosis and treatment.

Is It Safe?

With that known and with the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) putting garlic under its list of "poisonous plants", garlic still remains an approved additive for use in pet food, mostly as a flavouring, spice or seasoning. So, is this herb safe or not?

The research presented in the study shows that an average 35kg Golden Retriever would have to eat 75 cloves of garlic in every meal for a noticeable effect on his red blood cells. You definitely would not be feeding your pooch that much garlic–not only is it illogical, but the resultant pungent doggy breath will also be difficult to put up with too.

Thus, it is safe to say that those in the anti-garlic camp have largely taken the study out of its original context.


As with everything, moderation is key. Pet owners can give their furkids garlic in controlled amounts. It is a natural antibiotic and even makes dogs less desirable to fleas. To release its medicinal properties, garlic must go through a chemical process for its active component – Allicin, which carries garlic's benefits–to be created.

It is advisable for paw-rents to finely chop or crush the garlic clove to start the chemical reaction. As Allicin is unstable when exposed to air and heat, add the raw garlic to your pooch's usual grub within 20 minutes of crushing it.

In terms of the amount of garlic you should be feeding your dog, a good guideline will be half a clove per 5kg of your dog's body weight. For a large dog weighing more than 20kg, two cloves of garlic per day at maximum should be given.

* The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified pet health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Always make a pet health care decision in partnership with a qualified veterinary or pet health care professional.

*This article was updated on 19 Dec 2020. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com.sg on  17 May 2016.