SFRAW Recommends: Garlic! Yes, Garlic (in moderation) is Safe for Dogs & Cats – Here’s Why and How To Use This Traditional Healing, Healthful, Tasty Functional Food Herb

SFRAW Products Contain Garlic: Rotatially & Seasonally

SFRAW’s Veggie Mixes, Vitality Blend and SFRAW Formulas (which contain our Vitality Blend) all contain small amounts of fresh, certified organic garlic (sourced locally) and/or ginger (from certified organic suppliers in Hawaii or Peru). We seasonally rotate between these two herbal wonderfoods at well below safe levels for long-term feeding in our blends, and sometimes may even incorporate a combination of both. Our Satin Balls also contain garlic as this can be incredibly useful and beneficial for those animals that need this supplemental and supportive food.

For Sensitive Animals and those with Food Intolerances: Considering the use of SFRAW Formulas, Vitality Blend & Veggie Mixes vs. SFRAW Grinds

Highly sensitive dogs or cats may need to adjust to the change in flavor profiles whenever we switch between the use of different produce, including the use of garlic or ginger. You may notice changes in your pet’s interest in Formulas, Vitality Blend, Veggie Mixes from batch to batch as we purposefully rotate between different fresh produce, as seasonally available. Some dogs and cats are excited by new flavors, while others aren’t sure about or can be completely put off by unexpected or new flavor profiles. When you see this occur, we suggest being patient with them, and allowing your animal to adjust over a few days, if needed.

If you have one of these sensitive animals, sometimes it’s better slowly introduce the new batch or to mix Formulas with Grinds or other raw fresh favorites — and, if/when you do add other foods to Formulas for palatability reasons, just please be sure to check with us to be sure you are using foods in a manner that would not cause a long-term imbalances or nutrition related issues. Short-term, you don’t need to worry too much about incorporating a little bit of healthy, safe “bribe” foods – but any time you start to modify your meals based on our Formulas or Grinds over a longer period of time, it is very important to make sure you are not creating an imbalance or posing a health risk. SFRAW is here to function as a source of support and an important safety net for you and your animals — so, please run whatever you are doing and how/why by us next time you drop in!

As is the case with every food and natural substance, certain animals may experience negative reactions, dislike, food intolerances or allergies to the wide variety of healthy ingredients used in Formulas, Vitality Blend or Veggie Mixes. Since these products include a wide variety of healthy ingredients — for these specific animals, we strongly encourage feeding SFRAW Grinds since these are single ingredient products that are easy to customize to met your animal’s specific nutritional goals, without the risk of exposure to ingredients that may cause a problem for them.

SFRAW’s Approach & Use of Seasonal Variety

We deliberately choose to rotate our fresh, organic ingredients including herbs and seasonal produce available because we strongly believe in choosing what is fresh, local, seasonal and looks & tastes best that very day/week! Sometimes our staple fresh organic locally sourced produce ingredients are not available and we the will choose to incorporate different fresh, seasonal substitutions. In the end, we always pick the freshest organic and most nutrient dense (raised within 150-miles of SFRAW), low-glycemic, highest value for dogs/cats produce.

Remember that regularly rotating and varying herbs and seasonal foods, such as garlic and ginger, is essential to their conscientious use, providing nutritional balance, synergistic healing and strengthening effects of these wonderful foods.

The Many Health Benefits of Garlic For Humans, Dogs & Cats
Research and tradition has proven that garlic:

  1. supports a robust immune system (activates the production of white blood cells, strengthening resistance to infections of all kinds)
  2. lowers blood pressure
  3. improves circulation
  4. lowers blood sugar
  5. strengthens cardiovascular and intestinal walls
  6. prevents several cancers
  7. prevents heart disease

For pets, garlic has also been used:

  • to aid in the expulsion/removal of intestinal parasites and prevent/repel fleas
  • as an effective prebiotic (prebiotics provide fuel/food for probiotic bacterias); garlic supports a balanced and healthy gut flora by maintaining healthy bacterial levels in the gut and just a tiny bit provides great impact on digestive function
  • strengthens digestion, stimulates the intestinal tract and generally supports intestinal health (garic is a great choice for pets making the transition to a fresh, raw diet!)
  • helps reduce weight and reduces inflammation which provides relief to those that suffer from hip pain, arthritis or dysplasias

Garlic is naturally antibacterial can be used when combating any condition caused by bacteria, internally or externally.

For hay fever, seasonal allergies, kennel cough/URI or other respiratory ailments, garlic has potent antibacterial effects; due to its action as a strong expectorant, garlic helps the body to clear the lungs and break down biofilms that can prevent healing.

In addition to inhibiting the bacteria’s RNA molecules, active garlic compounds also damage the protective slimy matrix surrounding harmful bacteria, called biofilm. More about biofilms can be found here.

Nutrition Highlights
You may read read that garlic is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin B6; a very good source of vitamin C and copper; and a good source of selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and calcium. The issue here is ingesting the necessary dose to enjoy these nutritional benefits will be too high past the safe daily suggested limits for our dogs & cats on a regular basis. That being said, I do find garlic provides innumerable health benefits and that we should not discount garlic’s profoundly beneficial use as part of the Natural Rearing protocol or Raw Feeding Diet for dogs & cats.

Culinary Use
Almost every cuisine on our planet has found an important role for garlic, and garlic continues to play an important role in most cultures. Since domestic dogs and cats co-evolved with humans as species over thousands of years in cultures where garlic played such an important role, they, too, have benefitted from the use of garlic as an herbal remedy and when used in the diet to promote and protect their health for hundreds of years.

How to Use Safely – So Many Different Ways & Suggestions!
Used as a preventive herb, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic, finely chopped and mixed into food, can easily and safely be used once a week for both dogs and cats. This dose is safe for most (see below for special considerations) both dogs and cats without any possible risk.

Be sure to Source & Select Healthy, Fresh Organic US-Grown Garlic
Avoid bulbs or cloves that are SOFT or discolored (fuzzy or dark brown, grey, black areas or spots).

Select only FIRM, clean, organic, domestically sourced or locally grown garlic (or grown your own!)

Pretty sure this is photoshopped to look absolutely perfect — but you get the idea 🙂 this would be what you are looking for when choosing fresh, clean, garlic to use for your pets.

Prepare Garlic Properly
Separate out the clove, smash with a large/wide knife to easily peel, then chop, press or mince cloves. Next, and this next step is important, allow for the chopped/minced or pressed garlic clove to REST for at least 10 minutes before adding to food or your herbal preparations.

Studies have found it takes approximately 15 to 30 grams of garlic per kilograms of body weight to produce harmful changes in a dog’s blood. To put that into perspective, the average clove of supermarket garlic weighs between 3 and 7 grams, so your dog would have to eat a lot to get really sick. However, some dogs are more sensitive to garlic toxicity than others, and consumption of a toxic dose spread out over a few days could also cause problems in some individual animals.

Safe Use According to the 2008 National Research Council Report (for Dogs & Cats)
According to the National Research Council, “garlic has a long history of safe use as a supplement, with mean levels of 22 mg/kg BW being reported without serious adverse events”. The 2008 National Research Council report looked at garlic supplementation in pets (dogs, cats and horses). Due to inadequate research, the NRC was unable to determine the safe upper limit of garlic intake for pets. However, using available research they recommend a range of acceptable intakes according to historical safe intakes (HSI) and estimated presumed safe intakes (PSI).

Suggested dose for DOGS: up to 1 teaspoon fresh garlic per 30 lbs of your dog’s weight per day.

For reference, Dr. Pitcairn, DMV recommends the following amounts be given to your dog:
10-15lbs = 1/2 clove of garlic
20-40lbs = 1 clove
45-70lbs = 2 cloves
75-90lbs = 2 1/2 cloves
100lbs+ = 3 cloves

NRC presumed safe intake (PSI) for dogs is 56 mg/kg BW (25.5 mg/lb BW). Example: for a dog that weighs 50 lbs (BW), the recommended maximum PSI garlic dose per day would be 50 lbs x 25.5 mg = 1,275 mg/day or 1.2 g/day (or 0.045 ounce/day). To be safe you should feed less than the maximal amount.

The Whole Dog Journal, recommends garlic as a good addition to any raw diet. Their advice is that you can safely feed 1 clove of garlic for every 20 lbs of body weight. Another source describes an average daily intake of garlic as 1 clove per day for a medium-large dog. Yet another source claims that you would need to feed your dog as much as two whole bulbs a day for an extended period to make your dog sick. At, they claim that it would take as much as 50 cloves of garlic in one sitting to cause toxic effects in your dog. Keep in mind that people have been feeding their dogs garlic safely for thousands of years and that many healthy pet foods and treats contain garlic in small, safe amounts. It is simply a matter of very high doses and a large quantity relative to the size of your dog.

Dogs Naturally Magazine
Recommended Safe Doses for Dogs from Dogs Naturally Magazine

Suggested dose for CATS: up to 1/8 teaspoon fresh garlic per 15 lbs of your cat’s weight per day.

Garlic. A food herb called “nature’s antibiotic,” garlic richly deserves a place in any book on natural health care. This humble and inexpensive herb has been used for centuries in every culture from everything from nursing a cold to repelling werewolves. Modern laboratory testing confirms that garlic does indeed have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic and antithrombotic properties. It also tends to lower blood sugar, strengthens intestinal walls, alkalizes the system, aid in the expulsion of intestinal parasites, and renders the entire body unappetizing to fleas. I recommend it frequently throughout this book. But the question is always raised: how to give it. Cats’ mouths are notoriously sensitive, and raw unadulterated garlic is so strong that it can actually feel as if it is burning. However, I persist in using the raw crushed or slivered garlic for the benefits provided by the raw fresh, whole food format. I want the patient to get all of the elements nature intended for us to ingest along with the natural oil of the garlic. Science is continually discovering new elements found in garlic that are indispensable to body function and those of us that have been eating the whole form (sic) have been gratified to learn that we have been better off all along (over supplement or extracted versions). And so, when a remedy calls for garlic, I feel more comfortable using a measured portion of fresh, raw garlic in the form of my Delicious Garlic Condiment (see recipe).”

The New Natural Cat: A Complete Guide for Finicky Owners by Anitra Frazier, Norma Eckroate. Nov 1, 1990.

For reference, Dr. Pitcarin, DMV recommends up to 1/4 clove per day for cats during periods of illness and for prevention of disease. This seems like a lot to me, so I suggest using Anitra Fraizer’s Delicious Garlic Condiment instead (see attached); or to use garlic less often (few times/week or rotating seasonally) or for short periods of time.

Due to insufficient research data on felines and garlic the National Research Council committee was unable to establish a garlic PSI for cats. However, mean intake levels of 17 mg/kg BW (7.7 mg/lb BW) of garlic have been reported with no serious adverse events. Cats are more sensitive to alliums than dogs so just be careful. Example: If your cat weighs 15 lbs, the recommended maximum amount of garlic a day would be 15 lbs x 7.7 mg/lb BW = 115.5 mg/day or 0.12 g/day (or 0.004 ounce/day). Because cats may be more sensitive than dogs, caution would dictate feeding less than the maximal amount.

Measurements for Dosing and Equivalents Between the Different Forms Available

Note, when using garlic, I like to measure by teaspoons rather than measuring by cloves because clove sizes can vary significantly. Using teaspoons will provide you with more accurate and safe measurements/quantities when feeding as a regular part of the diet, to address health conditions or used as a preventative. For those so inclined, an even more precise method of measurement is to weigh amounts administered to your pets, and then feed according to the weight-based suggestions made in the 2008 National Research Council report.

Reports Indicate High Doses Can Cause Serious Problems (but the dose is VERY high, indeed!)

Four dogs given the equivalence of 5,000 mg/kg whole garlic (1.25 ml/kg garlic extract) directly by tube into their stomachs for 7 days developed some signs of RBC destruction (including lower RBC counts, less hemoglobin, more Heinz bodies and oxidized hemoglobin). Four dogs given water the same way did not develop any changes. No dogs developed hemolytic anemia (Lee et al. 2000). Some limitations of this study were: the really small sample size (8 dogs total, only four given the garlic) and the very high amount of garlic given to the dogs. To compare this study to the recommendation above: in this study a 50 lb dog would be consuming 113,636 mg (113.6 grams or almost 1/4 pound) whole garlic a day! That is a lot of garlic.

Ingestion of large doses of garlic may cause a specific acute form of anemia in dogs and cats, destroying red blood cells. For example, for a medium 50-lb sized dog, a large dose would would be the ingestion of an entire bulb (over 10 cloves!) of garlic, eaten in one meal. You’d need to feed about four heads of garlic (approximately 60 cloves) to a 75 lb Golden Retriever, or 23 grams of garlic (6 to 8 cloves) to a 10 lb dog, before they’d experience any adverse effects. Please, be reasonable, and never feed your pet this much garlic! That’s a lot of garlic.


Garlic poisoning is rarely fatal, but your pet may need supportive care to keep them comfortable. Your veterinarian might recommend intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated, and may prescribe a medication to control vomiting. In severe cases, blood transfusions could be necessary. Even when eaten in large volume, death due to garlic toxicity is very rare and uncommon.

Level of toxicity: Generally mild to moderate. Common signs of toxicity to watch for:

Oral irritation
Abdominal pain
Elevated heart rate and respiratory rate
Exercise intolerance
Pale gums

Toxic doses of garlic can cause damage to the red blood cells (making them more likely to rupture) leading to a specific for of anemia called Heinz Body Anemia. Clinical signs of anemia can include: lethargy, pale gums, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, weakness, exercise intolerance, and collapse. Signs of garlic poisoning can be delayed and not apparent for several days.

There is some concern that certain populations of dogs may be more sensitive to the toxic effects of garlic than others, including Japanese breeds (e.g., Akita, Shiba Inu). I’m not confident about this being a risk from my experience, but if you are concerned: please do your research and make your own decisions for your individual animals and specific breed.

Garlic can interact with several types of medications including:

Immune suppressants
Heart medications
Chemotherapy drugs
Blood thinners
High blood pressure medication

Don’t use garlic if your pet is on any of these drugs.

Garlic can affect blood clotting, so like many beneficial supplemments and functional foods, please don’t use garlic two weeks before any scheduled surgery.

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