I've heard that garlic is harmful to dogs, so why is it in your dog food?


There is a lot of conflicting information online about garlic and that it can be harmful to dogs. Garlic is an ingredient we include in our products because it is both tasty and (in small doses) has a variety of health benefits.

We want to assure our customers that the amount of garlic used in our products is minimal and that in the 20 years our food has been available we have never had a case of dog becoming seriously ill due to the garlic in our food.

Vets become concerned when dogs become exposed to excessive amounts of garlic, especially when fed human table scraps or if they get into the pantry and help themselves!

Our food has been developed in conjunction with vets and animal nutritionists. Here’s what they have to say about dogs and garlic.

Our Vet, Dr Felicity says…

“The level of garlic used in 4Legs is so low that a dog would have to eat twice its own body weight of 4Legs in one sitting before the level of garlic consumed would be considered a concern!

“At our recommended feeding rate of 200g for a 5kg dog, the dose of garlic would be no more than 80mg per dog per day. This level of garlic is considered to be very low. It would be impossible for a dog to consume enough of our food daily to receive a toxic dose of garlic. It would be highly unlikely that even a small dog could get a toxic dose of garlic just from eating a few meatballs.

“The toxic dose of garlic is generally considered to be one clove per 5kg dog per day. It should be noted that experimentally, dogs given the equivalent of 20 cloves per 20kg for seven days straight did not develop clinical signs of poisoning or anaemia (some subclinical oxidative damage to red blood cells was reported).

“We believe there are benefits to adding garlic to our food. For example, garlic contains a natural chemical called Allacin which acts as an antibiotic to which bacteria do not develop resistance. Allicin has positive effects on the gastrointestinal system and is beneficial for the immune system.

“In addition, over the 20 years that our product has been available, we have never had a health issue brought to us by a consumer that has turned out to be related to the garlic content of our food.”*

Our Animal Nutritionist, Jonathan Woodroofe says…

“Dogs have been consuming small quantities of garlic as a component of table scraps since they first started associating with humans.

“In fact, a committee established by the US National Research Council to examine the safety of dietary supplementation of dogs, cats and horses with garlic and other supplements noted that garlic has a long history of safe use with dogs when consumed in small amounts.

“Garlic has been associated with a variety of health benefits, including boosting the immune system, acting as an antihypersensitive and also having anti-infective properties.

“In addition, garlic contains a number of valuable nutritional compounds such as B vitamins and organic trace minerals.

“A small carefully controlled amount of garlic is used in 4Legs products. It is important to recognise that many foodstuffs which are beneficial in reasonable amounts can be harmful if consumed in excessive quantities.

“For example, there have been cases of toxicity in humans caused by the over-consumption of carrot juice (due to vitamin A poisoning). It is true that excessive quantities of garlic consumed on a regular basis can be harmful to dogs.

“Much of the present concern about garlic stems from a research trial conducted in Japan involving eight dogs. Four of these dogs were fed garlic at a rate equivalent to feeding 20kg dog 100g of garlic a day (i.e. the equivalent of 15-20 cloves of garlic per dog per day). Feeding this amount of garlic led to the appearance of damaged red blood cells but even with this very large dose, none of those dogs actually developed haemolytic anemia.”




Some food toxic for pets – PubMed Central (PMC)
Chocolate, caffeine and other methylxanthines. Chocolate is derived from the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao and its toxic principles are the methylxanthines theobromine (3,7-dimethylxanthine) and caffeine (1,3,7-trimethylxanthine). Theobromine is also found in tea, cola beverages, and some other foods.


Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic …
Allicin, one of the active principles of freshly crushed garlic homogenates, has a variety of antimicrobial activities. Allicin in its pure form was found to exhibit i) antibacterial activity against a wide range of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, including multidrug-resistant enterotoxicogenic strains of Escherichia coli; ii) antifungal


American Journal of Veterinary Research

November 2000, Vol. 61, No. 11, Pages 1446-1450

doi: 10.2460/ajvr.2000.61.1446

Hematologic changes associated with the appearance of eccentrocytes after intragastric administration of garlic extract to dogs

Keun-Woo Lee, DVM, PhD Osamu Yamato, DVM, PhD Motoshi Tajima, DVM, PhD Minako Kuraoka, DVM Shogo Omae, DVM Yoshimitsu Maede, DVM, PhD

Laboratory of Internal Medicine, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, 060-0818, Japan. (Lee, Yamato, Tajima, Kuraoka, Omae, Maede); Present address is Department of Veterinary Internal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Taegu, 702-701, Korea. (Lee)


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