Is Garlic Toxic to Cats?

Is Garlic Toxic to Cats?

Is Garlic Toxic to Cats?

Today we are doing some myth-busting!

I’m sure you all know that you shouldn’t believe everything you hear or see on the internet, but when it comes to our pets, most of us err on the side of caution because we definitely don’t want to do anything that inadvertently hurts our companions.

However, there is one myth that I am happy to BUST for you today - the one that says it’s unsafe to give your pets garlic because it's toxic for them.


Where the Myth Started

Garlic is part of the same family of vegetables as onions which are indeed toxic to pets, but this is because they contain much higher levels of thiosulfate - which is the ingredient you will see quoted as problematic on the internet because it causes Heinz body hemolytic anemia.

Furthermore, most studies that have been conducted have used garlic extract, excessive quantities of garlic, and unnatural delivery methods - this has contributed to the misleading information out there. If you want to avoid problems with garlic, you need to feed your pet the right kind of garlic in the correct dosage.

The internet buzz surrounding garlic can largely be attributed to a study done many years ago where they gave dogs large quantities of garlic - I'm talking like 70-80 cloves - and then studied the effects. They saw that garlic caused a few changes in the dog’s red blood cells and immediately and hastily concluded that garlic was toxic and should be avoided.

Myth Busted

The irony of the whole study is that not one of the dogs died or got sick - even after ingesting such massive amounts of garlic.

The food-as-medicine paradigm has always been a huge stumbling block for evidence-based researchers rooted in scientific observation and is one of the reasons holistic health is often dismissed as “woo-woo”. The truth is that garlic in safe amounts is actually great for us as well as our pets and has many health benefits:

  • It's really great for their overall body systems and health
  • It helps with circulation
  • It contributes to optimal heart health
  • It supports their immune system functioning, fighting off bacteria and viruses that would otherwise make your pet sick
  • It even helps in the fight against ticks and fleas

I give my pets a multi-vitamin every day and garlic is one of the primary ingredients, so if there is a product on the market and it contains garlic, you don’t need to shy away from giving it to your pets so long as it is a healthy organic product that comes from a reliable and trustworthy source. I highly recommend this brand as the one I personally use - I have never met a kitty to refuse these highly palatable treats!

A further precaution when starting any new supplement, whether it contains garlic or not, is to start on the smallest dose and work your way up to the full dose. That way you can be extra sure that your pet is not going to have an adverse reaction to any of the ingredients.

So How Much Garlic is Too Much?

There is a great book that recommends the following dosages for cats and dogs. This is especially useful if you are feeding a homemade pet food diet. These dosages are followed as accepted quantities by many veterinary practitioners.

  • 10 to 15 pounds - ½ a clove
  • 20 to 40 pounds - 1 clove
  • 45 to 70 pounds - 2 cloves
  • 75 to 90 pounds - 2 ½ cloves
  • Over 100 pounds - 3 cloves

These are simply guidelines to follow and you should consult your vet before beginning any new supplementation or feeding regime. 

Keep giving your pets the best of natural life!


April Arguin A.S., C.P.N., M.P.H

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