Can dogs eat garlic? Is garlic toxic or safe for dogs? Scientific evidence of garlic for dog's health, canine diet, nutrition, worming / (C) Perfect cocker spaniel, breed and puppy guide book, puppy tips, canine nutritionist, dog diet, cocker spaniel grooming / Natalia Ashton

Can my dog eat… garlic?

You are walking down the street in the evening or just about to approach an Italian restaurant and suddenly there is a delicious aroma hitting your nostrils and making your hungry instantly. When somebody cooks with garlic, the rest of the world is there to dream of roasted chicken, lamb, pasta, pizza or garlic bread… Because nobody can resist it. And hardly any kitchen can be complete without a few fat bulbs, bursting with goodness beneath the delicate tissue-paper like skin…

Garlic is so good for us, not only because it’s full of vitamins and minerals, but because this humble allium vegetable is a mighty source of sulphur compounds known to be beneficial for our hearts, the immune, digestive and endocrine systems, supporting detoxification and reducing inflammation.


The short answer is NO….

Especially if they are English cocker spaniels.

Even though you might have heard otherwise, garlic is toxic to dogs. It is true that it was used by the breeders back in the 19th and early 20th century, but purely due to the fact that conventional and reliable worming medicine did not exist at the time. As the years went by, the very same breeders not only documented the side-effects of the garlic, but also recommended replacing the natural remedies with veterinary products due to their reliability and lasting results.

Why is garlic unsuitable for dogs?

The vegetable contains sodium 2-propenyl thiosulfate, which is toxic for the canines because their bodies cannot digest it efficiently. The build-up of the substance leads to formation of Heinz bodies, or clumps of haemoglobin, causing the rupture of red blood cells, oxygen deficiency and life-threatening haemolytic anaemia (IMHA).

The dogs may develop the condition after eating a large quantity of garlic as a single dose or consuming small quantities on a regular basis over a period of time.  In most cases IMHA will seem to appear suddenly and be fatal.

Why is garlic still used for dogs?

The advocates of garlic recommend it as a natural worming treatment or simply because “it’s beneficial and safe”. The latter is accompanied by a study of beagles that were given garlic extract for 12 weeks and didn’t develop Heinz bodies.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that…

The group of scientists who conducted the research were employed by the manufacturer of the garlic extract used in experiments.

The researched themselves concluded that garlic quantity must be monitored to avoid harm.

The garlic extract provided sulphur-containing amino acids S-allylcysteine (SAC) and S-1-propenylcysteine (S1PC). It was not mentioned if the extract contained sodium 2-propenyl thiosulfate.

The typical lifespan of red blood cells is between 100 and 120 days, so 12 weeks weren’t long enough to fully examine the body’s reaction to the substance.

Beagles are not genetically predisposed to the condition and we do not know enough information of their age, gender or health status at the time of the study.

The statement on garlic safety also contradicts independent studies and records spanning 30 years, discussed in interviews, books, scientific articles (1, 2, 3), veterinary manuals and journals (4, 5, 6, 7, 8) lists of poisonous substances  for dogs (9, 10) and included in FEDIAF guidelines and  top 10 animal toxins by ASPCA.

Why some dogs don’t develop Heinz bodies or haemolytic anaemia?

It can be related to genetics, breed predisposition (and cockers are among the breeds predisposed to the disease), hereditary defects, dog’s health, medical history, gender, age, and nutritional status (for example, selenium deficiency can increase the risk).

What about the worming effects of garlic?

There were no English language based clinical studies to support the use of garlic as an effective anti-worming medicine for dogs. Only two limited clinical trials conducted in 1969 and 2011 and described in Veterinary Evidence paper partially focused on the use of garlic alongside other herbs and plants such as pumpkin seeds. The quantities of the garlic were not included. There was no information about dogs except the number of dogs used and the names of parasites they had. The studies did show that garlic temporarily reduce the eggs and larvae, but only in specific species of worms. It did not seem to have effect of adult worms or certain species of worms. The questionable efficiency also meant that dogs would have to receive garlic at least every 2 days because the parasite levels returned to pre-treatment volume within 48 hours once the garlic was discontinued.  This means that all dogs remained at risk of either suffering from worms or potentially building up thiosulphate levels and developing haemolytic anaemia.

Interestingly, one of the known pioneers of using garlic as a worming treatment for dogs does not even have a veterinary degree or any form of academic education in canine or small animal nutrition.

The bottom line is to leave the garlic out of your dog’s diet, especially if the dog is a cocker spaniel. It really is not worth the risk.


Photo credit: image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Simple way to keep dogs live longer, healthy and happy life / study on dogs obesity and lifespan / Perfect cocker spaniel / Dog blog, english cocker spaniel tips, advice, grooming, training / canine nutrition, dog diet, dog nutritionist uk / (C) Natalia Ashton

The most simple way to keep your dog live for longer

Some time ago I read a story about selective breeding and Pekinese dogs in ancient China. The Lion-like dogs were considered sacred and protected by the Manchu emperors who not only exclusively owned the dogs, but kept a watchful eye on their breeding quantities and qualities.

Thus the Pekinese were bred for both form and function ensuring that their exquisite beauty, intelligence and character would not be achieved by sacrificing their physical well-being.

As a result, even though the little dogs still had their short muzzles (known as brachycephaly), they were said to remain active and disease-free for their entire lives that often spanned a quarter of a century.

I sat there thinking how wonderful it would be to share 25 years of my life with my dogs. The life without disease or heartaches. Of course, it’s more of a dream than reality, but there are some realistic ways to ensure that our pups stay with us for longer. Including the most basic and straightforward one…

In 2019 Journal of Veterinary Medicine published a North American study that looked into the lifespan of 12 breeders of pet dogs aged between 6.5 and 8.5 years old and identified as either “overweight” or “normal” based on the Body Conditioning Chart.

The results of the study showed that the overweight group of dogs had a shorter lifespan compared to the “normal” group of the same breed. The difference ranged between 6 months and 2.5 years, and the smaller breeds seemed to be more affected than larger ones.

The study had its flaws because the data was collected from a great number of vets working in 900 veterinary hospitals across the country, there was no specified medical history that could have affected dog’s health, the comparison chart for the maximum age was based on generic breed information, and all dogs used for the study were neutered.

Having said that, the fact is that the dogs who carried extra kilos were at higher risk of earlier death than their slimmer counterparts is obvious.

For us, as dog parents, it means one simple rule – keeping our spaniels fit and lean means longer life together!

Cockers are prone to weight gain, so it is vital to monitor their diet (treats included!) and exercise to suit their age and physical requirements, keep them well to avoid the need for certain medications that can contribute to weight-gain as a side-effect, reconsider routine neutering, and most definitely consult a vet if you suspect any underlying conditions that may get your dog put on pounds. And if your spaniel already looks a little chubby, help them lose the pounds for good.

It really is such a small effort for achieving something pretty wonderful. And who knows maybe there will come a day when we and the pooches really do get to share a quarter of a century together again…

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Q&A | Can I give my puppy dried & dehydrated treats?

Once upon a time, when Cooper was a little puppy, we took him for a walk in the wild where the boy met another cocker spaniel. And as all pup parents we stop and chatted about the way our pups are raised, groomed and fed. At one point the other pup’s dad mentioned that he swears by natural treats…. freshly shot pigeons, rabbit ears covered in fur, raw bones, dried chicken legs… the list went on. At the time I never heard of those.

I did a bit of googling upon return, found a few things, but never felt convinced enough to give them to my puppy.

A few years on, and there is a huge array of treats available around to keep the dogs happy.

But are they actually safe?

The first thing you need to bear in mind is that very few of those treats would be suitable for a cocker spaniel puppy. The only exception is sweet potato but even those need to be looked at with caution because, as it happened last year, they can arrive covered in mould due to poor manufacturing or storage.

Any dehydrated body parts may suit an adult dog with a robust digestive system, but they contain too much protein (pigs ears, for example, contain 73%) for a little puppy and thus can increase the risk digestive upsets as well as skeletal problems in the future.

Additionally, not every company can guarantee complete product safety, so the chews and treats may be contaminated with bacteria, toxins (as a by-product of bacteria lifecycle or from the animal source), pathogens or chemical residue (unless you can absolutely guarantee that the animal has never been treated with antibiotics or fed a pesticide-free diet, just to give you an idea)

For example, when a study published in Canadian Veterinary Journal examined 26 random bully sticks, all 26 were found to be contaminated with bacteria including Clostridium difficile, MRSA, and E. coli. It followed the 2019 case when FDA issues a recall for all pig ear treats due to salmonella outbreak.

An adult dog may show no symptoms and have no side-effects, but the puppy’s gut defences are still weak and can be affected.

There is also a possibility that the asymptomatic dog will shed salmonella for about 7 days, potentially passing it onto his human family.

Some animal body parts can contain high levels of specific minerals and vitamins, which can potentially cause vitamin and mineral imbalance in the dog’s body.

Others, like pig ears, are naturally high in fat and can lead to weight gain, diarrhoea and even increased risk of pancreatitis.

Certain body organs can naturally contain hormones. If a dog regularly consumes such treats, his own endocrine system can be affected.

Treats add calories. It is known that a typical 20cm raw hide chew can contain as much as 100 calories, which is roughly 15-20% of your dog’s daily requirement. Considering that all treats should fall below 10%, anything on top can lead to weight gain and obesity. Reducing the amount of food your dog eats for a sake of giving him a chew can create a deficit or excess of major nutrients and cause problems.

Not every chew is safe. Some can splinter, others can cause blockages or perforations of the gut.

Antlers, hoves, horns and bones may be extremely popular among dogs, but they are also  a major concern among vets because these can cause jaw dislocation and broken teeth, especially in dogs who really do love to chew hard.

Fish skins are suitable for most dogs, but not puppies under 4 months of age.

Liver treats appeal to all dogs, but they are incredibly rich in vitamin A and can cause toxicity if used frequently or generously. Liver is also a detoxifying organ, so any residue from those toxins can end up in your dog’s body.

So what can you do if you want to treat your dog safely?

Choose a trusted UK-based (or EU-based) company that  follows strict guidelines for product safety, happy to provide you with additional details and inform of any food recalls should the worst happen.

All reputable UK pet food companies should be registered with PFMA

All UK companies that produce any treats made from by-products must be approved by APHA. Depending on their set-up, they are often required to obtain a licence from a local authority, too.

Any pet food manufacturer should have at least one nutritionist who holds a veterinary degree and/or is trained in small animal clinical nutrition.

Check the packaging label for any age restriction. If you can’t find any, contact the company.

Always check the treats for signs of mould and odd smells (even though some can be a little smelly, but they should not stink)

Give these chews once a week at most, not on a daily basis.

Always supervise your dog when he is busy chewing.

If in doubt, bin – don’t feed.

Make your own treats or indulge your dog’s need to chew by giving him crunchy slices of carrots and apples.

If your dog has diagnosed health conditions, is genetically predisposed to such illnesses as pancreatitis, or requires a special diet, always consult your vet before you use these (or any) treats.


Photo credit: image by Mikhail Dmitriev for