Garlic As a Heartworm Treatment Revisited 

› Garlic for Heartworm Treatment

Could garlic, used by dog owners for many reasons, also be used for heartworm?  It’s considered by many to be an effective flea, tick and mosquito repellent if put in a dog’s food regularly.  It’s commonly included in commercial dog dietary supplements along with brewer’s yeast.

If for no other reason, less mosquito bites = less chance of heartworm.

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Garlic Has A Good Reputation For Human Use

It is anecdotally been used for eons to rid humans of intestinal worms, why not heartworm treatment for canines? In “Trends in Parasitology” the effectiveness of garlic as an intestinal parasite treatment was demonstrated. But that was for humans.

But Dogs Aren't Humans

I have purchased brewer’s yeast with garlic from time to time and the Shelties seem to really like it and have no ill effects from it.

But after a while and a bunch of reading I gave it the thumbs down as a heartworm treatment, and stopped giving it to my dogs for any reason. Here’s why:

Garlic is in the onion family. The onion is toxic to dogs and causes the hemoglobin in red blood cells to clump together.

Those clumps, called Heinz bodies, reduce the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. It also causes a shortened lifespan of the red blood cell.

That means that more red blood cells will die than will be replaced by the body at regular intervals. That causes anemia.

While this isn’t the only way to cause Heinz bodies, it is the commonest. You can see the damaged blood cells under a microscope if new methylene blue dye is used.

Want to find out if your dog has heartworm?

Try this easy at-home test kit.

Get a small drop of blood the same way people do when they check themselves for blood sugar.

Just a simple nail trim. (Yes, you can).

How Bad Could It Be For Dogs?

How fast and how damaging the anemia, depends on how much was consumed.  

The people who swear by garlic for their dogs will insist that it does them no harm. When I give the commercial supplements, I don’t see any adverse reactions in my dogs either.

However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t harming the dog’s health just because it isn’t clinically obvious yet.

One veterinary article states as little as 6 to 12 oz of onion can cause blood disorders in a dog the size of a typical sheltie (20 lbs). Garlic, being in the onion family could do the same.  The poisoning can happen with a single large ingestion or small doses over time. That's what originally put the last nail in the coffin for me.

Is Heartworm Treatment Worth The Risk.

On the flip side, recently I have found articles refuting problems using garlic

Historically, over 22 years and 900 million doses of garlic there have been only 2 adverse side effects reported.

Hmmmmm, much better track record than most human medications prescribed by MDs to their human patients.

So, I am going to reverse my initial decision and start giving garlic again. A safe dose for a 20lb dog would be one average sized FRESH clove, crushed or minced, daily.

I'm giving it as much for it's other benefits as for possible heartworm treatment. If you want to learn more about the uses for garlic click here.


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