<<Onions and garlic are members of the Allium family.
It is therefore likely that garlic contains the same toxic component as
This sounds as though no one actually knows for sure if garlic contains any
toxic components or not. The one case cited in the article is
inconclusive, really, because according to the Merck Vet Manual, h.a. can
be caused by many different things, and the cause is often completely
unknown (and although onion is mentioned in the Manual, garlic is not).
Just because the dog happened to be consuming garlic (of an unknown
quantity), doesn't mean that the cause couldn't have been some other
unknown factor rather than the garlic. The chemical makeup of garlic is
not the same as onion, although they do share some things in common. If
they don't know which chemical is the culprit, it is hard to know for sure
if garlic is implicated or not.
To give a human comparison, think about the early years of the prairie
frontier in the United States. In those years, many people were certain
that malaria was caused by eating watermelon. In many cases, it was
true--people who got malaria had very recently eaten watermelon! Now we
know, of course, that malaria is carried by mosquitoes, but in those days,
people were often afraid to eat watermelon, even though in actual fact, the
watermelon may have made them more resistant to serious illness because of
the high beta carotene content. If watermelon (or garlic) had no nutritive
value, it wouldn't matter much--you cut it out of the diet just in case.
However, what about something that really has some potential value?
Part of the reason this discussion surprised me so much is because there
are so many holistic vets and herbalists that use garlic extensively in
canine health programs and have for years. It seems that if it was really
a problem it would have become evident in one of these programs long ago.
I have a very recent book, written by a practicing vet, who recommends up
to 9 CLOVES per MEAL for a large dog in some cases. There is no mention in
the book of possible toxicity, nor in any of the other books I have read by
practitioners who use garlic. Most of the vets we have hired to treat our
own animals recommended garlic, even vets that I would not consider
"alternative medicine" types. I would really like to see some vet school
do a truly scientific study on this to see what chemicals in onion cause
problems in dogs to see if it really is present in garlic. It would be a
shame if assumptions like this were to unnecessarily rob the canine world
of something with so much potential for benefit.