Is Garlic Safe for Horses? Top Myths Debunked

Is Garlic safe for horses

There’s a debate among horse owners-“Is Garlic Safe for My Horse”?

You may be wondering is garlic safe for horses? You may have heard that garlic is an insect repellent. Or that garlic is good for respiratory problems in horses. Or that garlic causes anemia in horses. Are these all just myths?

There’s an old saying that goes: Ask 10 different horse people a question and you’ll get 10 different answers. 

Read on to uncover the truth about all these claims about garlic and horses.

  • What are the benefits of feeding garlic to my horse?
  • Are there any risks to giving my horse garlic?
  • Does Garlic cause Anemia in horses?
  • Does garlic repel flies on horses?
  • How much garlic should I feed my horse?


Is Garlic Safe for Horses? Top Myths Debunked 1

What are the benefits of feeding garlic to my horse?

Garlic contains sulphur-containing compounds (allicin, alliin, and ajoene). Allicin is what is responsible for its distinct odor and antibiotic properties. 

Garlic has been shown in lab experiments to be at least as effective as any of the common antibiotics in dealing with  bacteria, like those causing food poisoning, digestive problems, and infections of the throat, lungs and skin .

The most effective of the antibiotics tested was chloramphenicol, which workes the best of all tested but garlic was just as effective as chloramphenicol and, in two cases, killed bacteria resistant to it.

Years ago we had a calf with joint ill. It had had repeated courses of antibiotics with no lasting effect and the infected knee had erupted. We fed the calf fresh garlic and packed the open joint with fresh cloves. Sure enough, the garlic did what the antibiotics could not, and the calf recovered and thrived with only a chronically swollen and slightly stiff knee. Source Horse&Pony Magazine

  • Garlic for horses contains enzymes (allinase, peroxidase and myrosinase), glucokinins, B group vitamins, vitamin C and flavonoids.
  • Garlicia also a unique bio-available source trace minerals including copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, germanium, and selenium. 
  • Garlic for horses has antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals and may reduce the damage they cause.

Are There Risks to Giving My Horses Garlic?

 is garlic safe for horses

Does garlic cause Anemia in horses?

Anemia simply means a reduction in red blood cells in the horse’s blood.

There are many causes of anaemia in a horses including a diseases called equine infectious anemia, liver or kidney damage, tumors, bleeding, infection, redworms, bots, or a poor diet lacking iron and B12.

A study conducted at the University of Guelph, Canada in 2005 found that when fed at high levels (250 g/day for a 500 kg horse) garlic caused changes in the horse’s blood including an increase in mean corpuscular volume (MCV), decreases in red blood cell count and blood haemoglobin concentration. These changes can eventually lead to a condition known as Heinz Body Anemia.

This is the equivalent to feeding an 1,100-pound) horse just under half a pound of garlic a day. Garlic is safe for horses when given in suggested dosage of no more than 1 tablespoon a day.

Read: 7 Reasons to Use Garlic for Horses


Does garlic repel flies on horses?

does garlic repel flies

Feeding garlic to horses for fly and insect control has been around for years. Some horse owners swear by it for cutting down on flies, ticks and gnats in the summer months when insects are out in full force.

While it’s not clear exactly why it works as an insect repellent, it’s widely believed that when ingested, the animal gives off a scent that is a natural repellent. Even if the insects land on the animal, they quickly leave because they hate the smell.

Results of a study published in the 8/16/2000 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association show that garlic supplements may be able to fight off the ticks and hopefully decrease the risk of Lyme disease, especially in high-risk areas.

“[Our] results suggest that garlic may be considered as a tick repellent for individuals and populations at high risk for tick bite, rather than other agents that might have more adverse effects,” writes study author Louise Stjernberg, RN, MPH. Stjernberg is from Lund University in Malmö, Sweden.

How much garlic is safe to give my horse?

Dosage can vary depending on the reason you are using the garlic supplement for your horses. For fly control the usual suggested dosage needed is no more than 1 tablespoon/1oz of granulated garlic daily.

Some horses won’t eat that much at first so it’s best to start out with just a little sprinkled over their food and increase dosage every few days as the acclimate to it. 

Bug Zap Naturally is a unique garlic supplement that is in a pelleted form that most horses find much more palatable. A blend of Garlic, Diatomaceous Earth, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Flaxseed Oil. Bug Zap Naturally get’s rave reviews from our customers for the palatability when feeding as well as effectiveness. Find out more HERE.

So is garlic safe for horses?

The simple answer is yes when you use good common sense and give a safe amount. Garlic has become an incredibly popular supplement and generally considered safe in normal use. In tests, a daily dose of 1/2lb was needed to lead to Heinz body anemia. A more normal dose of 1 Tablespoon per 1000 lbs should be fine. 

 If you’ve been on the fence about giving your horse garlic, go ahead and give it try. Garlic has many benefits that far outweigh any myths and fear associated with it.

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