By Lynn Whittaker
Bow Wow University
It makes your Italian dishes taste better, makes your mouth water, gives off a spicy aroma, wards off vampires, has healing properties, but is it good for your pet?
Garlic is a member of the Allium genus, a branch of the lily family that includes hundreds of onions, leeks, shallots, and chives. Garlic is readily available at supermarkets, stripped of its leaves, and sold in bulb format. The skin of the garlic protects the smaller bulbs called cloves on the inside. It grows in the wild and is self-sowing. People have observed animals such as deer, elk, moose, and rabbits snacking on these plants in the wild. Perhaps these animals have known all along that garlic is not just for the epicurean’s delight, but may benefit our pets too.
It has been theorized that garlic originated from west-central Asia, and its use for medicinal purposes dates back as far as five thousand years. Garlic is antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory. It can boost the immune system, reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, blood clotting, and is used to treat infections, digestive and respiratory problems. Garlic can reduce cramps, gas, it can kill worms, parasites, repel fleas, and harmful bacteria.
There are many forms of garlic preparation; fresh, cooked, dried, granulated, and garlic prepared in oil. It can also be purchased at health food stores in pill form. Once thought to be the only healing constituent Allicin, a volatile oil in garlic, is now one of many healing agents found in those small but powerful bulbs. At least thirty other compounds contained in garlic have been shown effective in treating conditions from skin disorders to cancer. Allicin remains an important factor if you choose to purchase garlic for specific health issues. Because it is so volatile, the effectiveness wears down once the bulb is exposed to air, and may not provide the health benefits you seek.
If you choose supplements, be certain to research where your garlic supplements are manufactured and grown, as well as how the supplement is prepared. Because certain companies attempt to achieve the highest allicin contents, they may strip the other natural benefits from the garlic, leaving only the allicin as the most potent factor. This especially plays an important role in administering garlic in the form of an antibiotic. Consulting a vet as to what form of garlic your pet should have, is also advisable.
Although toxic side effects from the consumption of garlic are rare in animals, they do exist, and there is growing controversy as to how much is too much. And seemingly the misconception is the notion more is better. Despite the great attributes this bulb has to offer, the cardinal rule when administering herbs to your pets is to always obtain veterinary advice and give the smallest doses possible. Garlic can make a wonderful addition to your pet’s diet, giving them added flavor and extra benefits to their health.
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