Monday, June 16, 2008

Ask Lola : A slobbering advice column written by a dog for eco-minded dogs and their owners

Dear Lola: Tweet, Tweet! I’ve heard putting garlic in dog food helps ward off fleas. What are your thoughts?


DEAR TWITTER FRIEND: I am always excited to get tweet emails from the Twitter community and my followers. So let me first start by barking a shout out to my tweeter peeps and pups, thanks for tuning in to my world.

We all know that garlic is that many people cook with on a daily basis to season their dishes. Italians love to add it to their sauce’s poured over a bowl of al dente pasta. But when I think of garlic the first thing that comes to mind is smelly Garlic breath, but there has to be more to garlic then this. So being Sherlock Hound I took it upon myself to get the scoop on this much barked about topic, garlic, dogs and fleas!

No one wants their dog to be the breeding grounds for fleas. For many centuries natural & alternative treatments have been used as prevention for many dog ailments. Known to some as the “Flea Terminator”, garlic with nutritional or brewer’s yeast has been used by many as an effective remedy to ward off fleas. When garlic is added to your dog’s food and ingested it then permeates his or her coat producing an odor fleas detest, keeping those bloodsuckers at bay. But don’t worry the odor won’t be strong enough to repel you!

However, there has been much debate in the two legged world amongst vets & pet owners. Many people have voiced their concerns on rather to feed their pet garlic or not. So like anything, seek the advice of a well respected vet and do your research. Garlic has been used by humans for centuries for it medicinal purposes and in particular it has been known to lower cholesterol and prevent blood clotting. So all you humans out there “Bon Appétit”! But for all you dog lovers out their always keep in mind that not all foods for human consumption are good for dogs. Some of the foods to avoid include chocolate, grapes, raisins, alcohol, onions and the list goes on. So before, you fill your dogs tummy makes sure the food you give is not harmful to their health.

Which brings us back to the topic of the hour, garlic, it has also been listed as a big “No, No” by some vets and owners, considered toxic to pets and to be avoided at all cost. While some pet owners and vets like renowned holistic veterinarian Dr. Pitcairn, author of Natural Health for Dogs & Cats recommends garlic as a natural form of flea prevention. Many holistic vets believe that if garlic is consumed in moderation (at non toxic levels) your dog can reap its many health benefits. Some of my favorite healthy and all natural treats on the market contain garlic but in low amounts to take advantage of its healing properties.

Some of the benefits of adding garlic to your dog’s diet (ONLY in moderation) include:

  • Natural MSM
  • Natural Antioxidant
  • Antibacterial, helps fight infection
  • The pungent volatile oil in garlic is one of the major constituents and contains a substance known as alliin which has Antiviral, anti fungal and anti-parasitic properties. Garlic is particularly good in helping with skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema and ringworm.
  • Helps build a healthy immune system
  • Inhibits the growth of cancer cells. (The number one killer of dogs)
  • Helps to strengthen digestion and promotes friendly bacteria in the digestive tract.
  • Promoting the flow of bowl.
  • Has a mild antispasmodic (pain relieving) effect and can help reduce the discomfort associated with mild indigestion. If there is a buildup of gas in the tummy (which can also cause tummy discomfort), garlic can help by dispelling the gas and easing any pain.
  • Helps eliminate worm
  • One of the more recent findings is that garlic can help reduce blood pressure when given over a period of time. This is a useful property that can be put to use in helping dogs with cardiac problems and cats with kidney disease where raised blood pressure can lead to renal damage.
  • May benefit dogs with diabetes by helping reduce blood-sugar levels.
  • Proven to aid in detoxifying the body
  • Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Improve blood sugar regulation
  • Improves circulation, dogs who suffer from arthritis will benefit from periodic garlic supplementation.
  • One of the most important roles of garlic is in dealing with accumulations of catarrh and mucus. This is an important property and can be employed in treating conditions such as sinusitis, rhinitis and respiratory infections where catarrh is a feature. The pungent volatile oil present in garlic is for the most part excreted through the lungs and the rest of the respiratory tract, making garlic an excellent remedy for treating respiratory problems in general, including bronchitis, emphysema, and viral or bacterial infections such as cat flu and kennel cough. It is also useful in treating some forms of allergic-based respiratory conditions, such as feline asthma, and allergy-based bronchitis in dogs.
  • Garlic has been shown to help reduce blood cholesterol levels. This is useful in dealing with some forms of liver disease where raised cholesterol levels can interfere with liver function. Garlic can also help lower blood glucose levels and can be used in the management of diabetes.

But since you are the hand that feeds your pet it is important to not only become aware of the healing benefits but also the risk. Like many dogs, I also have a tendency to get into things that may not be good for my health or my mom’s kitchen floor. I have knocked over a few garbage bins in my doggy days, the best part is the clean up. I guess you can say it’s recycling at its best. But trust me overdosing over a basket of garlic and having to spend time at the vets office is not my idea of a fun. So all you dogs out their take heed!

Despite its healing qualities, garlic contains thiosulphate, which can cause Heinz factor anemia or hemolytic anemia. This condition could cause circulating blood cells to burst. There is a large amount of controversy whether garlic contains enough thiosulphate to be a concern.
So if you do decide to use garlic seek the advice of your trusted veterinarian on proper dosage amount which depend on your dogs weight prior to using it. Also, to make sure garlic should be given to your dog based on their health and circumstance. But, the key is to introduce the garlic to your pet’s diet slowly and only feed your dog small amounts. It is important that if your dog starts having health issues to stop usage immediately. Symptoms of hemolytic anemia can develop in a few hours or up to a few days. These symptoms include: diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, depression and vomiting. If anemia progresses, the sure sign is that a dog’s urine could show red pigment from damaged blood cells. If you see these symptoms in your pet and you're missing a lot of cloves of garlic, call your vet.

As for my secret to enjoying the dog days of summer, fleeing from the fleas, and telling those biting critters to bug off. Well, my parents give me a few spritzes of all natural Happytails Flea the Scene 3 in 1 Repellent Spray before I go outside, on that long awaited hike, or for an afternoon game of fetch at the park with my friends. This all natural force field gives me an upper paw in this “flea-eat-dog” world. The best part is that it contains sunscreen and soothes the skin from insect bites. It works wonders so check it out at and make you and your dog will become a believer.

Well, I always want to hear other people’s views on this topic so email or twitter me or post your comment on this topic. Also, if you have any other healthy natural remedies please do tell because inquiring dog lovers want to know!

Barkingly yours,

Lola the eco-dog

You can find this and other eco-friendly products at If you have a question or need advice from Lola the eco- dog on ways you & your dog can go green just Twitter or email her at . Lola the eco-dog is here to help!

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