Q. I Iive in “the bird dog capital of the world,” where a common add-in to dog food is a sprinkling of garlic powder to repel fleas, ticks and mosquitos. It seems to work, as many handlers and kennels do not give the dogs a flea and tick treatment before going into the field trials.
A. Readers of this column have been recommending garlic to combat fleas for years. Then we received this message: “I heard that garlic could keep fleas from biting, so I put some in my dog’s food for about a week. He became lethargic and couldn’t even climb the lowest stairs. My vet said that garlic is toxic to dogs. It causes something called Heinz body anemia. Please warn other readers.”
Veterinarians tell us that garlic does not protect dogs from fleas or ticks. They have found, however, that garlic and onions may cause dangerous anemia in dogs (Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, April 2010). It is not worth the risk.