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.

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  1. David B.

    Recently, I read in one of your books and online that milk of magnesia is a good product to combat body odor. One member of our family, namely our dog has an odor problem. I give him a shower every two weeks with medicated shampoos and conditioners prescribed by our vet. The “stink” does subside but only for a few days.
    So I got the bright idea to try your milk of magnesia remedy. So I poured the milk of magnesia in a spray bottle and sprayed him every two or three days. Low and behold the stink disappears! So far so good and no apparent skin problems.
    Please pass this idea on to other owners of man’s best friend who struggle with a similar problem.

  2. LS70

    We gave our “guard” dog (barks at anything that moves or flies) a small chunk of raw garlic & 2 Brewer’s Yeast tablets in a moulded slice of cheese 2x week along with goodies (bones, scraps) for approximately 10 years. We changed it to once a week about 6 months ago as we read about the no-no in re the bones.
    I read the April 10 JVMS article; which talks about BAKED garlic. Of course you wouldn’t feed a dog onions, or bread, or lots of other stuff; but raw garlic? For 77 years old, he looks awfully healthy to me.

  3. Paul43

    How come it works for all the other dog owners?

  4. JAH

    Thank you for this information. My Dad used to give garlic to our dogs for worms, not fleas.

  5. Carol

    I quite accidentally discovered that a few drops of white vinegar in a pint of drinking water deterred fleas from settling on and biting my cat. The cat didn’t mind or have any adverse effects. It was a better solution than the toxic liquid and powder products, especially since cats groom themselves and each other and can ingest the toxic products applied to their coats.

  6. CM

    Does this go for cats too?
    People’s Pharmacy response: Even more for cats.

  7. AH

    I can attest to onion toxicity. My 82# Weimaraner stole a small pkg of chopped onions out of my grocery bag as I was bringing in more bags. He ran out in the yard to hide while eating them. The next morning I had a dog who looked like he was bloating. On the way to the car, I found the empty pkg so realized what had happened. $500 at the vet, IV’s, Meds for stomach, Iron tab for several weeks followed. Hematuria continued for weeks. Onions are cumulative. If your dog eats some now and then, they add up. Be careful!!

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