Garlic is one of those 'controversial' supplements I like to talk about. Anything considered 'natural' seems to have controversy linked to it. Like anything, garlic has its positives and its negatives. Making a choice for your horse is about knowing both sides of the story.
Garlic has been used for centuries for many health benefits:
- Boosts immune system
- Repels both internal and external parasites
Garlic also provides the following nutrients all in an easily digestible form:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
Garlic in large doses can cause stomach upset and excessive, unwanted smell. Large doses of garlic may also cause Heinz Antibodies Anemia. The point, of course, is to not feed large doses! The average 1000 pound horse should only be getting about 2 ounces of garlic a day.
Whether you feed raw cloves or granulated garlic, for most horses the benefits are going to out weight any possible negatives. The important part is to be an educated horse owner and to aware of the signs of anemia before introducing or maintaining garlic in a horse's diet. Luckily, anemia in a horse is pretty easy to spot. If a horse has anemia, a look at their gums will usually reveal pale yellow or white tissue. Healthy gums should always be a shade of pink.
Other symptoms of anemia are:
- shortness of breath
- discolored or red urine
- pale mucous membranes
- elevated heart rate
- exercise intolerance
- muscle weakness
- nose bleeds
If your horse is experiencing any of these symptoms have your vet check them of anemia before starting on garlic.
STARTING YOUR HORSE ON GARLIC
If your horse has digestive issues or is a fussy eater, you may need to start with a very small amount of garlic and slowly build up to approximately 2 ounces a day. This is the recommended amount for fly control. It may also take 4-6 weeks before benefits can be seen so plan accordingly. I have had my horses on garlic for the last few years, as well as my dogs, and can attest to the fact that it works very well with flea and tick control as well as fly control. I prefer the granulated form available at springtimeinc.com. It is easy to measure out and smells wonderful! They also have great articles about the use of garlic and horses.