Garlic and Fleas
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that garlic works to keep fleas away from pets. Plenty of people say that they have used it for years and that it has deterred fleas from their dogs and cats. On the flip side, there is a school of thought that says that garlic is bad for pets, cats in particular. Garlic regularly makes it on to “Toxic Foods for Dogs and Cats” lists. So, what is the truth?
This post will answer the questions:
- Does garlic kill fleas?
- Is garlic safe for dogs and cats?
- How do I use garlic to get rid of fleas?
Does Garlic Kill Fleas?
The simple answer is no, garlic does not kill fleas. However, it is said to repel fleas. So, if your pet already has a flea infestation, garlic isn’t going to do you too much good. If you have a dog or cat that doesn’t have a flea problem, you may be able to use garlic to deter fleas from infesting your animal.
The garlic works simply, it’s the smell permeating your pet’s skin that makes it unattractive to the fleas. The smell shouldn’t be detectable by humans.
There is no scientific proof for that garlic works to get rid of fleas. There are lots of experienced owners who use garlic, both raw and in tablet form, to keep their pets free of fleas.
Is Garlic Safe for Dogs and Cats?
The danger associated with garlic is that it can cause anaemia in both dogs and cats. Severe anaemia can result in death. In simple terms, chemicals within the garlic react with the pet’s haemoglobin and causes the blood to “thin” and the spleen to enlarge.
Garlic is particularly toxic to cats, for the reasons above: it can cause severe anaemia. Although you can use it in small doses, it is safer to avoid using garlic for cats. Use it for dogs, safely as suggested below.
My advice: Don’t use garlic for fleas on your cat
The Toxic Amount of Garlic
Your pets won’t suffer from small amounts of garlic. A toxic dose of garlic can be worked out as around 1 or 2 cloves per kilogram of the pet’s weight. So, if your pet weighs in at 5 kg, a toxic dose would be 5 cloves or more in a day.
A teaspoon of garlic powder can be said to equal a garlic clove. So, in our example above, the 5 kg pet would be at danger if given 5 teaspoons or more of garlic powder.
To use garlic safely, feed it only a few times every week, making sure that you stay below the daily toxic dose. For example, for our 5 kg pet, feed 2 cloves or 2 teaspoons of garlic powder every two days. This should keep you well below the toxic dose but still keep the garlic in the system for flea repelling.
How to use Garlic to Repel Fleas
Garlic can be fed in several ways:
- Raw put into food, either whole or crushed.
- In powder form
- In tablet form – there are several brands of garlic tablets marketed for cats and dogs
- Garlic will not kill fleas, so is not appropriate for an established flea infestation
- Garlic may act as a natural flea repellent
- Garlic can be toxic and cause death, particularly for cats
- Use garlic carefully, paying attention to the safe dosage
- Garlic tablets may be best if you are unsure about how to feed raw garlic safely.