The Pros And Cons Of Feeding Garlic To Horses

Garlic has a great deal of medicinal value, and it has been used for thousands of years in traditional and folk medicines. What is it used for? How can it help? Is it safe? In this article, we answer these questions and more and give good advice on how and why you should use garlic as a supplement for your horse. Read on to learn more on feeding garlic to horses, its pros and cons.

How Can Garlic Help Horses?

How Can Garlic Help Horses

Garlic is an important part of human’s diet and has quite a few benefits. Garlic acts as a natural antibiotic. It can be used topically or orally to battle bacterial infections.

Garlic is an effective expectorant. Taken orally, it can help break up mucus so that it can be coughed or sneezed away.

Garlic is also an effective, natural antihistamine. It can be very helpful in reducing inflammation caused by allergens.

Ingesting garlic or using it as a component of a topical rub can also help reduce inflammation caused by injury or arthritis.

Parasites hate garlic. Adding garlic to your horse’s diet helps control intestinal parasites.

Garlic’s odor is repellent to many insect pests. Ingesting garlic causes the skin to release strong odors that can help keep flies, mosquitoes and other biting pests away.

Research done on humans indicates that ingesting garlic may help reduce blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels.

Garlic helps cleanse the blood and can help prevent conditions such as sweet itch and laminitis.

Garlic is a fairly good nutritional supplement. It contains trace minerals, such as:

  • Germanium
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Iron

As a nutritional supplement, garlic also contains antioxidants which can help protect against free radicals and cell damage.

Raw garlic contains a component known as allicin. This is the component that is considered a natural antibiotic and that causes garlic to smell so strong. In dried products, allicin is not as prominent.

How Can You Use Garlic?

How Can You Use Garlic

As a dietary supplement, garlic can be helpful in keeping parasites and insect pests under control. For horses suffering from ongoing inflammation problems caused by arthritis, laminitis and other conditions, adding garlic to the daily diet can help reduce inflammation, and therefore, pain.

Topically, fresh garlic can be crushed and used as a poultice to help prevent wound infection.

How Much Garlic Should You Feed Your Horse & How Should You Feed It?

It is safe to give your horse as many as five fresh cloves of garlic a day, but many horses will not eat even one fresh clove of garlic. That’s why there are a wide variety of garlic supplements on the market for horses.

You can purchase powder or granules to be mixed into your horse’s feed. Generally speaking about 50 g a day is safe.

Use garlic in higher doses to treat specific conditions in the short term. Feed it as a daily supplement throughout the spring and summer months to help control parasites and biting insects.

How Does Garlic Repel Insect Pests?

As a feedthrough bug deterrent, garlic changes the smell of your horse’s sweat. In this way, it naturally discourages flying insects.

The effectiveness of garlic as a feedthrough fly repellent varies from one horse to another. You may find garlic extremely effective with your horse, or you may find that it doesn’t help at all. The best thing to do is try it and see.

Is Garlic Really Safe For Horses?

Is Garlic Really Safe For Horses

On the downside, there is some possibility of toxicity to horses in members of the garlic and onion family. This is caused by an element found in onions and garlic called allium.

There has not been a great deal of research on exactly how this component affects horses, and it may affect some horses differently from others.

Generally speaking, using garlic as a seasonal supplement to help with parasites and pests is considered safe.

As a caveat, you probably should not feed garlic year-round. Long-term use long-term use may cause a decrease in red blood cell production.

Red blood cells (hemoglobin) are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout warm-blooded animal’s bodies. A lack of red blood cells will naturally lead to shortness of breath, anemia and ill health.

Allium toxicity can cause anemia. If your horse is suffering from anemia, you may notice a reduced energy level, lack of stamina and compromised immune system.

Will My Horse Like Garlic?

The only way to answer this question is to try it and see. Look for a high quality, dried garlic supplement prepared especially for horses.

Begin with a small amount added to the feed and gradually increase to the recommended dosage. As with any supplement or treatment, talk with your vet before adding garlic to your horse’s diet.

Garlic Granules

Frequently Asked Questions

feeding garlic to horses Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are natural herbs good for horses?

In addition to using garlic for immune and circulatory support, you may wish to make use of some other natural herbal products. For example, sweet tasting chamomile plant has natural calming properties. Nettle is great for improving skin and coat condition. Raspberry leaf can help promote reproductive health. There are a number of prepared herbal products for horses that may be helpful to your horse. Of course, you should consult your vet before adding any remedies to your horse’s routine.

2. Should horses eat other members of the Allium family of plants?

Generally speaking, chives, shallots, leeks, onions and even garlic are toxic to horses because they contain propyl dioxide, which can cause damage to red blood cells. Eating large amounts of any of these plants can lead to a serious condition known as onion toxicity. For this reason, horses should not have access to areas where any of these plants grow wild. Small amounts of garlic (especially when it has been prepared in a commercial supplement intended for horses) should not be problematic.

3. What are the symptoms of onion toxicity?

A horse who is suffering from onion toxicity may have pale gums and other mucous membranes. The horse may have sulfurous or onion-smelling breath. He or she may stagger and have dark, reddish-brown urine and/or tachycardia. Pregnant mares may experience spontaneous abortion.

4. How can you be sure your horse won’t experience onion toxicity?

Don’t overdo use of garlic for horses. Use high quality, commercially prepared supplements and follow packaging directions closely. Walk your horses’ turnout area frequently to identify and eliminate any wild onions or other potentially dangerous plants. Prevent having toxic weed seed enter your horses’ grazing area by examining all hay for dried up weed content and by cleaning any borrowed or rented farm machinery before bringing it into your property. Don’t allow visiting horses to graze in your horses’ turnout area, and quarantine any new stock to prevent weed seed from being deposited onto your property in the animals’ droppings.

5. Can you use garlic supplementation for horses on an ongoing basis?

It’s best to limit use of garlic containing supplements to no longer than one month to prevent the possibility of developing onion toxicity.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Horses & Foals

6022 S Drexel Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

Amazon Disclaimer

Horses & Foals is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


Horses & Foals do not intend to provide veterinary advice. We try to help users better understand their horses; however, the content on this blog is not a substitute for veterinary guidance. For more information, please read our PRIVACY POLICY.