“Is it dangerous to feed garlic to horses?” Here are some need to know points about the potential risks and how to avoid them when feeding garlic to your horse.
Garlic is one of the most popular supplements fed to horses. With a history of use in humans dating back to the time of the Great Plague in 1665, it is currently believed to be the best-selling equine supplement. It is used to maintain a healthy respiratory system, support immunity and deter biting flies and parasites. It is known to offer a huge number of health benefits, BUT it has also been shown to cause anaemia in horses.
Is garlic a cheap and traditional cure-all for horses, or is it doing more harm than good?
In 2005 a piece of research was published which linked the feeding of large amounts of garlic lead to the development of Heinz body anaemia in horses. Although only a small trial, it was widely published and left many horse owners confused and concerned.
How does garlic cause anaemia in horses?
Garlic contains a compound known as n-propyl-disulphide, which is known to be toxic to a number of animals, including dogs and horses. The toxicity causes a phenomenon known as Heinz body anaemia, when a little bubble of damaged haemoglobin develops on the outside of the blood cell. The n-propyl disulphide in garlic depletes the cell of a natural chemical which should be protecting it from oxidative damage. As the damaged cells accumulate, they are mopped up and recycled by the spleen, but as more and more damaged cells continue to be removed from the blood the horse will develop anaemia. The symptoms include lethargy, poor performance and a dull coat – signs you would expect when the horse is generally ‘off-colour’.
How to tell if your horse is at risk?
In the trial, two horses were fed 125g of garlic per day for five weeks, and both developed the indications of Heinz body anaemia. Usually, it is recommended that 15 – 30g of garlic per day is fed to horses, but it is usually fed daily, on a long term basis, possibly even for the life of the horse. It is possible that small doses of garlic fed regularly may also put the horse at risk of anaemia, but further research is needed. The good news is that this form of anaemia is reversible, once garlic is eliminated from the diet. In the trial, both horses had largely recovered in five weeks.
How can you feed garlic without the risks?
For your horse to continue to benefit from the addition of garlic to his diet, choose a supplement free from n-propyl disulphide, such as Inno-Scent Garlic, a unique garlic extract made by Brinicombe Equine, set the go on sale later this month.
Inno-Scent has been created as a safe form of garlic for equine consumption. Laboratory tests have not found any detectable levels of the toxic n-proply disulphide or allicin compound. Inno-Scent also contains Diatomaceous Earth and salt. Diatomaceous Earth is a source of silica for hair and bone strength and salt has electrolyte properties to encourage water intakes. The unique manufacturing methods preserve all the goodness of fresh garlic, matching the nutritional content of the whole bulb.
If you have any further questions around this topic , click the link to the Equi-Clinic to get in touch!