View Full Version : Garlic Warning!
2nd Nov 2001, 06:28 PM
I've just been reading an article in the Icelandic newsletter by an American vet. He's warns that feeding garlic to horses is very unwise.
He states that garlic is poisonous to horses as is any member of the onion family.
It causes irreversable kidney damage and anaemia amoungst other horrid conditions. These conditions go largely un-noticed until the horse displays coffee coloured urine by which time his condition is serious.
I cannot remember his name, if anyone wants to look into his findings further I'll look at the article again and post his name.
I have always wondered about feeding garlic, it's not something a horse would eat naturally, so we never feed it.
Just something to think about.
2nd Nov 2001, 07:08 PM
Thanx for the warning wally I almost bought a garlic supplement for my ponies today but i'm glad i didnt now!
2nd Nov 2001, 08:59 PM
I'd be interested to know more, all our lot get it and love it, though I must admit I've thought to myself that its effect against flies was virtually zilch with Breeze, and she has no problems with breathing and circulation so I am giving her it because she likes it.
2nd Nov 2001, 09:40 PM
That report certainly goes against convential wisdom, and I'm puzzled that after so many years there is only one person standing up saying this. You would expect there to be large amounts of evidence by now.
I'm also not sure that horse wouldn't eat wild garlic leaves at least naturally - it could be said that humans wouldn't naturally eat garlic, but we do (often in large doses and will little detrimental effect aside from the social one! ;))
I'm not saying that he's wrong - just that we shouldn't all panic and stop feeding anything with garlic in.
It will hopefully stimulate scientific debate though, which can only be a good thing. I think that I'll wait and see if scientists start agreeing with him first :)
2nd Nov 2001, 10:14 PM
I had a horse whose coat went very dull and flakey. Her skin was awful, all because I gave her Garlic!! Every horse is different but I can see where the vet is coming from. These days we feed a lot of things that the horse wouldn't come across in the wild. I like to keep the diet as natural as possible (That doesn't mean I starve them to death!) Has anyone read the book [I]The Organic Horse I]by someone with the surname Gray? It's quite an eye opener!!
2nd Nov 2001, 11:52 PM
I also wondered whether a horse would choose to graze wild garlic. I've seen my horses over the years choose to eat various different weeds and nibble on hedges when there's a good supply of nice green grass. Breeze positivley dives at pineapple weed, I've even thrown a carrot among it (she loves those too) but she shows little interest until she's had her fill of pineapple weed.
I've also been surprized when I've hand grazed horses on road sides as to the grass they sometimes chosen to eat, sometimes passing over younger shoots for the older, taller more fiborous grass. I can't imagine it tastes nicer, so they must be eating according to thier bodies needs, as in the fields my horse grazes there is never tall fiborous grass and very few herbs and weeds.
I find this subject really interesting as most of what we feed would not be in a wild horses natural diet in the form we feed it, especially the, what I call processed feeds eg meadow/pasture mixs, sugar beet and you could even go as far as oats and barley I suppose, and not to forget carrots, they'd eat the green top but would they dig out the carrot though they could possibly pull it out if they're lucky.
I can see possibly where we could be going wrong by feeding certain supplements on a daily basis, as I've said I've seen mine and other peoples horses choose to eat certain plants now and again (apart from Breeze and pineapple weed when its yellow) so maybe we are removing the horses choice to graze herbs etc to the balance that they need them, its an interesting subject.
3rd Nov 2001, 12:08 AM
That's interesting, Wally - yes, please, I would like to know more details if you can find them.
Wild garlic does grow in lots of places in the British Isles, so I don't see why a horse wouldn't eat the leaves....
But as Dizzy says, most of what we feed is unnatural , isn't it? Wild horses don't eat sugar beet, or grain (well, maybe wild grass seeds?) or salt, or oil or molasses ....... But then wild horses aren't asked to carry a rider.
3rd Nov 2001, 04:04 PM
There's actually a lot of discussion amongst vets about how we humans have totally ruined horses by domesticating them as naturally horses evolved to eat rough dry grasses on the plains of mongolia and all that, without eating any other rich foods etc etc. But then we have already domesticated them and bred them away from native wild type horses so we do have to balance what they eat. In addition we lock them up and ride them so they are unable to eat 18 hours a day as they need to, and we've given them health probelms there too!
In terms of garlic yes it can be toxic to horses especially if fed in large amounts. Some horses are more susceptible to poisoning than others. There is also serious doubt as to whether it really does distract flies or not! I think citronalla spray or even mint scented sprays work better, and your horse smells better too!
Garlic and other alliums are toxic to most other pet species including dogs and cats, so never feed garlic or onions to your dog or cat either!
3rd Nov 2001, 06:29 PM
thats so interesting i don't feed my horse it but i used to to my old horse, i won't now anyway, it costs and i have not seen any great benefits from giving it anyway!!!
it really suprised me it has no warning or thought of health on it and it has been feed to horse for so longer you presume it's safe!!!
3rd Nov 2001, 08:01 PM
In the old days the horses were fed such a "simple" diet that colic was hardly ever a problem!! I have known owners who are "old fashioned" with their feeding, but their horse glowed with health!! And colic is alien to them. I've stopped giving horses oil in their feed as they don't find it in the wild, just herbs, bushes, grasses etc. And the idea of feedstuffs giving the horse stomach ulcers etc puts me off! I think sometimes we need to try and keep feeds simple, the horse isn't like us humans.
I should imagine by now I sound like a super Natural Horse keeper person!! I always ask what my horse would prefer, and I think feeding is very important, and trying to keep it simple is a good practise. If us humans choose organic food for us why not do it for horses as well??
3rd Nov 2001, 11:06 PM
I sometimes get funny looks when I tell folk that we don't feed all our horses hard feed. They are mostly Icelandic and Fjord and Shetland types. All these have been bred and adapted to live on sparse grazing. We feed those that work only barley, plain chaff and in some cases cool mix. They have access to a mineral lick and powder. We don't feed garlic, but we do add calories in the form of vegetable oil, the climate here dictates we supplement calorie intake in the working horses. They live out 24/7 in a huge area of open hill and inby grazing, they choose the herbs and suchlike.
We are lucky in there is little improved and fetilized grazing, it is all ancient hill land with a huge variety of plants.
Colic? what's that? I have never had (touch wood) to treat a horse for colic. Not since moving here anyway.
Okay, I'm not one to jump on a band-waggon, but if there is any doubt as to the effectiveness of garlic, add to this that is may have detrimental effects I think we should think very carefully about how we supplement our horses' diet. Horses are very tough and hardy, ours only stay in when the weather in absolutely awful (and until you have lived in the Northern Isles the meaning of awful may take on a new meaning!) they come into the indoor school as a herd and still interact as a herd. We never segrigate them.
Plain, simple feeding, no frills and LOTS of fibre, can't beat it.
4th Nov 2001, 10:53 AM
Absolutely, The problem comes when we ask horses to work harder. Their natural diet of grass and scrubby things (has anyone else noticed that in autumn horses love to eat dried leaves?) is not suitable to maintain the athletic types at a high enough level. We do (unfortunately) need to feed these guys something more energy dense as their bodies can only eat a certain amount of food each day. However what people do wrong is to spend too much time concentrating on how much hard feed they give and limiting their hay in order to stuff the energy in. We should be keeping our horses guts full of fibre and working hard. Colic is truly a symptom of how we feed our horses and unfortunately we'll never get away from it because we demand that our horses perform.
personally my horses live out all year round, including my warmblood (though he gets extra rugs. I also have Welsh ponies and they're so tough I'm sure they laugh at the big guy if he starts shivering!! The benefit is that they all eat grass all day, and get extra hay if I think they need it.
I advise people to do just that, and I don't believe in supplementing this that and the other. I think horses need to be fed simple diets, and yes they may need more energy than just form grass and hay, but keep it simple and straightforward.
4th Nov 2001, 01:50 PM
This isn't the first time that I've heard of this about garlic. I've never fed it so I'm not too worried. I must say that I think people tend to go a bit overboard in feeding supplements to their horses. The majority of people feed a complete food anyway and then they go and add loads of supplements to it. To my mind that's mad!
4th Nov 2001, 03:52 PM
I think I must point out that some of us don't have the luxury of huge fields with tons of lovely grasses. My horse gets barely any grain, but she constantly has very good hay. She seems very healthy to me, and she gets turned out all day. We can only give what we can.
4th Nov 2001, 04:05 PM
Hay or grass all day....it's all the same to me.
I don't disagree with feeding horses concentrates, I just think we should not forget that they are designed to survive on lots of roughage and we aren't doing their guts any good by keeping them empty!
And I totally agree with Sharon. Why do people give their horses complete diets then try and supplement them with this that and the other? There are some very good feed additives out there (blue chip for one) but there shouldn't be any need for it. i've never seen a horse with a true mineral or vitamin imbalance or deficiency but as horse owners we're very paranoid about it. :rolleyes: sometimes I think people forget their common sense and go off on a tangent.
4th Nov 2001, 08:08 PM
Years ago, when I was a kid, I went on a competition ride and stayed at an Exmoor hunting hotel. There was an old Ostler there who's name, I'm convinced was Ned, but this may be romance!:D
He beleived that a hunter, hunting twice a week in Exmoor could do so on nothing more than good hay and the odd feed of oats!
5th Nov 2001, 10:03 AM
i think people panic too much in keeping horses in and rugging up, a lot of horses started coming in a month ago, mine never comes in and she's 20 years old a thourgobred and not a great doer and she manages winter very well!!!
i felt sorry for this little welsh pony that was in full winter rug 3 weeks ago, i am still on a waterproof summer rug for mine,
i have to admit she does get a small feed everyday because she has arthritis and so i give her supple joint codlivine everyday to keep her from feeling her stiffness, but she lives mainly on grass, and a little bit of hay in the winter!!!!
7th Nov 2001, 06:28 PM
I fed concentrates to my horse when he first arrived because of his previously neglected condition. My yard owner still insists on feeding small amounts of hard feed even though he's now much better (and in fact a little overweight!).
However, my trainer, a local eventer runs all of his horses straight off grass. He says that he has no nutritional problems at all.
That said, I would still give hard feed if the grass was poor and even supplements if I believed it to be lacking nutritionally. I do believe though that people these days don't feel comfortable unless they are doing something: and feeding a large range of supplements is a typical symptom, along with over-rugging, buying every gadget they see and polishing their horses daily! :)
IMHO, supplements (like most things) are fine in moderation and when they perform a useful purpose, but (like most things) are easily taken to extremes.
7th Nov 2001, 08:30 PM
hi, my horse gets 2 scoops of feed a day but only because she is 5 moths old and it's winter...she gets hay too because the grtass in her feild is like dead. but in the summer she gets fress green grass and thats it beside's a couple of carrott's of something. and in the summer she satys out full time, butin the winter and fall she comes in at night. bye!:D
7th Nov 2001, 08:38 PM
wally: do you think you get the author of the article for me please?
i've often wondered about garlic.....have you ever seen what garlic powders like when its get wet, it turns into a sticky goo...i dont want to imagine what it does to the horses stomach.
I have found it to help with the flies, but idont think i'll be using it from now on.
8th Nov 2001, 05:49 PM
I think the chaps name is Michael Murphy, followed by a long list of letters.
He has written a paper on the subject of animal poinsons. I think it's called "Common Animal Poisons"
10th Nov 2001, 10:01 PM
i was reading an article in a horse magazine the women who had wrote it said she had been feeding garlic for a long time and her mare had a sort of rain scald on her back and she kept haveing the vet out but he didnt know what was wrong.then she ran out of garlic and couldent get any fora while then a few days later the (rain scald thing)had cleard up so she dont feed it any more. ~shez~:)
H & Bailey
12th Nov 2001, 10:52 PM
I didnt know feeding garlic was bad for your horse mine love it my new pony tries to get the tub and would eat the whole lot I think if I let him1!But I will stop.I also feed them seaweed (for their hooves) and put a touch of vegetable oil in their feeds which gives their coats incredible shine,Or is this wrong too?
13th Nov 2001, 11:06 AM
No, Veg oil is fine, I don't like codliver oil, not a natural food, seaweed is, however, a natural food, the ponies out on the hill love it, they can often be seen on the rocks up to their bellies in the sea eating seaweed.
13th Nov 2001, 11:54 AM
the book is "Common Animal Posions", by Michael Murphy, DVM, PhD
13th Nov 2001, 12:04 PM
.. and if anyone wants to read up a bit more, have a look at
which is a response the the original article in Horse and Rider.
It seems that the toxic dosage is 5g per KG of body weight - which is an EXTREMELY large amount of garlic. The bit under debate is what effect a lower, ongoing dosage would have.
13th Nov 2001, 05:11 PM
Thanks for posting that, cvb. It was interesting, and it's convinced me that garlic can be dangerous - not that I fed it anyway, because the flies come in the summer and we don't feed our horses then...
It was also interesting to see that it's not because it's unnatural that it's harmful - they noticed the effects on horses grazing on wild garlic, so it's perfectly natural, just poisonous.
I wonder how that relates to the effect of garlic on humans...?
13th Nov 2001, 05:44 PM
Very interesting thread. As fro weather in the Northern Isles I think Dartmoor could run it a close second. My two are rugged and have been for a while but as for feed lots of forage is the order of the day. I have been feeding garlic all year round in very low dose and it does seem to keep the flies away
13th Nov 2001, 07:01 PM
Crazy I know! - but I read the bumf on the link above about the anaemia and blood thinning and figured that thats why people used to say garlic wards off vampires ( I know they don't exist) but the folks from way back obviously knew more than we give them credit for!
13th Nov 2001, 07:33 PM
Very interesting thanks cvb, after reading that I wanted to find more. I found something quite interesting this is the site (http://www.horseandfarmmagazine.com/garlic.html) I sen a email to the makers of the site, explaining about garlic poisoning and asking for more information and proof of the benefits of garlic.
In the site it states: "Researchers have found that 1 medium-size garlic clove packs the antibacterial punch of about 100,000 units of penicillin. Depending on the type of infection, oral penicillin doses typically range from 600,000 to 1.2 million units. The equivalent in garlic would be about 6 to 12 cloves. "
Is this a good thing (I'm pathetically uneducated) What is penicillin? Check out the site and tell me your views!!! And when I recieve a reply from my email, I shall let you know and post it!
Thankyou again for this interesting info!!!!
Luv 'n' Lollipops
14th Nov 2001, 07:47 AM
Penicillin was one of the first anti-biotics identified and isolated. Alexander Fleming 'found' it when one of his experiments went moldy !
A lot medicines we use have their origin in "natural" cures. For example, aspirin is found in willow - people used to make a willow tea (infusion) for headaches.
The thing about 'natural' cures like this is that they have both the active agent (Aspirin or whatever) and all the other stuff too from the plant as well.
What science has done is try and purify the solution so that you only get the active ingredient you need, and not all the rest of the stuff which can alter the effect.
"Natural" solutions are not necessarily better as you can not necessarily control the dose you are getting, or know what else you are getting at the same time. Plants don't come with usage instructions and health warnings attached ! An experienced herbalist will spend a lot more time getting to know what interacts with what.
If I remember correctly, some of the alternative medicine is based on the idea that very low levels of a "toxic" material will trigger a response in the body - a bit like a vaccine not giving you tetenus but helping you respond against infection in the future.
By the way, I think the figures work out so you would need to feed over a Kilogram of garlic to a horse for it to be a toxic dose !
14th Nov 2001, 03:05 PM
Unfortunately toxicology doesn't quite work that way. I'm sure everyone understands that alcohol is toxic at a certain level (i.e. LOADS) but that low doses can damage your liver and have the same effect in the long run. Well most poisonings also work that way. Long term administration of any poison at low doses is a stupid ideea. I'm sure nobody would consume low doses of arsenic or cyanide just because it's not a strong enough dose to kill you right away!!
In terms of feeding garlic to horse I think you're better off not to. I strongly believe in feeding horses properly and not shoving anything into them that they are not designed to eat, and as garlic is poisonous I take that to mean they shouldn't eat it!!!
In terms of medicines, it is homeopathic remedies which work on the basis of dilution. I have no idea whether they really work in animals, but I do think they are a great way for people to make money by selling tiny tiny doses of cheap drugs!!
Medical and veterinary science has spent a lot of time and money developing drugs and therapies which all have to be scientifically proven to work before they can be unleashed on the public. The same DOES NOT apply to herbal, homeopathic and other so called natural remedies. I do think there are some things which have a strong basis for working in some situations but like cvb says, you don't really know what you're doing, how much dose you are really giving or what all the side effects may be from other aspects of the product.
I once met someone who claimed she would never take aspirin or paracetemol for a headache because "you never know what all those chemicals will do to your body" but when asked what she did use she said some herbal remedy but she had no idea what was actually in that!! Cyanide is a "natural" poison so she coud have been taking that for all she knew!
You are responsible for the well being of your horses. Don't give them anything unless you know what it will do. and remember anyone who wants to sell their product will of course have a biased view!
14th Nov 2001, 03:20 PM
So what is your view on supplements like Cortaflex? Do they have real benefits and should we be feeding them to our herbivorous horses?
Simple System promote their lucerne based products and also sell seaweed as a supplement, or a product that has seaweed. linseed and brewers grain in. I note they also sell garlic.
14th Nov 2001, 05:53 PM
I thought the whole basis of a horse's digestion worked on priciple that bacteria in the gut break down cellulose in the fibre, thus releasing energy. (in a nutshell)
Why are the vendors then usung the analogy of penicillin?
The last thing I'd want to do is disrupt the flora in my horse's gut by giving him an "antiseptic" dose of something! I always work on the assumption of feeding antibiotics and using disinfectans is okay but for every bad bug you kill you kill 10 beneficial ones!
I can see the benefits of feeding a horse non toxic herbal range if the horse is constantly on re-seed with no biodiversity, like weeds and the like, different plants have different mineral/vitamin balances. As I said before horses here see sea weed as a food and enjoy it, and it's not because they are starving!
14th Nov 2001, 07:17 PM
Cortaflex is something which has scientifically been proven to be beneficial in cases of joint disease, such as arthritis. I think using supplements for general medical reasons are ok, as long as the supplement is licensed and proven to work. I don't think it's right to go stuffing horses with this supplement and that simply because we want to. I often hear from people that their horse needs this mineral supplement or that vitamin because it must have a deficiency but I think I have never seen any animal suffering from a deficiency (other than a rescue case).
I do think it's reasonable to give them extra forms of herbs as supplements if they are herbs which are not toxic and which a horse might enjoy as a bit of diversification like wally says ( I too had a horse who liked seaweed!). We like to eat a variety of foods so why shouldn't horses. What I am more concerned about is people using supplements for the wrong reasons as it's not unheard of for people to feed their animals something toxic or damaging.
I also agree that penicillin is a bad analogy to use in horses, as we NEVER EVER EVER give horses penicillin orally. We do give it as an injection but oral penicillin is very dangerous for exactly the reason that it destroys the bacteria in the hindgut and causes the horse to become seriously ill and die very rapidly....in that case if garlic is like penicillin why are people feeding it to horse????? :eek:
15th Nov 2001, 07:27 PM
Wow so many replies!!!! This is a very interesting debate, & I'd like to know why it's never been brought up before, and why companies are still selling garlic supplements? :confused: Sadly, I guess it all comes down to money :(
There used to be this 'stuff' in my rabbits food (sorry if this seems unrelated!) called 'locust bean treats' (I think) And then my vet told me that they had had a case where the locust bean treats had blocked up a rabbits gut. :eek: I guess the company ('russel rabbit') must've found out, because we don't get locust bean treats any more :) However, I've seen numerous companys sell these treats, and unsuspecting people buy them. Like I said before, it all comes down to money. It just goes to show how you can never be 100% sure whats in your horses (or rabbits!) food. I got to go now. I was going to write something really interesting. But I've forgotten what it is. :rolleyes:
Luv & lollipops!
15th Nov 2001, 07:29 PM
Oh, and forgot to add... (ponyvet) What about 'Steady-up' is this OK to give to our horses?
15th Nov 2001, 09:55 PM
I have to agree with you on one point and not on another! No doubt both responses will upset someone! ;)
Homeopathy: I fully agree. There's little true scientific evidence for efficacy, but it's a very good way to sell tiny amounts of active ingredient for unreasonably large sums of money.
Low doses of drugs: I disagree completely! :)
We all take low doses of drugs and many people do so on a daily basis through their entire lives without danger.
In the example that you used, alcohol, it has been proven in very large scale studies that low doses of alcohol daily have beneficial effects in a number of areas without detectable liver damage - but we all know that large doses result in liver damage and death.
Drugs like paracetamol are higly toxic. In even moderate doses it kills quickly due to catastrophic liver damage. However you can take one a day for your entire life and never have any damage.
I understand that peanuts contain cyanide in very small doses, but we don't hear of people dying from them (with the exception of people with nut allergy!).
From a technical point of view, the key thing when looking at toxicity is to distinguish between drugs which can be metabolised quickly and substances which build up in the body cumulatively (such as with mercury or lead poisoning). Drug companies spend billions analysing their drugs using ADME studies (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion studies). In basic terms, if you can excrete it quickly then it's okay - if it arrives faster than you can excrete it or is stored in the tissues for a long time, then it will build up and kill you: a very gross oversimplification! :)
Herbs are dangerous in extreme doses but beneficial in smaller ones. I believe with garlic that low doses are safe, but as the author says: more research is needed!
16th Nov 2001, 08:53 AM
...is another man's poison.
I know people are looking for some clear guidance on this issue, something black and white they can use to make a decision. But the sad thing is (as will these answers show) that "it depends".
I don't claim to be a toxicologist, but I do know that the toxicity measurements are normally based on statistics rather than absolutes e.g. LD50 which the lowest dose at which 50% of the sample population will find it toxic.
Now your horse can not be 50% affected, he either will be or he won't be. All you can do is play the odds based on the best information you have at the time.
While we're on the subject of good vs bad effects, what about the use of warfarine (rat poison) to help with Navicular ? What about the use of aspirin to help people at risk of heart attack ? And is sugar good or bad ? At what quantities ? and for who ? (especially if you are diabetic). Doctors prescribe use of steroid cream for eczema, but over the long term it thins the skin to a dangerous degree.
Yes herbs do not go through the rigorous testing a 'medicine' does - but as a result they are not allowed to make medical claims (unless they HAVE been through the testing).(Though they become very clever at implying the benefit without actually stating it).
However there is a body of evidence based on many many years of usage, and often some scientific testing, which backs up use of a particular herb in a particular situation. The problem is that often people believe that because they are 'natural' they do not need to seem caution in use as a medicine.
Most herbal manufacturers seems to have a help line you can ring to check in dosage, possible interactions etc - why not ask the experts ? I have done before - and in some cases no one has every used two mixes together before, so they have no experience to offer, but then at least you know that there is a risk you should be aware of.
16th Nov 2001, 05:53 PM
LD50 doesn't actually mean lethal, it can also be refering to an undesirable effect, for example a sedative is required to sedat but not anaesthetise an animal so LD50 for a sedative will be the dose at which 50% are sedated but 50% are anaesthetised (or worse).
I don't think that all herbal supplements are evil, I think i've been misunderstood there, but I do advise that people are careful about wht they do give their horses. I see a great many horses and see a lot of different way s that people try and manage them.
I do actually use alternative remedies myself as I do believe some of them work, but I am wary of people trying things on their own. For example treating sarcoids with alkoe vera, which I know a lot of people advocate. The trouble with that is sarcoids are very very malignant and spread around the body if you're not careful, so I think some things shouldn't be messed about with.
I agree that you have to find a balance, but I would advise against something that is proven to be toxic especially as there are non toxic alternatives available. As vets we are taught to abide by the cascade system:
1. Use the drug licensed for that disease in that species
2. Use the drug licensed for a similar disease in another species
3. Use a drug not licensed for use in any species
Obviously you always want to stick to point 1, use point 2 only if absolutely necessary and try never to use point 3.
I'm trying to say that if there are safer proven alternatives available use those!
Oh and on the subject of garlic KarlR, it is actually metabolised to a very toxic substance in horses which is NOT excreted by the kidneys and can build up into high levels. However where research is needed is to find out why some horses are more tolerant than others.
It's one of those things that can go on for ever!! :D
16th Nov 2001, 07:02 PM
I have spent some years involved with chemical research. As I understand it LD50 means lethal dose 50. The dose at which 50% of your sample is dead. Surely to give it another meaning would be dangerous.
18th Nov 2001, 04:50 PM
i dispute what you say about horses not eating garlic when i lived in wales we had lots of wild garlic and our horses would lean over the fence to reach it and eat it, centuries ago when they grazed over many miles herbs were eated ad lib. try p;anting wild garlic not the cultivated stuff in your fields and i bet most of the horses will eat it.
18th Nov 2001, 05:16 PM
firsty, Anna, yes STRICTLY speaking LD50 does mean Lethal Dose but as I was saying in pharmaceutical research it is often used to describe the dose at which 50% of animals are suffering undesirable effects, death or otherwise.
Secondly, Angel, horse will eat wild garlic. The discussion is not as to whether they will eat it but is it good for them? We all know that children would eat chocolate until it comes out of their ears, but that doesn't mean it's good for them. Just because an animal is not a human doesn't mean they are more in tune with their physical needs than we are with ours.
Garlic is toxic to horses, and of that there is no doubt. The effects that long term garlic consumption can have is a little debatable as there is very little research. However I prefer to err on the side of caution where it comes to my animals and wouldn't bother. I don't think it makes that much of a difference to flies, anyway, except to make your horse smell funny and all the rest of your tack room.
feed it if you want to, and you probably won't have any problem with your horses developing liver failure (whilst you own them) but if you are one of those people who won't eat beef "in case" you might catch nvCJD, why are you feeding your horse something that is actually PROVEN to cause them problems??
just be sensible
19th Nov 2001, 01:42 PM
If anyone wants to hear an alternative viewpoint there's a very good article in this months Horse and Rider, Page 107, where Kate Jones, BSc, nutritionist for NAF, gives her opinion of the report (which as you might expect is pro-garlic!).
She says that the report which originated in an Anerican horse magazine is simply wrong and that garlic has no harmful side effects. She points out that garlic and onion, despite what you might think are from different families and that the analogies that the article made between the two were misguided.
Onions apparently do cause problem in some species in extreme quantities (but not horses) whereas garlic has no reported problems in any species.
She points to the fact that the european information on benefits and contra-indications is collated by the British Herbal Compendium, and that they have never had any reported contra-indications for garlic, but many scientifically proven benefits which (discounting fly repellant) include antiseptic, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, an expectorant and lowers blood viscosity and cholseterol.
Finally, she makes the points that have been raised here that horses naturally seek out wild garlic whenever they can and that NAF alone sells about 40 tonnes of garlic and have never had a report of any illness related to it.
19th Nov 2001, 01:45 PM
Is colic the disese a horses get if they have eaten lots of grass?
19th Nov 2001, 06:41 PM
Colic is not a disease but a symptom. The word "colic" means abdominal pain and can be caused by any number of problems in the digestive tract, kidneys, liver, bladder, uterus, spleen and any other abdominal organ I've forgotten! I have seen many horses with "colic" each having entirely different problems to the next horse.
Horses in the UK can develop a disease called grass sickness, which shows up as sudden colic, with no obvious cause, except on surgery when the guts are seen to have unusual patterns of movement and become filled with gas and fluid that normally shouldn't be there. Grass sickness is actually reasonably rare, and there is some new research coming out which will help identify the cause of grass sickness (probably due to a bacteria found in soil and on grass) and hopefully indicate ways we can try to prevent it. The underlying problem is nerve damage, so treatment is unlikely to work (but has done in some cases)
Overeating grass is also associated with laminitis.
19th Nov 2001, 07:54 PM
thanks for explaining that to me Ponyvet
20th Nov 2001, 03:53 PM
Garlic is not actually a member of the onion family, it's prefix is the same as the onion's suffix i.e. garlic is allium ??????? and onion is ????? allium. Could be the other way round, but the point is that the first word refers to the Family, whilst the second refers to Species. There's actually an article in this month's Horse and Rider on this. The common word to both is Allium, but I can't remember either the rest of the names of both onion and garlic. Onions are poisonous due to the alkaloids which they secrete in vast quantities, hence the stinging of eyes. Anyone here cried whilst chopping garlic? Er, nope. It seems a couple of vets, who aren't the world's best botanists. got the wrong end of the stick!
It makes sense when you think about it. Garlic is probably more closely related to the crocus family and other bulbed pretty flowers!
Incidentally, wild horses eat wild garlic (not same species as our garlic). It is a natural bactericide and apparently quite tasty.
20th Nov 2001, 03:55 PM
Only just seen KarlR's reply. Sorry everyone. That must seem a wee bit repetitive!
20th Nov 2001, 04:54 PM
My cat ate my chive plant and was quite ill. We took him to the vet who said chive is a member of the onion family and quite toxic to some animals. As soon as we got back from the vet, the cat trotted straight over to the chive plant again! We have since removed it!
20th Nov 2001, 05:35 PM
Okay feed ragwort that's natural too!
If Someone was to say that it wasn't actually poisonous and was good for your horse would you all start feeding it?
20th Nov 2001, 07:24 PM
I've actually started to do a little research into this myself. I have looked in my textbeek of veterinary toxicology and found the following species listed under allium, and have asked the royal horticultural society (who I think are not a bunch of stupid vets, and DO know what they're talking about) and:
Allium moly (yellow Garlic)
Allium sativum (common Garlic)
Allium schoenoprasum (Giant or Spanish Garlic)
Allium ursinum (Wood Garlic)
Allium victorialis (long rooted garlic)
Allium vineale (Falso Garlic or Wild onion)
These species are all considered to be toxic to horses.
I also found the following page on an american botanical website about allium species, which clearly says at the bottom that garlic and onions DO come from the same family:
I hope we can now stop fussing about this, as it's getting really boring! :rolleyes:
20th Nov 2001, 08:28 PM
OK, I don't want to argue, whatever your feelings on this subject, but what about the bit about the penicillin? If what ponyvet said is right about penicillin being taken orally, then regardless of whether garlic is like onions or not shouldn't matter, because the penicillin is enough to harm your horse. Just a little suggestion from me. I personally wouldn't feed garlic to my horses (if and when I get some) because theres so much debate about it. Although people have said that it might not be poisonous, no-ones said it does anything for their horses and I don't think it's worth the risk.
21st Nov 2001, 08:12 PM
The analogy the one lot of folk used, stating that a stated dose of garlic was equivalent to that of a certain dose of penicillin is frightening.
This is why I questioned it, you NEVER give horses oral penicillin, rabbits too I think. Once you kill the gut flora the animal looses the ability to digest and that's that.
I don't think that the company was suggesting that you feed penicillin to your horse, but it is a strange comparison to make.
21st Nov 2001, 11:42 PM
Stop fussing Ponyvet? Tsssk! I think not! ;)
I'm not enough of a botanist to know for certain, and my A-level biology days are many years ago (particularly the bits on classification which I hated!), so I'll just quote another bit of the article.
Re: Is garlic an onion?...
"Although garlic and onion share the 'allium' prefix, they are from entirely seperate families. Onions classification is 'Family: Alliacea; species Allium cepa'. Garlics classification is 'Family: Lilliaceae; species Allium sativa'. A different classification family means an entirely seperate boichemistry and action".
Clearly there is some dispute amongst those professionals who think to advise us!
22nd Nov 2001, 08:33 PM
regardless of whether they are the same family or not ( and I think we should just let the experts fight that one out, as I haven't enough time to look up any more references!!LOL) I think BOTH plants are toxic. let's not forget that toxic plants don't all have to be related. Is yew related to Ragwort? no so plants can be unrelated and have utterly different biochemistry and still be toxic to any species.
The thing we tend to forget is that our biology is essentially different to horses and what we can eat isn't necessarily what they can eat and vice versa (grass???).anyway. I'm sure that feeding teeny weeny amounts of garlic is probably alright (I said Probably), but I do know a lot of people who don't follow the instructions, who feed wierd amounts at wierd times and that's a more worrying situation.
I advise my clients not to feed garlic because I thin kit doesn't work anyway, I think your horse needs to eat a lot of garlic, as the fly repellant action only works if it smells strong enough to put the fly off eating the horse. That's a lot of garlic, so defeats the whole point of the argument!
23rd Nov 2001, 08:14 AM
I think that's it's harmless in small quantities, but we'll have to just wait a few years before the experts start to agree and prove one of us right! ;)
I guess the real question is...does it work? My feeling is that it doesn't do anything spectacular, although I know people who recite endless tales of how it helped them with everything imaginable. Of course, this is all anecdotal evidence, and I hear masses of anecdotal evidence about homeopathy (which I don't believe works at all).
My horse get hilton herbs treats in small quantities which contain garlic, but only because he likes them: I don't expect him to have improved respiration, blood efficiency, etc! :)
23rd Nov 2001, 10:33 AM
I was just wondering if garlic powder would have that same effect as garlic on a horse.
23rd Nov 2001, 12:02 PM
Garlic powder, having had the moisture removed,is sometimes considered more potent than the "wet" natural clove. It can be more concentrated.
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