To use a Garlic Supplement for your horses is a serious question. It’s said that garlic is good for the heart. It’s also a rumor among the horse industry that it is good to repel flies. So given the rumor mill it should be a consideration then, that if “they” said it… It MUST be true!
I’m a naysayer for the most part and would rather do the research than base my decision on hearsay. Ok, maybe I’m just actually old and slow like my oldest professes that I am. But, I choose to believe that I just like to be well-informed before I make a decision one way or another. And, if all else fails I go with my gut. If it doesn’t feel right I just don’t do it.
Now I’ve done extensive research on the latest trends and fads of homeopathy supplements and home remedies and found that there is a wide array of things out there now for the equine. One of which is a garlic supplement. It comes in several different brands and of course you can purchase the store brand (powder form)that is used for human consumption as an alternative means as well.
My findings, are quite alarming. Ok, maybe not 911 alarming, but at the very least disturbing to me. To think that the knowledge that I did possess before I did the research scares me. As I found, I held very little knowledge on the subject at all. I could have unknowingly hurt the herd in my feeble attempt at trying to make their lives more comfortable. Armed with this new knowledge, I want to share the evidence found in the research of the effects of Garlic and Onions in horses, so that YOU can make an informed decision too.
I tend to ramble from time to time, so here I’m going to let the facts speak for themselves.
Yes, that’s right. Garlic by any other name is still garlic. Allium is a monocot genus of flowering plants. Referred to as the onion genus. Allium is the Latin word for “garlic”. Members of this family include onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, garlic and chives.
Now here’s where it gets really interesting, so stay with me on this. Allium (garlic) contains a toxic chemical called N-propyl disulfide. Ok now that meant about us much to me when i read it, as it did you when you read it. So let me break this down a bit more. This toxic element alters the enzymes present in the red blood cells. It depletes the cell known as phosphate dehydrogenase (PD). Now this chemicals main function is to protect the cell from natural oxidative damage.
With me so far? Ok good, I thought I had lost ya’ there for a minutes.
Now, when this PD level gets low enough, the hemoglobin in the cell oxidizes and forms a bubble. Heinz body is its official name. And I don’t mean Heinz 57 either! This Heinz body forms on the outside of the cell. It can be easily identified under a microscope.
Ok, now if I haven’t lost you for sure, this will explain the whole thing in a nutshell.
The spleen, a filter, removes deformed cells from the bloodstream. As this filter removes more and more damaged cells, your horse will become anemic over time. This overall effect is called Heinz Body Anemia.
Now, the question still remains doesn’t it? To garlic or not to garlic?
Given a smaller dosage over time, the effects would be gradual and the symptoms would be subtle. In large quantities the symptoms would obviously be more pronounced in a shorter period of time, but still resulting in the anemia in the end.
There has been no extensive research done to prove or disprove the effects of garlic as a fly repellent. Only hearsay, gossip, rumors or wives tales (if you will) that it works and works well. So my research stopped here. But given the facts of the toxic contributions even at low levels, I think the answer to Garlic or Not to Garlic? is clear.
It is my conclusion, that whether given in small doses or large quantities, the ending result would be the same. Toxic poisoning. And, though i was unable to prove or disprove the effectiveness of garlic as a fly repellant the facts overshadowed my hopefulness in finding a solution to the never-ending plight of the rancher and flies in the summer.