Garlic: The Suitability and Use in Horses

Many equine owners/managers/riders add garlic to their horse’s ration. This herb has a wide range of potential therapeutic properties, including its actions as a: hypotensive (ability to lower blood pressure); antioxidant; anti-parasitic; anti-fungal; and antibacterial. Additionally, it is thought to deter biting insects. Garlic is a good dietary source of sulphur and selenium.

However, just because garlic is ‘natural’ and has health-promoting properties, doesn’t make it safe or suitable for all horses and ponies. When garlic is fed in high doses and/ or for extended periods of time, it may result in haemolytic anaemia (destruction of red blood cells). Garlic is also high in fructans, a carbohydrate which has poor digestibility in the equine. This must be kept forefront in mind before feeding to horses and ponies prone to or at risk of colic or laminitis.

As with any supplement, it is vital to consider the needs, characteristics and intricacies of the horse or pony being treated. Just because a supplement is beneficial for one horse, doesn’t make it suitable for all.

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