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There are very few studies which show the exact level of effectiveness in using garlic for fleas, but many pet owners and holistic practitioners advise its use as a form of repellent. It is often not as responsive as chemical based treatments, and it generally work best when used in combination with other remedies. The use of garlic for fleas is also not advised without the counsel of a veterinarian or in dogs who have severe infestations.
Garlic can prevent fleas because it alters the way the dog or cat’s blood tastes. Fleas are repelled by garlic’s flavor and smell, and tend to naturally avoid it. The effectiveness of using garlic for fleas will partially depend on the source of the garlic. Tablets or supplements are usually less effective overall than fresh garlic, although they may be gentler on the stomach. Commercial garlic tablets are sold specifically for this purpose.
Garlic is most effective for prevention rather than treatment of fleas. Dogs who have few or no fleas may need no additional treatment once a garlic regimen is started. Severe cases may require chemically-based treatments.
Fresh garlic may yield better results when using it for pest prevention. To do this, finely chop one clove of fresh garlic and add it to the pet’s water or food. It is not advised that pets be given garlic every day, as it may cause stomach pain and digestive upset. Larger dogs, meaning 60 pounds(27.21 kg) or more, may require two cloves. Garlic oil may also be used, but medical advise should be sought to get proper dosage instructions.
Using additional methods of flea prevention generally increases the overall effectiveness of using garlic for fleas. For natural methods, this can include frequent baths and use of a flea comb several times per week. There are also flea collars, shampoos, and powders which can be used if going all-natural is not the goal.
When using garlic for fleas, it is important to be watchful for any troubling symptoms which may occur. Although safe for most animals, the use of fresh garlic may cause digestive upset in some. If this does occur, pet owners should discontinue use and consult a veterinarian if vomiting or diarrhea occur or become severe.
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