I’m not that I to feeding supplements, I think they can be an unnecessary expense, but today I popped into the tack shop to pick up some garlic granules for the horses.
Otis suffers from sweet itch so the flies irritate him quite badly. Last year I found he was much better with a low-sugar diet and rugged up, however this year the flies seem to be much worse.
So why did I choose garlic? It is said to help deter flies from within, which in theory means that your horse becomes a fly repellent, which should reduce the introduction of chemicals into your horses environment from fly sprays and garlic granules are cheaper than fly repellent. Garlic is also supposed to be good for the immune system as it is a natural antibiotic, so should help the general well being and health of the horse. A further benefit of garlic is it’s anti-inflammatory properties and that is aids respiration, which is useful in this humid, hot weather were currently experiencing. Some claim that garlic is useful for reducing blood pressure and purifying the blood – isn’t that one of the reasons we eat it? It can also assist in deterring worms, so can be used in conjunction with a chemical wormer to destroy the life cycles of worms.
Unfortunately, I’ve read that garlic can kill off the good bacteria in the gut, so should only be used in the short term, otherwise your horse can end up with a compromised immune system. It also has the active ingredient allicin, which is known to cause Heinz body anaemia. Commercial products treat the garlic to remove the allicin, but this also appears to reduce the insect repelling qualities. Although, judging by the smell of the granules I picked up today, there’s no reduction in the smell!
I know many people who have fed garlic to horses for years; we used to have in hard feeds, and haven’t had a problem. So perhaps there is such a thing as too much garlic? This could then cause the anaemia and reduced immune system, otherwise the low dosage level assists in boosting the immune system. Whilst I was in the tack shop I also looked at the various sweet itch supplements. All of which contained garlic, which suggests to me that commercially produced garlic which has been treated still has some anti-fly properties, but in a mixed supplement it is harder to overdose on garlic.
Surely it’s a case of “too much is as bad as too little”?