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Kentucky Performance Products: Is It Safe to Feed Garlic to Horses to Repel Insects?

This time of year, insects can drive your horses to distraction. Can garlic help?

Pixabay/ Steve Buissinne/CC

Feeding garlic has long been touted to repel insects, but no scientific trials have been done to verify this claim. On the other hand, several studies have shown that garlic (and other alliums, plants in the onion family) contain the chemical n-propyl disulfide that can cause serious problems. N-propyl disulfide changes the makeup of the enzymes found in red blood cells.

This change leads to a depletion of another chemical called phosphate dehydrogenase (PD), which protects the cell from oxidative damage. When the PD levels get low enough a bubble called a Heinz body forms on the outside of the cell. When these blood cells are filtered through the spleen they are recognized as damaged and are removed from the horse’s body. If enough red blood cells are damaged and removed it can cause a condition known as “Heinz body anemia.”

The toxic dose of n-propyl disulfide is not known. One study showed that horses fed 200 or more grams of garlic powder per day developed Heinz body anemia. Another study showed when horses were fed as little as 16 grams per day over an 83-day period, blood chemistry was altered.

The National Research Council states that feeding 7.5 grams of garlic powder per day should not lead to problems in normal circumstances. However, many vets feel the toxic effects of n-propyl disulfide may become a problem in horses that are fed these low doses on a regular basis. The resulting anemia may not be readily noticeable, but the horse can suffer from reduced stamina, lower energy levels, and a decreased resistance to disease.

In human research, when garlic oil was applied topically at a 1% dilution it had a 97% effect in repelling insects. Applying diluted garlic oil to your horse may be more effective and safer than feeding garlic.

About Kentucky Performance Products, LLC:

Summer Games® Electrolyte

Fight back against dangerous dehydration and electrolyte imbalances with Summer Games® Electrolyte.

Summer Games is a unique blend of both electrolytes and trace minerals specifically formulated to replenish critical electrolytes in the proper ratios. Summer Games supports healthy electrolyte balance so horses stay hydrated, perform at optimal levels, and recover faster after exercise or in stressful situations.

Summer Games contains a research-proven electrolyte formulation that was originally developed for the horses competing at the 1996 Olympics. Formulated using the results of extensive research studies investigating the composition of sweat, Summer Games contains both key electrolytes and trace minerals in the actual amounts that are present in the sweat.

  • Adjustable serving rates allow you to easily meet your horse’s individual electrolyte needs.
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  • The unique ingredients in Summer Games support optimal performance and speedy recovery during exercise or stressful situations.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®.

Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? Kentucky Performance Products, LLC is here to help. Call 859-873-2974 or visit KPPusa.com.

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