Neither brewer's yeast nor garlic have been FDA approved to help with common pet problems, but there is anecdotal evidence to suggest they do just that. Many pet owners have come to recognize and rely on the properties of these elements to solve an array of common pet problems.
A Fungus Among Us
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As with so many other things -- truffles, mycoprotein, portabello mushrooms -- that are so good but turn out to be nothing more than fungus, brewer's yeast is a single-celled fungus and is produced as a major byproduct of beer. Brewer's yeast is not to be confused with the kind of yeast used to make bread, called active dry yeast, or the variety raised for its nutritional qualities.
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When it comes to dogs, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about garlic. The ASPCA poison center clearly lists garlic as one of the foods toxic to dogs. Yet it is marketed and sold as a dog-food additive. It's a conundrum. The truth is, garlic is good for your dog in small amounts. The garlic and brewer's yeast tablets sold as dog nutrition are formulated in such a way that the garlic is rendered harmless to the dog and may actually have some health benefits.
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Those who swear by brewer's yeast and garlic believe in the nutritional qualities of brewer's yeast and the flea-repelling properties of garlic. Brewer's yeast contains high concentrations of B-complex vitamins. These vitamins break down fats and protein and turn carbohydrates into energy. They also support healthy liver function, help maintain the nervous and digestive systems and keep the skin, eyes, mouth and hair at their best. The combination of garlic and brewer's yeast renders your pet's blood distasteful to fleas. Garlic contains a number of important amino acids as well as vitamins and minerals. It acts as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial against viruses, bacteria, dangerous fungi and internal worms, helps eradicate fleas and keeps the coat healthy and shiny.
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A word of caution when using brewer's yeast and garlic: this mixture is not for all dogs. Don't give brewer's yeast to dogs with anemia, diabetes or allergies to yeast. Refrain from giving garlic to a dog undergoing surgery; garlic is a natural blood thinner. Don't feed garlic to pregnant or nursing dogs. When feeding raw garlic to your dog, start with a low dose. Dr. Martin Goldstein, in his book "The Nature of Animal Healing: The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for your Dog and Cat," recommends a half-clove for each 10 pounds of dog, to be given to your dog with meals. Do not use garlic salt or powder. The easiest way to ensure your dog is getting the correct amount of yeast and garlic is to choose a high-quality supplement at your local pet store.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Earth Easy: Natural Flea Control
- Purina: Why is Brewer's Yeast Sometimes Fed to Dogs and Cats as a Supplement?
- PetMD: Natural Pet Remedies for Flea and Tick Control
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Brewer's yeast
- The Nature of Animal Healing: The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for your Dog and Cat, Goldstein, M. (page 63)
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.