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Can Dogs Eat Garlic? Is It Toxic & What To Know


Last Updated: February 29, 2024 | 7 min read | Leave a Comment

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black dog sniffs a persons hand holding head of garlic

Dogs are notorious for begging for some food and will happily clean up after us. Part of why canines love human food is because of the flavor that comes from seasonings. Garlic is one of the most prevalent seasonings used in our food, which brings up the often-asked question, “Can dogs eat garlic?” Many owners may think the spice is safe for dogs, but in truth, it is not the best choice. Garlic is not safe for dogs in large quantities, and too much can be toxic. Only minimal amounts are okay for canines. We explore the specifics of a dog eating garlic and share what owners need to know about this commonly used seasoning.

“As with many toxicities, garlic is dose-dependent, meaning a small breed dog eating several garlic cloves is likely more likely to become unwell than a large breed who just nibbles a slice of garlic bread,” says Dr. Rebecca MacMillan, BVetMed BSAVA PGCertSAM MRCVS. “So, the seriousness and severity of garlic poisoning will depend on the dog’s weight as well as the quantity of garlic they consume. Hemolytic anemia (damaged red blood cells) is a real possibility for dogs that eat a large enough dose of garlic, with symptoms possibly not emerging until a few days later.”

Can Dogs Eat Garlic?

In simple terms, no, dogs should not have garlic. Dogs are tolerant of only a tiny amount of it. It is not healthy for dogs to consume in large amounts. It can be safe in strict moderation, but dogs should never be purposefully fed the cloves or seasoning. A bite of food seasoned with the spice is insufficient to hurt them or cause significant ill effects.

Is Garlic Bad For Dogs?

While a bite or two is not harmful, the spice is unsafe for dogs. Garlic contains compounds that are toxic to canines. While humans eat these spices all the time and have no trouble digesting them, canines do not break these compounds down the same. While it may have some nutritional and health benefits, to answer the question simply, garlic is not suitable for a pooch to eat. Some breeds are more susceptible to it than others. These include the Japanese breeds of Akita, Japanese Chin, and Shiba Inu. Cats, cows, and horses are also highly susceptible.

Is Garlic Toxic For Dogs?

Garlic is toxic to canines. It belongs to the allium family of plants, as do onions, and contains the compound thiosulfate. This compound is toxic to canines and can cause significant damage. Thiosulfate damages red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. It can cause weakness and lethargy and lead to hemolytic anemia. Along with that, it can also cause gastrointestinal dysfunction and pain.

Allium plants also contain something called N-propyl disulfides. This compound is harmless to humans but causes red blood cells to break down in pets, including canines, leading to a higher risk and likely developing anemia.

While spice tastes good and adds flavor, it is a gastrointestinal irritant for canines. In high enough doses, it can be highly toxic and cause severe damage to their red blood cells. This damage disrupts the body’s ability to receive and absorb oxygen. Too much of it can also lead to hemolysis or total devastation of red blood cells.

Ingesting a large amount is likely to cause sickness and ill effects in a dog within 24 hours. Smaller amounts may also cause toxic reactions. Reactions can even be delayed for several days.

Symptoms of hemolytic anemia include:

  1. Dark colored urine
  2. Jaundice
  3. Lethargy
  4. Pale mucus membranes
  5. Rapid breathing
  6. Weakness

Symptoms of garlic poisoning in canines include:

  1. Abdominal pain
  2. Dehydration
  3. Depression and mood changes
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Drooling
  6. Lethargy
  7. Increased heart rate
  8. Loss of appetite
  9. Panting
  10. Body weakness
  11. Vomiting

How Much Garlic Is Toxic For Dogs?

It is important to note that a few bites of food with the spice will not cause severe, long-term damage to a canine’s system, though they may experience stomach upset and gastrointestinal dysfunction.

Research has dictated that as a general guideline, 15 to 30 grams of garlic per kilogram of a pooch’s weight is enough to bring about a negative or toxic reaction.

A clove generally weighs between 3 and 7 grams. Pets must ingest a relatively large amount to have severe effects, though milder symptoms are likely. Keep in mind that some breeds are far more sensitive than others. Even eating an excess amount over a few days can lead to toxicity, and those symptoms may be prolonged in presentation.

People often ask if dogs can have garlic bread. The answer is no. The high fat and salt content in butter, along with the spices, make it tasty but highly inappropriate to feed to canines. Can dogs have garlic powder? The answer again is no. Powder is much higher in concentration than fresh garlic and should be avoided.

Is Garlic Good For Dogs?

Garlic, raw or cooked, is not good in large quantities for canines, but it does hold some healthy elements. These include amino acids, vitamins, and nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, and zinc. In extremely small amounts, it may have some beneficial effects. Dog foods have very low levels of it and have undergone rigorous testing to ensure no toxic effects. It is important to remember that adding fresh or spice powder to your pet’s food is inadvisable.

Benefits of garlic include fighting bacteria, liver detoxification, inflammation reduction, boost to the immune system, lower fat, and prevention of blood clots.

When Is It A Garlic Emergency?

Ingesting too much garlic can be quite serious. In some cases, it can even cause enough oxidative damage to be fatal. If you suspect your pup has eaten too much or even a moderate amount, it is best to contact your veterinarian. Monitor your pet for symptoms, try to determine how much they ingested, and remove any more from their reach. Relay as much information to your doctor as possible and seek medical treatment if your paw baby is distressed.

Suppose you notice symptoms like rapid breathing, increased heart rate, lethargy, trouble breathing, extremely dark urine, bloody stools, blood in urine, vomiting, blood in vomit, or other significant signs of illness. In that case, it is best to seek emergency veterinary treatment. These are signs your pet needs help right away.

How Does The Vet Treat Garlic Poisoning?

The veterinarian must start with the physical examination, medical history, and laboratory tests. The exam will include your pet’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, respiration rate, reflexes, temperature, weight, and height. They will likely check heart rate and abdominal palpation. Your veterinarian will pay close attention to your pet’s breathing rate and mucus membrane cult.

Tests that will be performed include a complete blood cell count, hemoglobin concentration, packed cell volume, blood glucose level, urinalysis, arterial blood gas, and biochemistry analysis. Depending on the severity of the situation, your pup may also need a liver biopsy or blood clot test. Imaging will also likely be a part of the process, including an abdominal X-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound.

Once your veterinarian has diagnosed the problem, the first step will be to rid the body of toxins.

A Vet’s Expert Advice On Dogs Ingesting Garlic

“Early treatment of garlic ingestion would include inducing vomiting and the administration of activated charcoal to prevent any further absorption of the toxin. Bloodwork may be needed to assess for signs of anemia, with severely affected animals requiring hospitalization for intravenous fluids, blood transfusions, and oxygen therapy,” says Dr MacMillan. Early treatment gives the best chance of survival, so if you suspect your dog has eaten garlic, you should contact your vet right away.”

Adds MacMillan, “This was exactly what one of my clients did, immediately presenting their elderly terrier who had eaten a whole garlic bulb, raided out of the vegetable drawer in the kitchen. I gave an emetic, which successfully induced vomiting and administered activated charcoal to prevent any remaining toxins from being absorbed. By bringing their dog to me within the first two hours of his accidental ingestion, we were able to successfully treat him before any damage was done, avoiding the need for intensive hospitalization.”

Your veterinarian may need to admit an animal to inpatient treatment if the situation is serious enough. Once admitted, IV fluids, oxygen therapy, and other steps will likely be taken to flush the toxin out of the body using a saline solution. If canines have developed anemia, blood transfusions may be necessary.

Once your dog is out of the woods, they will need special at-home treatment. Treatment may include a special diet, medications, and physical activity restrictions for a few weeks. Most healthy canines will recover from the poisoning if given prompt treatment.

Why Does Dog Food Use Garlic If It Is Toxic?

An extremely small quantity of garlic can help nutritionally balance commercial dog food. It can be beneficial as a stimulant to the intestinal tract to help with digestion and improve intestinal health. It can be used in pet foods as a flavoring and to help with healthy gut bacteria. Dog foods are created by professionals who take great care and extensively test products to ensure there are no toxic levels of anything in their recipes.

Will Eating Garlic Repel Fleas On Dogs?

There is a lot of varying information about garlic being a flea repellent. While there is a claim that feeding pets the spice will make fleas not like how they taste, there is no scientific data to back this up. Nor is there any truth behind the idea that spraying your pet with it will repel fleas. Sticking to a veterinarian-approved, scientifically proven flea prevention method is best. Any pup with an active flea infestation needs veterinary care.

This spice is not safe for your pup in large amounts. Also hazardous are many inedible items and dangerous chemicals they come across daily. Simply eating a stick in the yard could cause problems. Your pup will surely encounter unexpected dangers and health concerns as they age. Proactively signing up for pet insurance before you are in a precarious health situation can decrease financial worry, allowing you to focus on your pup’s health and recovery should an emergency arise.

Wondering What To Put In Your Dog’s Bowl?

While sharing our food with our four-legged canine companions is tempting, and they certainly enjoy these tasty treats, human foods are not always healthy or the best choice for them. Canines do much better on healthy, well-balanced diets developed just for them. For many owners who want top-quality food, fresh, human-grade food like The Farmer’s Dog is a wonderful pick.

Meals come freshly prepared right to your door. All owners must do is thaw and surf. Along with The Farmer’s Dog, other companies like Ollie, Spot & Tango, We Feed Raw, and JustFoodForDogs all offer top-quality fresh food choices. Of course, every pup needs healthy kibble, and we cover several breed-specific recommendations and top picks for overall healthy dog food.

If you are concerned about your pup’s overall health or worry they are not meeting their nutritional needs, it’s best to discuss these concerns with your veterinarian before making any significant dietary changes. Adding fresh elements like spices is not a good idea, and owners can unintentionally cause their pets severe sickness and damage. Working with your veterinarian or a certified pet nutritionist is a much better bet. They can help you determine the best diet to meet your pet’s needs and even advise on making dog food at home, supplements, and other measures owners can take to keep their pets healthy.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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