Pet Care Blog

Can Dogs Eat Garlic? Here's Everything You Need to Know

Dr. Ricky Walther
Garlic peeled and diced on cutting board

In humans, garlic is considered a holistic remedy that helps prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, and many other ailments - but can dogs eat garlic? No. Although garlic in small quantities may not result in side effects, your dog might end up with garlic toxicity if they eat too much.

Here's everything you need to know about garlic poisoning in dogs, with tips on how to keep pets safe at home.

Table of Contents:

Pro Tip: Dogs are known to get their paws on things they're not supposed to. Pet insurance can help cover the cost of unexpected vet visits, including emergency trips to the animal hospital for accidental food poisoning.

Is Garlic Safe For Dogs?

Garlic may benefit humans but is generally considered toxic for dogs by most veterinarians and poison centers. This is because garlic and other members of the Allium plant family - such as onions, scallions, and shallots - contain thiosulfate, a compound toxic to dogs.

Thiosulfate can cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset, which manifests through diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dehydration, depression, and abdominal pain. They can also cause oxidative damage to your pet's red blood cells, leading to anemia. Signs of anemia include weakness, lethargy, pale mucous membranes, rapid breathing, and jaundice.

Why Is Garlic Bad for Dogs?

This plant affects blood clotting, so dogs should never eat garlic two weeks before any scheduled surgery. If your pet happens to get into garlicky food before a procedure, make sure to tell your veterinarian.

Also, never feed garlic to puppies because they don't start reproducing new red blood cells until about six to eight weeks of age. Always be cautious when giving any new food, supplement, or medicine to pregnant dogs because they can affect the breast milk and puppies.

Garlic can interact with several types of medications, including heart medications, high blood pressure drugs, immune suppressants, chemotherapy drugs, antacids, insulin, and blood thinners. Don't feed your dog garlic if they are on any of these medications.

Select focus on bowl of garlic cloves

How Much Garlic Is Toxic to Dogs?

Research has found that it takes about 15-30g of garlic per kg of body weight to cause adverse effects and illness in your dog. Considering the average garlic clove weighs up to seven grams, your pet would have to ingest a significant amount of garlic to get sick. To put this information into perspective, an 85-pound Labrador would have to eat over 150 cloves of garlic before it becomes toxic for them.

Can Dogs Eat Garlic in Moderation?

Although small amounts of garlic might be okay for most dogs, you should still avoid feeding this potent vegetable to pets. Every dog metabolizes garlic at a different rate, and some are more susceptible to garlic toxicity than others.

Japanese breeds, like the Shiba Inu and Akita, appear to be prone to severe food poisoning symptoms upon garlic consumption. Some experts believe this is due to two hereditary conditions common in these breeds: lower levels of potassium and glutathione, and an above-average red blood cell count.

While all dogs should never eat garlic, even in small amounts, some are at an increased risk of adverse reaction. For instance, do not give garlic to dogs with lupus or anemic conditions. Doing so may stress your pet's overactive immune system.

Can Dogs Eat Garlic Bread?

Unless raw garlic cloves are used in the creation of garlic bread, it should not cause significant harm to your pup. Most commercially-made garlic bread is created with garlic powder, so your dog would have to consume a significant amount for it to cause problems. On the other hand, garlic bread usually contains other potentially harmful ingredients like oil, cheese, herbs, and butter that can cause stomach upset. The butter in the bread can cause serious illness!

Can Dogs Eat Garlic Powder?

A small amount of garlic powder should not cause any issues, but an entire container will. However, to stay on the safe side, you should avoid feeding your four-legged friend table scraps seasoned with garlic powder. Healthy veggies are no longer safe after garlic is added to the cooking process because the heat might intensify garlic toxicity.

What About Cooked Garlic?

Both cooked and raw garlic is toxic to dogs. Wild garlic and garlic supplements (in pills and liquids) are dangerous, as well. In other words, pet parents should be cautious with anything containing garlic, as well as with the other Alliums, including onions, leeks, and chives.

Sleeping dog wearing a bandage from vet

How to Treat Garlic Poisoning in Dogs

The symptoms of garlic poisoning will depend on the amount of garlic consumed and the dog's size. Some of the most common clinical signs of dog food poisoning include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Irritated gums or mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate

If you suspect your dog ate a considerable quantity of garlic, take them to the vet as soon as possible. They will be able to safely induce vomiting and monitor for symptoms of anemia. Garlic poisoning is rarely fatal in dogs, but your pet might need supportive care. Your veterinarian may recommend IV fluids to prevent dehydration and prescribe drug medications to stop vomiting. In more severe cases, your dog might need a blood transfusion.

Once the vet believes the garlic is out of the dog's system, you'll be sent home with care instructions. Catching the signs of garlic poisoning early on is the best way to ensure that your pup gets the prompt attention they need to avoid secondary health problems.

Pro Tip: A pet insurance plan can help with the cost of emergency visits like these, saving you time without the need to deliberate between immediate medical treatment and the cost of care.

How to Prevent Dogs from Eating Garlic

It would help to always keep an eye on what your dog is eating. If you have a habit of sharing your food with your four-legged friend, be sure to know exactly what ingredients are in it. In addition, inform everyone that comes to your house that they are not to share food scraps with your pet.

Keep the garlic, onions, chives, and other potentially dangerous foods, out of your pet's reach, stored in the fridge, cupboard, or a cabinet that remains shut.

Pet parents who believe that garlic helps prevent ticks and fleas should also be cautious. No evidence proves garlic is effective as a tick or flea preventative. This method can not only make your dog ill, but it also leaves them vulnerable to infestation and Lyme.

If you're using garlic supplements, be sure to take steps to protect your curious pet. The Pet Poison Helpline (1-800-222-1222) has reported a number of cases of dogs and cats swallowing garlic pills, after which some of them needed to be treated for anemia.

Finally, always consult your vet before introducing new foods to your dog's diet.

Alternative Foods Dog Can Eat

There are many alternatives to garlic that offer health benefits and won't make your pet sick. If you're looking for fruits and veggies that can make a quick, healthy snack, consider giving them apples,blueberries,watermelon,broccoli,carrots, or spinach.

Key Takeaways

  • Garlic is considered the most toxic member of the Allium family, which can cause adverse effects in your dog. For that reason, pet parents should only give garlic in small amounts or avoid feeding it altogether.
  • Symptoms of garlic toxicity can include diarrhea and vomiting, along with anemia symptoms such as lethargy, breathlessness, pale gums, and increased heart rate.
  • If you suspect your dog ate garlic in a large amount, take them to the vet right away.

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Ricky Walther, DVM

Dr. Ricky Walther

Ricky Walther, DVM, is a small animal general practitioner in the greater Sacramento, California area. Realizing the positive financial and medical impact that pet insurance can provide for pet parents and the profession, he lends support and advice to companies like Pawlicy Advisor "The Pet Insurance Marketplace") that simplify the process of connecting with veterinary financing resources.

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