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“Can dogs eat garlic” is a question with potentially serious consequences, so we’ll get straight to the point: No, dogs cannot eat garlic.
Garlic, like other members of the allium family, is toxic to dogs. Why? Keep reading for more, including what happens if a dog eats garlic, and what to do if you think your dog has garlic poisoning.
Garlic and other alliums, like onions, have thiosulfate. Thiosulfate is a toxic compound to dogs. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, garlic is 3 – 5 times more toxic than onions, and high amounts of thiosulfate causes damage to red blood cells.3
A small amount of garlic is less likely to harm your dog. But keep in mind, even small amounts when eaten frequently can be dangerous. According to the American Kennel Club, some dogs are also more sensitive to garlic toxicity due to their breed and size.4 For example, a clove of garlic may not be as dangerous for a large Great Dane but could lead to serious issues for a small shiba inu.
Some studies suggest that garlic is only dangerous in large quantities, but many veterinarians debate the validity of these studies.5 Always consult your vet before you add any foods to your dog’s diet.
While a small amount of garlic may not be as dangerous as a larger quantity, it’s best to avoid garlic altogether.
For your peace of mind and your dog’s overall safety, be mindful of the ingredients in your dog’s treats, supplements, and other human foods you consider giving to your dog.
You should avoid letting your dog eat garlic bread, but if they sneak a piece from the dinner table, don’t panic. A piece likely isn’t going to overly harm your pup. Just keep in mind that other ingredients in garlic bread — like oils, herbs, and cheese — can become an issue for your dog’s health, so don’t go out of your way to feed your dog garlic bread. If they eat a piece, monitor your dog’s behavior and contact your vet if you notice any problems.
Garlic powder is also toxic to dogs and should be avoided. Most garlic powders are more concentrated than raw or cooked garlic. Garlic in higher concentrations is especially dangerous for your pup. The same goes for onion powder.
Again, a small amount may not lead to dangerous symptoms, but a whole container of garlic powder very likely will. Monitor your dog’s behavior if you suspect they have eaten any garlic powder.
In most cases, garlic will cause gastrointestinal issues for your dog. In severe cases, garlic can causes red blood cell damage that leads to hemolytic anemia, Heinz body anemia, and methemoglobinemia.3
According to VCA Animal Hospitals, clinical signs of garlic poisoning can show within 24 hours of ingestion, but some symptoms may take several days to appear.6
Symptoms vary depending on the quantity of garlic your dog eats but most commonly include:6
● Abdominal pain
● Lethargy or weakness
● Increased heart rate
● Elevated respiratory rate
● Pale gums
● Red-colored urine
If you know your dog ingested garlic and is showing clinical signs of poisoning, seek immediate help from your vet or by calling the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661).
If you suspect your dog ingested garlic, it’s best to call your vet and monitor your dog for symptoms.
To treat garlic poisoning in a dog, your vet or animal hospital may order blood work to confirm a toxicity diagnosis. Treatment for garlic poisoning typically includes IV fluids.6 In more severe cases, treatment includes supplemental oxygen and blood tranfusions.3
No matter how well you keep an eye on your fur baby, they will more than likely eat something they shouldn’t in their lifetime. The best thing you can do is prepare for those close calls. Consider poison-proofing your kitchen and learning the human foods dogs can (and can’t) eat. You could go further and consider protecting your pup with dog insurance. A dog insurance policy with MetLife1 could help cover your vet bills in the moments your beloved furry family member needs immediate care.
1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.
2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.
3 “Allium spp Toxicosis in Animals,” Merck Veterinary Manual, 2021
4 “Can Dogs Eat Garlic? We've Got the Answer,” American Kennel Club
5 “Hematologic changes associated with the appearance of eccentrocytes after intragastric administration of garlic extract to dogs,” KW Lee et al., National Library of Medicine
6 “Onion, Garlic, Chive, and Leek Toxicity in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospital