Dogs are known for their large appetites and plenty will eat almost anything put in front of them. I mean, I only have to put the food bowl down and my lab inhales it. Within seconds. It has gotten so bad that it made me buy a slow feeding bowl, but I digress.
Anyway, a lot of dogs aren’t very picky. I have picky ones, and I also have not-so picky ones. And the not-so picky ones outnumber the finicky pups by a majority. These non-picky pooches will eat almost anything. And I mean anything, which has raised some concerns about the food they eat. Specifically, the ingredients in the food they eat.
I know that I’m not the only one with pets like these. And since garlic is a common ingredient in many households and is used to flavor a wide range of dishes, I know that some pet owners can’t help but ask, “Can dogs eat garlic?”
Garlic Toxicity and Poisoning
So, can dogs eat garlic? The answer is both yes and no. I know that sounds confusing. Let me explain. Yes, dogs can safely consume some garlic but — and do take note of the but here — only in small quantities. And even then, it is still up to each individual dog what it can tolerate.
Because while garlic seasoning is often added to human food for flavor and medicinal benefits (the more the better, right?), it doesn’t quite work for dogs in the same way.
Garlic in large amounts is toxic to dogs and can cause serious health problems. See, it belongs to the Allium family of plants, which are known to contain compounds that are dangerous to pups — and cats as well. When ingested, these compounds can cause poisoning and garlic toxicity in dogs.
In severe cases, garlic toxicity can be fatal.
How Garlic Affects A Dog’s Red Blood Cells
So how exactly does garlic affect your pet’? Why is it so dangerous?
Those compounds found in garlic that are so dangerous to pups can cause damage to a dog's red blood cells, leading to anemia. Anemia is a condition where there is a decrease in the number of red blood cells or amount of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin, in turn, is a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
So when the red blood cells are damaged, this means that the body cannot carry enough oxygen to the organs. Dogs suffering from severe anemia have less than favorable prognosis.
Not Too Much Raw Garlic, Please
If giving dogs cooked garlic is kind of iffy, then fresh raw garlic is even more so. In terms of toxicity, raw garlic is actually the most toxic form for canines.
Raw garlic contains a higher concentration of the toxic compounds we discussed above compared to cooked garlic. In the most severe cases, when a dog eats garlic a lot or when it consumes it frequently, anemia could be the end result. But even in less than severe situations, the consequences can still be serious.
For example, uncooked garlic can cause:
- Digestive issues – When a dog eats uncooked garlic, it may experience vomiting, an upset tummy, or diarrhea. It doesn’t even have to be a lot. Even a single clove can trigger gastro problems in some pups.
- Less medicinal effectivity – Garlic can interact with certain medications, causing them to lose their effectiveness.
Just like with cooked garlic, the amount of fresh, raw garlic a dog can consume before it becomes toxic varies on the dog’s weight and size. And although a few new studies indicate that fresh garlic for dogs may be beneficial provided that you give only a small dose, it’s best to know what the risks are before you start adding this ingredient to your dog’s diet.
Why Do Some People Advice Giving Garlic To Dogs?
Some well-meaning pet owners may recommend giving garlic to dogs in small amounts as a dietary supplement because garlic is thought to have certain health benefits.
Garlic is a natural antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial agent. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Some people believe that garlic helps detoxify the body too. Again, these may be true for humans, but not yet proven with dogs.
Some people also give garlic to dogs as a flea repellent during flea and tick season, as fleas and other parasites are said to dislike its strong odor. But there is no scientific evidence that supports this. In fact, there’s an overall lack of consistent and conclusive evidence to support garlic as a recommended health supplement for pets.
Are Garlic Supplements Bad?
In addition to raw and cooked garlic, some owners also give their pups garlic extract and supplements because these products are marketed as a natural way to improve a dog's health and boost their immune system.
But please note that that garlic powder, garlic extracts, and all garlic supplements can still be toxic to dogs and should be used with caution. Always consult with a veterinarian before giving your dog any of these.
Can Dogs Eat Garlic Bread In Or Is That Bad Too?
Can dogs can eat garlic bread? Sorry, but no. Dogs are certainly enticed by garlic bread, more than they are by plain raw or cooked garlic, but well, it still is garlic. The garlic may be a little more diluted in bread, but it can still prove to be toxic to your pup.
Also, garlic bread usually contains butter and other herbs, which may upset your pooch’s stomach.
How Much Is Too Much?
If you think that the medicinal benefits of feeding garlic is good enough for you, do seek professional advice first. I cannot emphasize this enough. Get your veterinarian’s approval first before you start putting garlic in your dog’s meal. Your dog’s vet can advise you best if this is something that your dog can benefit from and what amounts should be safe.
How much garlic is too much? Estimated presumed safe intakes should be less than 15 grams of garlic per kilo of body weight. Studies have shown that garlic intake of as little as 15g per kg of body weight has resulted in red blood cell damage.
But these figures are not absolute and results can vary for each individual dog. For example, a small dog may become sick after eating just a small amount of garlic, while a larger dog may be able to tolerate a larger amount. In some recorded cases, even lower amounts have resulted in garlic poisoning, and it is always best to err on the side of caution.
So if you’re feeding garlic anyway, keep the amount small and give infrequently.
And if you suspect that your dog has consumed a large amount of garlic, seek veterinary care immediately!
Symptoms Of Garlic Poisoning
The estimated amount of garlic that can be considered still safe varies depending on the form of garlic ingested (raw, cooked, or in medicinal form) and the dog’s breed (size).
Symptoms of garlic poisoning in dogs can vary, and it doesn’t always happen immediately. It may take several days to appear after a dog eats garlic. The following are some of the most common symptoms to look out for:
- Digestive problems: Garlic poisoning symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
- Weakness and fatigue: The destruction of red blood cells caused by garlic leading to anemia, can cause show up as weakness, lethargy, and fatigue.
- Breathing difficulties: Your dog may exhibit respiratory distress, such as rapid breathing or panting.
- Pale gums: Other symptoms of anemia include gums that are pale and decreased red blood cell count.
- Increased heart rate: Your dog may exhibit increased heart rate and heart palpitations.
- Jaundice: Garlic poisoning can also show up as jaundice or the yellowing of the skin, eyes, and gums due to the destruction of red blood cells.
- Dark-colored urine: Look for red or brown urine or blood in your pup’s pee.
If you suspect your dog has consumed too much garlic and is exhibiting any of these symptoms, seek veterinary care immediately! Early treatment is key to preventing serious health problems and can help reduce the risk of long-term health complications.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Ate Garlic
You might have accidentally given your pup a little too much. Or since we can’t always watch over what our furry buddies do, there might be an instance of accidental garlic ingestion due to a silly pup gobbling down what he shouldn’t.
If you think your dog ate garlic, don’t panic! Find out, if you can, how much the garlic intake was. If you know how much garlic your dog ate, it can help you determine the severity of the situation.
Here are the next steps:
- Observe symptoms: Remember those symptoms we listed above? Keep an eye out for them. Take your pet to the clinic immediately if you notice vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, increased heart rate, pale gums, weakness, and breathing difficulties.
- Contact a veterinarian: If your dog has consumed a significant amount of garlic or if it is showing signs of toxicity, it's important to contact a veterinarian right away.
- Provide information: Tell the veterinarian when the garlic was consumed and how much was eaten, as well as any symptoms your dog is showing.
Garlic toxicity can be life-threatening, so it's important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible if you feel your dog is showing signs of intolerance to garlic.
Other Spice And Herb Ingredients To Watch Out For
In addition to garlic, there are also other members of the allium family to watch out for. Onions and other members of the same family can also be toxic to dogs. Onion toxicity can cause the same symptoms as garlic toxicity, but the symptoms may not appear for several days after the dog has eaten the onion. This is because toxic compounds take time to build up in the body.
Other pungent herbs and spices, such as nutmeg, thyme, sage, leeks, and cloves, can also be harmful.
It is important to be aware of these foods and herbs that are toxic to dogs and to keep them out of reach of your pup always.
So to repeat, can dogs eat garlic? Yes, they can, but no, I don’t think they should. True, your dog will probably have to eat a seriously large amount of garlic before it is ever in danger of garlic poisoning, but the risk is there. For some pups, even a little bit of garlic is too much.
I have read up a lot on the studies regarding garlic and its supposed benefits to dogs, but the evidence isn’t conclusive. And while garlic may offer some health benefits, the amount required to achieve these benefits is very small and the risks associated with larger amounts far outweigh the benefits.
I would really rather err on the side of caution than give my pup something that carries a risk of harming him.