Many people like to use garlic to flavor and refine dishes. So, does it make sense to give dogs a little garlic as a treat? Are dogs even allowed to eat garlic?
Dogs should not eat garlic as it is poisonous to them. However, how harmful the effects are depends on the form of garlic and the amount the dog has eaten. A piece of garlic bread may only give him flatulence, but a clove of garlic can lead to severe poisoning.
Dogs are curious and often eat everything they find – including things they shouldn’t eat. Garlic is one of the things dogs should not eat.
In this article, we discuss why garlic is dangerous for dogs and explain what can happen if a dog does find garlic somewhere and swallows it.
We also examine whether garlic can kill dogs and what you should do if your dog has eaten garlic.
Is Garlic Poisonous to Dogs?
Garlic is toxic to dogs and, depending on the dose can cause significant damage to dogs. However, the good news is that it is rarely fatal.
However, dogs that have eaten garlic are often very ill and require supportive veterinary treatment.
Garlic contains five compounds that are known to be toxic for dogs. Most of these are the same toxins found in onions, namely thiosulphates.
These toxins can cause gastrointestinal distress and damage your dog’s red blood cells, resulting in anemia.
Which Types of Garlic Are Poisonous?
Raw and cooked garlic cloves and bulbs are poisonous to dogs. Wild garlic, closely related to garlic, is also considered toxic. Garlic powder is also poisonous, as is garlic oil.
Simply put, if garlic is contained in a food, it should be avoided.
Incidentally, this does not only apply to garlic: all allium plants are considered poisonous to dogs, including onions, chives, and leeks. These allium plants are also toxic to cats, horses, and small animals like hamsters and rabbits.
What Happens When Dogs Eat Garlic?
As with all foods that are poisonous to dogs, it depends on how much garlic they have eaten.
Clinical studies show that serious adverse effects can only be expected from 15 to 30 grams per kg body weight – provided your dog is not allergic to garlic.
This means that dogs need to eat quite a lot of garlic before they experience serious adverse effects.
Garlic has a complicated mechanism of action. First, it can irritate the mouth and intestines. It causes drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
But even if these symptoms do not occur, it does not mean your dog is safe.
Garlic contains two thiosulfates named bis-2-propenyl trisulfide and bis-2-propenyl thiosulfonate, among others.
These substances affect your dog’s ability to compensate for damage to his hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the substance in your dog’s red blood cells that transports oxygen.
Damaged hemoglobin can no longer transport oxygen, and it also causes your dog’s red blood cells to become very fragile. They burst and are destroyed in a process called hemolysis.
In other words, large amounts of the thiosulfates found in garlic disintegrate your dog’s red blood cells.
The result is that your dog is likely to develop anemia. His gums and inner eyelids will likely be a little pale or even jaundiced. He may also get out of breath more easily and become weak and lethargic.
The body recognizes that too little oxygen is being pumped and speeds up the heart and breathing rate as well.
Garlic also contains compounds that relax the heart muscle and dilate blood vessels, lowering blood pressure.
This further increases your dog’s heart rate and makes it harder to pump blood through the veins.
Can Dogs Die from Garlic?
In theory, dogs can actually die from eating garlic. In practice, however, it is rare for a dog to die from garlic as long as it receives veterinary care.
A few days after the red blood cells are damaged, the body produces new red blood cells. As long as the dog stops eating garlic, the red blood cells should regenerate, and the dog will recover.
Of course, the more garlic the dog eats, the more severe the symptoms will be, and if they are not diagnosed and treated, the disease may be fatal.
It is known that certain dog breeds are more sensitive to garlic. Japanese breeds, like Akita and Shiba Inu, are prone to severe symptoms from garlic, although it is unclear why this is the case.
What Should You Do if Dogs Eat Garlic?
If your dog only swallows a small amount of garlic, such as a single dropped clove, and this doesn’t happen regularly, you probably don’t need to worry.
However, you should monitor him closely and look for signs of stomach upset or pale gums. Bear in mind, however, that it can take several days for these symptoms to appear.
However, if your dog has eaten several toes, or if it is a small dog or one of the Japanese dog breeds, the situation is slightly different.
The same applies if your dog has been eating garlic in any form for a long time.
In these cases, you should go through the following steps:
Prevent Your Dog from Eating More Garlic
The last thing you want is to discover that your dog has eaten more garlic while you weren’t looking.
So, if you’ve dropped some garlic on the kitchen floor or spilled garlic powder, move your dog to another room.
Remove the garlic to avoid putting other pets in danger or your dog catching more garlic later.
Call Your Veterinarian
Next, you should call your vet, who is best qualified to advise you on the next steps.
For example, they could prescribe activated charcoal to absorb the poison and help your dog eliminate it without the toxins being absorbed by the body.
Take Your Dog to the Vet if Necessary
If your dog has consumed enough garlic to concern your vet or is showing symptoms, a visit to the vet may be necessary.
Oxygen therapy is usually necessary to allow the still-functioning red blood cells to carry more oxygen with less effort.
Often, the dog is also given powerful antioxidants to help the red blood cells fight the effects of garlic.
Infusions and even blood transfusions are sometimes required for dogs suffering from severe anemia due to garlic consumption.
Can Dogs Eat Garlic Bread?
There is conflicting information on this question on the Internet. However, the answer is not so simple, as garlic bread can be relatively harmless in small quantities, depending on how it is prepared.
In general, dogs should not eat foods containing garlic, especially those containing fresh, whole cloves.
Most commercially available garlic bread contains garlic powder, while fresh garlic is sometimes used for homemade bread.
If you bake the garlic bread yourself and use raw garlic cloves, your dog needs to eat a considerable amount to have problems unless he is allergic to garlic.
One or two pieces of garlic bread won’t harm your dog, but you shouldn’t make a habit of it. It might encourage your dog to seek out other garlic-flavored foods as well.
Garlic bread is delicious and contains a lot of butter, so many dogs like to eat it. However, garlic bread also contains oil, salt, and spices that dogs should not eat.
It is not suitable for dogs to eat a lot of it, and it is not part of a dog’s natural diet.
If your dog devours a large amount of garlic bread, mainly if it contains a lot of garlic, it can lead to poisoning symptoms.
The amount and type of garlic are crucial here, as fresh garlic is much more effective than dried garlic powder.
It is advisable to consult your vet to be on the safe side. If you notice any strange or worrying behavior in your dog, you should get veterinary treatment immediately.
What Happens When Dogs Eat Garlic Bread?
In most cases, eating some garlic bread will not cause a significant reaction unless your dog has eaten a whole loaf of bread.
However, your dog may have an upset stomach and uncomfortable bloating for a few days. Watch out for any stomach problems, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
If you want to be sure or the symptoms become more severe, you should ask your vet. Any side effects should usually subside within a day or two.
What Happens When Dogs Eat Garlic Powder?
The amount of garlic powder is also essential in this concern. A small amount of garlic powder is unlikely to cause any problems, but a whole can will.
It is always advisable to contact your vet if you are unsure. And if your dog exhibits any unusual behavior, you should take him to the vet immediately.
Which Foods Are Better Than Garlic?
Feeding dogs foods intended for humans can be difficult. Unfortunately, garlic is one of those foods that you, as a dog owner, must be very careful with.
There are many healthier and more suitable alternatives to garlic that you can give your dog. If you are looking for fruits or vegetables that make a quick and healthy snack, you can try the following:
- Sweet potato
- Sweet bell pepper
Conclusion: Can Dogs Eat Garlic?
Similar to grapes, onions, and leeks, garlic is also poisonous to dogs. However, there are unlikely any major problems if your dog has eaten a tiny amount.
Unless you have a tiny dog or a Japanese breed, you probably won’t need to rush to the vet if your dog ingests a single clove of garlic.
However, it would be best if you generally tried to keep his garlic intake to a minimum or, better still, stop it altogether.
There is a lot of debate on the internet about whether garlic is safe for dogs or not, but you should consider who is making the arguments.
Some supplement and food manufacturers claim garlic is safe because they want to sell you their products.
Veterinarians and poison control centers say garlic is not safe. However, there is no upside to them saying that.
Since many other healthy foods do not contain garlic, you should avoid any possible risk and avoid garlic altogether.