The smell of roasting garlic is one of those scents that immediately makes most of us hungry. It’s featured in cuisines around the globe and is found in many of our favorite foods. Scientific evidence even suggests that garlic has medicinal benefits for humans, so it’s perfectly natural to wonder: Can dogs eat garlic?
The answer, emphatically, is no.
Is It Safe for Dogs to Eat Garlic?
Garlic might be good for people, but dogs metabolize certain foods differently than we do. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, garlic and other members of the allium family, including onions, contain thiosulfate, which is toxic to dogs but not to humans.
Thiosulfate causes oxidative damage to red blood cells, resulting in hemolytic anemia. Symptoms of anemia include pale mucous membranes, rapid breathing, lethargy, weakness, jaundice, and dark colored urine. Garlic toxicity also causes symptoms of gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, depression, and dehydration.
How Much Garlic is Toxic to Dogs?
Studies have found it takes approximately 15 to 30 grams of garlic per kilograms of body weight to produce harmful changes in a dog’s blood. To put that into perspective, the average clove of supermarket garlic weighs between 3 and 7 grams, so your dog would have to eat a lot to get really sick. However, some dogs are more sensitive to garlic toxicity than others, and consumption of a toxic dose spread out over a few days could also cause problems.
This means that if your dog accidentally eats something containing a little garlic, they will probably be okay, but intentionally feeding it to your dog is a bad idea.
Can I Feed My Dog Garlic Bread?
Garlic bread will almost certainly catch your dog’s attention, but, along with garlic, it usually contains large amounts of butter, oil, cheese, and herbs that can upset your dog’s stomach. This food is also a source of unnecessary calories and fat and offers no nutritional benefits to your pet.
Can I Feed My Dog Garlic Supplements?
Despite garlic’s known toxicity, some websites and well-meaning dog owners recommend garlic supplements for dogs as part of a natural wellness plan or as a flea and tick preventative. This contradiction can be very confusing. In studies, garlic as a health supplement for pets has not produced consistently positive results.
While very small doses might be safe for most dogs, the lack of conclusive evidence and the known risks should be taken into consideration. Before deciding to feed your pup a garlic supplement, always consult your veterinarian. Giving an incorrect dose could have toxic effects, so plan on working with a veterinarian to come up with the best treatment and prevention plan for your dog.
Treating Garlic Toxicity in Dogs
If your dog does ingest a large amount of garlic, your best bet is to take them to a veterinarian. Garlic and onion poisoning are rarely fatal in dogs, but your dog may need supportive care to keep them comfortable. Your veterinarian might recommend intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated and may prescribe a medication to control vomiting. In severe cases, blood transfusions might be necessary.
Alternatives to Garlic for Dogs
If you want to give your dog a healthy treat, consider feeding small amounts of dog-safe fruits and vegetables that are high in valuable nutrients. Consider apples, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, carrots, cucumbers, or sweet potatoes.