Can dogs eat garlic safely?

Can Dogs Eat Garlic Safely? Uncovering the Truth About Canines and Garlic Consumption

an image of a dog with paws in a bowl of garlic cloves

When considering human foods that your dog can share, it’s crucial to be aware of which items are safe and which could pose a danger. Garlic is a staple in many kitchens, praised for its flavor and health benefits for people; however, it’s a different story for your canine companion. The consumption of garlic can be harmful to dogs due to a compound called thiosulfate, which canines cannot metabolize effectively.


While garlic toxicity in dogs may not always result in immediate symptoms, it is a serious concern for pet owners. Consuming large amounts of garlic can lead to oxidative damage to red blood cells, causing them to rupture, which may result in anemia. This makes it imperative to either avoid feeding your dog garlic or to know the signs of toxicity and the appropriate steps to take if ingestion does occur.

Key Takeaways

  • Garlic contains thiosulfate, which is toxic to dogs.
  • Ingesting garlic can lead to anemia in canines.
  • Immediate veterinary attention is required if a dog consumes garlic.

Understanding Garlic Toxicity in Dogs

Garlic toxicity in dogs occurs because they cannot properly digest certain compounds found in garlic. It’s critical to understand what makes garlic toxic and the potential health risks it poses to your dog.

Components of Garlic and Toxic Compounds

Garlic contains a substance known as thiosulfate, which is harmless to humans but toxic to dogs. Thiosulfate can cause damage to your canine’s red blood cells, leading to a condition called hemolytic anemia. This condition is characterized by the destruction of red blood cells, leading to weakness, lethargy, and potentially abdominal pain.

Garlic in the Allium Family and Related Foods

Other members of the Allium family—such as onions, leeks, and chives—are also dangerous for dogs as they contain similar toxic compounds. Like garlic powder, these substances pose a risk to your dog’s health and should be kept out of reach.

Signs and Symptoms of Garlic Poisoning in Dogs

Symptoms of garlic poisoning in dogs can vary depending on the dose ingested. Initial signs may include vomiting, loss of appetite, and pale gums. More severe cases can escalate to dehydration, overexertion, and symptoms of anemia. If you suspect your dog has ingested garlic or displays any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. Time is crucial; veterinary interventions might include induced vomiting or administration of activated charcoal to prevent further absorption of the toxic components.

Safe Practices and Treatment Protocols

Understanding the risks associated with garlic and implementing certain practices can significantly reduce potential dangers to your dog. Recognizing the steps for treatment is paramount should your pet accidentally ingest garlic.

Preventing Garlic Exposure in Dogs

Keep garlic and allium family members such as onions, leeks, scallions, and chives out of reach. Monitor your dog around garlic bread, seasoned treats, and table scraps that could contain these ingredients. Educate family members about the risk of feeding dogs human food rich in garlic and other allium plants. Use pet-safe treats and moderate the amount of human food you share.

Veterinary Interventions for Garlic Ingestion

In the event of garlic ingestion, contact your vet or Pet Poison Helpline immediately. Your vet may induce vomiting, use activated charcoal to prevent further absorption, or administer medicines like antiemetics for nausea. Blood work may be needed to assess the need for treatments such as blood transfusions if there is significant anemia. In severe cases, hospitalization for intravenous fluids or oxygen therapy might be necessary to support breathing and heart rate.

Potential Therapeutic Uses and Safe Amounts

While garlic is commonly detrimental to dogs, some studies suggest potential health benefits in very small doses for specific conditions, acting as an antioxidant or tick deterrent. However, consult your vet before considering garlic or any supplements, as safe amounts vary greatly depending on your dog’s body weight, breed, and health. Japanese breeds such as Shiba Inu and Akita are particularly sensitive to garlic and related foods. Never administer home remedies or medicine designed for humans, including garlic oil, without veterinary guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Garlic poses serious health risks to dogs, and understanding these risks can better prepare you to protect your pet.

What are the symptoms of garlic poisoning in dogs?

If your dog ingests garlic, watch for signs like vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive drooling. They may also appear lethargic or experience abdominal pain. Pale gums and elevated heart rate are further indications of potential garlic toxicity.

How much garlic is considered toxic to a dog?

The toxic dose depends on the size and health of your dog, but generally, as little as 15 grams (about one clove) of garlic per kilogram of body weight can begin to cause harmful effects. To avoid any risk, keep all quantities of garlic away from your dog.

What immediate actions should be taken if a dog ingests garlic?

If you suspect your dog has eaten garlic, contact your veterinarian immediately. Quick response is crucial, and they may induce vomiting or administer activated charcoal to reduce absorption. Always have your vet’s emergency number on hand in case of such an incident.

Are there any medicinal benefits of garlic when administered to dogs?

Despite some beliefs in garlic’s health benefits for humans, it remains unsafe for dogs and does not offer medicinal advantages. The risk of harm far outweighs any potential benefits.

How can garlic exposure be prevented in dogs’ diets?

To prevent garlic exposure, diligently check the ingredients in commercially prepared dog food and treats. It’s also important to secure your own food, specifically products containing garlic, to prevent unintended consumption.

Does the form of garlic (raw, cooked, powder) affect its toxicity to dogs?

All forms of garlic, whether raw, cooked, or powdered, are toxic to dogs. The chemical compounds responsible for toxicity are present in all forms, so it’s vital to make sure your dog avoids garlic in any guise.

Dr. Jeff Kordell, DVM is a practicing veterinarian in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois Veterinary School. Dr. Kordell owns Animal Medical Center at Fort Sheridan and has had his own private practice for over 30 years. He is the co-founder of K&S Veterinary Labs LLC the maker of DiarRice.