Garlic for Dogs: Is It Safe?

When it comes to humans, smelling roasting garlic can be a trigger for our brain’s satiety center. It can elicit hunger, salivation, and general anticipation for the dish being cooked. However, we can’t say that the same yummy goodness and health benefits apply to our pet dogs. And in this post, we’ll discuss whether or not garlic for dogs is safe.

Garlic for Dogs: Is It Safe?

So is garlic in dog food safe for our beloved pets? The short answer to our question is, sadly, NO. This is because canines’ metabolic capabilities are vastly different from ours. Garlic, onions, and other plants from the allium family contain thiosulfate, which is safe and beneficial for humans but toxic for dogs.

The effects of thiosulfate on dogs include blood cell damage, which can lead to canine anemia. You’ll know your dog is suffering from this if he exhibits symptoms such as fast breathing, weakness, paleness in the mucous membranes (mouth, eyes), dark-colored urine, and even jaundice. Besides anemia, it can also lead to stomach upset, which can be seen as diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, dehydration, and depression.

How Much Garlic Is Toxic for Dogs?

Dogs eating dog food

Experts report that garlic can be toxic to dogs when 15-30 grams of garlic per kilogram of their body weight is ingested. This brings about toxic changes in their blood.

An average garlic clove weighs about 3-7 grams, so logically, this means that dogs need to have eaten a lot of garlic before the symptoms occur. 

Still, each dog is different – some breeds are more sensitive to these toxicities than others. Also, ingesting small amounts of garlic over a few days can also lead to problems.

What Will Happen If A Dog Eats Garlic?

Dog and owner with a dog food

Accidental ingestion of garlic is usually okay for dogs, especially if it’s just a small amount. Intentionally giving your dog garlic is a whole other thing.

So what about food with garlic infused in it, like garlic bread? Yes, dogs would love to try garlic bread, and while it might contain very small amounts of garlic, it would still be dangerous to dogs. This is because of its other ingredients: cheese, oil, butter, and herbs. These aren’t ideal for dogs, either, and can also cause stomach upset. It contains too many calories that come from fat mainly, presenting little to no nutritional value for your pup.

What about garlic supplements? Technically, they’re not food. Are they alright? There is a lot of debate in the dog community about the benefits of garlic for dogs. The question revolves around the fact that garlic supplements can theoretically help them naturally prevent flea and tick outbreaks. 

Scientists agree that garlic supplements for pets, in general, have no consistently proven positive effects. And while microdoses can be safe for them, the lack of medical proof of their benefits and/or risks should not be taken lightly. If you do feel like you want to give your dog these supplements, make sure you consult your veterinarian first. Improper dosages can still create toxicity, so medical advice is warranted.

What to Do If Dogs Eat Garlic

Owner crying as her dog suffers from disease

Worst case scenario, your dog eats a significant amount of garlic, whether accidentally or intentionally — what do you do? Again, the best first step is to take him to a vet immediately. Toxicity may not be fatal in most cases, but it can be bad enough to necessitate supportive care to make sure your pet is comfortable. 

The issue isn’t how much garlic can kill a dog, but preventing anything bad from progressing to that extent in the first place. 

The vet can even prescribe IV fluids to prevent dehydration, give him medications for vomiting, and — in truly serious cases — suggest blood transfusions.

Alternatives to Garlic

Fruits as great alternatives to garlic

So you can’t give him garlic, but what can you give him?

There are tons of healthy treats that you can pick, such as nutrition-dense fruits and veggies.

The best ones include apples, strawberries, blueberries, carrots, watermelon, sweet potatoes, and cucumbers.

We hope this blog post has been helpful and answer any questions you may have about dogs and garlic. Remember to consult your veterinarian if you have any doubts about your pet’s safety and health.