Can Dogs Eat Garlic

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Our canine companions can eat a lot of human foods, but if dogs eat garlic, it can have disastrous consequences. If you are someone that often cooks with garlic and have a pooch who loves to snatch food from your plate, it is important to understand the dangers that garlic can have for dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Garlic?

While garlic may be one of your favorite foods, it is important to realize that garlic affects dogs in a different way than humans. The canine metabolism is not the same as the human metabolic and digestive systems, and certain foods are processed differently. Garlic and other foods from the Allium genus are hugely beneficial for human health but can be toxic for animals, including dogs and cats.

The dangerous element in these foods is thiosulfate, one of the active ingredients that are harmless to humans, but potentially deadly for dogs. In canines, thiosulfate damages the red blood cells in the body, while also upsetting the stomach, resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and a loss of appetite. The damage to red blood cells results in hemolytic anemia, as well as symptoms of jaundice, weakness, pale gums, and other very unpleasant effects, including depression.

While consuming a large amount of garlic is necessary to cause these potentially fatal side effects, puppies can eat a single bulb of garlic and still become ill. Many breeds of dogs have shown susceptibility to garlic toxicity. The best solution is to avoid giving garlic to your dog altogether, as there are many other healthy “human” foods that can boost your pup’s health without such serious risks.

A dog sniffing garlic pods in a feeding bowl

Your dog may not love garlic as much as you do. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

How Much Garlic is Toxic to Dogs?

Even though garlic is five times more powerful than onions – in terms of its risk to cats and dogs – it still takes nearly 4 cloves per kilogram of body weight for garlic to become toxic to a dog. Basically, most 5-kilogram dogs would have to eat more than 2 full bulbs of garlic to result in serious damage to their health. Eating an unwrapped garlic bulb can also cause additional gastrointestinal problems for your dog, unrelated to the toxic presence of thiosulfates.

Can Dogs Eat Garlic Bread?

In general, the best advice is to avoid giving your dog any form of garlic, despite the fact that such a large amount is necessary for dangerous side effects. Garlic bread will typically have even less garlic than a full clove, but even giving your dog the taste of garlic could result in problems later on. Dogs have a very strong sense of smell, so if you regularly keep garlic in the house or cook with it often, introducing this food to your dog could result in problems later.

Furthermore, giving your dog enough garlic bread for it to be dangerous would mean them consuming a lot of bread as well. These contain simple sugars that can raise your pup’s risk of diabetes and constipation. A final good point, however, is that many dogs find the taste of garlic unpleasant, so the chances of them eating an entire bulb are unlikely. Even so, be safe and keep your spices well out of reach of your dog’s curiosity!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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