There are so many reasons why so many of us wonder what is safe for dogs to eat.
After all, dogs have such different ways of digesting food to us that it’s often very surprising when new dog owners learn for the first time just how many kinds of foods that human beings enjoy are toxic to dogs.
Garlic is an ingredient found in countless dishes too – yet the answer for anyone wondering if dogs can eat garlic is no.
Read on to find out the risks of garlic for dogs, and what tips you should keep in mind to keep your pet healthy and happy.
Is garlic good for dogs?
Just like onions, garlic is toxic to dogs and your animal must never be allowed to eat it.
There’s a very real danger of them being poisoned by this strikingly flavored foodstuff, which is so easily found in our own dishes that extra care must be taken not to let dogs eat it by accident.
It takes only a very small amount of garlic to do a dog serious harm. It’s such a striking contrast to how human beings view garlic – to the extent that many experts even consider that garlic can have some remedial or medicinal properties in people.
Yet the fact of the matter is that dogs just don’t have that option and that even a small amount of garlic can lead to some horrible health risks and even the possibility of fatal toxic effects.
Worse still, this is not just true of cloves of garlic, or even garlic powder.
Things that we human beings would consider as tempting and tantalizing goodies, such as garlic bread or garlic sauce, are just as bad for your dog as the real thing.
Unfortunately, being processed, cut up or otherwise changed in some way does nothing to alter the fact that garlic is toxic for dogs.
So what is the culprit here? Garlic, like other members of the allium family like onions, contains something that human beings can safely metabolize, but that dogs cannot.
That substance is thiosulfate, and it wreaks some especially nasty havoc with how your dog’s body was designed to function.
If you and your family are especially fond of feeding your pet scraps or otherwise including him or her in the meals you have, it cannot be stressed enough how careful you are advised to be in reading the ingredients list of what you dish up at dinner time.
Any signs of garlic, garlic powder or anything related to this foodstuff are to be strictly avoided.
It can be scary to think about, not least since garlic features in so much of our cuisine, all over the world.
However, this is one reason why vets and experts recommend that your dog sticks to their own healthy and balanced diet, as featured in food specially formulated for them.
More than this, if you’re looking to supplement the vitamins and minerals in your dog’s diet, there are certainly safer ways of doing so.
Dangers of garlic for dogs
Digging deeper into why garlic is dangerous for dogs, as well as dangerous for cats, paints quite the grim picture.
We have already spoken about how your pet would only need to eat quite a small amount of garlic to be at serious risk – and also how there is a specific substance, thiosulfate, that acts upon your pooch’s internal systems in some drastically unkind ways.
That’s because thiosulfate affects the way blood is circulated in your pet. More specifically, it begins to attack the red blood cells in your pet’s bloodstream, in what’s known as oxidative damage.
That means that red blood cells are being impeded from carrying out their function in the blood, which in turn leads to anemia in your pet – a nasty business in and of itself, with the potential for becoming lethal if left untreated.
As a big part of this, remember that there are symptoms you can look for to make sure that your dog hasn’t eaten any garlic accidentally – or to check for if you’ve become aware that your dog has somehow sneaked a bite of something with garlic in it.
Those symptoms of anemia include a heightened sense of fatigue in your pet, with them showing very little interest in moving around or engaging in their favorite activities.
You might find that the water your dog passes has a very dark color compared to usual.
A dog suffering from garlic toxicity will also potentially show rapid eye movements or rapid breathing patterns, or might well seem to be short of breath even if he or she hasn’t exerted themselves.
A big symptom to watch out for is stomach upset, even more severe than your dog overeating or having too much dairy. There’ll be some loud gurgles, the possibility of vomiting and even diarrhea.
Your dog might also become far more thirsty than usual, especially if he or she has been throwing up, so make sure to keep a fresh bowl of water handy.
If you suspect your dog is showing signs of anemia or has eaten too much garlic, certainly contact your vet as soon as you can.
What happens if your dog eats garlic
Although we have combed over the symptoms of a dog that has eaten garlic and could well be suffering anemia or garlic toxicity, keep in mind that he or she might not show these kinds of symptoms right away.
While smaller, younger, older or just out and out sensitive dogs can certainly react to garlic more immediately and dramatically than the norm, by and large, these symptoms will become pronounced over time.
That is especially true if your dog has, through some means, been eating garlic as part of his or her diet for a few weeks or months. Even small amounts will build and compound the problem.
Luckily, experts tend to agree that it takes around 25 grams of garlic per kilogram of your dog’s body weight to begin affecting the bloodstream seriously.
That means he or she would need to eat the equivalent of several cloves of garlic outright to come to any mortal danger – but that still doesn’t mean it’s ever okay to feed your dog garlic.
Despite this, quite a few pet supplements contain garlic, and while looking for medicines and remedies for your pet, you might discover this and feel rather confused and surprised.
If in doubt, consult your vet before introducing these new kinds of medicine to your dog’s diet or overall routine.
On top of this, remember that garlic-derived products, or those in which garlic is a major ingredient, don’t become safer for being mixed with anything else.
For instance, garlic sauce contains extra salts and sugars on top of the already all too present risks, and garlic bread is similarly infused with calories and fats that make for a recipe for disaster for your dog’s health.
What to do if your dog eats garlic
Whether it’s by sneaking off to nibble at things they ought not to be, or being given food with garlic in it by someone well-meaning but uneducated in what dogs can and can’t eat, there are countless ways your dog could eat garlic and put themselves at risk.
Luckily, it would take quite a large amount of garlic to put your pet into immediate danger, so if you chance upon your pet helping him or herself to a clove and gulping it all down before you can reprimand them, you won’t need to contact a vet unless your pet shows severe side effects.
Think vomiting, stomach cramps, whining, extreme fatigue and the like.
Although garlic is very toxic to dogs, they need to eat a lot of it or have it accumulate in their system over time, for it to become a serious risk.
If you, therefore, believe your dog has been eating garlic for a long time and is showing some bad symptoms for it, you’re advised to consult your vet.
Their expertise could see you and your dog being given special supplements or medication that can fight back against garlic toxicity in pets, or you might instead find that your vet issues tablets to help your dog stop from vomiting.
It’s important to not panic either way – your dog is not in mortal danger unless his or her symptoms are very severe, or if he or she has been eating garlic over a course of many months.
Garlic is one of those notable foods that people can enjoy freely, with nothing but bad breath as a side effect, while dogs must avoid at all costs.
The way in which garlic is toxic to dogs is quite startling to read about, but learning as far in advance of your journey into dog ownership as possible is your best bet at keeping your animal alive and happy for a fulfilling long life with you.
Garlic isn’t fatal immediately to dogs except in very rare cases, but you should consult your vet if you believe your dog has eaten enough garlic to suffer anemia or stomach upset outside the norm.
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.