Garlic contains toxic compounds called thiosulfates, which cause oxidative damage to red blood cells in dogs leading to a condition called hemolytic anemia.
The best part of waking up may be (Insert Coffee Brand Here) in your cup, but the worst part of coming home after a long day of work is seeing your partner, getting what you expect to be a minty-fresh smooch, and instead getting a mouth full of steaming garlic.
Garlic breath just may be what armpits taste like. It's not fun for anyone involved. Garlic, the food, though, is one of the more flavorful and healthy spices on Earth - for humans, that is. For dogs, it's an entirely different story.
Is Garlic Safe For Dogs?
Dogs will eat just about anything. Don't believe me? Drop a tablespoon of ginger on the ground, or a dollop of coconut oil, heck, throw some reishi mushrooms across the room - Fido will come running.
With that said, if you are chopping up some eye-squinting, sweat-inducing clove of garlic, keep your dog away from the kitchen.
Garlic is highly toxic to dogs and should not be given to them.
What Is Garlic?
Allium sativum, better known as garlic, is technically an onion! Specifically within the onion genus, Allium. It is a close relative to the leek, chive, and shallot.
The garlic plant we have all come to love and hate is native to the Middle East and Central Asia. Garlic has been used for cooking in almost every prominent culture and certain groups for thousands of years. Beyond cooking, many people have used and still use fresh garlic for its medicinal benefits.
Is garlic a vegetable? Is it an herb? A spice? If you answered yes to any or all of them - you would be correct!
Why Is Garlic Bad For Dogs?
Garlic possesses some amazing compounds for the prolonged wellness of your pooch, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, inulin, amino acids, and germanium, leading some to believe that the health benefits of garlic make it a fitting supplement. But with well-balanced dog food, your pup should not need extra supplementation of these vitamins and minerals.
And garlic, like all members of the Allium family, contains toxic compounds called thiosulfates, which cause oxidative damage to red blood cells leading to a condition called hemolytic anemia.
This can be incredibly dangerous for your pup because as these compounds destroy red blood cells, the cells die and form clumps, called Heinz bodies. Their canine immune systems register these clumps as foreign invaders and set out to destroy them faster than their bodies can produce more. What's worse, your dog's body lacks the enzymes to break these blood clot creating compounds down so they can actually build up in their system.
And even if you aren't intentionally feeding garlic to your dog, be sure to maintain a dog urgent care kit because their retriever instincts kick in and they have a way of finding those garlic bread scraps that fall from the table, which can be detrimental to your dog's health.
According to research done on the topic, cooked garlic and garlic powder still contain dangerous levels of organosulfoxides. While incredibly bad for dogs, this compound is responsible for many of the flavors and aromas we desire the herb/spice/vegetable for.
How Much Garlic Is Too Much Garlic For Dogs?
Your pupper is not Count Dogula, but he may as well be because dogs and vampires have two things in common - their spooky canine teeth and biological aversion to garlic.
Some people may suggest that small doses of garlic are okay for your doggy. This is an unnecessary and, frankly, reckless way for dog owners to handle their dog's diet and overall health. So, just keep garlic away from your pet food. Even a small amount of garlic is an unnecessary risk whose rewards can be achieved through an immune supplement for dogs
Garlic carries SIX times the amount of organosulfoxides than most other members of the Allium family. With that said, if your dog eats even a few grams of garlic, raw, cooked, or powdered, you should call your veterinarian professional immediately and have hydrogen peroxide by your side.
The ingestion of hydrogen peroxide will cause your dog to vomit, putting the garlic back where it belongs - outside of his body.
Garlic Toxicity Symptoms
Your dog will likely not present symptoms right away, as it takes time for the organosulfoxides to do their damage, but getting the garlic out of his body is paramount. If your dog displays the following symptoms, he may have garlic poisoning:
- Abdominal Pain
- Extremely low energy
- Unwillingness to eat
- White gums
- Pale gums
- Rapid heart rate or rapid breathing
- Loss of appetite
If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, it's vital to seek emergency medical care immediately. IV therapy and a blood transfusion may be needed depending on how advanced the anemic condition is. It is important to note that some dog breeds are more prone to serious health complications after garlic ingestion, including Akita, Shiba Inu, and Japanese Chin.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Garlic?
Kitchens can be messy places, and it is quite easy for sticky raw garlic to catch a ride on your shirt or pants, only to crumble to the floor. If you notice garlic fall to the floor and cannot find it after your dog has swept the area with his tongue, assume it has been ingested.
Do not feel bad about calling your vet for a consultation over a tiny piece of garlic, it's his or her job, and it is a question they will not take lightly.
Are Garlic Supplements Okay For My Dog?
We get it; you're trying to work around well-established medical facts because you've heard other pet owners rave that garlic does indeed have health benefits for Fido. The answer here is still no. Some use garlic supplements and garlic extract topically on their dog's skin and coat as a flea and tick repellent. While absorption differs from skin to oral, absorption still occurs, and you may expose your dog to large amounts of garlic.
Rather than rubbing toxic garlic oil on your dog's vulnerable skin, opt for coconut oil. Coconut oil contains amazing lauric acids that support healthy skin, maintain his natural coat, and promote his natural aversion toward yeast infections.
If your pup demands that he needs an exciting treat and all the dogs at school are eating this garlic stuff, serve him a teaspoon of ginger instead. Ginger aids with the body's inflammation response and has calming benefits as well.
Coconut oil and ginger are great ingredients to include in your dog's weekly meal plan, but they shouldn't be the only items you supplement his health with.
While garlic severely harms your dog as it moves through the gastrointestinal tract, probiotics do the opposite. They are beneficial bacteria naturally found within the gut. While a dog's gut does contain naturally occurring good bacteria, that bacteria can die off when things aren't going so hot or if foreign bacteria decide to move in and proclaim squatter's rights!
Probiotics work to maintain proper gut health, which is key because 60-70% of your dog's immune system is housed within the GI tract. If your dog's gut is outta whack, you can forget about the push to keep him healthy!
Human-grade probiotic powder for dogs is the way to go. Make sure there is a high CFU count and a diverse list of probiotic strains.
Are You Sure Garlic Is Bad For My Dog?
Yes, we are sure. Repeat after me: No garlic for the greyhound. No garlic for the greyhound.
Only give him foods that come with the reward and without the risk. With that in mind, you're on your way to having a happy dog, inside and out.