Can My Dog Eat Garlic?


dog with cloves of garlic

Everything tastes better with garlic.

But unfortunately, garlic is actually super toxic to dogs — so you’ll have to avoid sharing raw garlic and even garlicky snacks, like garlic knots, with your pup.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Travis Davison, a veterinarian at Bluffton Veterinary Hospital in South Carolina, to find out why garlic’s so bad for dogs and what to do if your dog manages to eat some.

Why is garlic bad for dogs?

Garlic contains a substance called thiosulfate, which is toxic to dogs and damages their red blood cells, leading to anemia.

All members of the allium family, including onions, shallots, chives, leeks and scallions, are poisonous to dogs.

Any form of garlic can cause poisoning in dogs, so you shouldn’t give your pup anything with chopped garlic, garlic powder, cooked garlic or even garlic bread (or any other form you can think of). Powdered garlic is also super concentrated, so if your pup eats anything with that ingredient in it, you should definitely contact your vet.

Certain dogs can be more susceptible to garlic poisoning, such as:

  • Japanese breeds, such as Akitas and Shiba Inus
  • Dogs who are already anemic
  • Dogs with lupus
  • Puppies, because they don’t start producing new red blood cells until they’re around 6 to 8 weeks old
  • Dogs taking certain types of medications (including heart medicines, blood pressure medicines, blood thinners, immune suppressors, chemotherapy and insulin)

How much garlic is bad for dogs?

Studies have shown that approximately 15 to 30 grams of garlic per 2 pounds of body weight is toxic to dogs. (A clove of garlic weighs around 3 to 7 grams.)

But all dogs react differently, so you can’t really predict the exact amount that will make your pup sick. “It is hard to say [how much is toxic],” Dr. Davison told The Dodo. “There generally isn't a defined toxic dose like there is with some medications … Some can only eat a small amount and get sick.” The best way to keep your dog safe is to keep anything with garlic in it away from him.

And if you give your dog a bite of your food with just a little bit of garlic all the time, it can still make him sick because the effects can build up over time.

Symptoms of garlic poisoning in dogs

Signs of poisoning to watch out for if your dog eats garlic include:

Signs of an upset stomach (like vomiting or diarrhea) can show up pretty quickly after eating garlic, but other symptoms associated with anemia may take longer, even up to a few days, to appear. So if you know your dog ate something with garlic in it, don’t wait for symptoms to show up to take your pup to the vet.

What to do if your dog eats garlic

In severe cases, garlic poisoning can cause anemia, which can be fatal. That’s why it’s so important to take your dog to the vet as soon as you realize he ate something with garlic, even if it was only a little bit or if symptoms haven’t shown up yet.

“Contact your vet ASAP,” Dr. Davison said. “They may have you contact an animal poison control center (they will charge a fee, but it's worth it).”

Two phone numbers you should always keep on hand are the ASPCA poison control number, (888) 426-4435, and the Pet Poison Helpline, (888) 426-4435, so you have them at the ready in case of emergency.

Try to give as much information as possible to your vet. This will help them provide the best treatment for your dog and treat him more quickly — and faster treatment will usually lead to a better outcome for your dog.

Some important info to provide to your vet is what your dog ate, how much he ate and how long ago it was eaten.

“Some things can be fixed very quickly and easily, [but] some require more intensive care — inducing vomiting, IV fluids, medications to manage symptoms, monitoring lab work for blood sugar/organ damage, etc.,” Dr. Davison said.

Treatment for garlic poisoning in dogs includes:

  • Inducing vomiting
  • Giving activated charcoal to prevent absorption of the toxins
  • Performing bloodwork to check the red blood cells
  • IV fluids to flush the toxins out of your dog’s system
  • Oxygen or a blood transfusion if the dog has anemia

To keep your pup safe, Dr. Davison advised, “If you're not sure you can feed something to your pet, don't do it. If you do think they ate something and it caused it, just be truthful to your vet!”

So avoid giving your dog anything garlicky, and if he does manage to eat something with garlic in it, don’t wait for symptoms to show up to take him to the vet. As long as you get him treatment right away, there’s a good chance he’ll be fine.