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What is Garlic Poisoning?

Feeding garlic in a large quantity or over a period of time can be harmful to your cat. The chemicals in garlic enter your cat’s bloodstream and begin to rupture red blood cells, which will quickly lead to hemolytic anemia, a very dangerous condition. Some of the symptoms you may observe include vomiting, breathing difficulties, diarrhea, and pale gums. 

The longer you wait to get your cat medical help, the more serious his condition becomes. If you see any of the symptoms of garlic poisoning, take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent potentially fatal complications.

Garlic, a member of the Allium family, is commonly used to add flavor to our favorite foods. Some cat owners give their cats garlic because it is believed to have medicinal benefits, including the prevention of heart disease and fleas. However, garlic is toxic to cats, so it should never be included in their diet.

Garlic Poisoning Average Cost

From 211 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

Symptoms of Garlic Poisoning in Cats

Garlic poisoning symptoms may not begin right away. In fact, it often takes between two to four days following consumption for the symptoms to appear, which can make diagnosing this condition very difficult for cat owners and vets. Some of the symptoms you may observe include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pale gums
  • Collapse
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Causes of Garlic Poisoning in Cats

Garlic poisoning is caused by garlic ingestion. The amount of garlic that it takes to poison your cat will vary depending on your cat’s weight, health, and type of breed. In most cases, a single clove of garlic is all it takes to poison a cat. Cats are more susceptible to garlic poisoning than dogs.

After garlic is consumed, it begins to damage the red blood cells, which makes them more likely to burst, eventually leading to hemolytic anemia.

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Diagnosis of Garlic Poisoning in Cats

If you spot any of the symptoms of garlic poisoning, bring your cat into a veterinarian for treatment immediately. Describe the symptoms you have observed, when they began, and any changes to your cat’s diet. 

The vet will begin by performing a series of tests, including a complete blood count, urinalysis, and blood chemistry profile. The results of these tests will help the vet determine your cat is suffering from low levels of red blood cells. The vet should be able to spot Heinz bodies, which occur when the cat is suffering from hemolytic anemia, in a blood sample. 

However, there are a number of causes of hemolytic anemia, so the vet cannot determine your cat has garlic poisoning just from the presence of Heinz bodies alone. In many cases, the diagnosis is made based on the presence of Heinz bodies and the information provided by the cat owner. That’s why it’s so important to be as detailed as possible when talking to your vet about your cat’s condition.

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Treatment of Garlic Poisoning in Cats

Treatment will vary depending on when your cat consumed the garlic. If the garlic was recently consumed, the vet will begin to induce vomiting by orally administering a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. This will remove all of the garlic from your cat’s stomach that has not been digested and prevent your cat’s condition from worsening. A gastric lavage, which is the medical term for stomach wash, may also be performed to ensure all toxins have been washed out of the stomach.

The vet may need to administer activated charcoal as well. Activated charcoal absorbs toxins so they do not get the chance to enter your cat’s bloodstream and cause further damage. 

The vet will need to monitor your cat’s condition to determine whether he needs supportive care such as IV fluids or oxygen therapy. It is common for cats with garlic poisoning to need IV fluids to prevent dehydration because of the vomiting and diarrhea this condition causes.

If you used a spray or homeopathic product with garlic on your cat’s skin, the vet will need to thoroughly bathe the cat to remove any lingering toxins.

Although it is rare, if your cat’s condition is severe, and he has already lost a lot of red blood cells, he may need a complete blood transfusion in order to survive.

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Recovery of Garlic Poisoning in Cats

In mild or moderate cases of garlic poisoning, recovery rates are high, however cats with severe cases of garlic poisoning may suffer complications.

The vet may keep your cat after treatment to ensure his condition is stable before releasing him to you. Once he has been released, talk to your vet about at-home care while your cat recovers. First and foremost, it is important to remove any garlic from your cat’s diet and stick to vet-approved cat foods. Check all of the products you use—including any homeopathic flea or skin treatments—to ensure garlic is not included. 

If you use garlic in your cooking, be sure to keep it in an area where your cats cannot reach it.

Garlic poisoning in cats can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your cat is at risk of garlic poisoning, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Embrace. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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Garlic Poisoning Average Cost

From 211 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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Garlic Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Sphynx

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3 months

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Unknown severity

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44 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My kitten licked my plate at dinner and my dinner was seasoned with garlic. He just threw up. Should I take him to the emergency vet?

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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44 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If your kitten just had the one episode of vomiting, he may be fine to continue to monitor him. If he is vomiting repeatedly, and it would be best for him to see a veterinarian, yes. I hope that all goes well and he feels okay.

Oct. 1, 2020

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dansell1114@gmail.com

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4-5 months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Dansell1114@Gmail.Com

My cat may have injested my food with some garlic in it. Eggs about the size of a nickel

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If your pet is still having problems, it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they will be able to examine them, see what might be going on, and get any treatment needed.

Oct. 24, 2020

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Garlic Poisoning Average Cost

From 211 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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