Can Dogs Have Garlic?

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Introduction

We'll spare you the cutesy-beginning to this article so we can get right to the point (your dog's life could be at stake!) - no, your dog cannot have garlic. Garlic, while a tasty, delicious treat for you, is incredibly toxic for your dog, even in a very small amount. 

Garlic is part of the allium family, which includes things like shallots, leeks, chives, and onions. While all of these are delicious human foods, your dog's system is not set up to digest anything from the Allium family. Ingesting these can cause a condition called hemolytic anemia, which causes your poor pup's red blood cells to burst. It can also lead to gastrointestinal issues, inflammation of stomach lining, and cause terrible stomach pain.

Are you concerned your dog might have accidentally gotten into the garlic? Want to know what sort of signs you should look out for and how to train your dog to stay away from your garlicky treats? Read on! 

Signs Your Dog is Experiencing Garlic Toxicity

Garlic is incredibly toxic for your dog, even in very small amounts. Because of this, it's important that you're always aware of where your dog is when you're cooking with or using garlic. That being said, accidents do happen. 

If you're afraid that your dog has gotten into the garlic, look for signs like raspy panting and breathlessness. Your pup will also likely experience gastrointestinal issues very early on, so expect things like diarrhea, vomiting, and extreme lethargy. Your pup will also experience things like pale gums, elevated heart rate, extreme weakness, and perhaps even collapse. 

Your dog's reaction to garlic is going to depend on your dog's breed, his or her size, the amount of garlic they've ingested, and their own personal health history. If you suspect that your dog might have ingested garlic, contact your vet immediately.

Body Language

Here are a few body language signs your dog might be giving you to let you know they ingested garlic:

  • Panting
  • Weakness
  • Raspy panting
  • Lack of focus
  • Tail tucking
  • Ears back
  • Sleepiness

Other Signs

Here are a few other signs to watch out for:
  • Collapse
  • Seizures
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Raspy breathing
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Pale gums
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

The History of Garlic Poisoning in Dogs

According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the most common poisonous foods for dogs are onions and garlic, along with things like green raw potatoes, chocolate, and grapes. However, in a published study in 2000, one doctor studied whether dogs who were given garlic extract developed hemolytic anemia. 

Garlic extract was administered intragastrically once a day for seven days. The results? No dog developed hemolytic anemia. They did, however, have a much higher eryhtrocyte count, as well as a decreased hemoglobin concentration.  

The Science Behind Garlic

Garlic is a dangerous, toxic substance that can kill your dog if ingested - you know the fact, but do you know why? Garlic is part of the Allium species, a family that includes things like onions, rakkyo, chives, shallots, and leeks. Though a tasty and healthy treat for humans, dog's systems are not set up to properly digest or absorb the chemicals found in the Allium family. 

This means that instead of digesting the substances like we would, dogs will likely develop a condition - fairly quickly - called hemolytic anemia. When this happens, your dog's red blood cells that are circulating through their body will begin to burst - a condition that can certainly result in a quick death. Garlic will also irritate your dog's stomach lining, resulting in severe pain, inflammation, and issues with your dog's intestines.

Training Your Dog to Stay Away from Garlic

Keeping garlic in your house does come with risks. That being said, as long as you have strict guidelines in place, as well as having implemented strong obedience training with your pooch, you likely won't have to rid the house of one of your favorite cooking ingredients. This will, however, require training on your dog's part, as well as on your part. 

First, never leave garlic loosely in the kitchen. While we recommend training your dog to stay out of the kitchen at all times (to avoid begging and other fatal food incidents), that doesn't mean that your pooch won't mess up and end up wandering through the kitchen. If you have spare garlic on the counter, you can bet your curious dog will take a quick bite.

If you train your dog to abide by basic obedience commands, things like "no," "drop it," and "stay" are certainly capable of saving your dog's life when they're approaching a clove of garlic. We also suggest training your dog to stay in their comfortable, cozy crate while you're away if there's garlic in the house instead of giving them free reign of the abode. This will help to eliminate any freak accident involving garlic.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe from Garlic:

  • Store your garlic in an area your dog cannot reach it.
  • Train your dog to stay out of the room where you keep your garlic (the kitchen).
  • Keep your dog in his or her crate while you're gone to avoid any garlic eating.
  • Have an organized plan of action with your vet worked out so that you'll know what to do if your dog ever ingests garlic.

Tell Us Your Dog's Experience with Garlic!