Can I give my dog garlic

The garlic plant has been used to add flavor to foods and for its medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. This edible bulb can flavor a wide variety of foods, from pizza to soups to steaks and burgers. It has also been widely studied for its possible health implications, including regulating blood pressure and reducing the risk of certain cancers. But can dogs eat garlic in any circumstance, and why is garlic bad for dogs?

If you've been wondering, “can I give my dog garlic,” the answer is NO – garlic for dogs in unsafe and toxic due to compound allicin that is prevalent in all allium family vegetables. Regardless of garlic's potential medicinal properties, there is currently no way to safely feed garlic for dogs but it's less toxic than onions.

In this article we'll discuss garlic in more detail, its potential health benefits, can dogs eat garlic in some specific circumstance, why is garlic bad for dogs and more.

ALSO READ: Why Is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

What is garlic?

Garlic is a vegetable that belongs to the allium family which has been harvested and used by people for centuries. A bulb related to the lily, garlic has long been used as a natural health product worldwide. It is frequently included as a dietary supplement for a range of purposes, from alleviating the common cold to lowering high blood pressure.

This bulb is perhaps best known as a way to flavor food and can be done so in various forms, such as powder, oil, and fresh. The use of garlic is well-documented even in ancient cultures, primarily as a medicinal food to treat many illnesses in people.

This is what garlic looks like:

Dogs and garlic

But can dogs eat garlic, is garlic for dogs safe to consume in any circumstance, and if not, then why is garlic bad for dogs and what to do in case your pet has ingested it?

RELATED: 50 Best Homemade Dog Food Recipes

Garlic for Dogs 101
Can Dogs Eat Garlic?

So, can dogs eat garlic in small amounts? Generally, the answer is no – it's best to avoid garlic for dogs based on the current evidence we have. However, whether a dog can eat garlic or not is still a hotly debated argument.

Most of scientific research today shows that large amounts of garlic can be poisonous to dogs, but there is also some arguments (particularly from holistic veterinarians) that garlic may provide important health benefits for dogs. Ultimately, it's best to have a consultation with your veterinarian before feeding any amount of garlic.

Overall, is one of the most well-studied vegetables out there, and a ton of human clinical trials demonstrate its health benefits. Some of this evidence has been the basis among vets for advising garlic for dogs, but we are yet to see any hard proof on the matter. Here is what we currently know about the health benefits of garlic for people:

  • Garlic has medicinal properties (1)
  • Garlic lowers blood pressure (2, 3)
  • Garlic helps to fight off colds and sicknesses (4, 5)
  • Garlic lowers the risk of heart diseases (6, 7, 8)
  • Garlic may help to detoxify the body (9)
  • Garlic helps fight off brain diseases (10, 11)
  • Garlic strengthens bones and helps with osteoarthritis (12, 13, 14)

It's easy to see why we should include garlic in our own diet, but can dogs eat garlic in some very small doses? Unfortunately, so far there was no hard evidence showing any safe doses of garlic for dogs, with most research clearly pointing at its toxicity.

Why is garlic bad for dogs and what does science say?

When can dogs eat garlicWe know that large amounts of garlic are toxic to dogs (Kovalkovicova et al. 2009); however, it's also less toxic than onions. There's also an argument to be made that very small doses of garlic for dogs may be safe, but I'll get to that in a moment. The first question we must ask ourselves is why is garlic bad for dogs and what causes toxicity?

The main suspects in garlic are the active and hypotensive agents ajoene and allicin that are cardiac and smooth muscle relaxants (15, 16, 17). They are said to be the cause of anemia in dogs that ingest garlic. Two studies tested garlic for dogs and whether it actually causes hemolytic anemia in canines (Lee et al. 2000; Yamato et al. 2005). The results of these studies showed a clear correlation between garlic extract and potential for dogs to develop Heinz body hemolytic anemia.

Thus far we're only aware of the potential dangers of garlic for dogs and most veterinarians will encourage to err on the side of caution and stay away from feeding garlic to dogs. If you have dogs at home, remember to about the hidden dangers in the kitchen and puppy-proof your home to avoid poisoning your dog (Gugler et al. 2013).

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6 Potential Benefits of Garlic for Dogs

Is garlic good for dogsWhile it's clear from the evidence that we have today that garlic is bad for dogs and toxic to their bodies, potentially causing anemia, there are arguments out there that small amounts of garlic for dogs is safe and beneficial. Note that there is currently no scientific proof to the below claims, but this is how garlic may benefit your canine:

1. Garlic may enhance dog's liver function.

Garlic contains multiple compounds that improve liver function due to their detoxifying effects. Some studies have shown that limiting or preventing the buildup of toxins in the body may reduce the risk of cancer.

2. Garlic may strengthen dog's immune system.

Garlic can be especially beneficial for dogs with weakened immune systems or those who are fighting cancer. Immune function is increased by promoting the activities of cells whose responsibility is to find and destroy invasive cancer cells and microbes.

3. Garlic is a natural flea and tick repellent.

Although the reason why garlic is such an effective repellent is unclear, it has been reported as an excellent source to rid your dog of these parasitic pests. It is particularly useful when combined with brewer’s yeast.

4. Garlic may lower blood cholesterol levels in dogs.

Mixing uncooked garlic into your dog’s food help lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This benefit is beneficial for dogs suffering from hyperlipidemia, where the level of fats in the blood rises to an undesirable level.

5. Garlic fights a variety of infections.

Whether it’s a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection, garlic can solve the problem. Garlic is both an antibiotic and antimicrobial source. Adding fresh garlic to your dog’s food may ward off mouth, throat, stomach, respiratory, and intestinal infections. Combining olive oil with crushed fresh garlic can be used to alleviate ear mites and ear infections.

Additionally, crushed garlic and oil may also be applied as a topical antiseptic on cuts and wounds for infection prevention.

6. Garlic may be good for a dog’s heart.

Garlic contains compounds that prevent blood clot formation, making it an excellent choice for dogs, and older dogs particularly. It also helps reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition

where plaque develops on the inside of the arteries. If unattended, this situation can lead to cardiac arrest and other cardiovascular health issues.

Benefits of garlic for dogs

So, is garlic good for dogs then?

Not necessarily. Again, while some of the benefits of garlic may extent to dogs, we currently do not have any accurate studies showing the exact amount of garlic for dogs that would be safe for them to consume. Theoretically, there may be some great health benefits, but if you choose to err on the side of caution when it comes to garlic and dogs, then zero amount of garlic would be the best way to go.

RELATED: Grape Toxicosis and Dangers Explained

Side Effects of Garlic in Dogs

Is garlic bad for dogsAs the above evidence indicates, studies have shown that some dogs can react negatively to large quantities of garlic; other dogs appear to be somewhat immune to small amounts of garlic. There is also reasonable concern based upon research that long-term ingestion of garlic can develop serious health problems in the future for dogs.

Short-term side effects and clinical signs of garlic toxicity in dogs can include:

  • Gastrointestinal upset, particularly diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy
  • Breathlessness
  • Elevated heart and respiratory rates
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Discolored urine

The long-term danger associated with garlic is hemolytic anemia. This medical condition is where the body attacks its red blood cells. If left untreated, anemia can be fatal to canines.

Hemolytic anemia caused by garlic toxicity has no antidote. General supportive care, including charcoal ingestion, supplemental oxygen therapy, or blood transfusions, will be necessary to alleviate the anemia.

A dog’s prognosis is entirely dependent on how much garlic was ingested, the severity of the anemia, and the speed at which medical care is initiated.

Additional Warnings About Anemia in Dogs

Garlic should not be fed to dogs categorized as having any of the following conditions:

  • pre-existing anemic conditions
  • scheduled for surgery
  • puppies younger than 6 – 8 weeks of age; puppies don’t begin to produce new red blood cells until after 6 – 8 weeks of age
  • lupus or other autoimmune diseases

Can Dogs Eat Garlic?

Why Is Garlic Bad for DogsSo can dogs eat garlic in small amounts then? If we go by the evidence, there's currently none indicating that any amount of garlic for dogs is safe. Theoretically, depending on the dog, a small amount of garlic may not be dangerous and can even provide some health and nutritional benefits. However, some dogs may be prone to garlic toxicity, even from small amounts, and serious medical conditions like anemia can occur.

Why is garlic bad for dogs? The main reason are its two active compounds, ajoene and allicin, which short-term may cause a large list of problems in the dog, and long-term it may cause anemia in dogs, and be potentially fatal.

Whether garlic is right to feed to a dog is up to the owner to decide. But if you do decide to feed garlic to your dog, make sure to discuss this with your veterinarian first.

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  1. It is worth noting through this shameful admission of ignorance, that food which is prepared or seasoned with garlic and slipped to pup under the dinner table, or allowing pooch to lick your plate where remnants of garlic may remain are just two more ways of potentially asking for tragedy.

    My family took in the sweetest 3-year-old Cock-a-Poo from a friend of my mom, who’d been given the name “Scrappy” because he was notorious for sneaking people-food scraps from anywhere he could find; the floor, the trash, off your plate, everywhere. We did our best to curb this habit, but, would regularly allow him the ‘treat’ of lapping-clean our dinner plates and occasionally “drop” a scrap of meat for him at mealtime.

    He was perfectly healthy when we took him in, and his prior owner let us know that he had been a “Scrappy” all his life with no problems.

    One evening, Scrappy was gazing longingly up at the counter while my father prepared our Italian family’s dinner. Suddenly, Scrappy began a series of violent sneezes, the last several of which were accompanied by sprays of blood spatter that appeared on the linoleum. My mother immediately called the vet, who urged us to bring Scrappy to the emergency vet right away; dogs aren’t supposed to get bloody noses.

    Tests confirmed that Scrappy was severely anemic, and his pancreas was near double normal size. We were told there wasn’t much that could be done except to give him the medicine they were going to give us, and if he recovered, it would be miraculous. When we asked just how all of this could have happened to such a young and otherwise healthy dog, the vet asked us if we ever fed Scrappy garlic. My father immediately hung his head, as, he seasons nearly everything he cooks with garlic, and without it dawning on any of us, we had in fact been regularly giving small amounts of garlic to Scrappy, which had apparently slowly poisoned him over the last two years. Scrappy went home with us that night, and like many dogs do, he behaved as if nothing had happened, he looked normal, acted like his normal, playful, affectionate self.

    The next morning, Scrappy sat on the bed watching my dad get dressed while I prepared breakfast for my son. My dad suddenly screamed for me to come help; Scrappy had keeled over and couldn’t get back up. I rushed into his room and sat with my pup while dad grabbed his wallet, coat, and keys to rush Scrappy back to the vet. He licked my face and gave me paw, I told him I loved him and to be good for the vet. Dad scooped him up and flew out the door, arriving at the vet within mere minutes. But, Scrappy wasn’t there with him anymore. He died in the car on the way there.

    It’s been eight years since Scrappy left us, and my father, to this day, blames himself for this tragedy. And while we had no idea what we were doing to our poor doggie, we were still the ones responsible. Please, don’t EVER allow your dogs anywhere near garlic in any capacity. I can honestly say that this was one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever learned throughout my entire life.

  2. It seems like you just compiled whatever research there is on garlic for dogs which is on the opposite sides of caution. The holistic vets say its ok, other vets say no but there seems to be no scientific evidence that garlic (is 5x worse than onion). Onion is always listed as prohibited for dogs but garlic is not even listed. ‘Mostly, in big doses, its bad but in smaller doses its ok’ – that is guesswork, its all make-up. So, why not figure out how much ur dog can eat, start with small doses and see how he takes it. If he feels fine with no adverse reaction, then its ok. When he goes to the vet for his yearly check-up, have his blood work be taken. Why is garlic given a bad rap when its beneficial to people and ‘Very, very bad’ for dogs. U should have more evidence before coming up with an opinion on this considering that u are not a vet doctor. Even some vet doctors are just using the same language (jargon) on garlic. For lack and laziness of researching on this, they’re just on the side of caution – they just don’t want garlic as a suspect on the dog’s sickness, how convenient. That goes for all other foods that are not good for dogs like grapes, chocolate – why? Because some dogs died of it (haven’t read any dogs dying of garlic?!). Like how many dogs have died of grapes or chocolate or onions? Then they’d say, ‘U see its a combination of such and such’. Science research should be the only answer to these questions.


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