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Health & Wellness

Can dogs eat garlic?

Garlic is a big no-no for dogs. Even garlic bread!

When you think about it, garlic can end up in a lot of our favorite foods. Bagels? Check. Pizza? Most definitely. Pasta sauce, pesto and hummus? Yes, yes and yes! But while garlic may be an omnipresent ingredient in human foods, it shouldn’t be given to furry family members, even in small amounts. 

Garlic can be quite toxic for dogs, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s raw or cooked. In every form it takes, even a small amount of garlic can be detrimental to our best friends — so it’s important to keep the cloves out of their diet.

Is garlic bad for dogs?

Alliums, the vegetable family that contains garlic and onions, are definitely out of bounds for dogs. They may be tiny veggies, but they don’t take a lot to cause illness or worse.

“Garlic is toxic to dogs in all its forms (raw, cooked, garlic granules, powders and as an ingredient in other products),” Dr. Jamie Richardson, head of veterinary medicine at Small Door Veterinary’s New York City location, says. From garlic powder and purees to garlic infusions, garlic skin, raw garlic or garlic that’s been cooked into anything from meatloaf to baba ganoush should be off-limits to your dog.

“It’s very important to check ingredient lists before giving any human foods or scraps to your dog, particularly items such as broth, gravy, stuffing, burger patties, etc., as these often contain garlic,” Dr. Richardson adds. 

Like all members of the allium family, garlic contains a sulfuric compound called n-propyl disulfide, which dogs aren’t capable of digesting and processing the way humans can. Meaning that if a dog eats garlic, it causes red blood cells to break down, which can result in anemia (when one lacks enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body's tissues). In addition to anemia, Dr. Richardson explains that garlic can cause your dog to suffer from nausea, indigestion, inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and abdominal pain. Consuming even a trace amount of garlic — even a nibble of garlic bread or a taste of shrimp scampi — can cause serious damage to dogs, and can even be fatal.  

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What to feed your dog instead of garlic

If it’s a flavor-packed veggie you want to give your dog, there are safer alternatives to garlic out there. Cucumbers, celery, broccoli and green beans are all safe, healthy alternatives that offer that texture and nutrition. Raspberries and apples do the same with sweet and tart flavors. Just be mindful to chop them into small pieces that can be eaten safely, of course.

You should also consult your vet before introducing new foods to your pet’s diet as all animals can react differently to foods. 

What to do if you think your dog ate garlic

If you think your pup may have gotten into some garlic, indicated by symptoms such as vomiting, change in heart rate, diarrhea, lethargy and loss in appetite, Dr. Richardson suggests contacting your veterinarian for advice.

“Try to estimate how much your dog has ingested and if it’s a packaged good, keep hold of the ingredients list — this will help your veterinarian assess the severity.”

You can also call the pet poison control hotline at (855) 764-7661 for advice (fee applies).

Responsible snacking

With pretty much anything we eat, our furry friend is likely to want a bite or two. But as hard as it is to say no, garlic is one food that you should not sneak to your dog — for good reason. 

We’re confident that garlic isn’t the only human food your dog would love to sink their teeth into (cue the drool). Check out our series “Can dogs eat” to learn more about which human foods are off-limits and what’s fair game.

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.

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