They say that a good recipe always starts with an onion and some garlic. If you fall into this camp, your recipes are bursting with flavor and you rarely get any complaints about your food. While garlic is a staple in a lot of delicious recipes, you need to keep your garlic and the food it’s prepared with far away from your dog.
Is Garlic Safe for Dogs to Eat?
Garlic in any form is not safe for dogs to consume. Whether it’s raw, cooked, pureed, chopped, or roasted, it’s always toxic to dogs. Garlic is a member of the Allium family; other plants belonging to the Allium species are onions, shallots, and scallions.
There are a lot of foods and medications that canines just can’t break down like humans can, and garlic is one of the biggest ones on that list. If you know that onions are toxic to dogs, then you’ll be surprised to hear that garlic is actually significantly more toxic than onions.
Garlic contains sulfoxides and sisulfides, and when a dog ingests these, their red blood cells become damaged and eventually rupture. This disease is known as hemolytic anemia and it can be fatal to dogs if it isn’t treated.
Garlic is most potent in powder form and can cause more problems than fresh garlic. Garlic powder and salt are found in a lot of pre-made foods, so if you’re feeding your dog human food as a treat, you definitely need to read the labels carefully. Baby food is commonly recommended by veterinarians for dogs who are ill and have no appetite, but many meat-based baby foods contain garlic powder as a main ingredient.
Signs of Garlic Toxicity
Symptoms of garlic toxicity start relatively small, but the symptoms can progress quite rapidly. Stomach upset is the first symptom to appear because the sulfoxides and sisulfides cause an inflammation of both the stomach and intestines. This inflammation can lead to vomiting or diarrhea, but it almost always causes extreme stomach pain.
Because garlic causes the red blood cells to rupture, your dog will become weak and easily tired. This is because red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. If there isn’t enough oxygen circulating through the body, then the dog will become fatigued very easily. They’ll become winded after minor exercise or be reluctant to move because they can’t breathe well.
A dog’s gums should be a healthy bubblegum pink color, but when the red blood cells start getting destroyed, their gums will become pale. If you notice your dog’s gums are now abnormally colored, you need to get them to veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Treating Garlic Toxicity
If you suspect garlic toxicity, your veterinarian will run bloodwork on your dog to see if there is any anemia present. They’ll also look at the red blood cells under a microscope to look for evidence of the toxicosis. Treatment is mostly supportive.
If the dog stops eating the garlic, the body will stop destroying the red blood cells. The dog may need IV fluids and plenty of rest until they’re able to oxygenate probably. If the anemia is severe, the dog might need oxygen therapy until they have enough red blood cells.
Very severe anemia might require a blood transfusion because the body can’t produce enough red blood cells to get the body’s supply caught back up. This can greatly extend a dog’s hospital stay, not to mention increase the bill. If you suspect your dog has eaten garlic in any form, consult with your veterinarian right away to find out what you should do.
Garlic should never be given to your dog. If your recipe has even a small amount of garlic in it, you should keep your food to yourself. Small amounts of garlic over a period of time can lead to an eventual toxicity, so it’s best to use extreme caution with the foods you’re giving your dog.