Can dogs eat garlic?
In a word, no. Or at least, they shouldn’t.
Dogs metabolize some foods differently than humans and garlic is one of those. Actually, foods in the allium family, including onions and leeks, can affect dogs in ways they do not affect us. It’s a good lesson that not everything we eat is good for our dogs. We consider garlic to be one of the 9 most dangerous foods for dogs.
So the question of can dogs eat garlic should be met first and foremost with a solid no. But, alongside that mandate, there are some apparent contradictions to consider:
- If they shouldn’t eat garlic, why are there garlic pills for dogs?
- I’ve heard that garlic can be an effective treatment for fleas.
- I’ve fed Fido garlic bread before and he’s never had a problem with it.
- I always share my garlicky spaghetti with my pooch and she loves it and she’s fine.
So if the answer is no, dogs should not eat garlic, what gives?
How much garlic is toxic to dogs?
Herein lies the problem. Garlic in small doses will most likely do no damage.
But, each dog and each dog’s size will determine what that amount is. As a general rule, we see in studies that it takes about 15-30 grams of garlic per kilogram of body weight to be the level at which harmful changes are seen in a dog’s blood. So if you have a 5-pound dog, which is about 2.2 kilograms, that dog will need to ingest about 30-60 grams of garlic to be in danger. When you consider that a common clove of garlic you buy in the supermarket is about 5 grams, you can see that your dog would have to eat quite a bit to be in danger.
But it’s not just the raw amount. Different dogs metabolize garlic differently so what’s safe for one 5 pound dog may not be safe for another. There’s also the duration of time over which the garlic is eaten. If eaten over a period of days, the same amount can still be problematic so it doesn’t have to be eaten all at once.
A few more considerations:
- Age of the dog. Garlic will affect puppies to a greater degree so should never be fed garlic.
- Pregnant dogs? Never feed them garlic. We do not know how it affects the unborn puppies and since there are no proven health benefits, there’s really no reason to do it.
- Other medications? If your dog is taking other meds, they may interact badly with the garlic
- And lastly, the breed of dogs. Studies show that the Akita and Shiba Inus breeds are more susceptible to garlic toxicity than other dogs
Why do so many say that garlic is good for dogs?
Usually to sell something, to be honest.
Here’s the deal. Garlic is immensely beneficial for humans. We love our dogs. We want our dogs to be healthy and live a long time. We decide that what is good for us is good for them, which is where this train of thought’s logic falls off the rails.
Not everything that is good for us is good for them. It is undeniably true that a little bit of garlic won’t hurt. It takes a good bit to cause any harm but, as with chocolate, grapes, or avocados, why take the chance? There are far better treats, far better vitamins, far safer alternatives than “small amounts of something we know can be deadly in the wrong amount”.
Why take that chance?
What about garlic bread? My dog eats it all the time and he’s fine?
We’ve discussed how much garlic it takes to harm a dog and there’s very little chance you’re putting that much garlic on your garlic bread. So it’s not the garlic that’s a problem here, it’s the butter, salt, and whatever else you have on there. A piece of garlic bread is fine for most dogs but I wouldn’t make it a habit (for your dog or for you!).
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