Can Dogs Eat Garlic? The Definitive Answer

A dog cooking at a kitchen counter with garlic.

Recently, the safety of giving garlic to our dogs have come into question. There’s a lot of hype on the internet pointing out the fact that garlic is dangerous for your dog. But just how true is this?

We all know that humans have been dealing with garlic for many years, whether it’s in the kitchen or ancient medicine. Giving garlic to our dogs has only become a matter in the last century.

Whether or not you should give your dog garlic has been an ongoing debate for years. Many experts believe that garlic has many great health benefits for your dog, however,  many also believe it has a dangerous level of toxicity.

While there are so many who love the idea of giving garlic to your dog, there are also so many who loathe the idea. So, how do we know what to believe? The truth of the matter is that it depends. Really, it depends on the amount.

It’s easy to find opinions pointing out just how toxic garlic is for dogs. It’s equally easy to find those that praise the idea and the marvelous health benefits of it.

Ultimately the decision the give your dog garlic is up to you.

If you want to know for sure then you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to discuss what garlic is, if it’s toxic to your dog, and how much is toxic.

A Short History of Garlic

When we think of garlic, our minds probably turn to its presence in the culinary world. It is widely used around the globe as either a seasoning or condiment. 

The truth is, however, garlic has a long, long history, not only in the culinary world. Multiple records tell us that Mesopotamia has cultivated garlic for at least 4,000 years!

Its history also includes garlic being used for medicinal purposes by humans. Garlic was prescribed to aid in digestion and respiration in ancient Chinese medicine. Many experts believe that garlic was also used to treat depression as well. 

For humans, garlic can be great. The health benefits that come with consuming garlic are many. For example, garlic can:

  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce your cholesterol
  • Reduce your risk of having blood clots

Garlic even has a presence in ancient India, Japan, and even the Middle Ages. Although garlic was a dominant force throughout these times, and its regular consumption was normal, it was still recommended to only consume in limited quantities due to its spicy content.

Long story short, garlic has been around forever and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

However, we’re not talking about us. The question is whether or not garlic will be harmful to our dog. Can garlic have the same health benefits for dogs as it does for humans? Before we hop into the details of feeding garlic to our pup, let’s talk about what garlic is.

A god trying to eat garlic.

While garlic may seem unhealthy for dogs, science has shown that small amounts could be healthy.


So What Exactly is Garlic?

Garlic is an ingredient that you probably cook with at home, taste it in a sauce, or eat with meals like pasta and veggies. While many of us have probably had a piece or two of garlic bread along with our lasagna, what is it exactly? 

First and foremost, garlic is a plant that belongs to the onion family, or more specifically, the Allium family. Or if scientific names suit you better: Allium sativum. Its closest relatives are chives, leeks, onions, and shallots.

After that brief summary of what garlic is we can turn to the whole reason you’re reading this: Is garlic harmful to your dog?

Feeding your dog garlic has been a hot debate for many years. For the longest time, giving your dog garlic has been a no-no. However, in recent years studies have shown that garlic can be good for your little friend.

The vital thing to remember is that garlic can only be good for your dog if given to him in small doses. You don’t want to throw cloves of garlic his way and let him eat it up.

Garlic and Your Dog

The history of garlic in a dog’s diet dates back to over 100 years ago. Leading experts found that, because of garlic’s properties, it was toxic to canines. They also believed that garlic should never be served in your dog’s food. 

Things have changed since that point in time. Today, feeding your dog garlic is not as taboo as it once was. However, giving your dog large amounts of garlic can be dangerous. 

Before we get into the dangers of giving your dog too much garlic, we’re going to talk about the good news: The health benefits. If garlic can improve your dog’s quality of life then why wouldn’t you feed it to him?

The Good News About Garlic For Your Dog

It’s okay if you’re wary about giving your dog garlic because you’ve heard too many horror stories about dogs and garlic. It is your dog and it’s safe to assume that you don’t want anything to happen to him. But what if garlic could help your pooch? In the right amounts, garlic can have significant health benefits for your dog. 

Perhaps the biggest reason garlic can be good for your dog is due to its attractive properties. For example, garlic contains zinc, sulfur, potassium, and phosphorus. Along with these, it also contains vitamins A and C. 

Garlic can also play an important role in other aspects of your dog’s life, such as aiding in essential organs and bodily functions.

Garlic Can Help Your Dog’s Liver

The liver is vital to your dog’s overall health as it aids in digestion and blood clotting. It is also responsible for removing toxins from their system.

As it happens, garlic is known for having detoxifying effects. Garlic can break down wastes before they ever have the chance to enter your dog’s bloodstream. Garlic is a great way to keep that organ working smoothly.

The reduced risk of blood clotting can also aid in maintaining cholesterol levels. This plays as a great cardiovascular boost. 

Give Your Dog an Immune System Boost

Does your dog have a suppressed immune system? If so, garlic may be just the thing you need. 

Garlic has been shown to give the bloodstream a boost and can even kill cancer cells. This is especially true for cancers involving the rectum, stomach, colon, and lungs.

Fight Bacteria and Infection

Garlic can get the job done in the antibiotic, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antiparasitic departments. 

Many studies have shown garlic having properties that can fight against a vast range of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Garlic also contains chemical compounds, most notable allicin, that show antimicrobial activity that kills pathogens. 

Naturally, every good thing can also have risks. Despite the numerous health benefits, experts have been saying that garlic is toxic for dogs for a reason. This is true to some extent. 

I understand this can be greatly contradicting. We’re not here to confuse you. We’re going to get into the potential dangers garlic can pose to your dog and how to prevent them from happening.

The Dangers of Garlic

Garlic in large amounts can be toxic for your dog. This is because garlic contains certain chemicals that may not sit well with your canine.

One of the biggest reasons garlic is only safe in small amounts is because it contains thiosulfate. For dogs, too much thiosulfate will likely result in oxidative damage to their red blood cells. Your dog’s immune system will reject these cells. When this happens, it results in Heinz body, also referred to as hemolytic anemia.

This is not what you want for your dog. The symptoms of anemia are many. For example, your dog could experience:

  • Pale Gums
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Dark Colored Urine
  • Lethargy
  • Exercise Intolerance
  • Bad Breath

Other symptoms of garlic poisoning in dogs include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, drooling, and weakness. 

The level of garlic toxicity your dog may have also depends on the breed. Certain breeds of dogs are a bit more sensitive to garlic. This is most notably in Japanese breeds such as Akita and Shiba Inu.

Other traits make your dog more susceptible. For example, if your dog has a Zinc deficiency or a Glucose–6–phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, you may want to avoid adding garlic to his diet.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s talk about what you should do should you ever notice your dog experiencing these symptoms. 

How is Garlic Toxicity Treated in Dogs?

If your dog does get into too much garlic, the overall goal is to catch it early. If caught early, it is usually easily treatable. There are many different ways you can go about this.

The first thing you should do, however, is take your dog to the veterinarian. Your vet may then induce vomiting. This is to try and decontaminate your pup’s gastrointestinal tract.

Failing that, and if clinical signs develop, your vet will turn to IV fluids to maintain hydration. If garlic toxicity isn’t caught early, a blood transfusion may be required.

You don’t want this for your dog, and you don’t want to go through it as well. Should your pet experience these symptoms you can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.

The trick is to make sure you give your dog just the right amount if you do decide to give it. So what is the right amount?

A god with fleas.

Small amounts of garlic may help prevent dogs from getting ticks and fleas.

Garlic Can Also Be A Flea & Tick Repellent

We all know fleas are just annoying and ticks can sometimes hurt. We don’t want our dog to have to deal with either one of these. That’s where garlic comes in.

The bad news here is that garlic won’t kill fleas and ticks, however, they hate the taste of it. Giving your dog garlic consistently will cause it to build up in his coat oil. 

The trick here is to begin giving your dog garlic a couple of weeks before flea and tick season begins. It will take at least this long for the garlic to make its way into your dog’s coat oil.

Fun fact: In addition to working as a repellent for fleas and ticks, garlic can also be used to repel mosquitos.

How Much Garlic is Too Much Garlic?

How much garlic is safe depends on your dog’s body weight. You should give your dog ½ clove per 10 pounds of their body weight. 

One study suggests that takes 15 to 30 grams of garlic per kilogram of body weight to result in damages to your dog’s blood.

This is for an older and healthy dog only. If your dog already has an anemic condition, you should avoid feeding your dog garlic. 

The same is true if you have a puppy younger than six months. Puppies who are younger than eight weeks don’t produce new red blood cells. 

You should also avoid giving pregnant dogs garlic. This is because the garlic will change the flavor of the mother’s breast milk, thus, causing potential harm to the newborn puppy.

Garlic can also be harmful to your dog if he is on certain medications. A few of these medications include:

  • Insulin
  • Antacids
  • Drugs For High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Medications
  • Immune Suppressants

The choice of whether or not you should feed your dog garlic is up to you. Let’s say you decide to and are wondering what type of garlic you should feed him.

What Type of Garlic is Safe For My Dog?

If you ultimately choose to let your dog partake in a little garlic every now and then, it’s important to know just what kind of garlic to feed him. 

The key thing to remember here is to always use fresh, raw garlic when feeding it to your dog. Raw garlic contains the enzymes that work as antibiotic and antioxidant properties. It is also a good idea to begin with the smallest doses possible, as not every dog will take to garlic.

The Problem with Garlic Bread

Understandably, many dog owners find it safe to assume that if you’re going to give your dog garlic, why can’t it be garlic bread. The truth is, giving your dog garlic bread should be avoided.

The reason for this is garlic bread is a high-calorie food. It also contains things that may upset your dog’s stomach, such as butter and cheese. Garlic bread also offers no nutritional benefits for your dog. 

What About Garlic Supplements?

If you’re still not entirely sure about giving your dog the same garlic we eat, garlic supplements may be a good alternative. Garlic supplements have consistently been providing positive results when given in the correct amounts.

Asking A Vet Can Help

If you’re still struggling with making a decision, consult your veterinarian. Having an expert opinion is always a good idea when it comes to your dog. A vet can also recommend garlic supplements if you choose to take that route.

Remember the Alternatives

If you’ve decided once and for all that you’re not giving your dog garlic, remember, there are alternatives to it. These alternatives are fruits and vegetables that can prove to be a healthy option.

Apples, blueberries, carrots, and watermelon can offer valuable nutrients to your dog. Consider these to be a part of the next healthy treat you toss your dog’s way.

Dogs and Garlic Wrap Up

As mentioned previously, the decision is ultimately up to you. The last thing you want is to harm your dog in any way. 

One thing to remember is that if you do decide to take the route of feeding your dog garlic, it must be in small amounts. That can’t be emphasized enough. 

It is also important to remember that raw garlic is the best option. You should never give your dog garlic from a jar.

If you follow these tips, you’ll have a happy and healthy dog. 




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Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.