The Bottom Line: Why Is Garlic Bad For Dogs?

Why Is Garlic Bad For Dogs

Why is garlic bad for dogs is exactly what this article is all about, we will be discussing in detail why garlic is bad for dogs. Be sure to read to the end to find out our final conclusion on giving your dog garlic.

The days of tossing leftover pizza into your dog’s bowl might be numbered. It turns out that there may be a downside to indulging your pet in what humans eat: studies show that dogs can develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and food allergies from ingesting high levels of certain foods, and some dog owners have reported a sudden change in their pets after eating a little bit of garlic.

However, most experts tell you to stay away from any high levels of garlic, advising people to “go for less than a quarter teaspoon.”

Let’s give you a single paragraph of why garlic is bad for your dog before we discuss further.

Be sure to visit other blog post topics like How Dogs Get Heartworm: Facts, Symptoms & Prevention.

Why is garlic bad for dogs?

Garlic is bad for dogs due to the fact that garlic contains thiosulfate which is toxic to dogs and causes oxidative damage to red blood cells, resulting in hemolytic anemia. The toxicity of garlic also causes gastrointestinal upset that leads to vomiting, dehydration, and jaundice in dogs.

The risk of Giving Garlic To Dogs

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), garlic can cause all sorts of nasty things in your pet: diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, skin infections and allergic reactions.

But the main problem here is intestinal permeability (which is a fancy word for “the walls of the intestines are thinner and more permeable than normal”).

In humans, intestinal permeability is caused by certain medications, bacteria, and fungi, and in dogs, it is believed to be caused by eating too much garlic.

However, garlic doesn’t just kill dogs, it also causes red blood cell breakdown and oxidative stress.

So if you’re wondering why your dog’s behavior changes when you start doling out that gnarly-smelling onion you got at the grocery store, chances are he’s just reacting to the red blood cell breakdown.

So why not just give your dog half a clove and call it a day? Well, garlic might not be entirely to blame.

Chances are, dogs that are sensitive to garlic have a mutation on the PHR2 gene that is responsible for processing glutathione (the antimicrobial in garlic) in the body.

The mutation might leave the dog unable to process this antioxidant, which means the dog gets a fever and develops a headache, eventually leading to diarrhea and other symptoms.

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Food allergies in Dogs

Food Allergies In Dogs
Food Allergies In Dogs

On the other hand, if your dog has a bad reaction to foods, it’s because they were fed a diet high in garlic, and the body wasn’t able to digest and break down the enzyme in the meat.

“I have never found a vet who would recommend feeding garlic directly to the dog,” said Amanda Fessler, a vet in Philadelphia.

“I am always trying to convince clients to feed their dogs natural foods that they like and then avoid anything that contains garlic or onion.”

There are several allergens that can cause food sensitivities and irritation in dogs.

Therefore, if your dog has an allergy or intolerance, it’s probably not a good idea to feed your pet those foods, but the FDA says that generally speaking, garlic is just “rare” in the dog food aisle.

Recommended post: Where Do Dogs Get Worms From? Prevention & Treatments.

Dogs are much more sensitive to carbs

When your dog chows down on a pizza or other high-carb foods, he is subjecting his system to an inflammatory response.

Dogs’ digestion systems are highly specialized, designed to process mostly protein and fats and resist strong flavors.

The intestines have specialized structures to do this, called epithelial lining cells.

The cells line the walls of the intestines and do a ton of other crucial tasks to prevent erosion and prevent the breakdown of food. When this happens, intestinal permeability results.

Some researchers are even speculating that this has something to do with why our dog’s immune system is wired differently.

In dogs, the intestinal lining cells don’t proliferate very fast, while humans’ epithelial lining cells do a ton of things throughout the body.

This is called down-regulation, and while it is linked to immunity, it is believed that the lack of proliferation plays a huge role in autoimmune diseases in humans.

While we can’t yet explain all of the reasons why dogs react the way they do to high-carb foods.

There is one fascinating fact: Dogs’ ability to digest starch is lower than we think.

While humans have enzymes that aid in the digestion of starch and other complex carbs, dogs’ digestive systems have different mechanisms.

“It appears that starch in dogs is converted by bacteria in the colon into small, extremely water-soluble molecules that can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream,” Fessler said.

“This would explain why dogs with decreased intestinal permeability are able to digest starch, which is rather strange.”

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Is it just a bunch of urban legends, or is it actually true?

You can definitely feed your dog garlic and no worries! But, according to Fessler, the most important thing to do is pay attention to your dog’s symptoms and take him to a vet.

If your dog has had an allergic reaction to food or medication, you need to make sure he doesn’t have an allergy.

There are some common dog foods that claim to be hypoallergenic, but Fessler warns that the majority of foods marketed as “hypoallergenic” contain corn or wheat.

And any food that comes from a milling process, in which fibers and “spices” are ground and broken up, tends to be more starchy.

So the real test is going to be the texture of the food and whether or not it seems too thick.

“I think when the public hears that something is hypoallergenic, they are really thinking that the food is a ‘gelatin-free’ food, which generally is not,” said Fessler.

“Only specialized diets can truly be hypoallergenic. I’ve seen some ‘hypoallergenic’ dog foods that claim to be all-grain, but the majority of dogs have food allergies.”

A warning: While there are only a few occasions when grain-free dog foods are a good idea, there are many other reasons why grain-free dog food could be an issue. I encourage you to discuss your dog’s food with your vet, before embarking on a grain-free diet.

What Amount of garlic is toxic to dogs?

8 to 13 grams of garlic per kilograms of body weight will produce or trigger off harmful changes in a dog’s blood, if you give your dog anything above 5 grams of garlic you are harming your dog.

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What will happen if a dog eats garlic?

The ingestion of much garlic by a dog causes a health conditions called hemolytic anemia, Heinz body anemia, and methemoglobinemia which are all manifestation of damage to red blood cells in dogs and this is likely to happen when you feed your dog with garlic.

Are dogs attracted to garlic?

No, dogs are not attracted to garlic due to the repelling smell of the garlic that can keep a dog far away from the garlic.

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What are the symptoms of Garlic poisoning in dogs?

Here are some toxic symptoms of garlic in dogs;

  • Reddish urine
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fainting
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration

Can a dog recover from eating garlic?

Garlic poisoning is a serious dog health condition, however, it is very rare for any dog in good health placed in a well-balanced diet to die from garlic poison, therefore, all dogs recover fully with proper treatment.

See the Causes of Obesity In Dogs.

Can dogs eat cooked garlic?

Toxicity can occur whether the products are fresh, cooked or in a dried/powdered form such as in spices, therefore keep anything garlic away from dogs whether cooked or raw.

However, the toxicity of a cooked garlic is mild than the raw garlic, but that is not to say you can feed your dog with garlic.

Can dogs have a little bit of garlic?

No, keep anything garlic away from dogs not even a little bit of raw garlic as it can make a dog vomit, or cause unnecessary allergic reactions.

However, this is not to say that a little bit of garlic can kill or harm your dog, but just like the popular saying, prevention is far better than cure.


Finally, make sure that the ingredients in the dog food you buy are properly formulated, without any excessive or hidden ingredients that could harm your dog.

There is a lot of saying that garlic is often fed to dogs to prevent fleas and ticks or to deworm dogs.

We do not encourage this practice as there are many other ways to keep fleas and ticks away rather than feeding your dogs things that can end up hurting the dog.

Some websites will outline the benefits of giving your dog garlic and how to prepare garlic for your dog.

Unless you find a better way of eliminating the thiosulfate present in garlic we do not encourage you to give your dog garlic, even if you are told you can use it to prevent ticks and fleas or to deworm your dog.

If your dog has worms, fleas or ticks talk to your vet.

Further reading: 31 Benefits Of Having Pets.

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