How Much Garlic Can Kill A Dog?

Can dogs eat small amounts of garlic?¹

Did you find your dog chewing some garlic? Or they helped themselves to tasty garlic-flavoured food you accidentally left within their reach?

We’ve all heard a dozen times over how toxic garlic is to dogs and how it can do terrible things to a dog’s body. So you have every reason to freak out because your dog ate some garlic, right? Not quite. 

Garlic is really not as toxic as you may have heard, it surely can be poisonous to dogs, but at certain high levels. 

So, if your dog has eaten some garlic-flavoured chicken or garlic sauce, don’t fret just yet, because there may be no reason to. But what should you do? Keep reading to find out how to handle such a situation. 

Can a small amount of garlic kill a dog?

As a pet parent, you must have heard over and over again about garlic toxicity and how eating garlic can cause some real harm to your pooch, right? 

But the curious thing here is that when dogs eat table scraps and leftovers that contain garlic, they remain perfectly fine and don’t show any sign of poisoning. 

If you have observed this with your dog, you may start to wonder if garlic is truly unhealthy for dogs. Well, to clear up this confusion, garlic is still toxic to dogs but in very large quantities. Dogs are able to tolerate small amounts of garlic. If you give your dog any leftovers that contain tiny bits of garlic, they will be fine and suffer no side effects. 

So, small amounts of garlic will not kill any dog. However, you should be very mindful of feeding garlic to your dog because it can still cause some harm. Dogs are individuals, and they metabolize garlic at different rates, in other words, some can handle garlic better than others. If a dog eats more garlic than their body can handle, they’ll have a serious problem. 

How much garlic does it take to kill a dog?

Garlic poisoning is dose-dependent, therefore the amount of garlic consumed and the size of your dog are major determinants of potential poisoning. With this in mind, you can safely say that the more garlic a dog consumes per pound of body weight, the more harm will be done. Also, small dog breeds are more affected by garlic because it takes smaller doses to poison them, while medium and large dog breeds can handle garlic better. 

Studies on garlic toxicity revealed that it takes about 15 to 30 grams of garlic per kilogram of body weight to poison a dog. To better understand this, let’s consider the weight of garlic cloves. On average, store-bought garlic cloves weigh between 3 and 7 grams, therefore a dog will have eaten a very large quality (several bulbs of garlic) to get sick. 

But, some dogs tend to be more susceptible to garlic poisoning than others, and such dogs may get sick even if they eat an amount that’s far from the toxic dose. 

Another thing to note is that consistent consumption of garlic over a prolonged period of time may cause some serious side effects. Since dogs are unable to metabolize garlic as well as we do, it’s much safer to keep it away from them or only feed them very small amounts sparingly. 

There are claims that occasionally feeding your dog small amounts of garlic may be beneficial to their health. Some of these benefits include, helping the liver flush out toxins, improving blood cholesterol levels and preventing ticks and fleas, although there is no scientific data to back these claims. 

On a final note, endeavour to store garlic properly, so your dogs don’t get to them. The easiest way for dogs to get poisoned by garlic is if they find your garlic stash and help themselves to a generous amount. 

How long after eating garlic will a dog get sick?

Garlic poisoning will start to manifest a few days after your dog has eaten garlic. It may take about 24 hours to up to 5 days before you will start to notice the negative effects of garlic poisoning. Usually, the first symptom will be vomiting and diarrhoea, which will gradually increase to anaemia. 

The substance responsible for garlic toxicity is called thiosulfate, this compound is responsible for causing oxidative damage to red blood cells, which results in hemolysis or hemolytic anaemia. In simpler terms, the red blood cells are destroyed faster than they are produced. Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen to every organ and tissue in the body, and a massive shortage of these cells means that the body will not be getting enough oxygen. Hemolytic anaemia is a very serious condition and symptoms include paleness of the gums and skin, extreme weakness, dizziness, confusion, dark-coloured urine, rapid heart rate, and loss of appetite. 

The larger the amount of garlic consumed by a dog, the higher the concentration of thiosulfate in their body, and the more severe these symptoms will be. 

How long does garlic toxicity last in dogs?

Despite how serious garlic poisoning is, it’s very rare for a perfectly healthy dog to die from it. Provided your dog is given adequate and immediate veterinary care, symptoms should improve within the first 24 hours. But your dog will need several days or weeks of continuous care to fully recover. Once a vet is able to diagnose the condition and administer the proper care, your dog will be out of danger and on the road to recovery. If your dog only has symptoms of gastrointestinal distress like vomiting and diarrhoea, they will recover much faster, it will only take a couple of days. But if they had already developed anaemia, then full recovery will take much longer, up to some weeks. 

Can dogs eat garlic bread?

Garlic bread probably only contains small amounts of garlic that may be much lower than the toxic level, but should your dog really eat garlic bread? I would say no, because besides garlic, garlic bread also contains a significant amount of oil, cheese, butter, and other ingredients that may cause digestive distress to your dog. This is more so if you have a small dog with a sensitive stomach. 

Garlic is not the only ingredient in the garlic bread you should be worried about. But if your dog must have some of it, make sure that it’s only a small amount. There are many options for healthier and less damaging things you can give your dog to eat, and there is no real reason why garlic bread should be on the list. 

Can dogs eat garlic chicken?

Your dog can have some amounts of garlic chicken without experiencing any negative effects of garlic poisoning. However, giving your dog garlic-flavoured chicken shouldn’t be a consistent thing. The best chicken recipe for dogs is one without potentially toxic spices like garlic, onions, chives, shallots, and all spices in the allium family. 

Whatever you do, remember that too much garlic is not good for dogs and be mindful of how much of this spice is present in your dog’s food at all times. And when in doubt skip it entirely, better be safe than sorry.

What should I do if my dog has eaten garlic?

If you find out that your dog ate a large amount of garlic or onions, no need to panic, just take him or her to the vet as soon as possible. If it has only been 1 hour or less since the consumption, the vet can purge the toxin out of your dog’s body using activated charcoal. Activated charcoal will absorb the thiosulfate in the dog’s stomach and prevent any adverse effects. But if it has been longer than 2 hours since the consumption, then the garlic would have been digested and the sulfate compound may be in the intestines or already in the bloodstream. In this case, treatment may include oxygen supplementation or blood transfusion. Intravenous fluid may also be administered to help stabilize your dog and keep them hydrated. 

With garlic poisoning, the faster you act, the better. Severe symptoms can take several days or up to a week to manifest. However, you may notice stomach upset much sooner. Garlic toxicity is rarely fatal, however, it’s always important to be vigilant and take notice of any unusual developments in your dog’s behaviour. 

Usually, the first sign that your dog ate garlic or onions should be their breath. If their breath smells like garlic or onions, you should definitely investigate the situation to find out the approximate amount they have consumed and contact your vet afterwards. 

Closing Thoughts

Small amounts of garlic will do no harm to your dog, but in large quantities of about 15 to 30 kilograms per body weight of a dog, there will be serious consequences. Garlic poisoning results in hemolytic anaemia which is the massive destruction of red blood cells, this leaves the body very weak and pale. 

Gastrointestinal distress may occur with some amounts of garlic, but hemolytic anaemia will only occur if your dogs had eaten a very substantial amount of garlic, like maybe they stumbled on a small pile of garlic while exploring the house, and decided to have a feast. Garlic toxicity is rarely fatal in healthy dogs, when a dog eats garlic, a prompt visit to the vet is what they need to be fine.

Photo credits

¹ Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash