Garlic cloves

Can Dogs Eat Garlic?
Fact Checked by our Vet

Written By Eloisa Thomas | Canine Coach, Double M.A in Anthropology.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 18th January 2024

Can dogs eat garlic? Worrying about pet dangers in the kitchen is common and justified. After all, many home-cooking staples can be very dangerous to dogs. If your pet just gobbled down something they weren’t supposed to, you’re probably looking at every ingredient to see if it’s toxic.

No worries, our experts are reviewing everything you need to know about garlic toxicity in dogs.

Cut garlic

Can Dogs Eat Garlic?

The simple answer is they can but shouldn’t. As with most dangerous ingredients for dogs, the more your dog eats of the hazardous item, the worse the results can be.

Related: What Vegetables Can Dogs Eat?

Dogs (and cats, for what it’s worth) cannot properly metabolise certain compounds found in garlic and other related foods.

This means your dog shouldn’t eat garlic and eating it in large quantities might cause serious damage to their health.

However, to put things into perspective, your dog would need to eat 15 to 30 grams of garlic per kilo to be poisonous. Considering 1 clove is around 5 grams, that’s a lot of garlic! The problem comes when your dog has eaten a dehydrated form, which has more sulphuric compounds per gram than the full bulb.

Why Is Garlic Toxic To Dogs?

Garlic is part of the Allium family, which includes onions, leeks, chives, shallots and others. These household staples have sulphur-based natural compounds that are healthy for humans but toxic for dogs.

According to the MSD Manual (by world-renowned pharmaceutical Merck), garlic is 3 to 5 more toxic than onion to pets and, although cats are more sensitive, dogs are at risk as well.

The sulphuric compounds that make garlic such a tasty addition to our dishes are also the culprit of garlic toxicity in pets.

Dogs are especially reactive to these compounds: they cause stress at a cellular level and can ultimately lead to haemolysis [2]. Haemolysis is the destruction of red blood cells, which in turn causes a severe case of anaemia. If left unattended, this acute anaemia can cause weakness, lack of blood oxygenation and even death.

PRO TIP: Garlic poisoning in pets is most commonly associated with consuming concentrated forms [1].

This means your dog is more likely to be at risk by eating dehydrated flakes, dried powder or soup mixes and not cooked foods with small amounts of the ingredient. Keep your dehydrated condiments away from your dog and in a child-proof drawer.

What To Do If Your Dog Ate Garlic

“What to do if my dog ate garlic?!” It’s easy to panic if your naughty pup just got into the kitchen. First, relax. You need to think clearly and not act out of distress. It’s time to act fast!

Step 1. Check your dog’s mouth

If you were fast enough, your dog might still be chewing part of their bounty! Quickly check your dog’s mouth even if you think some time has passed. Some of the garlic might be caught in the teeth still, which means they ate less than what you thought. 

PRO TIP: Save yourself future trouble and teach your dog to release on cue. Making release training part of your normal safety exercises (including recall) will be a great lifesaver later on. To teach your dog to release, let them grab something they like on their mouth (like a toy).

Then, say the cue (it can be “release” or “let go”) and softly pry the item away from their mouth. If your dog won’t let go, get them to release by offering a very attractive toy or a tasty treat. Repeat the exercise consistently until they understand they need to release whatever they have on their mouth on cue.

Praise profusely every time you take something from them and offer a treat.

Step 2. Assess how much they ate

Once you’re sure they don’t have any lingering produce on their mouth, assess the situation. Check how much garlic they ate, ask whoever was there how it all went down. The most important thing here is finding out whether they ate bulbs or a dehydrated form of garlic.

Pure dehydrated garlic (including flakes, powder, soup mixes and others) is more dangerous than the full bulb or a dish with a pinch of garlic in it. Because the dehydrated forms are more concentrated, one teaspoon can have as many toxic compounds as 8 regular cloves!

This information is key to let your vet know whether or not you have an emergency or just a scare.

Step 3. Call your vet

A trusted veterinary professional should be the first one to know about your dog’s antics. Since they know your dog’s medical history, they’ll be in a good position to offer advice on what to do next.

Make sure you have all the information your vet needs to make a good assessment. This includes your dog’s breed, age and weight, as well as what they ate, how much, when and how they are behaving now.

Step 4. If advised by your vet, induce vomit

If it’s been less than 2 hours since your dog ate garlic, you could try making them throw up. This would greatly reduce poisoning chances since it lowers the number of garlic absorbed into their system.

Making a dog throw up is serious business and can be dangerous in specific cases. We recommend talking to your vet before attempting to do this, especially if you think your dog has eaten a solid object, something corrosive (like bleach) or is a brachycephalic breed. Never induce vomit if your dog is being lethargic, having seizures, troubled breathing or seems comatose [3].

If your dog seems generally fine, is not vomiting on their own and you cannot immediately go to the vet (or your vet recommended the procedure), inducing vomit might be a good option.

Using a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution is considered a generally safe option for making a dog throw up. Never use higher concentrations, since they can be toxic and be even more poisonous to your dog.

Ask your vet for specific dosages according to your dog’s size and weight, but the general consensus is 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds, with a maximum of 3 teaspoons for dogs larger than 45 pounds. Administer hydrogen peroxide with a syringe and keep an eye on your dog. The compound can take up to 45 minutes to induce vomit!

Step 4. Watch out for poisoning signs

Regardless of whether your dog has vomited most of the garlic or not, it’s important to keep an eye out for poisoning signs. Your vet might want you to bring them in to watch them at the clinic, but if not, home surveillance will be enough.

We’ve outlined garlic poisoning signs below.

Symptoms of Garlic Poisoning in Dogs

As with all health risks, you should keep an eye on your dog if you know they’ve been exposed to moderate amounts of a poisonous substance. As their owner, you’ll know if they start behaving weird!

If you know your dog ate garlic but it was a very small amount and looks fine, you can just wait it out and look at them closely. Take them to the vet if you see any of these symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Urine with blood
  • Panting and high heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Abdominal pain

Final Thoughts

Most dogs aren’t at risk of garlic poisoning, simply because they will probably never eat a whole garlic head! However, if you have a naughty pup that loves to get into the condiment drawer, they might eat dehydrated forms of garlic which are more dangerous.

If you think your dog is acting weird and suspect they might have eaten something they shouldn’t always call your vet. They’ll be in a better position to assess your dog’s condition and let you know if you should come in. With some luck, it all ends up being a good story to tell some years down the road!

Want to learn more about what types of food dogs can and can't eat? Check out our below guides:

  1. Gwaltney-Brant, Sharon. Allium spp toxicosis in animals. Merck Manual, Veterinary Manual. Updated in June 2021.
  2. Cope, R. B. Toxicology brief: Allium species poisoning in dogs and cats. DVM 360. Updated in August 2005.
  3. American Kennel Club. How to make a dog throw up. Updated in May 2019.

Eloisa Thomas

Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

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