can dogs eat garlic

Can Dogs Eat Garlic?

Garlic is part of the allium family right alongside onions, chives, and leeks.  If you search google you will see tons of information about garlic being toxic for dogs.  You can even find information about garlic toxicity in dogs and what to do about it.  With most of the websites out there saying it’s highly toxic, garlic must be toxic to dogs, right?  Well, the truth is actually not what you think.  It seems that most of the websites out there reference a study that was completed 22 years ago.  

Getting back to the question at hand.  Can dogs eat garlic? 

The truth is dogs can eat garlic and it is good for them in moderation.  The biggest issue is determining the amount to feed your dog. In this post, I will show you why garlic is not toxic to dogs in moderation.  I will also show you where the idea that garlic is toxic for dogs originated.

Make no mistake, garlic is toxic to dogs if a large amount is consumed.

The Study That Started It All In The Y2K.

So after much digging, I found that most of the information on the web that suggests garlic is toxic links back to one study.  This study was completed in 2000 by K W Lee at Hokkaido University, in Sapporo, Japan.   This is the study that is more of a partial truth or a myth.  

In this study, they used a small group of 8 mixed breed dogs.  Four of the dogs were given the aged garlic extract directly into their stomachs via a tube, the control group dogs were just given water.   The dogs were given 1.25ml per kg of body weight per day.  This is roughly equivalent to about 5 grams of raw garlic clove per day per kg of body weight.  

To put that into perspective, a clove typically weighs between 4 and 7 grams.  Each bulb of garlic has about 12 cloves.  So let’s say the dog was 25kg.  They would give the dog approximately 25 cloves or two full bulbs of garlic per day.  This was done for an entire 7 days.  So the dog in the example was given approximately 14 bulbs of garlic during the study.  

Now I know everyone cooks and stores food differently but by my standards that is a lot of garlic.  I don’t personally keep more than 1 pack(3 or 4 bulbs) in the cabinet because it gets old and shriveled up before I use it.   So in this study, they used 14 bulbs!  Unless you are a professional chef or a farmer your most likely not going to have that much garlic at home.  

The most important part of the study showed that the dogs did have the formation of Heinz bodies.  However, none of the dogs actually developed hemolytic anemia.  In case you are not aware of what that is, it means that the red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be reproduced.  This causes the number of red blood cells to continuously fall.  

The red blood cells are used to carry oxygen to the body.  So you can see that anemia could be an issue in any mammal.  The fact is that in this study they were not able to produce anemia in dogs, even with the excessive levels of garlic that was used.  They did have some gastric issues and other things happened but they did not create anemia.

The study concluded by saying that garlic has the potential to oxidize the red blood cells in dogs which is a precursor to anemia.  They said that dogs should not eat garlic.  

Another Study Concluded Garlic is Good For Dogs!

A second study was conducted a few years later on a similar substance with dogs.  The scientists used what is called aged garlic extract in this study.  They used beagles for this study instead of mixed-breed dogs.  They had a control group, a group that got 45Mg/KG of body weight, and a third group that got 90Mg/Kg of body weight.  These doses were much smaller than the 20-30 cloves per day the other dogs were given.  

This study tested the long-term side effects at the 90Mg/KG level.  They actually tested the dog for 12 weeks and found positive side effects.  The study found that two antioxidant enzymes were upregulated in these dogs.  These enzymes are called canine Nrf2 and Nrf2-regulated phase II antioxidant enzymes.

The scientists found evidence to support that the 45Mg/KG and the 90Mg/KG dose can actually lead to a healthier dog.  As long as you feed it in moderation, it is healthy to feed your dog garlic.  The fact is that if you give your dog a regulated small dose of garlic it can be beneficial.  

Benefits Of Garlic For Dogs.

As you can see above, garlic is not toxic for dogs in small regulated quantities below 90Mg/Kg of body weight per day.  The question becomes, what are the actual benefits of feeding your dog garlic?  The study did provide some very technical results that were positive.  

“The long-term oral administration of AGE at a dose of 90 mg/kg/day for 12 weeks did not show any adverse effects in dogs. Furthermore, the administration of AGE upregulated the gene expressions of canine Nrf2 and Nrf2-regulated phase II antioxidant enzymes. These results suggest that AGE might safely contribute to the health of dogs provided that the appropriate dosage is used.”  This study can be found here.  

To break this all down let’s first look at what upregulated means in case you are not aware.  Upregulating can either reference the number of receptors or the level of activity of receptors increased from normal levels.  Essentially it’s saying that two genes expressed more activity or had an increase in the number of available receptors.  

The genes that are being upregulated were the NRF2 genes.  Here is a little bit about the NRF2 genes.  They are naturally occurring protein in the body that is used to regulate other antioxidant proteins also found in the body.   The proteins that they regulate are responsible for removing what is known as free radicals.  

This is some pretty complex stuff if you ask me.   I am sure most have heard of free radicals and know that they are bad in high numbers.  Even with human diets, people push antioxidants to eliminate free radicals which improve health.  Free radicals are responsible for things such as gastric issues, tendon and joint pain, arthritis, and many other inflammation-related diseases.  

So if eating garlic increases the activity of the genes that directly regulate the antioxidant proteins.  It seems safe to speculate that the increased activity should allow the dog to eliminate free radicals from its body.  This reduction in free radicals should help reduce any inflammation type of issues your dog experiences.  

How Can Dogs Eat Garlic?

Garlic is best fed to dogs in its natural form.  Remove the ends from the clove and the skin as well.  Chop the garlic up or mince it and add it to the dog’s food.  It turns out that the chemicals that are in garlic are actually separated by the different cells within.  When garlic is crushed, chopped, or minced it helps to mix two chemicals that are normally separated.  These two chemicals react with each other to help provide the maximum benefits after being chopped or minced.  

You can also use AGE or aged Garlic Extract in your dog’s diet.  This is just like it sounds, garlic is crushed and the juices are extracted and aged.  The dosage of AGE would be different than just using raw cloves.  You would need to be able to determine the concentration before giving this to your dog.  

You can find garlic in other foods like pickles, garlic bread, garlic chicken, etc.  Those items would not be the best source of garlic for your dog.  There is no way of knowing exactly how much garlic is in any of those items.  So it would not be easy to monitor the amount that you are giving your dog.    

Garlic Toxicity In Dogs

While this is a very rare occurrence it can actually happen.  The most likely cause of this would be if the dog was able to get into a bottle of extract or some garlic powder.  The quantity that would actually be needed to cause anemia is not really known.  One can speculate that for a 40 lb. dog it would take at least 3 or 4 entire bulbs of garlic to harm the dog.   So if your dog ate too much garlic here is what you can expect as a result.

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • bad breath
  • loss of appetite

Severe Garlic Toxicity In Dogs

If the dog ate enough garlic to cause anemia,  the following symptoms can present after 3-7 days.  It is important to know approximately how much garlic your dog consumed. It is also important you get your dog to the veterinarian within 2 hours If a large amount of garlic was consumed.

  • fainting
  • gums can turn white and void of the normal pink color
  • rapid breathing
  • rapid heart rate

If your dog has any of these symptoms it is best to contact your veterinarian for further advice.  Your Vet may want to have your dog come into the office depending on how much and what it ate.  At the very least you should monitor your pet for signs of dehydration.  

Can Dogs Eat Garlic Powder?

It is best not to allow your dog to eat garlic powder.  You have to consider the concentration and how it would be hard to monitor how much garlic the dog actually ingests if they get the powder.  It is best to use whole cloves or something like AGE that can be measured accurately.  

Can Dogs Eat Garlic Salt?

Garlic salt should be avoided just like garlic powder.  There is an added reason why you should not give your dog garlic salt.  The salt is not something that should be given to your do in addition to the garlic.  High levels of salt can cause all kinds of health issues in dogs.  Avoid giving your four-legged friend garlic salt.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Garlic?

Just wanted to point out here that the amount of cooked garlic you give your dog should still be limited.  Cooking garlic does not break down the chemicals that can lead to anemia in dogs.  

Can Dogs Eat Garlic Chicken?

Garlic chicken should be pretty harmless in small amounts.  The amount of garlic would not exceed or come near what was used in the study that generated negative results.  I highly doubt you make garlic chicken with 20-40 cloves of garlic.  If you use that much garlic, the question should be can humans eat your garlic chicken? It might be a bit too potent to eat. 🙂

Can Dogs Eat Garlic Bread?

The main concern with garlic bread is the powdered garlic used and the butter or oil that is also put on the bread.  High-fat diets for dogs are never good.  Feeding your dog excessive butter or oils can lead to pancreatitis.  
garlic can be toxic to dogs in any form

Summary: Can Dogs Eat Garlic?

  • Dogs can eat small amounts of garlic to increase antioxidant activity
  • Dogs can not eat large amounts of garlic
  • Large amounts of garlic can lead to GI issues and even anemia if enough was consumed
  • Cooking garlic does not change its toxicity
  • Consult a veterinarian if a large amount was consumed

Do you add any garlic to your dog’s diet? How much and how often are you feeding it to your dog?

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