can dogs eat leeks?

Can Dogs Eat Leeks? Tasty Treat or Trouble?

Leeks really do make a great addition to soups, they offer flavor and health benefits to humans.

Lets get down to the topic on hand: Can dogs eat leeks?

No, dogs should not eat leeks. Leeks are part of the allium family along with onions, chives, garlic, and shallots.  All of the members of this family of plants become toxic at certain levels of consumption.  There are not a lot of studies out there specific to dogs consuming leeks.  However, leeks contain the same chemical compounds that give both onions and garlic a pungent smell.   Since the chemicals that create the pungent smell are also the same chemicals that make other alliums toxic, it is safe to assume that leeks are toxic to dogs as well.   

To be clear dogs should not eat leeks even though a little taste will not hurt them. 

Dogs can’t eat leeks because of the potentially harmful side effects.  The toxins in the leeks can start off by causing mild GI distress if only a small amount is consumed.  The first signs of this distress are vomiting and diarrhea.  The dog might also show signs of lethargy and a general loss of appetite.  If the consumption of leeks is very high it can lead to toxicity just like many plants in the allium family.  This is absolutely something you do not want to have happen to your dog.  Please keep leeks away from your dog.  

The Process That Causes Leek Toxicity In Dogs

As the quantity of the leeks eaten rises, so does the severity of the symptoms.  If a dog consumes a large amount, the toxin in the leeks can cause anemia.  In case you are not aware, anemia is a low red blood cell count.  Along with anemia comes other unwanted side effects.  If it is severe enough it can lead to death.  

It is a pretty complex process, essentially the toxin oxidizes the dog’s red blood cells.  The oxidized cells are damaged beyond repair, there is no way to undo the damage. The damaged cells are removed from the bloodstream by the microphages in the dog’s spleen.  When enough of the damaged cells are removed in the spleen, the formation of Heinz body anemia occurs.  That is just a fancy way of saying the dog has a low red blood cell count.

Why are red blood cells important?

The red blood cells carry all of the oxygen from the dog’s lungs to all of the other vital organs.  Without oxygen, the cells of the organs will slowly begin to die off.  This is how anemia can cause damage like developmental delay, fatigue, heart problems, and a weakened immune system.  There is no rapid cure for anemia once it has been caused besides a blood transfusion.  All of the leeks would have to be flushed from the dog’s GI tract before any treatment like that can be started.  

leeks cause anemia in dogs

Common Symptoms  Of Leek Toxicity In Dogs

It is not very common for a dog to have toxic effects from the consumption of leeks.  It is possible though especially if you grow your own.  The symptoms of leek toxicity are going to be the same as everything else in the allium genus.  The dog will start out with GI distress.  You can expect to see some if not all of the symptoms below if your dog ate leeks.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bad breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration

How To Help A Dog With GI Distress.

If your dog has been vomiting or passing loose stools for an extended time it is best to start them on a bland diet.  This is a simple boiled chicken and rice meal that contains no bones or additives.  Do not give large amounts of rice, just a 1/4 cup of cooked rice is sufficient for a large breed dog. 

Also, you should introduce the bland diet slowly.  If you give too much food too fast you may have a repeat of the above symptoms.   If the dog’s symptoms stop here, it still may be prudent to have your dog visit a vet. 

Secondary More Serious Symptoms

The later symptoms can only be checked for with a blood smear test.  If the dog ate enough leeks to cause anemia,  the following symptoms can present a few days after they were eaten.  It can take anywhere from 3 days to a week for the signs of anemia to kick in.  

  • Fainting
  • Gums can turn white and void of the normal pink color
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate

Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog shows any of these symptoms.  Even if your dog did not eat enough to become anemic, it may require some intervention to combat any dehydration caused by the associated GI issues.  

Can Dogs Eat Leeks – Related Questions

How much leek can kill a dog?

There is not any hard data on toxic leek exposure in dogs.  However, there is some data on onions and dogs.  In order to be toxic, a dog needs to consume 15-30 grams of onion per KG of body weight. To be on the safe side, follow these same guidelines with leeks. If your dog exceeds 15 grams per Kg of body weight, expect to see some toxic effects.

Even under 15 grams, you can see some of the GI issues but not necessarily the anemia.  To put this in perspective a medium onion is said to be around 150-170 grams. The average leek is about 180 grams. So a 10 KG dog may start to have issues after eating a single leek. It would likely take 3-4 leeks to have some serious enough complications to kill a 10 kg Dog.

Can dogs eat leek soup? Can dogs eat cooked leeks?

Dogs should not be allowed to eat leek soup. Dogs can’t eat cooked leeks.  Cooking anything in the allium genus does not eliminate any of the toxins.  They can get the same side effects from cooked leeks as they do with raw leeks.  It would be in the best interest of the dog to keep anything with leeks in it out of its reach.

What should I do if my dog ate cooked leeks?

If the dog consumed a very large amount of cooked leeks, in an amount greater than 10g per kg of body weight, you should contact your vet.  Otherwise, just monitor your dog for any GI distress.  Be on the lookout for loose stools and vomiting.  Support any GI issues with proper hydration and follow up with a bland diet after the issues stop.  Contact your vet immediately if you notice the dog’s gums are white or blood in the dog’s urine.  These could be signs of anemia.  
can dogs eat cooked leeks?

Summary: Can Dogs Eat Leeks

  • Dogs should not eat any leeks.
  • Large amounts of leeks can cause anemia which leads to other more serious issues.
  • Small amounts of leeks will not kill your dog, a single leek can cause GI issues in dogs 10kg and under.
  • If a dog is in GI distress, monitor for dehydration, and push fluids.  
  • If a dog shows any clinical signs of anemia, take the dog to the vet immediately.  
  • As a healthy alternative, try Cranberries, Kale, Cucumbers, Broccoli, Collard Greens, Or Bean Sprouts

Please comment below if your dog ever got sick from eating leeks. What did you do to help the dog through the issue?

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