Can dogs eat garlic?

Garlic is a controversial topic when it comes to feeding it to dogs. On one hand, garlic is recognized for its potential health benefits due to its content of inulin, amino acids, sulfur, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and various vitamins5. It has been used for its antibiotic, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties, and some sources suggest that in small doses, garlic can be a healthy supplement for dogs, potentially offering benefits such as acting as a natural pest repellent, boosting the immune system, and supporting detoxification245. However, garlic belongs to the Allium family, which also includes onions, chives, leeks, and shallots, all of which are toxic to dogs3. The primary concern with garlic (and other Allium species) is its content of thiosulfate, a compound that is not toxic to humans but can cause damage to red blood cells in dogs, leading to anemia1. The toxicity of garlic to dogs can vary based on the form of garlic (raw, cooked, powdered, etc.), the amount ingested, and the size of the dog. It has been noted that it takes approximately 15 to 30 grams of garlic per kilogram of body weight to produce harmful changes in a dog's blood4. The debate around garlic's safety for dogs also includes discussions on the dosage and form of garlic used in studies. Some argue that the negative reputation of garlic in canine nutrition is based on studies that used excessive doses or unnatural delivery methods of garlic, rather than fresh garlic25. Despite these arguments, many veterinary sources maintain that garlic, regardless of the form, is toxic to dogs and can lead to serious health issues, including death if not treated3. Given the conflicting information, dog owners should exercise caution. If considering garlic for health benefits, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian to ensure safety and proper dosage. For those opting to use garlic, it is recommended to use fresh, raw garlic in very small quantities, and to avoid giving garlic to puppies, pregnant or nursing dogs, and certain breeds that may be more sensitive to its effects45. In cases where a dog has ingested a large amount of garlic, immediate veterinary care is advised due to the risk of toxicity3.
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