A Small Amount Can Be Toxic
Many people consider garlic to be a holistic remedy in the prevention of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, warding off fleas and even certain types of cancer.
In fact, garlic can be toxic to dogs and cats at certain doses and poisoning, if not treated in time, may result in death.
Why is Garlic Toxic to Pets?
Garlic is classified as a species of the Allium family. Other species in the Allium family include onions, shallots, leeks, chives and rakkyo (otherwise known as the Chinese onion).
Garlic, like other members of the Allium family, contain compounds called disulfides and thiosulphates which can be toxic cats and dogs if ingested. The ingestion of garlic causes conditions called hemolytic anemia, Heinz body anemia, and methemoglobinemia which are all manifestation of damage to red blood cells.
How Much Garlic is Toxic to Pets?
“From a toxicity perspective, garlic is approximately 5 times more concentrated than onions,” says Dr. Ahna Brutlag, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist and director of veterinary services at Pet Poison Helpline.
Consumption of as little as 5 g/kg of onions in cats or 15 to 30 g/kg in dogs has resulted in clinically important red blood cell damage. According to scientific studies, onion toxicosis is consistently noted in animals that ingest more than 0.5% of their body weight in onions at one time.*
Since garlic is more concentrated than an onion, an even smaller ingested amount could lead to toxicosis—as little as one clove of garlic can lead to toxicity in cats and small dogs.
Symptoms of Garlic Toxicity in Dogs and Cats
It’s important to note that it may take several days after your pet eats garlic for symptoms to appear.
Symptoms of this condition can include vomiting and diarrhea, along with symptoms of anemia–breathlessness, lethargy, pale, yellow, or “muddy” colored gums, rapid breathing, and an elevated heart rate. Your pet also could develop abdominal pain and discolored urine. While vomiting and diarrhea may occur within one day, it may take several days to a week after your pet eats garlic for symptoms of anemia to appear.