17 February 2016

My Dog Has Eaten Garlic, How Dangerous Is This.

Garlic can pose a serious toxic risk if eaten by dogs, but just how much garlic is poisonous to dogs { And cats } if swallowed? What would be the expected symptoms of garlic poisoning where a dog ate it? What should you do? Should you take your dog to the vet if it has been exposed to this toxicity? What treatment is available for garlic poisoning in dogs? 

Surprisingly garlic can be very toxic to dogs.
Garlic is part of the Allium family of plants, other members of the Allium family include onions, leeks, and chives. While fine if eaten by people Allium species including onion and garlic can be very toxic to dogs { and cats }if eaten in any quantity. Where large amounts of garlic or other members of the Allium family of plants are ingested then the dog's red blood cells may become fragile and break down and an anaemia can result, death is possible in extreme untreated cases.

1. So how much garlic is toxic to a dog? : This can be variable, but from the literature, as little as one clove of garlic can lead to toxicity in a very small dog and dogs can also become poisoned after chronic ingestion of smaller amounts of garlic over a prolonged period of time. Garlic is said to be more toxic to cats than dogs but this toxin does affect them the same way as dogs. However due to the fastidious nature of cats when it comes to their diet this sort of toxicity is understandably very rare in the species.

2. My experience in practice is that ingestion of smaller amounts of garlic say on a pizza or in spaghetti sauce or other human food is rarely a problem since the amounts involved would be very small indeed. Where I have encountered problems though is where owners have administered larger amounts of garlic to their dogs in the belief that it is an effective wormer or can help with heart-related problems or other health issues. { Which it probably does not }

3. So what would be the symptoms of garlic poisoning in dogs? : Well the first thing to say is that symptoms will not occur immediately after ingestion but typically three or four days later. Symptoms where they do occur are fairly broad acting and non specific but look out for such things as lethargy, diarrhoea, vomiting, pale gums, and an elevated heart rate and an increased respiratory rate, incoordination and possible collapse.

4. How is it treated? :

A. As with a great many toxins if you can induce vomiting to recover the drug within the first hour after ingestion { Two hours at the very outside } then things should be OK. A commonly used way to induce vomiting in the dog is with 3% hydrogen peroxide { Not hair colouring peroxide } A usual oral dose is one teaspoon { 5 ml } per 10 pounds of body weight. Vomiting should occur within 15 to 20 minutes but if no vomiting occurs, you can safely repeat the process a second time.

B. On top of that activated charcoal given orally as soon as possible after ingestion can often mop up some of the toxins, doses of around 2 gram per pound of the dog's body weight given three times a day for a few days have been used.

C. But once suspect clinical signs develop then you will need your vet involved ASAP as supportive care such as IV fluids may be necessary and some dogs may require a blood transfusion.

The bottom line is if in doubt then get your local vet involved without delay ...

I hope this article has been of use to you ...

Dr Scott