Why Dogs Don't Like Garlic



From soups and pasta to actual bread - garlic can be used in a variety of dishes to make them so much tastier and healthier. Whether you’re making garlic parmesan popovers or garlic butter breadsticks, you know that garlic will add the flavor you want while at the same time providing you with the nutritional benefits your body needs. Full of vitamins and antioxidant properties, garlic is antibacterial and eating some of it on a daily basis can help lower cholesterol levels as well as regulate blood pressure. There is no denying that it is healthy, but just because it is good for us doesn’t mean it is good for our four-legged family members.

The Root of the Behavior

As it turns out, our canine companions have a good reason to stay away from the intense-smelling bulbs. Garlic is in the Allium family, along with onions, leeks, and chives, all of which are toxic to dogs and can even fatally poison them in larger amounts. The reason for the toxicity is that they all contain the compound N-propyl disulfide which can damage a dog’s red blood cells, increasing the chance of their rupture. This leads to anemia, which in turn can end in organ damage or failure as well as death. Since dogs are built differently from us and can’t digest garlic the same way we can, its consumption can also result in the irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines, known as gastroenteritis. Symptoms include but are not limited to dark urine, pale gums, increased heart rate, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Needless to say, if your pet has consumed any amount of garlic or onions and is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, you should consult a veterinarian immediately.

Though all dogs should stay clear of garlic, some breeds are said to be more sensitive towards it than others. The Akita, Shiba Inu, and Japanese Spitz are at a higher risk of experiencing the above mentioned negative effects of garlic consumption. Anemic dogs, pregnant dogs, and puppies are also at a greater risk. However, regardless of breed, all dog and cat owners should make sure that it is out of their furry buddy’s reach. Fortunately, most dogs don’t like garlic and will naturally keep away from it. It might be because the smell is so intense and canines have a great sense of smell or they might be staying clear of it because of their natural instinct for self-preservation. Either way, the good news is that most of our four-legged friends have a natural aversion to garlic and can smell it from miles away - just as long as it is not hidden in some tasty dish they love (such as chicken noodle soup!).

Encouraging the Behavior

Though there is still some misconception about garlic safety when it comes to dogs, it is important to remember that with modern times came better veterinary care and a better understanding of our pooch’s physiology. Despite there still being misinformation around the internet about the benefits of garlic, we can’t ignore the facts that dogs don’t digest it the same way we do. To put it simply, the positive impacts relate to humans and there is no evidence garlic is healthy for dogs. In addition, there have been multiple studies conducted that proved the Allium species, which garlic is a part of, are poisonous to dogs. So why risk your furball’s health for the sake of experimentation? If you have concerns about your dog’s diet or nutrition, consult a veterinarian instead for healthy recommendations. 

Your dog’s vet will be able to run general blood tests that will reveal if he’s lacking any vitamins or minerals. If that is the case, he will also be able to suggest proven, healthy supplements for dogs that are alternative sources for whatever your canine is lacking in his diet. Though most dogs don’t like garlic in the first place, it is always better to be safe than sorry and store it away from their reach. Don’t encourage your pooch to consume it and make sure to omit it if you’re cooking for your dog or giving him your leftovers. Chicken noodle soup, pasta and even steak recipes all often contain garlic as one of the ingredients to be used - if you’re not sure if it was used, load your dishwasher and skip the sharing with your four-legged buddy.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Another thing to consider is that garlic is toxic to our canine friends regardless of its state. Whether it is cooked, powdered, or fresh - it doesn’t matter when it comes to our four-legged furball’s health. In terms of amounts, as little as 15-30 grams per kilogram can result in hematologic changes. The smaller the dog, the more harmful even the smallest amount can be. However, prior medical history, as well as a dog’s weight, will factor in the reaction a dog experiences from consuming garlic as well. Though it is rare, certain dog food products might contain garlic. While most veterinarians advise to stay clear of it completely, as long as it is not listed in the first 15 ingredients on the back of the bag it should not harm your pet. In case of any doubts, consult a veterinarian to be sure it is safe for your dog and get specialized advice or recommendations.


While you might be a big fan of cheesy, garlic bread and love nothing more than to share your favorite snacks with your canine buddy, it is important to remember that what is good for you isn’t necessarily good for him. Think of your pooch as a furry vampire who should definitely stay clear of the garlic bulb for his own safety.