Although most people like garlic in their food and it’s even healthy for us, the same cannot be said about cats.
Garlic is toxic to cats, raw or cooked, even in small amounts. Therefore, avoid giving food that contains garlic (or onion) to your cat.
If your cat has consumed garlic bread, the danger depends on how much they consumed. One bite won’t kill your cat but can lead to gastrointestinal problems. When in doubt, the best thing that you can do is to take your pet to the vet. The veterinarian will evaluate your cat, and if not too much time has passed since ingestion, they may make your pet vomit. All you can do is make sure your cat does not come into contact with garlic in the future.
Is Garlic Bread Safe for Cats?
Garlic (Allium sativum) belongs to the Alliaceae family and is related to onions and leeks. It has been used for culinary and medical purposes since ancient times. It has prophylactic and therapeutic actions in humans, but it is toxic to pets, whether it is raw or cooked.
Garlic contains organosulfur compounds, which belong to two classes: gamma-glutamylcysteine and cysteine sulfoxide. The active substances occur especially when the tissue structure of raw garlic is changed by fragmentation, pressing, crushing, or chewing. In these circumstances, a category of enzymes called alliinases is released, which determines the transformation of cysteine sulfoxides into sulfenic acids. These react spontaneously with each other, resulting in unstable compounds. These compounds are called thiosulfinates and are what makes garlic toxic to dogs and cats
When cats ingest any vegetable in the Allium genus, they can develop hemolytic anemia, caused by red blood cell damage. They can also have gastroenteritis.
Therefore, garlic bread is not safe for cats, even if it only contains garlic in small quantities. Your cat probably won’t die from one bite, but don’t make a habit out of letting them eat it because it can lead to hemolytic anemia and death over time.
How Much Garlic Is Poisonous for Cats?
Garlic is toxic to cats, even in small amounts. Therefore, for a 10–12-lb. cat, a 4–7-gram garlic clove can lead to severe toxicity and death. Also, 1/2 a teaspoon of minced garlic or 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder can have devastating effects on your cat.
That said, the level of toxicity depends on the weight and breed of your cat and their health status. Also, certain cat breeds are particularly sensitive to garlic poisoning.
What Are the Side Effects of Garlic in Cats?
If your cat has eaten garlic or products containing garlic, such as garlic bread, it may take 2 to 4 days for signs of toxicity to appear. The most common clinical signs of garlic poisoning in cats include:
Since garlic poisoning can lead to death, it is important to take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.
How Is Garlic Poisoning Diagnosed in Cats?
If you notice any of the clinical signs and you know that your cat has consumed raw garlic or garlic products, take them to the veterinarian immediately for treatment. Describe to your vet the clinical signs that you noticed, when they started, and any other changes in your cat’s diet.
The vet will start by running a series of tests, including a complete blood count, urinalysis, and a blood chemistry profile. The complete blood count will likely show the veterinarian that your cat suffers from anemia. Still, there are several causes of hemolytic anemia, so it’s vital to give your vet your cat’s full medical history to rule out other possible causes.
What Is the Treatment for Garlic Poisoning in Cats?
Treatment depends on how long it has been since your cat ate raw garlic or garlic products. If your pet has recently consumed garlic, the vet will try to induce vomiting. Do not try to induce vomiting in cats at home. Cats are sensitive animals, and inducing vomiting will be difficult (it is not as easy as with dogs!). Hydrogen peroxide, which is the most readily available product, can cause severe inflammation and ulcerations in the digestive tract if not used properly!
At the clinic, the veterinarian can give your cat hydrogen peroxide or medicines to help them vomit. Vomiting will remove the garlic from the stomach and prevent the worsening of your cat’s health condition. That said, it depends on how much garlic your cat has consumed and how much they weigh.
A gastric lavage may also be performed to ensure that all toxins have been removed from the stomach. In addition, the veterinarian can administer activated charcoal. It will absorb the toxins from the stomach and intestine before they reach the blood. The vet will need to monitor your cat’s condition to determine if they need supportive care, such as intravenous fluids or oxygen therapy.
If you have used a homeopathic garlic spray or product on your cat’s skin, your vet will need to give your cat a good bath to remove the toxins. Although it is rare, if your cat’s condition is serious and they have severe anemia, the vet may recommend a blood transfusion.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I Feed Plain Bread to My Cat?
As long as the bread doesn’t have any additives or spices, it is safe for your cat. However, do not make it a habit to feed bread to your cat, even if they are begging. Regular consumption of bread by cats can lead to obesity due to the high carbohydrate content, and cats do not need it in their diet. The same applies to pastry products (avoid any foods containing chocolate, garlic, or onions!).
Can Cats Eat Garlic to Get Rid of Fleas?
No, cats cannot eat garlic to get rid of fleas. Eating garlic to kill and repel fleas is a myth. Garlic consumption by felines only leads to poisoning. The clinical signs of garlic poisoning in pets include hypersalivation, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, increased heart and respiratory rate, difficulty breathing, collapse, anemia, and death. Cats should not consume garlic in any way or form. One clover of 4–7 grams can cause severe toxicity to a 12-lb. cat.
Can Cats Have Onions and Chives?
Although garlic is three or five times more toxic than onions, this does not mean that onions and chives are not harmful to cats. They are part of the Allium genus and have organosulfur compounds in their composition. These plants are toxic to cats, whether they are raw or cooked. You must make sure your cat does not accidentally consume onions or chives.
How Much Leek Consumption Is Toxic to Cats?
The leek is part of the same genus as onions, garlic, or chives (Allium). This vegetable has a low to moderate level of toxicity. To become intoxicated, your cat must consume 0.5% of their body weight (this percentage being valid for all Allium plants). Signs of leek intoxication include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and hypersalivation. In severe cases, anemia (pale mucous membranes), difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, collapse, and death may occur. For all these reasons, you must be careful what plants you keep around your cat and what you feed them (in case you choose to give them human foods).
Garlic is poisonous to cats. It contains organosulfur compounds that are released when garlic is fragmented (cut, crushed, chewed, etc.). It doesn’t matter whether the garlic is raw or cooked. Cooking does not reduce toxicity.
As for garlic bread, even if the concentration of garlic is low, it can still cause problems for your cat. While one mouthful won’t hurt your pet, it is still best to avoid giving them any products that contain garlic. The severity of the poisoning depends on the weight of your cat and how much garlic they have ingested. If your cat has eaten garlic bread, other products, or raw garlic, take them to the vet immediately for an evaluation.