Last Updated on June 29, 2021 by adrienne hardwick
Leeks are a delicious addition to many meals. They bring incredible flavour, make the best soup in the world when potatoes are added and are really easy to prepare and cook. But the key question here is whether or not your fluffy best friend can eat them too.
Dogs cannot eat leeks as they are highly toxic. They belong to the same family as onions, the allium family, which is also home to chives and garlic. If your dog eats leeks they are like to suffer from an upset stomach and vomiting, and severe cases can be fatal.
It’s important to be prepared for any sticky situation that your pup might have got themselves into, and this guide covers everything you need to know about leek poisoning in dogs.
Causes of Leek Poisoning in Dogs
The thing that causes leek poisoning in dogs is what’s known as organosulphate compounds that are found in the leek. What these do is cause a condition called hemolytic anaemia. The way this works is that it destroys red blood cells faster than the bone marrow can create them.
If the red blood cell count in the body becomes too low, it can lead to reduced oxygen in the blood. As this continues, it can cause respiratory issues, organ damage, and even death. This is why it is essential that treatment for leek poisoning is started immediately.
What to Do if My Dog Has Eaten a Leek
If your dog has eaten a leek, you should call your vet right away for advice. Even if they don’t show any of the symptoms in the below section yet, you will want immediate advice on what to do next. It is important you DO NOT induce vomiting yourself at home as this can be dangerous.
Usually, your vet will ask you to bring your dog in for a quick check-up to see how they are coping after eating the leek. You should be wary of the fact that it can take a few hours for symptoms to show, and the severity will depend on the amount of leek your dog ate.
Signs and Symptoms of Leek Poisoning in Dogs
There are actually quite a few symptoms of leek poisoning, but the ones that show can depend on the size of your dog and the amount of leek they ate. Here’s a comprehensive list of symptoms for you to look out for:
- Appetite loss
- Blue or white gums
- Breathing difficulty
- Dark urine
- Excessive drooling
- Extreme weakness
- Fast heart and respiratory rate
- Foul breath
- Inflammation of the spleen and liver
- Loss of muscle function
- Stomach pain and cramping
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin
How to Diagnose a Dog with Leek Poisoning
First, it should be noted that there are several different types of leek. As a result, it is important that you try to bring the leek in question with you when you go to the vet. The reason for this is that not all leeks have the same toxicity levels and it helps speed up diagnosis.
Leek types are:
- Allium ampeloprasum
- Allium porrum
- Allium tricoccum
- Allium ursinum
While leek poisoning is very simple to diagnose, your vet will also want to rule out any underlying conditions – hence the importance of bringing the leek with you where you can. If you are visiting a new or emergency vet, make sure they have access to your dog’s records.
Your chosen vet will perform thorough tests, including blood tests and urine samples to check the haemoglobin levels and check their red blood count. In some circumstances, they may also take x-rays of the abdomen as well as an MRI or a CT scan to check organ condition.
Treatment for Dogs with Leek Poisoning
Your vet will ensure your dog is on IV fluids right away to keep them hydrated and as healthy as possible. Following this, they will encourage your dog to vomit with a specially mixed hydrogen peroxide solution to flush the system out and remove as much of the leek as possible.
Usually, this is followed by activated charcoal to absorb the rest of the toxins (perfectly safe for your dog). In some cases, they may have to stay overnight to be monitored and may also require oxygen therapy, a blood transfusion, and medication to treat the anaemia.
If your dog is healthy and treated right away, they are sure to make a full recovery. It is rare that leek poisoning is fatal in dogs, but it’s not something you should risk by leaving it untreated. Recovery tends to be fairly quick, and you should allow them plenty of rest.
How Much Leek Can Kill a Dog?
This all depends on the size of your dog. A large breed would need to eat a whole leek for it to become potentially fatal. A medium dog would need to eat around half a leek for the same effect, and a small breed can withstand less than that before things becoming worrying.
More than this, if they eat small amounts of leek regularly this is going to cause issues over time – much like onions. Instead of showing symptoms quickly, they will take their time as the anaemia slowly builds up and becomes more damaging to their system.
The best advice? Keep leeks away from your dog and ensure you aren’t adding it to their food or letting them have a little taste with the table scraps. It’s important to keep your dog safe.
Read Here: Can Dogs Eat Parsnips?
Leeks are dangerous for your dog to have. While you shouldn’t be too worried if they manage to snag a tiny flake that’s dropped on the floor, do your best to keep it away from them and always call your vet immediately if you feel any concern or they start to show symptoms.
Be sure to check out our guide on can we mix vegetables with dog food safely? see which veg are safe and how often your dog should be eating them.
It’s amazing what your dog can and cannot eat, right? If you found this interesting, you should check out the rest of our canine care guide series. It’s written by us, the experts, in order to help you become the best dog owner possible and contains everything you need to know.
For over a decade, Adrienne has been a freelance content writer and blogger who’s passion lies in anything related to dogs. Growing up, dogs were a very important part of family life in the Hardwick household. Now, Adrienne is the proud parent to two Swedish Vallhunds called Moose and Pumpkin.