Can Dogs Eat Leeks? What are the Dangers of Leeks for Dogs?

Introduction

No, dogs cannot eat leeks. Leeks are directly toxic to dogs and must never be fed. To be on the safe side and prevent accidents, leeks must be kept in a secure place, out of the reach of pets.

Even if a dog does not consume a toxic amount, leeks can wreak havoc on its tummy and prove hazardous. Basically, leeks pose a dual danger to dogs. We should note that the same effect applies to other pets, such as cats.

Why are Leeks Bad for Dogs?

Leeks are bad for dogs because they contain toxic compounds. However, there are other dangers of leeks for dogs. Here is a more detailed review of the reasons leeks are bad for dogs.

Leeks toxicity

Leeks belong to the Allium family, same as garlic, onion, and chives. All members of this group are toxic to dogs. Namely, leeks contain a chemical compound that destroys the red blood cells (erythrocytes).

Once damaged, the red blood cells cannot transport oxygen and are removed from normal circulation. Since leeks destroy red blood cells faster than the dog’s body can produce new ones, it causes anemia.

Interestingly, not all dog breeds are equally sensitive to leeks toxicity. Japanese dogs (such as Akitas and Shiba Inus) are more likely to experience leeks toxicity than other dogs consuming the same amount.

Stomach Upset

Basically, any human food (leeks included) can upset the dog’s digestive system. This is because, contrary to popular belief, dogs have sensitive tummies and cannot process the same foods as humans.

Stomach upsets are not life-threatening but are tedious and can be a nuisance. Milder cases are usually resolved at home, while more severe cases require proper veterinary attention.

fresh leaks

Choking Hazard

Leeks have a unique stringy texture. Therefore, leeks can be hazardous even for a large dog that consumed just a bite of leeks – they can cause choking.

Choking is a medical emergency. If your dog is choking, there is no time to call the vet. As a responsible dog parent, you need to be familiar with the Heimlich maneuver for dogs.

Signs Your Dog Has Eaten Leeks

Leek poisoning can be tricky because the signs are not always immediately apparent. Namely, in some cases, it may take up to several days after the ingestion for the anemia signs and symptoms to become visible.

The telltale signs of leeks poisoning or, in simpler words, anemia are:

  • Pale or bluish gums
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Rapid breathing or panting (tachypnea)
  • Overall weakness and lethargy
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Loss of consciousness and collapse.

In cases where the leeks do not cause poisoning but a digestive upset, you can expect signs and symptoms like:

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Excess drooling
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration.

If you notice some of these red flags in your dog, do not take the “wait and see approach.” Instead, get proactive and seek professional veterinary help.

What to Do If My Dog Ate Leeks?

If your dog ate leeks, you need to call your trusted veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline. Seeking help is critical regardless of the amount of leeks your dog consumes and its body weight.

This is because leek toxicity has an accumulating nature – a large dog can become intoxicated if eating small amounts over an extended period of time.

happy dog running

As always, it is important to provide as much information as possible. Based on what you tell the vet, you will probably be instructed to go for an in-person visit. In more severe cases, the vet may recommend going to the nearest emergency clinic.

Luckily, the prognosis for dogs with leeks toxicity is good as long as the dog is stabilized quickly and provided with proper supportive veterinary care.

Summary

All in all, leeks are not dog-friendly. In fact, leeks are toxic to dogs and must not be used as part of the canine diet.

Dogs experiencing leeks toxicity need urgent veterinary help. Therefore, as a pet owner, it is advisable to be familiar with the toxicity signs and symptoms.

To stay on the safe side, never give your dog leeks and store them in place out of reach. If you ever notice troublesome signs, call the vet immediately.

Sources

  1. What to Do If Your Dog Is Choking?, Dr. Battier’s Veterinary Clinic, 2020
  2. Home Remedies – How to Treat Your Dog’s Upset Stomach at Home, Joelle Audette, 2019
  3. Tachypnea (Fast Breathing) in Dogs, Pet Place, 2021
  4. Excessive Drooling In A Dog: What It Means For River North Pet Owners, Companion Animal Hospital, 2020

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Ivana Crnec

Ivana Crnec

Dr. Ivana Crnec is a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine, a passionate writer and a devoted pet parent. Specializing in domestic carnivores, her professional experience ranges from preventative medicine and routine wellness care through diagnosing and treating conditions to emergency and specialty care
Bitola, Macedonia