Leeks might be a staple homegrown crop for any budding gardener, and they’re just as pup-ular in our kitchens where they’re used to bulk out stews and soups. They’re a nutritious and healthy vegetable for us humans, but can dogs eat leeks?
Some vegetables like pumpkins can make scrumptious snacks for our furry friends but others, like onions, are actually toxic. Leeks are a close relative of the onion, so it’s worth checking whether or not leeks are safe for dogs.
Checking what’s safe for your doggy’s dinner is im-paw-tent because dogs are often indiscriminate eaters, which regularly lands them in trouble. In fact, dogs make up the majority of all cases of domestic animal poisoning. Plus, they seem to be more susceptible to toxic foods compared to other domestic animals.
No, dogs can not eat leaks for the same reason they shouldn’t eat onions. Leeks are a part of the allium family of plants, which are all considered toxic plants for dogs. That means that leeks, onions, shallots, chives, garlic, and so on should never be fed to your pooch.
No, dogs can’t eat cooked leeks or raw ones. Regardless of how it is prepared, it’s still considered toxic to dogs and it’s best to avoid feeding them to your pup entirely.
It shouldn't really come as a surprise by now, but dogs shouldn’t eat leek soup. As well as nasty leeks, leek soup usually contains a lot of onions too which are also toxic to dogs.
On top of that, leek soups are often very salty and that’s not very good for your furry friend. Eating too much salt can cause dehydration or even sodium poisoning, and regularly eating lots can raise your pup’s blood pressure. It’s also a very rich soup that’s full of cream, which is difficult for dogs to digest because they are lactose intolerant.
Yes, leeks are bad for dogs because they are a known toxin. If your dog eats a small slice of leek by accident, they should probably be okay. However, eating a significant amount of leek in one serving, or eating small amounts regularly, can both lead to sickness and anaemia.
How much leek is bad for your dog will depend on their size, breed, age, and metabolism as these all affect their tolerance and how their body processes the toxin.
As with many toxins, the smaller your dog, the less it takes to make them sick. Japanese breeds of dogs like the Shiba Inu are also more vulnerable to allium poisoning, so it takes a lot less leek to be eaten before they become sick.
There’s no hard and fast rule for how much leek it takes to make a dog sick, and it’s always advised that you avoid feeding it to your dog entirely.
If we look at onions, it takes about 5g of onion per 1kg of weight to be eaten before toxicity occurs. That means a tiny breed like a Chihuahua can show signs of poisoning after eating as little as 5 to 10g of onion. (That’s less than a teaspoon!) Meanwhile, a bigger dog like a Labrador might not show symptoms unless they have eaten a whole, small onion. Alliums do vary in toxicity though, and garlic is known to be 5x more potent than onion.
What happens if your dog eats leeks will depend on how much they ate. If your dog only snuffled a little bit of leek by accident amongst other leftovers, they will probably be okay. However, if they eat a lot of leeks at once, or they eat small amounts every day for a few days, they can develop anaemia.
Anaemia is where the dog’s red blood cells are destroyed or damaged, and this impacts how oxygen is carried around their body. Eating leeks can cause damage to the haemoglobin, which can form Heinz bodies and lead to hemolytic anaemia. Other problems like hemoglobinuria, where an abnormal amount of haemoglobin is found in the dog’s urine, are also associated with allium toxicity.
If a dog eats leeks or other alliums it can also cause oxidative damage to their red blood cells. In some cases, the cells might even rupture and be destroyed. A dog can develop hemolytic anaemia If their blood cells are damaged or destroyed faster than new ones can be made in their bone marrow.
What to do if your dog eats leeks will depend on whether they have eaten a little or a lot.
If you’ve got a healthy, bigger breed of dog and they only eat a little bit of leek, they will probably be okay. It’s still always best to phone your vet for advice if you know your dog has eaten any leek at all. You should then monitor your dog for several days for any symptoms of illness or anaemia.
If your dog ate a lot of leeks at once they might show signs of illness within a day, but it’s more common for symptoms to only emerge after several days. If your pooch shows any signs of illness, contact your vet or take them straight to the practice.
Abnormal heart rate
Dark urine or poo
Blood in their poo, urine or vomit
The two most common symptoms of anaemia are pale gums and lethargy so if you notice these in your dog you need to get in touch with your vet as soon as possible. They will probably request a blood test to check if your dog is anaemic.
If your dog has eaten a lot of leeks but the incident happened recently, your vet might decide to induce vomiting to try and get the leeks out of your pooch’s stomach. They might tell you how to do this at home, or they might ask you to bring your dog to the surgery so they can treat them there.
From there, your dog might be fed activated charcoal to try and prevent toxins from being absorbed into their body. Your pooch will probably be given intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated and to help their liver and kidneys to filter the toxins from their system. If your dog is anaemic they will be given medication to treat it, and in serious cases, they might need a blood transfusion.
No, a dog shouldn’t eat leeks or any food that contains leek. As with many things, prevention is better than the cure and avoiding feeding leeks to your dog is the best preventative health strategy to keep your pup happy and healthy.
If you grow your own leeks, make sure they are fenced off and out of reach of any curious canines to prevent any pick ‘n’ mix habits that could make your dog sick.
Rather than feeding your dog leeks, which can have severe impacts, feed your dog a complete and balanced meal like Pure. Packed full of vegetables anyway, Pure is healthy, wholesome and natural, providing your dog with the best nutrition every mealtime.
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.