Dogs and Onions: A Dangerous Combination

There are many human foods that our canine companions shouldn’t have. Onions are one of the most dangerous simply because they’re very common. Here, your Unionville, ON veterinarian tells you more.

Why Are Onions Poisonous?

Onions contain a substance called thiosulphate. This substance can lead to hemolytic anemia if too much is ingested. In a case of anemia, a dog’s red blood cells are damaged and may even burst as they circulate through the bloodstream. Without treatment, a dog can experience organ failure and die.

What are the Symptoms of Poisoning?

The initial symptoms of onion poisoning in dogs include loss of appetite, lethargy, breathlessness, vomiting, and diarrhea. Hyper-salivation, pale gums, and loss of muscle coordination are also possible.

How Much Onion Does it Take to Cause Harm?

As a general rule: poisoning will occur if a pet eats more that 0.5 percent of their body weight in onion. This means that only a very small amount of an onion is enough to poison your pet! Just a few grams of an onion or onion substance can prove dangerous, especially if you own a smaller breed of dog.

Prevent onion poisoning by restricting your dog’s access to them in the first place. Keep onions off of kitchen tables and countertops where dogs could potentially swipe them down.

What About Other Types of Onions?

Raw onions don’t lose their toxicity when cooked; both types are dangerous. In addition, other varieties like red, green, powdered, etc. are also toxic. Also remember that various foods—pizza, sauces, soups, salads—contain onions, and these can be just as dangerous to your animal companion as a single onion itself.

Other foods in the same family as onions, such as chives, garlic, shallots, leeks, and scallions, also contain thiosulphate. Take care to have your pet avoid these foods as well.

What Do I Do If My Dog Ingests Onions?

If you see or even suspect that your dog has eaten onions or a food in the onion family, rush your pet to your Unionville, ON animal hospital while calling ahead to the office. Quick veterinary treatment is key; your vet will induce vomiting to flush your dog’s system of the toxin. In severe cases, blood transfusions or lengthy hospital stays for prolonged monitoring may be needed. Ask your vet for more information on onion toxicity and how you can prevent a poisoning episode in your home.

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