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Dogs and Onions: A Dangerous Combination
November 1, 2015

A dangerous dog toxin can be found in nearly every typical kitchen across the country: onions. Below, your Portland, OR veterinarian answers your questions about onion toxicity in our canine companions.

Why Are Onions Toxic?

Onions contain a chemical called thiosulphate, which is what causes the dangerous symptoms of onion poisoning. Thiosulphate can lead to hemolytic anemia, a deadly condition in which a dog’s red blood cells become damaged, potentially even bursting as they circulate through the pet’s bloodstream.

How Much Does it Take to Cause Poisoning?

A dog that eats more than 0.5 percent of their own body weight in onions can experience a toxic reaction. In other words, only a few tiny grams of onions are necessary to cause poisoning—the smaller the dog, the greater the danger!

What are the Symptoms of Onion Poisoning?

A dog who eats too much onion may display depression, weakness, drooling, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, and abdominal pain. Symptoms associated with anemia include pale gums, elevated heart rate, and collapse.

It’s important to note that onion poisoning may have a delayed effect. Often, symptoms may not appear until two to four days after a dog has ingested the onion.

What About Other Forms of Onions?

Onions in all forms—raw, cooked, red, green, dehydrated, etc.—are dangerous. In addition, foods related to onions are also toxic. Garlic, chives, and leeks are all part of the Allium family, and can prove poisonous to dogs and other animals.

What Should I Do If My Dog Eats an Onion?

If you see or suspect that your dog has eaten an onion, call your veterinarian immediately to see how to proceed. Your veterinarian may ask that your pet come in to the hospital to be examined. In addition, you’ll want to watch your pet closely in the next several days for signs of toxicity, and notify your vet at the first sign of trouble.

How Can I Prevent Onion Poisoning?

Prevent poisoning by keeping onions, garlic, chives, and leeks off of countertops or tables where dogs or other pets could gain access to them. Store these dangerous foods in the refrigerator or inside of a closed cabinet or closet.

Call your Portland, OR animal hospital to find out more about onion toxicity and your pet. Also be sure to ask about other common toxic foods you may already have in your kitchen cabinets.

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