Onions are unique members of the root vegetable family in that they (like garlic) are onions and do not grow as deep as other root vegetables. Onions come in white, yellow, and red onions, as well as chives and leeks, and are a common flavorful addition to meals and side dishes that are served both cooked and raw. They add flavor to many of our favorite dishes, but can dogs eat onions? What do you do when your dog has eaten onions?
First, what you should know about dogs and onions
We worked with Emmy Award winning veterinarian Dr. Jeff Werber spoke to to learn more about how dangerous onions are to our dogs. Dr. Jeff explains, “Traditionally we have always recommended avoiding raw onions and raw garlic because of a type of toxin that can negatively affect red blood cells.” The toxic ingredient is called n-propyl disulfide, an oxidizer that oxidizes red blood cells to damage can.
Can dogs eat onions?
Well, you shouldn’t give your dog a bowl of onions to nibble on. Onions are not healthy for dogs, but unlike grapes, which even a small amount can be toxic, onion toxicity depends on how much onion a dog consumes. Rachel Hinder, RVT claims manager for pet insurance, said, “If a dog is eating only a small amount of onion, it shouldn’t normally cause any problems.” However, she cautioned that “the size of the dog also matters. Small pieces of onion are a much bigger problem for tiny 3-pound Yorkies than 200-pound Great Danes. “
One of the dangers of onions and dogs is that the toxins can build up in their system, which means they could slowly reach a point where onion exposure could make them sick, or that there could be a cumulative effect, like Dr. Advertiser calls them. “To be on the safe side, avoid onions and garlic,” suggests Dr. Recruiter before. Eating onions can cause dogs to develop a condition called hemolytic anemia. This condition affects / destroys a dog’s red blood cells, leaving dogs without enough of them for healthy functioning. Severe onion poisoning in dogs can be fatal.
What about cooked onions?
While onions may not be as toxic to our dogs as grapes or xylitol, you shouldn’t give your dog onions, regardless of whether they’re raw or cooked. Cooking onions does not affect the safety of onions, and cooked onions are still poisonous to dogs due to their toxic effect on a dog’s red blood cells. All forms of onions can be toxic to dogs – whether powdered, dried, fresh or cooked.
What about broth cooked with onions?
If you cook for your dog or treat your dog to snacks from your plate, avoid sharing food that has been cooked with onions with your dog, even if you are using onions in your broth. Hinder advises, “While a small amount of onion is unlikely to cause problems, it’s safer to avoid all of them together.”
When buying a pre-made broth, read the labels on the broth and choose a broth that does not contain onions. Hinder encourages dog advocates to also look for onion powder as an ingredient in prepackaged foods and avoid using it in recipes you share with your dog, as it is made from dried and ground onions and can be harmful to your dog.
Whether you are using the juice, pulp, or even the leaves of the onion, all parts of the onion cause problems with dogs. Do not cook anything with onions for your dog, let alone onion powder.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Onions?
For safety reasons, keep all onions and all products containing onions away from your dogs. But what if you cook and drop a slice of onion on the floor, or if a friend shares a bite of their lunch with your dog and it contains onion? While we don’t want our dogs to eat onions, a bite of onions probably won’t make your dog sick. “Your dog probably wouldn’t be eating enough to cause a real problem because dogs usually don’t like the taste,” says Dr. Recruiter.
If you think your dog has been eating onions in large quantities, or if it seems to your dog that he is not feeling well, Dr. Advertisers suggest that they see a veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian can assess your dog and determine if treatment is needed.
Symptoms of onion toxicity are symptoms of anemia – when your dog has low red blood cells. Look out for decreased appetite, weakness, lethargy, and pale gums. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control website (aspca.org/animal-poison-control) also states that clinical symptoms include vomiting, wheezing, and high heart rate. If you experience any of these symptoms, take your dog to the veterinarian right away.
Thumbnail: Photography © vvuls | iStock / Getty Images Plus.
This piece was originally released on May 4, 2018.
Sassafras Lowrey is an award-winning writer. Her novels have received awards from organizations ranging from the Lambda Literary Foundation to the American Library Association. Sassafras is a certified Trick Dog Instructor and helps with agility courses for dogs. Sassafras lives and writes in Brooklyn with her partner, an older Chihuahua mix, a rescued Shepherd mix, and a Newfoundland puppy, along with two bossy cats and a semi-wild kitten. Learn more at sassafraslowrey.com.
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