Your Dog Ate an Onion – What to Do Next!
28 August, 2017
There are many different types of food that we can eat, but are unsafe for dogs. Onions, which many of us cook with or eat in our food, are one of the more dangerous ones. If your dog eats an onion, it can make him seriously ill, even if the onion is in a raw, cooked, or in powdered form.
Onion contains a toxin that affects your dogs’ red blood cells
Onions contain a toxin known as N-propyl disulfide. This compound causes a breakdown of red blood cells, leading to anemia in dogs. The toxin causes damage to your dog’s red blood cells and reduces its ability to carry oxygen and tricks your dog’s body into thinking that the blood cell is an invader. The red blood cell is destroyed in a process known as hemolysis, resulting in hemolytic anemia.
What parts of onions are toxic to dogs?
All parts of an onion are toxic to dogs, including the flesh, leaves, juice, and processed powders. Raw or cooked, fried or powdered, onions and the rest of the allium family (garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives) are harmful to dogs.
Onion powder is in a wide range of foods, from soup to baby food. It only takes 100 grams of onion (about the size of a medium onion) per 20 kilograms of a dog’s weight to cause toxic effects, which means that a 45-pound dog would only have to eat one medium-to-large-size onion to experience dangerous toxicity levels. Since most dogs would happily devour a bag of onion rings or an onion casserole, if they are left out, it is important to be very careful when you have onions in the kitchen.
Onion and garlic powder are even more toxic than onions
Onion and garlic powders are even more potent than fresh onions. It is always a good idea to check the label of any human food we feed to our dogs, and onion powder should be in your list of “don’t feed.” And onions are even more toxic to cats than they are to dogs, so keep both cats and dogs away from onions.
Symptoms of onion toxicity in dogs
If you think your dog may have eaten onions, there are a few symptoms to look out for:
Lethargy, weakness, eating less, pale gums, reddish urine, vomiting, elevated heart rate and panting.
If your dog has any of these symptoms, get him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will diagnose your dog’s condition based on his symptoms and blood work. If your vet detects hemolytic anemia or the formation of Heinz bodies on a blood smear, then all signs point toward onion toxicity.
Your veterinarian may induce vomiting, depending on how recently your dog ate the onions, and will offer supportive care until your dog’s body can produce enough healthy red blood cells to replace the damaged ones. In severe cases, your dog may require a blood transfusion.
Preventing onion toxicity in dogs
The most important thing you can do, as a dog or cat owner, to prevent onion toxicity is to never allow your dog to eat onions. And to be careful any time you are cooking with onions or have them in the food you are eating.