Onion Toxicity in Pets

You likely have some form of onion in your kitchen right now. Did you know that onions are a dangerous toxin for our pets? Here, your Carolina Forest, SC veterinarian tells you more about onion toxicity in pets.

What Makes Onions Poisonous?

Onions contain thiosulfates, which are the chemical substances that prove poisonous to pets. Thiosulfates can damage a pet’s red blood cells, possibly causing them to burst and leading to a life-threatening condition called hemolytic anemia. If a pet eats too many onions, organ failure—and even death—can occur if treatment isn’t administered.

Are All Types of Onions Dangerous?

Yes, all kinds of onion contain some level of thiosulfates and are therefore dangerous for pets. Raw and cooked onions, red onions, powdered onion, green onions, and any other type of onion can cause harm, as can related foods like garlic, chives, leeks, scallions and shallots. In fact, garlic contains the highest concentration of thiosulfates and is extremely toxic!

How Much Results in Poisoning?

It doesn’t take much of an onion or related food to cause poisoning. The smaller the pet, the more susceptible they are to serious poisoning, even from small amounts of onions. A pet can experience symptoms if they eat more than 0.5 percent of their body weight in onions!

What are the Symptoms of Onion Poisoning?

Initial symptoms of onion poisoning can include breathlessness, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. If a pet isn’t treated, anemia will start to set in, and the pet might exhibit symptoms like hyper-salivation, pale gums, and loss of coordination.

What Should I Do if My Pet Ingests Onions?

If you know or suspect that your pet has eaten onions or a food containing onions, take them to the nearest veterinary emergency room for quick treatment. Induced vomiting might be needed to rid your pet’s system of the toxin, and activated charcoal may be given to slow the toxin’s absorption in the stomach. If the situation is serious enough, blood transfusions and a lengthy hospital stay might be necessary.

Clearly, your best course of action is to prevent onion poisoning entirely. Don’t leave onions or related foods out on countertops or tables where pets could get to them; store them in containers, cabinets, or the refrigerator instead.

Would you like to learn more about onion toxicity? Contact your Carolina Forest, SC vet clinic today. We’re always here to help!

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