Most people have a love-hate relationship with onions. People who love onions can eat them in almost anything, while those who hate them would rather go hungry than eat a dish with onions. If you’re on the side of hating onions, then pretend your dog hates them, too, because dogs should never eat onions.
Can Dogs Eat Onions?
No, dogs should never eat onions under any circumstance. Whether they’re raw, cooked, pureed, or dehydrated into powder form, they’re all toxic. Why are onions toxic to dogs and not humans? Onions have a substance called thiosulfate. This substance requires a specific enzyme to break it down, and dogs don’t have that enzyme. When a dog eats onion, it can lead to irreversible damage of the liver. Onions are actually more toxic than chocolate, the holy grail of dog dangers.
This food belongs to the Allium family, along with garlic, shallots, and leeks. These foods create a condition known as hemolytic anemia in dogs. Members of the Allium family cause the red blood cells to rupture. Red blood cells are an integral part of oxygenation, so when these cells are damaged, the dog experiences difficulty breathing.
Signs of Onion Toxicity in Dogs
The initial symptoms are relatively mild. At first, the dog will just have vomiting and diarrhea, but as the toxicity progresses, the symptoms worsen. As more red blood cells are destroyed, more signs appear. Lethargy appears quickly due to the decreased oxygenation. When they exercise, their stamina will be significantly decreased from what’s normal. Their gums, which should be a bubblegum pink, may turn a pale white or a bluish color. When they urinate, their urine might be dark red due to the elimination of dead red blood cells. Left untreated, severe anemia is fatal.
If onion toxicity is left untreated, it will damage the liver. Liver damage is irreversible, so if your dog winds up with a damaged liver, it’s likely it will progress as they age. Onion toxicity can kill your dog, so if you think your dog has consumed onion in any form, then it’s imperative you take your dog to the vet immediately. The sooner you seek treatment, the more likely it is your dog will recover unscathed.
Don’t ever wait for symptoms to appear before you seek veterinary care. Many dogs don’t show symptoms for days. Waiting too long allows the toxicity to progress quite a bit, making it more difficult to recover. When you see your dog eat an onion, call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Control hotline for an immediate plan of action. The longer you wait, the longer it will take your dog to recover–if they do at all.
Take Some Precautions: Onions Are Everywhere
Onions are in a lot of packaged foods. From chips to crackers to soups, onions are tucked into a lot of things because it makes them taste good. While this is fine for you, this can be lethal to your dog if you have a habit of sneaking human food to them. Before you give your dog a human snack, you should know exactly what’s in it. Most people don’t know that onions are the most potent in their powdered form, so double check your labels for onion salt and powder.
Don’t let a smelly little vegetable be the reason your dog gets seriously ill. The best rule of thumb is to only feed your dog their regular food to avoid problems like this. The more food you introduce to them, the more chances you have of accidentally giving them something dangerous.