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Can dogs eat onion? A look at the health risks

Can dogs eat onion? A look at the health risks

As a dog owner, you are always careful to provide your four-legged friend with the best possible nutrition. But what about onions? This aromatic ingredient is a staple in many human dishes, but can dogs eat onion? Unfortunately no. In fact, onions can be very dangerous for dogs and lead to serious health problems. In this blog post, we'll go into more detail about why dogs shouldn't eat onions and the risks associated with doing so. We will also give tips on what you should do if your dog accidentally eats onions.

In most cases, it is important that you take your dog to the vet as quickly as possible. Read on to find out more:

Is it bad if my dog ​​eats onions?

Dogs can get sick from both raw and cooked onions. And the damage an onion can do to a dog goes far beyond bad breath - it can even be life-threatening.

The active ingredient in onions that is toxic to dogs is known as N-propyl disulfide, or thiosulfate. This compound causes red blood cell breakdown because dogs do not have the enzyme needed to digest this substance. This can lead to anemia and other health problems in dogs.

More specifically, the toxic portion of onion can damage your dog's red blood cells by attaching to the oxygen-carrying protein hemoglobin in his red blood cells. This reduces the red blood cell's ability to carry oxygen throughout the animal's body and makes your dog think that the blood cell is an intruder. This triggers a process known as hemolysis, which destroys red blood cells, resulting in hemolytic anemia.

When hemoglobin is oxidized, it forms clumps called Heinz bodies. These Heinz bodies cannot transport oxygen and, in turn, cause the red blood cells to transport oxygen less efficiently.

Which part of the onion is poisonous to dogs?

No specific part of an onion contains the poison that is harmful to dogs - it is contained in the whole onion! Onion toxicosis can occur due to consumption of:

  • meat with onions
  • Onion juice
  • Onion leaves
  • Processed onion powder

This means that onions can be harmful to dogs if consumed, even if cooked, fried or powdered.

Onion powder is also found in a surprising number of human foods, and it doesn't take a lot of onion to make a dog sick. For example, a dog weighing 45 pounds only needs to eat a medium-sized raw onion to develop dangerous toxicity.

Similar foods that can also be harmful

Actually, all other foods from the allium family are also harmful, e.g. B:

  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Leek
  • chives

These foods are also harmful to dogs because they contain the same poison. Be particularly careful not to let your dog eat onion and garlic powder. They are even more toxic than fresh onions, which is dangerous news since they are found in many human foods. Always check the labels of the food you give your dog to make sure it does not contain onion or garlic powder.

How much onion does it take to make a dog sick?


The question: Can dogs eat onions? We've already answered this, but how much onion it takes to cause problems for your dog depends on many factors: the amount consumed, the size of the dog and other biological factors. If your dog eats a small amount of onions, he will generally do well. However, if he consumes onions frequently, it can lead to health problems.

If the dog eats a lot of onions at once, he may suddenly develop anemia in the following days. Consuming small amounts over time can lead to the gradual development of anemia.

The onions consumed also do not have to be raw to cause harm. They can cause harm to your dog in the form of soups, in the form of fried onion rings, or in other forms. Similar to garlic powder, onion powder in baby food can cause onion poisoning. Young children often let dogs eat their food or leave it lying around for dogs to find.

Symptoms of onion poisoning in dogs

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • General weakness of the dog
  • Red urine
  • Decreased appetite
  • Pale or bluish gums
  • fainting
  • Vomit
  • Increased heart rate

Onion poisoning is not a common cause of the last three symptoms. However, if you know or suspect that your dog has eaten onions recently, it could be the cause.

Eating onions in dogs can also cause:

  • Liver damage
  • asthma attacks
  • Allergic reactions
  • Diarrhea
  • anemia
  • dermatitis
  • General weakness


The symptoms a dog experiences depend on the amount of onions consumed, their size, and the time period in which the onions were consumed. Eating a large amount of onions at once is less dangerous than eating a small amount over a long period of time.

This is important to know if you like to feed your dog from the table, because many foods people eat contain at least a small amount of onion powder. Make sure you read the labels on your foods carefully so you don't accidentally poison your dog.

It's also important to know that symptoms usually don't appear until a few days after eating the onions. So if a lot of onions are mysteriously missing, you should take your dog to your vet.

If you know your dog has eaten a lot of onions, you should also take him to your vet immediately. Your veterinarian will diagnose your dog's condition based on symptoms and a blood test. Your veterinarian can induce vomiting or give your dog a solution that reduces the absorption of the onion's toxic substances into the blood. Taking your dog to the vet as soon as possible can save you potentially expensive medical bills for overnight stays and monitoring if your dog's onion poisoning reaches dangerous levels.

How is onion poisoning diagnosed?

It is undoubtedly easiest for your veterinarian to make a diagnosis if you know that your dog has consumed onions or a product containing onions. Suppose your dog is already showing symptoms such as lethargy and weakness. In this case, a low red blood cell count will likely show up in a blood test, which can also indicate the severity of the problem.

In other cases, your veterinarian will also perform a urine test to determine if the hemoglobin level in the urine is high. Heinz body anemia can also show up in a blood smear even before the disease has caused the dog's red blood cell count to drop.

In other cases, you'll need to check your dog's stool for undigested onion pieces or analyze his vomit if he's sick. Your vet may also ask you what foods you regularly give your dog and ask you to check labels for a list of ingredients.

What to do if your dog eats onions?

If you see your dog eating onions or suspect that he has eaten them, you should contact a veterinarian immediately, especially if he is not feeling well or is tired and weak. Your vet will examine your dog and take appropriate action.

At the vet, treatment will depend on when your dog ate the onions. If it was just before you took your dog to the vet, your vet will usually induce vomiting to flush out your dog's stomach. He may also use activated charcoal to treat the poisoning and possible allergic reactions.

Activated charcoal reduces the absorption of onions in the gastrointestinal tract. After this initial treatment, your veterinarian may also bathe and dry your dog to avoid the risk of a skin infection. You may also need to monitor your dog for a period of time and ensure that he stays hydrated.

In cases where the dog is more seriously ill and anemia has occurred, the veterinarian will give the dog fluid into the bloodstream. He will then treat any existing liver damage and request blood transfusions if necessary. Some dogs require supplemental oxygen to compensate for the reduced circulation of red blood cells in their body. In some cases, your dog may need to stay in the veterinary clinic overnight or longer.

Once you take your dog home, your vet will tell you how to monitor him. He will tell you certain signs of anemia to watch out for in the next few days.

Since onion poisoning can be fatal in severe cases, it's best to take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect something is wrong.

chopped onion

Healthy vegetables for dogs

Onions and other vegetables in the allium family can be toxic to dogs. However, there are many other safe foods that your dog will love. Some of the best vegetables for dogs include carrots, lettuce, pumpkin and sweet potatoes. Carrots are particularly popular with dogs because they are rich in vitamin A and fiber and can also help keep your dog's teeth clean. Pumpkin and sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber and also contain many vitamins and minerals.

If you want to add vegetables to your dog's diet, you should incorporate them slowly and pay attention to how he reacts to them. Some dogs may be sensitive to certain vegetables or develop digestive problems if they eat too many vegetables at once. It also helps to ask your veterinarian for advice.


In summary, dogs should not eat onions. Onions contain a toxic substance called N-propyl disulfide, which can cause serious health problems in dogs. Symptoms of onion poisoning can range from vomiting and diarrhea to difficulty breathing and liver and kidney failure. For this reason, dog owners should ensure that their dogs do not consume onions or foods containing onions. This applies to both raw and cooked onions.

Dog owners can use herbs such as parsley or mint as alternative flavor enhancers. Garlic should also be avoided as it can also be toxic to dogs. Ultimately, it is important that dog owners understand the potential risks of onions and ensure that their dogs do not come into contact with them. If you suspect your dog has eaten onions or is showing signs of poisoning, please seek veterinary attention immediately.