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What is Onions Poisoning?

Allium species, including onions, garlic, leeks, and chives are toxic to dogs. Plants in this family contain organosulfur compounds which account for the distinctive odor and flavor associated with them. These compounds are metabolized into highly reactive oxidants which can damage the red blood cells (erythrocytes) of dogs, particularly certain Japanese breeds like Akitas and Shiba Inus. The oxidants bind directly to the erythrocytes, so these breeds are particularly at risk because of the specific chemical make-up of their red blood cells. All dogs are susceptible however, in contrast to humans whose red blood cells aren’t affected by the organosulfoxides. As the oxidant level within erythrocytes become higher than the cells’ antioxidant metabolism capacity, a condition called oxidative hemolysis results which affects oxygen transport and causes red blood cells to rupture and be destroyed. The erythrocytes will be marked by Heinz body formation, an abnormal blood cell visible upon microscopic examination of a blood smear.

Dogs with allium species toxicosis will develop hemolytic anemia. Typically the onset is delayed by several days, but large doses may cause symptoms of anemia as little as one day after ingestion. Vomiting, diarrhea and gastric upset may also be present. The toxic dose is typically 15-30 grams per kilogram of the dog’s weight, or about .5% of the body weight. All types of allium species can cause this toxicity, but garlic is the most concentrated and therefore the most dangerous for dogs. Dried, powdered, and cooked products are just as toxic as those that are fresh and raw. As the condition progresses, the bone marrow will generate new red blood cells and the anemia will pass, as long as no further exposure takes place. High doses will need to be treated with a blood transfusion to avoid fatally low levels of erythrocytes.

Onions, garlic and other members of the allium family are toxic to dogs. This is called allium species toxicosis, or onion toxicity. Symptoms may take several days to manifest.

Onions Poisoning Average Cost

From 61 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$950

Symptoms of Onions Poisoning in Dogs

These symptoms could indicate your dog has eaten onions or garlic.

  • Smell of onions or garlic on the breath
  • Excessive salivation
  • Irritation of the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Signs of abdominal pain
  • Rapid heartrate (tachycardia)
  • Panting (tachypnea)
  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Collapse
  • Pale or bluish gums

Types

These are the types of products you should keep away from your dog.

  • Garlic – most toxic, about five times as potent as onions
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Chives
  • Scallions or green onions
  • Garlic or onion powder
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Causes of Onions Poisoning in Dogs

These are some of the causes and risk factors associated with allium species toxicity.

  • Ingestion of fresh growing onions, garlic or chives
  • Feeding food prepared for humans to a dog
  • Dog chews open a container of dried or powdered onions or garlic
  • Certain breeds are more susceptible (Japanese breeds like Akita and Shiba Inu)
  • Some factors can make the red blood cells weaker and increase a dog’s susceptibility to allium species toxicosis (Zinc deficiency, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase which is an inherited deficiency, and some drug treatments
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Diagnosis of Onions Poisoning in Dogs

If you know your dog has ingested a product that contains onions or garlic this will make diagnosis easier. If the dog is already showing symptoms of lethargy and weakness, a low red blood cell count (hemolytic anemia) will be visible on a blood test. This can also help to indicate the severity of the problem. Urinalysis will show high levels of hemoglobin in the urine. Heinz body anemia may be visible on a blood smear examination even before there is a marked drop in red blood cells. Other symptoms, like a smell of onions or garlic on the breath (with recent ingestion), or vomiting and diarrhea with undigested pieces may also be an early indication that your dog has allium species toxicosis. For unknown instances of poisoning, the veterinarian may ask what foods you regularly give your dog and suggest you check the list of ingredients.

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Treatment of Onions Poisoning in Dogs

If the poisoning is still recent, vomiting may be induced and the dog will be given activated charcoal to reduce absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. The veterinarian will tell you to monitor your dog for signs of anemia over the next few days and may recommend a diet low in oxidants. If a large amount has been ingested, your dog will need to be kept in a veterinary hospital for that time period. Severely ill dogs will need supplemental oxygen to make up for the reduced circulation of red blood cells and a blood transfusion could be necessary to stabilize your dog until the bone marrow is able to generate enough new, healthy erythrocytes.

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Recovery of Onions Poisoning in Dogs

Dogs will recover from mild exposure to onions or garlic however severe poisoning can be fatal, especially without treatment. If you know you dog has eaten onions or garlic, you should take him to the veterinarian immediately even if there are no immediate symptoms. 

Avoiding exposure is the best way of managing the condition. If you are feeding your dog any food prepared for humans, check the list of ingredients for onions, garlic or other allium products. Even if your dog remains asymptomatic, continual low level doses will make any accidental ingestion much more serious. Put any spoiled food that contains onion or garlic products through a garbage disposal or place in a sealed trashcan. Take precautions if there are allium species growing in your garden. Dogs don’t normally like the taste of these plants, but it’s safer to keep them out of reach.

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Onions Poisoning Average Cost

From 61 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$950

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Onions Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Beagle basset mix

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy, Vomiting, Diareah, Loss Of Apetite

Our dog got into a pot of oil that had onion rings cooked in it a couple of days ago, now he's just lying around. He's stopped vomiting but won't eat. Should I get him to a vet? This is day 3 of symptoms.

Aug. 12, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello Onions can be toxic to dogs. I recommend taking him to a veterinarian right away. They may want to run lab work and give him medication for the vomiting. Good luck.

Aug. 12, 2020

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Pug

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Seven Years

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

Ate 3 small pieces of steak with onion powder and steak sauce had onion powder. Pug has thrown up 4 times. Last vomit was 4pm. No diarrhea and has drank water on her own. Still barks when she hears noises

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. If she is acting normally other than the vomiting, you may be able to fast her for 12 hours and see if that settles your stomach. If she is not continuing to vomit after that, you should be fine to start feeding her again in 12 hours and see how she does. If she continues to vomit, or is having diarrhea or is lethargic, then it would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian. I hope that she is okay and feels better soon!

Aug. 4, 2020

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Greyhound

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Two Years

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Diarrhea

Over the past 2 days Emma has had about a cup to cup and half of chicken stock that had onion in it, got into leftovers a week ago that had a few bits of onion in it. Today she has done about 6 poos, usual is 4. 4 of 6 poos were diarrhoea, heart rate is fine, resp rate fine, no vomiting

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. While I don't think that Emma is showing signs of onion toxicity, it does seem that she may be having some GI upset from the food that she has been getting into. It might be a good idea to feed her a bland diet of boiled white chicken and boiled white rice for a couple of days, then ease her back onto her regular diet. If that doesn't help, it would be a good idea to have her seen by your veterinarian. I hope that all goes well for her!

Aug. 1, 2020

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Sam

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Shorkie Tzu

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3 Years

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Fair severity

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Hasnt Shown

my dog sam has recently eaten a few pieces of meat coated with spices including onion powder and garlic powder, they were thinly sliced but he weighs approx 9 pounds.

Sept. 16, 2018

Sam's Owner

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Piper

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Goldendoodle

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5 Years

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My 70lb 5-yr old golden doodle got into the trash last night and may have had the leftover scraps of roasted garlic (cut off end and/or skins of all cloves). She woke us up several times (this is a VERY RARE action for her) in the middle of the night needing water. Gums look fine, other than the wake ups she is acting normal, heart rates seems to be fine, etc. Just very thirsty! Any help?

Sept. 2, 2018

Piper's Owner

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Rex

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Labrador Retriever

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3 Years

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None

My dog Rex was licking my floor tonight, I was eating a White Castle sandwich earlier which has onions on it tiny slivers of onions oh, and he might have gotten a hold of one I can't really tell oh, I vacuumed the floor right after he licked the floor, he's a Labrador Retriever that weighs around 185 to 190 pounds. he's my best friend and the only thing that reminds me of my grandpa. I don't know what I would do if I lost him. Is there anything I should be concerned about?

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Dozer

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jack russell mix

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2 Years

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None

I have a dog that ate the outer layer of a medium onion hes 28lbs hes eating drinking do I need to worry this happend due to roommate pulling trash bag out to put out side

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Ruger

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German Shepherd

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4 Years

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None

So my 110lb german shepard just got in the trash and ate onions off a plate. His breath doesnt smell like onioms, i stopped him but i dont think in time. Of course this is the same dog that ate a plate of hot wings and survived. Should i take him to the vet in the morning or see how he acts?

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Comet

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Whippet

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9 Months

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None

our 9 month,18 lb. whippet mix puppy got hold of a 1/2 an english muffin with a thin spread of tomato sauce on it. The sauce ingredients include onion and garlic. there were likely 2-3 squares of onion (1/4 in. x 1/4 in.) We know onions and garlic can be toxic to dogs. its 9 pm and our vet is closed. Our puppy isn't showing any symptoms of poisoning. Is it safe to wait until morning and call the vet or should we try to have her seen at an emergency clinic tonight?

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George

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Mastiff

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8 Years

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No Symptom

I gave my two dog some table scraps, then realised that it contained onions. The pie(600g) contained 10% onion. Each dog has eaten approx half a pie. The dogs weigh 40kg mastiff and 25/30kg lab. They consumed the pie about 10hours ago.

Onions Poisoning Average Cost

From 61 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$950

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