Can Dogs Eat Onions?

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We'll come right out and say it - onions and canines area very, very bad combination. Onions contain an ingredient in their makeup called thiosulphate, which is incredibly toxic to dogs and cats. 

If your poor pup eats onions, even a small amount of onions, you can run the risk of them experiencing hemolytic anemia, a very painful, and potentially fatal condition where your pup's red blood cells are damaged. Onion toxicity can cause your dog's red blood cells to burst throughout his or her whole body.

In other words, keeping your dog far away from onions is always vital. This probably leaves you with a ton of unanswered questions -  does that mean you can't have onions in your house if you own a dog? Can you train your dog to leave onions alone? How can you tell if your dog has gotten his or her paws on onions? We've got all the information on your dog and onions in our guide below. 

Introduction of Can Dogs Eat Onions?

Signs Your Dog Has Eaten Too Many Onions

All onions - whether they're cooked, raw, sauteed, steamed, or anything else - are incredibly dangerous for your dog. In fact, it takes just a pinch of onions to potentially fatally poison your pet. That being said, it's important to keep onions as far away from your pet as possible. 

But, what happens if your dog gets into the onions without your knowledge? How can you tell early on so you can react quickly and effectively? 

First off, look for signs of excessive lethargy. If your normally energetic doggo is a lot more lax than usual, that's your first sign something is up. Additionally, your dog might experience symptoms like breathlessness, panting, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, fainting, and even discolored urine.

Body Language

Here are a few signs to look out for if you think your dog might have eaten onions:
  • Panting
  • Weakness
  • Raspy panting
  • Sweaty paws
  • Dropped Ears
  • Tail tucking
  • Sleepiness

Other Signs

Here are a few other signs you should watch out for if you suspect your dog has had too many onions:
  • Reddish urine
  • Fainting or losing consciousness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • No appetite
  • Out of breath

The History of Onion Toxicity

History of Can Dogs Eat Onions?
One of the most common poisonous foods that dogs (and cats) ingest are onions, garlic, and chocolate. Why is that? Onion is incredibly versatile and used in many of our foods, making the chance of doggo poisoning much higher than other, not-as-versatile ingredients. 

In a published report, The Experimental Onion-Induced Hemolytic Anemia in Dogs by J.W Harvey and D. Rackear from the Department of Physiological Sciences and the college of veterinarian medicine at the University of Florida, dogs' bodies increase in the percentage of heinz bodies within their erythrocytes after eating onions. 

This means that dogs who were experimentally gradually fed onions had increases in their methemoglobin content and heinz bodies, increasing their chance of contracting hemlytic anemia.

The Science of Onions Being Bad for Dogs

Science of Can Dogs Eat Onions?
You might absolutely love onions, in fact, they might be your favorite treat to eat! But that doesn't mean you can share this special treat with your pooch - doing so could result in a painful death for your doggo.

Onions are a common ingredient in a lot of the foods we eat, so it's important you're monitoring closely what your doggo is eating. But, why are onions so bad for your dog? Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate, which is highly toxic for your dog. 

The ingestion of this ingredient causes a condition known as hemolytic anemia - a fancy way to say that onions cause damage to your dog's red blood cells. Onion toxicity can cause all of the red cells in your dog's body to burst, resulting in a painful, uncessarry death.

Training Your Dog to Avoid Onions

Training of Can Dogs Eat Onions?
As we've stated a few times in this article, onions are no joke. A small amount of onion - even if you have a large dog - can potentially poison them. That being said, it's vital that you're not feeding your dog anything that could possibly contain onion or onion seasoning, and also vital that you're training your dog not to get into foods that he or she shouldn't. This will require a bit of work on your part! 

First, we recommend you train your pooch to abide by a series of obedience commands that could potentially save his or her life. For example, if your dog happens to have a mouthful of onions, a simple "no," or "drop it" could be the command that saves them from toxicity. 

It's important that you're training your dog not to beg, as well. While we don't think you, or anyone who knows your dog, would ever purposely feed your pup an onion, the reality is that onions are stealthily placed in a lot of different foods to provide flavors. 

Even more realistic, it's hard to say no to big, puppy-dog-begging eyes. Accidentally feeding your dog onion is certainly possible if your dog begs, so it's best to train your dog to avoid this habit entirely. Training your dog to hang out in his or her crate while the family eats can also help to avoid any accidental onion ingestion issues.

How to React if Your Dog Eats Onions:

  • Take your dog to the vet immediately!
  • If your vet advises, induce vomiting in your dog.
  • Find a new, less accessible spot for your onion storage.
  • Do not feed your dog table scraps that might contain onions.
  • Implement a new plan with your vet to avoid onion consumption.