A direct answer to this question is no, dogs cannot and should not eat onions. An onion is one of the vegetables which, although yummy for human beings is an absolute no-no for dogs. Dogs and onions are just not compatible given the fact that this bulbous and pungent vegetable is toxic enough to cause serious complications in canines.
Why Are Onions Toxic For Dogs?
Being a member of the allium family, like garlic, chives and shallots, onion is naturally equipped with N-propyl disulfide, a compound that is strong enough to cause red blood cells to break down and disintegrate. The main function of red blood cells in the body is to regulate oxygen by providing this gas to various organs as per requirement and its timely removal.
When canines eat onions, the toxic compound attaches oxygen molecules to the red blood cells, thus interfering with their oxygen carrying capacity. Eventually this leads to hemolysis, a condition wherein red blood cells are destroyed, and the medical jargon used to describe the dog’s suffering is known as hemolytic anemia.
Usually loss of red blood cells triggers the bone marrow into stepping up its production cycle to meet the body’s requirement. However, in hemolytic anemia, the marrow is unable to cope up with the swift loss with the result that there is a serious decline in the level of this precious life-giving fluid in your dog’s body.
What Happens When Your Dog Does Eat Onions?
It is but natural to leave a pizza or delicious onion rings unattended on the table during the course of the day and this is what provides your pooch with an opportunity to dig into onions. Before you even realize, your dog might have swallowed a whole lot of onions and as a responsible pet owner, it is time for you to start worrying.
Having swallowed onions, it would most likely take a day or two for the dog to exhibit symptoms of allium poisoning, which are:
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Red or brown urine
- Increased heartbeat leading to panting
- Feeling depressed
- Vomiting, but not always
Appearance of these symptoms is dependent on the quantity of onions consumed by the dog. To this effect, you might be unknowingly feeding your dog powdered onions that may be included in the dog-feed. However, as soon as you observe one or more of these symptoms it is time to step on the panic button and seek a veterinarian.
Treating Onion Toxicity in Dogs
Assuming that you have taken your beloved canine to the veterinarian, the doctor would first order a blood test and diagnose the symptoms. If everything, including the results of the blood test, point towards onions as being the culprit, the veterinarian would then commence treatment by inducing vomiting.
The objective to causing the dog to vomit is to flush out all the toxins from the stomach and minimize chances of further poisoning or allergic reactions. During this time it is imperative for your dog to remain hydrated and the onus is on you to ensure that his fluid intake is adequate enough to support bodily functions and speed up recuperation.
Only under extreme circumstances would the doctor suggest blood transfusion and this occurs when the percentage of damaged red blood cells is extremely high.
What you must remember is that a large quantity of onions ingested at one go is less harmful than small quantities consumed over several days. As a preventive measure, dog owners must ensure that the dog-feed they purchase is bereft of onion powder and exercise caution while using onion-laden treats at home.
Because onions could be fatal for your canine companion, why not steer it towards other vegetables? Carrots, green beans and cucumber are not just safe for dogs but healthy too, so you can train your dog to like these instead of looking out for onions.