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Onions, Dogs, and Toxicity Questions – Pets Are People Too!

Written by Wellness Club on September 2, 2008 – 6:19 pm -

We often get questions about animal health topics – proving that "pets are people too!"

Julio wrote to ask:

I read you article on onions and garlic and how it can affect dogs. What about onion juice, is this also bad for dogs? It is sometimes added to oven roasted turkey breast. I know Foster Farms has it in their Turkey Breast.  Thanks

Here is our answer:

Hi Julio,

As We mentioned in the article you read, we are NOT veterinarians – we are pet owners (our "pets" own us actually…) We are medics for humans who also research animal health issues that concern us and apply to our pets – so our advice is not to be taken as veterinary advice!

The amount of onion required to cause hemolytic anemia in dogs is reported to be fairly large – on the order of an entire onion, or a cup of chopped onion. The size of the dog would of course have a bearing on the dangerous amount, and it is worth noting that garlic is also known to have this same effect.

As with most things that can be toxic though, there are amounts or doses that can be tolerated without ill effect – if that were not so, then simply stealing a bite of hot dog garnished with chopped onions would be fatal and there would be far fewer dogs in this world – and we know that dogs are wonderful opportunists, ever-willing to snack down on an unattended human treat like pizza or the aforementioned onion-garnished hot dog. Fortunately, most seem to tolerate a few bites (or more) of onion fairly well…

I cannot say how much onion juice might be added to roasted turkey breast, though I understand that onion, like garlic is a commonly used flavor enhancer. I can’t imagine that the total amount of onion available in a few small bites of this meat would amount to much, and I would guess that unless a dog were extremely sensitive there should not be a big concern about a small treat or two. More than that and all bets are off though…

For a real, healthy treat for your dog, I would suggest you not give people-food scraps, but go and visit your local butcher and ask for bones and cutting scraps – knuckle bones are great and have a number of health benefits for your dog – and he (she) will love you for it!

Hope this helps…

Nurse Mark

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