What You Should Know About Onion and Garlic Toxicities in Pets

Many people don’t realize that onions and garlic are toxic to pets.  It is so sparsely known that garlic powder is actually a dangerously common ingredient in some homemade dog treat recipes found online.  They are also very common ingredients in many different dishes that we humans love to make, so we need to be extra careful to not allow our pets to ingest anything containing these ingredients. No more licking the plate for Fido and Fluffy!

Onions and garlic are part of the Allium family of foods. This family of foods includes onions, garlic, chives, shallots, and leeks. This whole food family is toxic to dogs and cats. These foods can be toxic in any form, so whether it is fresh, cooked, or powdered, it can be harmful to your pet.

There is a compound found in these foods called N-propyl disulfide. This compound damages oxygen-carrying red blood cells. This causes hemolysis which leads to anemia. Anemia itself is a dangerous condition for our pets, but it can also lead to severe organ failure or death.

If your pet has ingested onion or garlic without you realizing it, symptoms can appear quickly, or sometimes take several days. Signs to watch for include lethargy, hiding, lack of coordination, pale gums, vomiting, diarrhea, discoloured urine, hyper-salivation, increased heart rate, and/or increased respiratory rate. Not all pets will show every symptom, and many pets are very good at hiding that they are sick. If you suspect something may be wrong with your pet, the best thing to do is to get them examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. If you see/know that your pet has ingested something toxic, call your vet right away.

If caught early and treated aggressively then pets can be treated with no long-lasting effects after eating onions and garlic. Unfortunately, it can be hard to catch early, and in those cases, even with aggressive treatment, it can be too late to cure. Early treatment is key to the treatments of this toxicity. This toxicity unfortunately can lead to death or life long health issues in some cases.


Mikaila Cariou, RVT