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Foods You Shouldn't Feed Your Dog

Most people know about the dangers of chocolate to dogs but many people have never heard of onion toxicity in pets. They’ve perhaps fed their dog foods containing onion such as leftover pizza, hamburger, or gravy and nothing happened. A small amount may not cause a problem since onion toxicity is dose dependent. However, onions in any form (raw, cooked, dehydrated or powdered in a seasoning) can create a life-threatening form of hemolytic anemia in dogs.

What Happens in Onion Toxicity?

Red blood cells carry a protein, hemoglobin, which delivers oxygen to the tissues and organs. Onions contain a substance called thiosulphate which dogs (and cats) lack the enzyme to properly digest. Thiosulphate causes oxidation of hemoglobin in canine red blood cells, which then forms clumps, weakening the cell membranes. These clumps, called Heinz bodies, protrude from the cell and eventually cause rupture, shortening the life span of the cell. When enough red cells are destroyed, anemia occurs and the body is starved for oxygen. Garlic also contains thiosulphate but in smaller amounts.

A significant decrease in red blood cells can cause many problems including heart failure. The number of cells destroyed usually depends on the amount of onion eaten. However, some dogs can develop severe reactions even after eating very little onion. Small amounts of onion fed over a period of time can create illness just as a one-time dose can, due to the gradual build-up of Heinz bodies. On the other hand, some minor cases of onion toxicity may go undetected due to damage of fewer red blood cells. Symptoms sometimes take several days to manifest.

Symptoms of Onion Toxicity

Weakness and lethargy



Difficulty breathing

Pale or bluish gums

Bloody urine


Decreased appetite

Increased heart rate

Severe toxicity can be fatal

Treatment of Onion Toxicity

If ingestion was recent, decontamination and intravenous fluids are traditional treatment. If anemia is severe, a lengthy hospital stay and a blood transfusion may be necessary.

Preventing Onion Toxicity

Onions are common in many human foods, including some baby foods, hush puppies, sandwich meats, canned spaghetti, gravies, fast foods, and many prepared meals. Check ingredients carefully in any table food before treating your dog to a snack. Avoid adding onions in any form to homemade dog foodrecipes. Make sure garbage is kept covered and away from dogs.

Alcohol can cause breathing difficulties, abnormal blood acidity, coma and death in dogs. At parties, don't let anyone offer your dog a 'drink.'

Avocadoes contain persin which can cause digestive upsets and heart problems.

Bones may splinter and puncture or obstruct the digestive tract.

Broccoli in large amounts can cause illness in dogs.

Chocolate, coffee and tea all contain stimulants that cause abnormal heartbeat, seizures and death in dogs. Chocolate is especially dangerous for dogs.

Corn on the cob is dangerous. Even though the corn will be digested, chunks of cob may obstruct the digestive tract

Grapes and raisins contain an unknown substance that causes kidney failure in dogs.

Liver in large amounts can cause Vitamin A toxicity.

Macadamia nuts contain an unidentified toxin that causes weakness, tremors, panting and swelling in the legs. Walnuts may have a fungus or mold which causes drooling, jaundice, lack of coordination, and vomiting. Milk is difficult for some dogs to digest effectively, which leads to G.I. upsets.

Mushrooms and molds can be toxic to dogs. Some varieties are more toxic than others. Nutmeg is a seasoning that causes tremors, seizures, and death in dogs.

Raw egg whites contain avidin which causes B vitamin deficiency, skin problems and skeletal deformities Raw eggs can also harbor salmonella or e.coli.

Raw fish, especially salmon, may contain parasites that are dangerous for dogs.

Seeds and fruit pits can cause choking or intestinal blockages and some contain cyanide which is toxic to dogs. Xylitol causes an insulin reaction in dogs which can lead to liver failure within a few days. It's found in many candies, gums, toothpastes, and pastries.

Greasy, fatty table scraps can cause pancreatitis in dogs. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas caused when too much digestive enzyme is produced. Affected dogs may have bloody vomit or diarrhea and suffer dehydration and even death.

Snacks shared with your dog need to be checked for hidden ingredients. Some foods such as cookies, gravies, and even some baby foods, can contain chocolate, nuts, onions, excessive salt or sugar, or other items dangerous for dogs. Keeping garbage cans secured is a good idea too.

Pennies are another danger to dogs worth mentioning. Those dated after 1981 are made from zinc with a thin copper coating. A dog swallowing just one of these pennies can suffer damage to red blood cells and kidney failure, due to zinc poisoning.

If you suspect your dog has consumed something toxic, call your vet right away. Hesitation can prove fatal. Most doting dog owners, especially children, love to share snacks with their best friend but these should be healthful foods, approved by a veterinarian. A little awareness and caution can prevent a tragedy.

Special Note: If you have small dogs keep a tube of Nutri-cal in the cupboard in case the won't eat or are throwing up or diarrhea until you can get them on the mend. Nutri-cal will give them calories and electrolytes to keep them alive until they recover. Small dogs are especially sensitive to not getting sufficient nutrients in their bodies for longer than a day.

Nutri-cal is power packed with calories in just one teaspoon and once you put it in their mouth, it tastes so good they usually eat it. If not, it is very sticky so almost impossible to get out of their mouth so it melts and is absorbed while they are trying.

Let us know if you have any other questions, thank you for visiting our site.

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ACC RANCH: Assisi's Country Critters

A Tribute to St. Francis of Assisi.

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