Well I know most of us know that onions are dangerous but I'm sure there are some members or even people just looking through that don't know this and may be risking there dogs life by giving onions to them. These tell what happen when you give onions, and shows how great a risk they can pose.
Onions are toxic to dogs. The toxicity is dose dependent, so the bigger the animal, the more onion need be consumed to cause a toxicity. Onion toxicity causes a Heinz body anemia. Heinz bodies are small bubble-like projections which protrude from a red blood cell and can be seen when the cells are stained. This "bubble" is a weak spot in the red blood cell and, therefore, the cell has a decreased life-span and ruptures prematurely.
If numerous red cells are affected and rupture, anemia can result. It is a form of hemolytic anemia. Onions are only one of the substances which can cause Heinz body anemia. Other substances such as Acetominophen (Tylenol) and benzocaine-containing topical preparations can also cause Heinz body anemia in the dog.
The toxic effect of the onions are the same whether the product is raw, cooked or dehydrated. The hemolytic episode usually occurs several days after onion ingestion (lowest hematocrit around day 5 post ingestion). Daily feeding of onions could have a cumulative effect due to ongoing formation of Heinz bodies versus a single exposure with a wide gap until the next exposure, allowing the bone marrow time to regenerate the prematurely destroyed red cells.
The cat is even more susceptible. Recently, Gerber began to add onion powder to all its meat baby foods. They are labeled as "better tasting". Since baby food is often used in sick cats that are not eating (to stimulate their appetites), there was concern that the onion powder would cause a Heinz body anemia in these cats. Within a week or two of the change, there were numerous reports of Heinz body anemia in cats receiving Gerber baby food in their diets.
I strongly recommend NO ONIONS for dogs. There is no benefit and certainly the potential to cause harm.
Written by Dr. Wendy Wallner, DVM
Many of you already know that chocolate can make your cat or dog sick, but did you know that onions can kill? I learned this in my second year in veterinary school. But I didn't really appreciate it until the big onion incident that occurred during my senior year. Well, maybe the incident wasn't all that big; it involved only one dog. But it was my own dog, Max, a 72-pound adult boxer. And it nearly killed him.
Depending on their size, pets may not have to eat much onion to get sick. One-fourth of a cup can make a 20-pound dog sick, and several cups may be needed to make a large dog sick. Cats are even more sensitive.
These onions can be fried, as in onion rings; dehydrated, as in Lipton soup;
or prepared in some other tasty form, such as sauteed with mushrooms and steak. In a scattered rash of cat cases in the late 1990s, the culprit was baby foods flavored with onion powder.
Veterinarians often feed meat baby food to sick cats that won't eat their regular foods. When baby food formulations suddenly changed, some cats took a turn for the worse while under veterinary care. Because of public concern the companies involved no longer include onion powder in their baby foods.
In Max's case, the onions were fried, dried and then left on the coffee table by my roommate before she left for the weekend. I never saw the pound or so of deadly cuisine. All I found was an empty bag and drool on the floor.
If I had known what was in the bag, I would have taken Max to my veterinarian immediately. Instead I took him two days later, after the normally boisterous prankster collapsed while exercising.
We performed a bunch of diagnostic tests, and on examining the blood work, found the telltale signs -- little purple clumps in his red blood cells that virtually screamed onion toxicity.
Onions cause toxicity by oxidizing an oxygen-transporting protein called hemoglobin in the red blood cells. When oxidized, hemoglobin forms clumps that can't carry oxygen as well. These small clumps, called Heinz bodies, can be seen in the red blood cells when the blood is viewed under a microscope.
Although a number of other compounds can cause these clumps, when veterinarians see Heinz bodies in many cat or dog red blood cells, onion toxicity is top on their list.
Normally, in dogs with onion toxicity a moderate number of red blood cells may contain Heinz bodies. In Max's case, most of the red blood cells carried the protein clumps.
Heinz bodies don't usually cause life-threatening problems themselves; the red blood cells can still carry oxygen, just not as efficiently. Heinz bodies cause problems by decreasing the red blood cell life span. As a result, the onion eater becomes anemic.
If a large amount of onions is eaten at one time, the pet may develop a sudden anemia several days afterward. If the dog or cat eats a small amount of onions every day for many days, he may gradually develop anemia over weeks to months.
Onion toxicosis is not a tremendously common occurrence. It's a good thing, because patients that do develop toxicosis often need to be hospitalized for several days. In cases of severe anemia, they may even need a lifesaving blood transfusion. Max did. Luckily, like Max, most victims of onion over-ingestion respond well to treatment and recover.
Relatives in the allium genus such as garlic and chives can cause the same problems as onions, but since they're used in small amounts, dogs and cats aren't likely to ingest a toxic quantity.
Onion toxicosis is characterized by signs associated with anemia and low oxygen, such as lethargy, weakness, red urine, decreased stamina and pale or bluish gums, especially with exercise. Although they are not a common cause of these signs, consider onion toxicosis if you see these signs and know that your pet has gotten into onions recently.
If by some freak occurrence, your dog or cat does engage in an onion feast, bring him to your veterinarian immediately. She may induce vomiting or administer a product to help decrease the absorption of the onions. If you take this trip in time, your onion eater may be spared many or all of the hazardous sequelae of onion ingestion, and you may be spared the much larger bill associated with intense hospital monitoring and a several-night stay.
Incidentally, a few other human foods -- chocolate, coffee beans, macadamia nuts and extremely fatty foods -- can cause serious problems when fed in relatively small amounts. And ingestion of large amounts of grapes or raisins has been associated with kidney failure. Toxicologists don't know whether the grape is the problem or a residue or a contaminant is to blame.
For more information visit the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at www.aspca.org. To consult with a veterinarian at the Center's emergency hot line for a $45 fee, call (888) 426-4435.
Written by Sophia Yin, DVM, a small-animal veterinarian in Davis
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