Most of us cook with these flavorful goods, but what’s good for us isn’t always good for our pets. Onions, garlic, and chives are part of the Allium genus of plants, which also includes leeks, shallots, and scallions. All of these foods (and their derivatives) can be poisonous to  pets. These foods contain a toxin that can damage red blood cells. When red blood cells become hemolyzed or broken, the result (hemolytic anemia) can lead to a critical deprivation of oxygen delivery to tissues in the body.

Allium toxicosis can be occur when an animal consumes more than 0.5% of their body weight of these foodstuffs. Let’s assume you have a 40 lb dog - consuming a little over 3 ounces of onion or garlic can be harmful. Even if they don't eat this quantity all at one time, and consume it over the course of a few days - problems can be seen! Ingested in smaller amounts, these foods can still lead to red blood cell damage.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms don’t usually occur right away but are often noticed a few days post-consumption. Signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and dehydration.

Treatment is mainly through supportive therapy, with dogs often requiring hospitalization. If the anemia is severe or life-threatening, aggressive treatment may be required - including a blood transfusion. If your pet is known or suspected to have eaten any of these foods, contact your veterinarian or a veterinary emergency hospital or find one now.