How much onion or garlic is toxic to pets?

I belong to an online community of veterinarians that is populated with some of the top experts in various areas of veterinary medicine.  They frequently share their expertise and advice.  I found this topic extremely relevant to our daily practice.

Human health supplements are more popular now than ever.  This has trickled into the pet market, too, especially with foods.  We do have to be careful about assuming that human health supplements are safe and/or effective for pets.  In some cases, they can be outright toxic.  We need to be certain that what we’re giving is ok to give.

The mini-essay below is from a toxicologist who is boarded by both the human and veterinary specialties.  She discusses how and why garlic and onions are on the “No” list in almost every case.

Unfortunately we are unable to respond to specific cases. Please call your veterinarian for more information or questions.

Garlic is more potent than onion; it takes about 5 g of garlic per kg of body weight to cause hemolysis in dogs. Cats are much more sensitive as they have more fragile RBCs. That sounds like a lot of garlic, and it is if you’re talking fresh garlic; but powdered garlic or onion are much more potent and more likely to cause toxicosis than fresh. Onion and garlic powder can be present in a lot of foods, but usually in very small amounts. Exceptions would be things like onion-flavored soup or gravy mixes and some baby foods, which can have considerably higher levels of onion/garlic. Cooked onions/garlic are hazardous because they are more concentrated than fresh and usually are highly flavored with what they were cooked with (e.g. liver and onions), so the animal is motivated to eat more of them. I believe the estimation for cats was less than a teaspoon of cooked liver and onions has caused clinical illness in cats. When inducing Heinz bodies for research studies, generally cats are given onion powder at the level of 1-3% of dry matter intake.

Onions/garlic are metabolized in the GI tract to highly reactive oxidative metabolites. ALL ingested garlic/onion will case some degree of hemolysis in dogs and cats–it’s only when sufficient RBCs have been damaged to alter the overall oxygen carrying capacity of the blood and/or to cause hemoglobinuria that the toxicosis becomes clinically evident.

So, does the small amount of garlic that is generally present in pet foods or yesterday’s beef stew cause RBC injury? Yes, but the level of injury is so low that clinically significant illness would not be expected. Some baby foods contain significant amounts of garlic/onion powder and can cause clinically relevant RBC injury if fed chronically to cats. I definitely do not recommend giving garlic tablets to cats or dogs because IF they have garlic in them, they will induce chronic anemia. That being said, most of the garlic tablets on the market that are labeled as “odor free” have had most/all of the organosulfoxides removed in the ‘deodorizing’ process, so would be less toxic. From a toxicity standpoint, I would say that the currently available flea control products when applied per label to the appropriate species are far safer than using garlic (which doesn’t work anyway) to control fleas or ticks.


Sharon Gwaltney-Brant DVM, PhD
Diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Toxicology
Diplomate, American Board of Toxicology



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69 responses to “How much onion or garlic is toxic to pets?

  1. Chris

    If there can be RBC injury from even the small amounts of garlic that’s put in pet food, why is it in there at all? That sounds like spitting into the wind to me.

  2. That’s a good question that I don’t know the answer to. Making it taste better, perhaps; or a perceived health benefit that isn’t actually there.

  3. Pingback: Can dogs and cats eat those Mamee noodle snack? - Page 2 -

  4. I have used brewer’s yeast with garlic added to my cat’s food for years and they are great, and it DOES keep the fleas off. No more boric acid in the rugs and on the furniture. No more toxic expensive nicotine poisons. Win-win.

  5. I try not to argue with success, and if this routine controls fleas for you, that’s a win. I will respectfully disagree that it’s a win for your cat’s red blood cells, though. Some of them are damaged by the garlic. Perhaps not enough to impact your cat in a visible way, but damage is done, and his/her body has to cope with that.

    I’m very comfortable with the efficacy and safety of the products we recommend for dogs and cats. I’ve personally seen yeast and garlic fail repeatedly to control fleas on pets at our practice, so it’s not a treatment I reach for first.

  6. Is the amount of onion powder in pedigree dog food cumulative?
    and what sort of problems would be noticed.

  7. The amount that might be found in pet food isn’t likely to cause a dog to have signs that we can actually see. Some red blood cells are damaged no matter what. It’s just that dogs and cats have a lot of red blood cells in reserve to replace them. The “toxin” doesn’t stay in the body forever, so we don’t see a cumulative effect.

    Signs of anemia include breathing problems, weakness, fainting, lethargy.

    Hopefully that answered your questions. If not, let me know and I’ll try again. Thanks for commenting on the blog!

  8. Amanda Nolan

    So I just found this out and I gave my dogs some pices of chicken seasoned with a little ms dash original salt free seasoning a few days in a row and I often give some spaghetti with sauce just a little of my plate. both have garlic in them. they’re Chihuahuas are they going to be okay

  9. There probably isn’t enough garlic in those foods to cause problems for your dogs. Yes, there is always some damage to red cells, but I doubt you’ll see any illness.

    Steer clear of these foods in the future. 🙂

    Check the ASPCA web page for more info on toxic foods.

  10. kay

    My cat got on the bench and ate some meat loaf that had onion in it. I am not sure how much she had do you think she will be OK? Also she is nursing three kitten’s would the onion be passed on to the kitten’s through her milk? Thanks for your time. Kind regards Kay

  11. It totally depends on how much onion, how much she ate, and what her weight is. It’s probably going to be fine, but watch for any difficulty breathing, lethargy, vomiting, or other ‘sick’ sorts of behavior. If anything changes or she seems ill in any way, contact your local vet and have her examined right away. Dogs and cats have some blood cells in reserve, so if it wasn’t a heavy exposure, you may not even see a problem. Just watch for those signs and have her treated if they occur.

    You can also contact Animal Poison Control via the ASPCA. There’s a charge (about $85), but they will work with you and your vet to resolve the case.

  12. My kitten just jumped onto my counter and ate a small piece of a raw onion I was cutting….pretty sure it was a small piece but she ate it! Should I be worried?

  13. I recommend calling your veterinarian or animal poison control. It’s probably not enough onion to cause noticeable harm, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry with very young animals. As with most toxins, the amount ingested and the body weight have a huge influence on what sort of problems you might see. Watch for her being lethargic, vomiting, difficulty breathing, etc. Of course take her in to a vet if those occur.

  14. Okay thanks! She seems fine right now, but I’ll be going to the Vet tomorrow. Unfortunately, I live in China and not only are there no animal rights here, the Vets are not very competent (including the difficult language barrier) but I will do what I can!

  15. There’s definitely a different view on animal welfare in some countries. Just watch her overnight for those signs. You’ll want them to check her red blood cell count. It’s called a Packed Cell Volume (PCV) or Hematocrit (HCT). It may be done as part of a Complete Blood Count (CBC).

    She’ll probably be fine, but good luck either way!

  16. Interesting article. I feed a commercially available raw diet to my cat and my dog. It contains a 0.001% of fresh garlic according to the ingredient list, I’m assuming to enhance flavor and smell… Should I be worried about even such a low amount?

  17. I don’t think you need to worry about such a small amount. They have plenty of red blood cells in reserve to cover for the few that might be damaged by the garlic.

  18. angela

    I have my cat some baby food with onion powder in it I had no clue that it was toxic that was what the vet told me to buy he only had I’d say about three teaspoons of it one time he was sick so they told me to buy turkey baby food so I did I called them back they didn’t seem concerned said he may just get a belly ache I just got him better I was just wondering with what I gave him is it gonna be toxic to him?

  19. It shouldn’t cause your cat enough trouble to be noticeable. The only exception to that might be if he is very anemic (low red blood cell count). Even then, I don’t think there is enough onion in the little bit of food he ate to cause him trouble. If you can avoid baby food with onion or garlic, it is definitely an often-used food to tempt cats that aren’t eating well. There should be some varieties out there that are onion-free.

    I couldn’t quite tell if this was something that happened quite a while back or not. If it was more than a few days ago, and you’re not seeing any problems, you won’t see any. He’ll be fine.

  20. stella Lello

    Hi my question is can cross contamination of onions or garlic hurt a dog like my 4yr old nephew squeezed half an onion that I peeled before I could clean his hands he ran and grabbed the dogs toy and put it in the dogs mouth would the juices from the onion hurt the dog or do you actually have to ingest the onion or garlic it self sorry for the long post thanks.

  21. I believe that’s too small of an exposure to cause any trouble for a dog. They do have to ingest the onion/garlic, though I’m sure the juice also has some amount of the toxin in it. In this case, nothing to worry about. 🙂

  22. Anthony

    Dog ate piece of hand burger meat seasoned with onion powder and garlic salt and has pieces of onion in it 😳😳😳 50 pound dog half a piece of a hand size burger patty

  23. This amount in a single episode probably won’t bother a dog that big. Watch for the signs of trouble: increased breathing rate, weakness/lethargy, brownish color to the gums.

  24. Melissa

    My cat just drank water from a bowl in the sink that had a spatula in it that i used to make burgers with last night. We had used some seasoning on the burgers and the spatula was slathered in the juice and leftover seasoning. Cat is 13lbs. I have no idea how much he drank. Couldn’t have been too much though.

  25. It was kind of a lot of seasoning

  26. Elizabeth

    I opened a pouch of tuna salad and when i ripped it open a little piece fell on my counter and my cat ate it. I then realized that the tuna salad contains pieces of onion. Now i don’t know if the piece my cat ate was tuna or onion. It was smaller than the tip of my pinky. If it were onion she had ate that wouldn’t be enough to worry about, right???

  27. That small of an amount shouldn’t pose a danger.

  28. Ann

    Thank you so much for your helpful posts. While eating a bowl of Progresso chicken soup, I managed to tip the bowl and a small amount spilled on the floor (less than a tablespoon) and my lightening speed 4 month old puppy got a lick of it before I could stop her. The ingredients on the back of the can lists onion powder as the sixth ingredient. My concern is that onion powder can be stronger in its condensed form. She weighs about 22 pounds. Thank you once again.

  29. Elizabeth

    Thank you!

  30. Maree

    Is there a way to counteract garlic ingestion?

    I bought some chicken from a cafe as a treat for my two cats. It wasn’t until they had both eaten some that I discovered it had been cooked with a small slice of garlic.

    My little 3yo (3.3kg) cat only ate two pieces, each about the size of a 5c piece. My big 17 month (5.8kg) old pig of a boy cat ate six good-sized chunks, like those you’d find in a salad.

    They are both currently begging for more chicken… Clearly, they like the taste. I’m just concerned about toxicity.

  31. Lisa

    I have a 3.1 lb chihuahua that recently had cataract surgery. She didn’t have much of an appetite so the vet said to try chicken broth over her food and/or baby food. We found a baby food she loved and she ate a jar over the course of two days. Yesterday, I happened to read the ingredient list and the last ingredient is garlic and onion powders. Also, the chicken broth we poured over her food about one week ago had onion powder and garlic powder in it. I can’t win. I am so worried about her and I’m scared that she may be anemic. She was already weak from the surgery and now she may be weaker. Her heart rate does seem kind of fast at times, usually when she gets her eye drops (so it may be from stress). She is not throwing up. Her poo is a very dark brown color – almost black. I have a call in to our normal vet but he is out until tomorrow morning.
    I am just very worried because she weighs so little. Why do vets tell you to feed baby food and chicken broth but they forget to warn about the dangers of the food having onion and garlic powders in them!
    Thank you for any help you can offer!

  32. There’s no specific antidote to garlic or onion toxicity. Supportive care and blood transfusions if the anemia gets severe enough are the mainstay of treatment. Monitor for difficulty breathing, lethargy, or illness of any kind. Seek care at the vet’s office if you observe any symptoms. The amount of fresh garlic in that chicken isn’t likely to be a problem, but I’d certainly advise against feeding human food to the cats. 🙂

  33. Alissa Wehner

    I have a 56 lbs basset hound that got into a McDonald’s food bag. It had nuggets, strawberry pie, and what most concerns me-a grilled onion cheddar burger. Did I just seriously hurt my dog? I’m panicking a bit and there are no vets open in my area at this time.

  34. It’s hard to say whether a given amount of food will be a problem for a dog or not. We don’t know how much onion and garlic are in them — the company would have to be willing to tell you if you contact them. Most of the time, there’s not going to be a problem with a small exposure like a bit of food over a day or two. Dogs are more tolerant of the bad effects of exposure, and all animals have some red blood cells in reserve. If your chihuahua is not feeling well, I’d strongly recommend going in for that appointment. It could be due to the eye surgery or from the onion/garlic (or something completely different than either of those).

    I believe that the reason many vets don’t mention the onion and garlic is because they feel it’s not enough to cause any harm to the pets. Generally, I agree with that thought. However, it’s not hard to avoid onion and garlic, so it’s worth telling people to do so in my opinion.

  35. Without knowing how much onion, it’s difficult to say. A big dog like your basset probably won’t run into major trouble with the amount of onion on a burger, but you should still watch for any signs of illness. I’d be more concerned about pancreatitis due to the fat content of a meal like that. If he seems sick for any reason, get in to a vet for an exam and bloodwork!

  36. Kate

    I was eating pretzel crisps, which had dehydrated onion and dehydrated garlic in the first 5 ingredients, and I got crumbs everywhere. I think my cats may have licked some off their paws. Can this amount of onion and garlic harm them?

  37. Oh no why didn’t I read this earlier?? I made chicken liver broth for my 2 month old kitten and I seasoned the entire pot with 3 cloves of garlic. I got about 4 cups of broth and liver and served my kitty about a cup of the broth over a period of 2 days. Will my kitty be OK 😦 I’m such a horrible pet owner 😥 😥

  38. You will need to watch carefully for any signs of illness. If they occur, take your cat to the vet’s office to have bloodwork done right away. Lethargy, difficulty breathing or fast breathing rate, not eating, etc. are all signs to watch for.

  39. stella

    Hi I asked a similar question once but this is more in detail so here I go again. I read an article about a small amount of onions or garlic if ingested to cause destruction of red blood cells which would cause a dog to become light headed, my question is that I cook with a lot of vegetable that include onions and garlic so I worry about little exposures like I use the same knife that I used on the onions and garlic to cut my dogs vegetables and food, or grilling her a piece of chicken on the barbecue where onions have been roasting if exposure like that were done everyday would that have an accumulative affect on my dog and cause her to get lightheaded, thanks so much.

  40. mall exposures like that would not be likely to cause a dog a problem. They really do have to ingest a visible amount of onion or garlic to damage enough red cells for it to be apparent to you visually. Still, it’s worth washing knives and cutting boards to remove traces of onion/garlic. I doubt that the small amount left on a grill would be an issue.

  41. K. O'Hara

    Hi there! Since it seems you’re still answering and none of the previous ones were quite the same as my case, I figured I’d ask. My kitten (about 8 mos. and 8-9 lbs. of gangly, fluffy trouble) took advantage when I left my plate unattended and drank about half to two-thirds of a container of the Pizza Hut garlic butter dipping sauce. I only noticed because it was full when I’d set it down. All the places I have tried to consult give values for cloves of garlic or just say that garlic powder is bad because of it’s concentration, but I’m really not sure how concentrated the dipping sauce would be… We just recently moved and I haven’t had a chance to ask around about vets in the area yet, so I can’t even bring him to a primary care provider (though I’ll Google for an emergency one if I see noticeable effects). But for peace of mind, do you think that this would be a harmful amount? The package says it’s about 1.5 ounces and if he drank about two-thirds that’s only 1 ounce, but it was really garlicky and garlic powder is the fifth ingredient.

    Entirely possible that I’m being an overly worried pet-parent, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

    Thank you!

  42. Lily

    my 9 pound cat has not been eating for a couple of days. So under vet recommendation, I got baby food from the store trying to tempt her. I had fed her a little less than a tablespoon of it via syringe dropper, before I noticed that the label said it had a little bit of onion powder in it. I stopped immediately and gave her water, should I still be worried?

  43. Unfortunately, unless you can get Pizza Hut to tell you how much garlic was in the sauce, there’s no way for us to know whether it’s enough to be toxic or not. You need to watch -very- carefully for problems. At 8-9#, this is less dangerous of an exposure than a small kitten of just a few pounds. At the least, getting him checked over and getting some baseline numbers on his red blood cell count would be a wise thing to do. You can also contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control hotline at (888) 426-4435. They charge $65, but they’ll work with your local vet to help resolve the case. Good luck and keep food out of reach! There’s more danger for cats and dogs than just the garlic when they eat human food.

  44. Under normal circumstances, that isn’t enough to cause a problem. (I can’t say for certain because I don’t know what’s causing her to not eat.)

  45. Chris

    Hello, over the course of a few days I gave my dog boiled organic chicken that I cooked in a pot of water with herbs and spices, including a spice mix that I had forgotten had garlic powder in it. I gave her the chicken, not any of the broth. On the third day or fourth day I noticed an hour after she had eaten the boiled chicken she had trouble breathing. It sounded like an asthma attack. It was very scary. I rubbed her nose until it stopped. Shortly thereafter, she seemed agitated, walking from one spot to the other and sitting here and there. She then lay on one side and licked her opposite side. Then she sat in another spot, yet again, and licked and bit her paws. I was very worried and gave her charcoal for dogs that my sister had given me. The vet was closed so I had to figure out what I could do to help. She seemed to be fine. I took her for a walk and she had a big loose cow patty poop with some mucus in it. A week later she started to be very sick. She was diagnosed with intravascular IMHA. I am now wondering if the chicken she ate the week before, cooked in a broth with garlic powder was the culprit? Could this have triggered Heinz Body Anemia which then caused the IMHA? Thank you!

  46. Chris,
    I’m sorry to hear that your dog got IMHA. That can be a pretty brutal disease, so I hope she is doing better! Although garlic and onion do cause an anemia, the mechanism is different from what happens in IMHA. I would be surprised if there was a direct link between the two, but anything is possible. It does sound like your dog had an allergic reaction to whatever was being fed (or whatever she was being exposed to), and that could have been a component of the IMHA happening. It’s hard to isolate a single reason for IMHA in a given patient. In the long run, the treatments for IMHA will more than cover anything we would do to treat onion/garlic toxicosis. Good luck with your pup!

  47. Chris

    Thank you so much for your reply, I greatly appreciate it.

    Sadly, my beautiful, sweet, loving dog passed away 11 days after this symptomatic (allergic?) reaction.

    The IMHA hit her hard and fast, and by the time we figured out what was going on, the illness was too far gone.

    I spent her last 16 hours in this world curled up next to her on the ICU floor, comforting her and loving her, as she was hooked up to IVs and machines trying to help her. I didn’t want her to be alone and scared. When she was moved, in order to conduct an ultrasound on her organs, she went into cardiac arrest. She was brought back to life, but then had another attack. I did not try to resuscitate her a second time, because it was clear she was already gone. Reluctantly, I let her go.

    I have been devastated over the loss. The guilt has been eating away at me, because I know that something I did caused this.

    The lab report did not show Heinz Bodies in her blood work – and the doctor echoed your expressed sentiment, that the small amount of garlic would not have caused this.

    So then, what did?

    Was it the organic whole milk (quantity was equivalent to 4-5 grams of dairy fat) she drank that afternoon? Could she have been allergic to milk? Or did the milk cause acute pancreatitis? Were her synptoms of a rapid panting asthma-like attack/gurgling sounds and sore abdomen/agitation indicating pain/licking her upper side, licking and biting her paws/a big yellow-brown cow patty poop with mucus and bile (?) signs of acute pancreatitis?

    Is that what triggered the IMHA?

    She was a miniature schnauzer-terrier mix, after all. And female. And middle aged. All of which place her in a susceptible demographic for both pancreatitis, and IMHA, I have just learnt. Why didn’t I know any of this before?!

    If it was pancreatitis how could the symptoms subside as quickly as they came? Why were there no other symptoms, and only one single bout of this reaction? Did her immune system kick into high gear and stopped the symptoms of continous pancreatitis – and then her immune system couldn’t shut itself off, which then brought on IMHA?

    Or did she have an allergic reaction to her kibble (I opened a new bag that evening of the same food she had been eating the last four months)? Maybe there was a mycotoxin, or a miscalculation in the trace mineral premix (the ingredients are from North America except the vitamin/mineral premix, which comes from China; I just learnt this from the manufacturer). If that was the case, wouldn’t she have continued to have symptoms on subsequent days, as she continued to eat the food?

    I noticed the day after this allergic reaction she tore open the garbage bag in the kitchen. What if there was something in there that she ate? What if she ate an old gum of mine (containing sorbitol and aspartame – no xylitol)?

    I threw in the garbage a mangled 10 mg zinc supplement in the garbage (was it in that week’s garbage bag, or the week before; I can’t remember). What if she found it and ate it? Can that little bit of extra zinc (I say extra because there is also zinc included in her kibble, and there is zinc naturally occuring in chicken, which she ate that day), cause this? Although the calcium in the milk she drank would have bound to the zinc preventing it from being fully assimilated.

    Or could the IMHA been triggered by an allergic reaction to flea saliva (after she died we found four fleas in the area she lounged in)? Could flea saliva do this?

    There was no sign of a bacterial infection in the blood work, which rules out some possible culprits.

    My son and I had an arguement the day our dog had her allergic reaction. I wanted him to spend more time with her – he is a teen now, and into his friends more. This clearly bothered our dog because she knew we were talking about her; she kept looking at me with a disappointed expression. Could this have stressed her and brought on/attributed to bringing on IMHA?

    But, I keep going back to the gurgling sounds in her belly, her itchy side, her agitation preventing her from being still, and the big gooey cow patty poop. I think these symptoms are quite telling. And yet, they came and went in one fell swoop 11 days before she succumbed to IMHA.

    It’s baffling to my mind. I can’t rest and have closure until I figure out what brought on this horrendous, indiscriminate, horrible illness that took the sweetest dog away from us at only seven years of age.

    I have so many questions – as I am sure anyone would when their beloved best friend dies suddenly and unexpectedly. I feel like I have failed our dog, and caused her a premature death.

    Any thoughts you may have on any of these symptoms, or anything else regarding this case would be immensely appreciated.

    Thank you so much!!!


  48. Michael

    “I’m very comfortable with the efficacy and safety of the products we recommend for dogs and cats. I’ve personally seen yeast and garlic fail repeatedly to control fleas on pets at our practice, so it’s not a treatment I reach for first.”
    That is a contradiction, Sharon, you first say you’re selling products to treat fleas, yet , incongruously, also tried alternative treatments at the clinic ? That defies logic. If your products are safe, truely effective, etc, why try alternatives ? Also, to state “that ( yeast and garlic ) are not the first things I would reach for first” is a far cry from laying a guilt trip on the poster for “damaging their pets rbc cells” , warning of death for garlic reated cats, etc. So in other words, you’re acknowledging the garlic ‘altmed’ treatment might work, and not send the kitty immediately to eternity ?. I understand that ‘altmed’ treatment might undercut your profits, but that’s no excuse to exaggerate health effects of garlic on cats.
    Those who believe overpriced commercial flea products are safer, versus garlic might want to research that claim further

  49. Michael, thanks for offering your perspective on the use of garlic for flea control. I can see where my wording was confusing. I’ll clarify my statements for you. Dr. Gwaltney-Brant does not work at our practice. She gave me permission to post her essay.

    We have not ever, nor will I ever, recommend or sell onion or garlic or yeast in our practice. However, when clients using these products come into the hospital, we almost always find fleas. I have never seen a pet on garlic/yeast that remains flea-free long term.

    Bluntly, garlic does harm red blood cells. Period. So, it’s not a guilt trip, it’s fact. People generally want to know what is safe or unsafe for their pets, and it’s my professional opinion that giving a substance that is harmful to pets and ineffective is not wise.

    I can provide studies showing the efficacy and safety of the products I recommend. Tellingly, studies showing the effectiveness of garlic are not to be found. There is bountiful evidence of the toxicity of garlic.

    Lastly, your insinuation that I would recommend something harmful and overpriced to my patients and clients is more than rude. I understand how you feel, though. I feel the same way when I see clients choosing the cheap route and endangering their pets just to save a little money.

  50. Rebecca

    I just came across this and I’m feeling so guilty. Shortly after thanksgiving I picked my dog up from the boarders. She was more subdued than usual and they mentioned this to me when i picked her up. I normally don’t ever feed her human food, but in an effort to get her to perk up and eat SOMETHING, I gave her a small portion of my left over slow cooked pork roast that had carrots and celery and onions, not knowing onions could be toxic to her. She got about 1- 1 1/2 cups total of the stuff and it was a very small onion used to cook the entire meal. I know she wasn’t acting herself prior to this, but she passed away a week later and after reading this I feel like I could have caused this. I took her to the vet twice that week. The first time was because she still wouldn’t touch her dog food (that and she just seemed depressed and not feeling good. Those were her only symptoms- she would only eat softer stuff and didn’t want to play like she normally would) she didn’t experience vomiting until the day she died and it was only stomach acid. She never got diarrhea. After eating soft food just fine over a two day period she lost control of her hind legs for a few minutes in the morning so I again took her to the vet. She was walking fine when we got there so not much was done. He thought she had gastritis since she spit up stomach acid/bile that day. She died that night. I rushed her to a vet ER a few hours after she saw her regular vet because she again lost use of her hind legs which rapidly progressed to full paralysis and she stopped breathing when I walked in the door of the vet ER with her. I know it doesn’t fully fit the picture of onion toxicity but is it possible that’s what made her so sick so quickly?

  51. Rebecca,

    I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your dog. I’m sure it has been a very difficult time for you. Unexpected deaths are always far harder than when we know the end is coming.

    I doubt that the small amount of onion that was in the food you gave her caused her death. Your description of what happened suggests that there was a far more serious problem. It’s difficult to say what was truly happening, but it sounds like she may have had a seizure or a stroke; possibly she was bleeding internally, or may have had a tumor somewhere. Her symptoms just don’t match well with onion/garlic toxicity.

  52. Carissa fields


    So from what I have read from others comments that my cat should be okay. But I still want to ask your opinion. I was eating snyders pretzels with mustard and onion powder on it… Not knowing onion powder is toxic to cats I let my cat lick my finger that had some of the mustard/onion powder on it. It was only a few licks and there wasn’t a ton on my finger. I stopped after a few licks and washed the rest off with my fingers but I was worried cause I had a weird feeling I should look up what’s toxic to cats and read that onion/onion powder is. This happened an hour ago she’s drank water since then and is acting normal so far but I will definitely keep an eye out if she acts any different. should I be worried at all? I know the onion powder was like 8th in the ingredience on the bag… 😦

  53. I doubt that this small amount of onion will cause any trouble for your cat. 🙂

  54. tracy

    I feed my dogs raw garlic every day and have for months. They are happy and healthy. They dont have flees either and i never use any flee stuff on my dog.
    We started with the raw garlic because they caught scabies and we tried everything including dog products to get rid of the scabies. We were able to keep them down but not get rid of them. When we started using the garlic their appetites picked back up. Their fur is completely back and they are so much healthier and they have more energy. Our dogs do not have scabies anymore.

    We give them a little bit of garliv every day.

  55. Tracy,

    I’m happy to hear that your dogs are doing well and I appreciate that you took time to respond to the blog. Thank you.

    The bottom line for me as a veterinarian, though, is that I am not comfortable recommending that pets be given something that I know is harmful. There may not be enough harm to be visible from the outside, but we know for certain that garlic damages blood cells. Your comment could encourage other owners to give a harmful substance to their pets, so I will not be able to publish it.

  56. Kimberly

    2 days ago my dog ate some of the Pot Roast from the plate that I had dropped on floor and it has Lipton Onion and sliced onion in it and she didn’t the sliced of onion and of course she gulp some roast with lipton onion. Then today She been quiet all day and did threw 2 small puke. Haven’t been feel like eating anything, I even encourage her drink water she just have few sips not much all day. She act ok to me but quite and laid around most of the time. Isn’t something I should be concern ?

  57. I doubt that the onion is enough to cause a problem.

    You should take your dog in to be examined by a veterinarian. The vet is likely to recommend blood testing, x-rays, and a blood test to check the pancreas.

    Sometimes eating human food will cause a very upset stomach, and can also cause inflammation in the pancreas (pancreatitis). Pancreatitis is a very serious problem.

    Please take your dog to your veterinarian as soon as possible!

  58. Tom

    Earlier today I think My cat drank chicken broth that was in a pan left over from a can of chicken soup there wasn’t a lot just a small amount in the bottom (maybe a half inch deep in a medium sized pan)
    I saw that one of the ingredients in the soup was onion powder, she threw up and was panting a bit but now she has calmed down and has been eating some food and drinking water. She seems better now but is still not acting quite like herself I am very worried and it’s too late at night to call or take her to a vet in my area. do you think that amount of the soup broth will cause anemia? Thank you for responding I am very worried

  59. I doubt that that little bit will cause a noticeable problem in terms of onion toxicity and blood cells. If she still isn’t feeling well it’s always best to have her looked over at the vet hospital. Foods that a cat isn’t used to can cause other problems with the GI tract that might be making her feel a little off. It’s good that she is willing to eat and drink. If there’s any vomiting or diarrhea absolutely take her in, and likewise if she hasn’t perked up to normal behavior within 12 hours.

  60. Sharlene

    I make a dog stew for our dogs and put some cabbage carrot and 1/2 a small red onion in it. It’s a stock pot full of stew. Would this cause my dog to be off colour? It is just mixed in with her biscuits

  61. I’ll be right to the point: don’t feed your dog things you know are toxic to dogs! Don’t put onion in the stew for your dogs. Don’t put garlic in the stew for your dogs. Onion and garlic damage red blood cells. Daily longterm ingestions of onions and garlic might be enough to overcome the body’s ability to replace the damaged red cells, and then you will begin to see anemia and the symptoms that go with it. Why would you take the chance??

  62. Lidia Sasso

    My cat with an URI consumed about 1/2 teaspoon of my babys stage 2 turkey &rice (gerber) dinner mixed with raw pumpkin. I noticed that onion powder is the last ingredient on the dinner. Im worried sick I know onions are toxic to cats. Will the quanity consumed hurt her?

  63. This is probably not enough to be a significant problem. Definitely contact your regular veterinarian, who can make a better estimate based on your cat’s weight, age, etc.

  64. Suzy Johnson

    What about chicken broth where ingredients state: chicken stock contains… less than 2% onion juice concentrate (2 cups in can)?

    Cat drank ~ 1/6 cup

  65. I have been considering using a yard spray mosquito repellent that is has garlic juice as its main ingredient. i live on a 1 acre lot and my dog eats the green foliage. The bottle states it safe for children and animals, but I’m still not sure. Should i be worried about using his product with my goat-dog eating what has been sprayed or would the amount be negligible?
    The Mosquitos are terrible and attack her unmercifully.
    Thanks for any input.

  66. John


    I have a 10 year old 60 pound female black Lab that ate an onion ring. But I didn’t know about onions and I always gave her a BBQ chip or two or three or four, not a lot.

    Being summer I bet I did this a half a dozen times and she had been finicky about eating and I chalked it up to being older and maybe summer heat even though she is an indoor dog. She likes to lay on the back porch and I let her. I had no clue about onions etc. Those chips are probably the cause of her yo-yo appetite.

    So I gave her an onion ring and she quit eating, still didn’t know and I only gave her one. Well, I got the bright idea to put beef broth on her food and she ate it up real good but was real sick. Only after I had exhausted all of the reasons dogs get sick did I search for dog poisoning and there it was, onions.

    You got it. The beef broth had concentrated onion juice in it! About 2-3 days later she went to go outside to go to the bathroom and collapsed on the way. It was after this I found out about the onions. She had all of the symptoms and I thought she was going to die. We gave her Pedialyte, water, and mashed potatoes near liquefied in milk every 1.5 to 2 hours. Once a day we added about 1/4 of a human one a day vitamin to it, we made sure not to over do it and not to use the wrong ones with Xylitol. We got smart too late for the onions though.

    About 4 days later she moved 4 feet to get in her favorite spot and I had to move her back on the pad because she can’t stand up to go to the bathroom. We’re giving her 24/7 care with very small feedings often etc. Today she stood up and did a couple of circles to get comfortable bu it’s hard on her.

    We have a real problem now that she can move off of the pad but we’re grateful she seems to be getting better and her urine looks normal now, not dark red etc. She is also urinating more often, I think she didn’t go at all for 30 hours or so after she collapsed but she did puke up a lot of bile looking stuff. She hasn’t puked since and no poop at all, nothing.

    My question is this. I think she had about 3-4 ounces of the broth and is she likely to improve or is there permanent damage that will cause her never to be normal again? Should we put her to sleep?

    I know you can’t give me a yes/no answer and recovery can take a month or more but when should we give up? Will she continue to improve in your opinion? The way she is no isn’t any kind of life for a dog and we can’t do this forever. I love that dog more than most people and feel terrible about it but I just didn’t know and the broth was the last straw I’m sure.

    I have told all of my friends and all of the people I know on FB because this is horrible and I would hate to see it happen to someone else’s pet. None of them knew about it either so I hope I saved some pets from this. Thank you.

  67. Animal poison control or your veterinarian can determine whether that is sufficient to cause a toxicity. Monitor for clinical signs as noted in the post and seek veterinary care.

  68. Don’t expose your dog to garlic. There’s no reason for it.

  69. I think you should have taken her to a vet days ago, when she first got sick. You’ve been lucky so far that she has recovered. The onions may have been a problem, yes. So could the greasy food (onion rings) by way of pancreatitis. Please take her to a veterinary office to have her examined and get some labwork done. Then you can make an informed decision about her future.