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Know Your Onions

Everyday foods can harm your dog!

Joyce Dobson wrote to a popular dog magazine to find out if the rumour that she had heard about onions had any truth in it. She was very surprised by their reply. Here's what she found out.

I had originally read somewhere in a small item that intimated that onions were very bad for dogs. Previously I had always included onions in one form or another in all my dogs' diets. Our eldest was extremely fond of fried onions, whilst all the others would eat them any way they came.

The reply to my question provided me with much food for thought. Asking around, I found that many of my dog owning friends were ignorant, too, of the very serious damage that onions can do to your dog's health.

Here is what the magazine wrote back -
'I am afraid that your information is absolutely correct. Onions (Allium Cepa) are the most common cause in the dog of a particular type of red blood destruction (Haemolysis) that can result in anaemia and collapse. This poisonous effect in dogs (and cats) has been recognised for over 50 years and appears to be equally great, whether the onion is raw, cooked - even in onion soup - or dehydrated.

A small amount of onion as a flavouring is not likely to cause any problems, but some dogs become addicted to the taste. Following consumption of a significant amount of onion, there occurs, within 24 hours, a change in the red pigment (Haemoglobin) in the red blood cells which are responsible for carrying oxygen. Some of the pigment collects into tiny round or oval structures named Heinz bodies at the surface of the red blood cells. Their presence reduces the flexibility of the cell membrane and affected red blood cells may rupture and/or be removed by the white blood cells.

The loss of a large number of red blood cells in this manner can result in anaemia four or five days after eating the onions. Also some blood pigment, liberated from the damaged cells, may appear in the urine, giving it a pink colour. Because of the lengthy time interval before these clinical signs appear, they may not be correlated with the previous ingestion of onions. The condition is reversible and recovery will occur, provided the anaemia is not too severe, and this presupposes that the consumption of appreciable amounts of onion does not continue.'

Now onions and our dogs are kept as far apart as possible, with the exception of the odd little bit of left-over stew.

Thank you to Joyce Widlake of Epping Green AC for send this article to Agilitynet. She makes sure that every new club member gets a copy of it when joining.

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