The Dangers of Onion Powder

3 min read
Jan 21, 2022

Although our pets are family, we must use caution when feeding them from the family table. There are several ingredients that may be very healthy for us and can be toxic to our companion animals. Things like chocolate, raisins, medicines, and species of plants and flowers may be common sources of pet poisoning, but there are less known toxins that pet parents may be feeding their pets.

Whole foods, extracts, juices, and powders that are from the allium genus of the plant world are widely consumed in American homes and present a specific, and often deadly, danger to dogs and cats. They contain chemicals that can damage the red blood cells of our companion animals and cause them to burst leading to a condition called hemolytic anemia that can lead to death if not treated right away.

Plants belonging to the allium genus are:

  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Shallots

Of particular concern is that the powdered or juiced version of garlic and onion can be in several foods that you may not suspect as being a danger to your pet. Onion and garlic can be hidden in many processed foods including:

  • Seasoned meat
  • Flavored crackers
  • Flavored rice
  • Seasoned frozen vegetables
  • Pot pies
  • Sauces
  • Seasoned tomatoes
  • Canned Soups and chilis
  • Gravies

It is important to remember that powders are even more concentrated than the whole ingredients and thus it would be near impossible to determine a “safe amount” even if one does exist. In addition, cat's red blood cells are much more fragile, and a smaller amount can have a toxic effect.

The following are some of the symptoms of allium poisoning:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Red or brown urine
  • Pale gums
  • Rapid breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Jaundice
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Panting

It is always important to get your pet to the vet immediately if you believe they have ingested any poisonous or questionable ingredient. There can be a delay of several days after ingestion before clinical signs are displayed. Your vet can offer supportive treatments that increase the chance that your pet will recover including fluids, charcoal treatments, specific vitamin therapies, and blood transfusions.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.