National Poison Prevention Week: Onions and Garlic

It’s National Poison Prevention Week, so I am writing special blog posts about common household toxins to your pets!

Many pet owners take great joy in home cooking for their pets or offering some of dinner leftovers as a late night snack. It is important to know that not all people foods are safe for dogs and cats to consume.

Like any good Italian family, we cook with a lot of garlic and onions in my house. I always need to be meticulous about cleaning up after cooking dinner because garlic and onions are toxic to pets, especially cats.


Onions, garlic, leeks, chives, shallots, and scallions belong to the Allium species of plants. This species is known for containing a chemical that has a very powerful aroma used for cooking and flavoring foods. When this chemical is consumed in dogs and cats, regardless of whether it is spoiled, cooked, or in powder form, it causes damage to red blood cells, and subsequent low red blood cell levels in the body which can be harmful to your pets.

Cats are especially susceptible to this intoxication because the hemoglobin in their red blood cells, which is responsible for transporting oxygen around the body, is extremely sensitive to stress caused by the chemicals in garlic and onions.

Animals that are suffering from toxicosis of the Allium species can have a fast heart rate, fast respiratory rate, and severe anemia, or low red blood cell concentration due to red blood cell destruction. In severe cases, hospitalization with fluids, oxygen supplementation, and blood transfusions can be necessary.

So, keep your pets safe! Lock them in another room or restrict access to cooking areas until surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned to prevent accidental intoxication with these chemicals.

With any toxic ingestion, it is always recommended to bring your pet to an animal hospital as soon as possible as a delay in treatment time can cost an animal their life.

Great care should be taken when keeping toxic substances in your home. Be sure to lock away toxic items to your pets just as if they were your children. Safety and prevention is our number one concern during National Poison Prevention Week!

If you have any questions that weren’t answered about this or any other toxin, please post it below.

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