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ONION POISONING in dogs and cats

By: PRATAP KAFLE.


SAMEER THAKUR.
B.V.Sc & A.H IAAS (TU)

Abstract
Onion (Allium cepa) is one of the oldest cultures. It is rich in chemical compounds that are beneficial to human health, such as flavonoids and cysteine sulfoxides. Although onion has numerous beneficial properties for humans it also contains a large amount of toxic elements mainly thiosulphate which is toxic for several animal species like cats, dogs, cows and horses that damage their red blood cells. Its

toxic components reduce the activity of an essential enzyme in red blood cells (glucose-6-phosphate
dehydrogenase) thereby interfering directly with the regeneration of active glutathione required to prevent hemoglobin oxidative denaturation. The denatured hemoglobin is unable to bind oxygen and precipitates on the surface of red blood cells, leading to the formation of "Heinz bodies". This triggers the rupture of red blood cells and severe anemia. Onion poisoning is always found in animals that ingest at

one time, more than 0.5% of their body weight. The symptoms are usually related to gastroenteritis and
blood vascular system. The onion family contains a number of molecules therapeutic in humans, but toxic to pets so preventive measures should be implemented to prevent contamination of cats and dogs by the onion plant family. Key words: Allium cepa, thiosulphate, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, glutathione, heinz bodies
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Kingdom:
Order:

Plantae
Asparagales

Family: Genus:
Species:
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Amaryllidaceae Allium
cepa

Sub family: Allioideae

Onion is one of the oldest cultures in human society. It is rich in chemical compounds that are beneficial to human health, such as flavonoids and cysteine sulfoxides. They have anti-carcinogenic, anti-platelet aggregant, anti-thrombotic, anti-asthmatic, antidiabetic, hypocholesterolemic, fibrinolytic, and antibiotic properties for human.

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But onion also contains a large amount of toxic elements that shows toxic effects on cats and dogs.
Onion contains toxic substances called thiosulphates mainly( S-methylcysteine sulfoxide, n-propyl disulfide, methyl disulfide, allyl disulfide) which dogs and cats cannot properly digest, and damage their red blood cells.

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There are several products which we consume in our routine life and feed our dogs as well with a great affection such as chocolates, pizza, baby foods and gravy. Maximum number of our food-dishes are made of garlic and onion which we often share with our dog without considering its negative canine effect.
In order to arouse appetite in the dog for its foods, some people mix the onion powder in canine foods, which, though makes the dog eat foods profusely, it causes hazardous toxic effect of onion on the dog after a few days. There are many internet sources that recommend using onion and garlic as a flea repellent for pets, either by feeding it to them or applying it to their fur. Even external application is a bad idea. Animals will ingest the garlic when they groom themselves, putting them at risk for toxicosis.

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Allium toxic components reduce the activity of an essential enzyme in red blood cells ( glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase)

They interfere directly with the regeneration of active glutathione required to prevent hemoglobin denaturation

The denatured hemoglobin is unable to bind oxygen and precipitates on the surface of RBCs, leading to the formation of the Hinze bodies
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This triggers the rupture of red blood cells and leads to severe anaemia

In dogs affected, there is an increase of ten times the concentration of oxidized glutathione and toxic oxidative stress in red blood cells

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Consumption of as little as 5 gm of onion per kg body weight in cats or 15-30 gm per kg in dogs, gives rise to important clinical hematological changes. Onion poisoning is always found in animals that ingests at one time, more than 0.5% of their body weight.
A relatively high dose of 600-800gm, in one meal or staggered over several days, can damage blood cells and cause hemolytic anaemia.

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The first symptoms are usually related to gastroenteritis:


Vomiting Diarrhoea Abdominal pain Loss of appetite Depression and dehydration.

It will take several days for the dog to exhibit symptoms associated with red blood cells loss(After 5 days).

Pale mucous membranes Rapid breathing rate and rapid heart beat Breathing difficulty Lethargy, dark or reddish brown urine Jaundice, weakness.

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History, clinical signs.


Microscopic confirmation of a Heinz body-type hemolytic anemia. Necropsy and hematologic findings:

Hemolytic anemia. Gastrointestinal erosion or Allium species in the gut .

Histopathologic findings:

Deposition of hemosiderin in the phagocytic cells of the liver, spleen, and renal tubular epithelium.

Renal tubular necrosis.

Nephrotubular casts and hemoglobin casts in the renal tubules.

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General treatment:

The induction of vomiting may be continued. Gastric lavage is performed. Activated charcoal administered.
IV fluids are administered to maintain hydration. Blood transfusions is done if necessary.

Supportive treatment:

Specific treatment:

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Unavailable.

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Keep onions and other Allium species plants and foods containing them out of reach.
Read labels on food products and dietary supplements before feeding them to pets. In particular, many owners feed human baby food to kittens and elderly or ill cats to entice them to eat, but many baby foods contain onion, so checking labels is particularly important with such products. Dont feed pets table scraps that may contain Allium species ingredients. Such ingredients are often present in sauce mixes and other processed. Use safe, non-toxic flea control methods rather than garlic or other potentially dangerous home remedies.

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The onion family contains a number of molecules therapeutic in humans but toxic to pets.
Affections towards the pet and habit to feed the leftovers like pizza leftovers, gravy, chocolates, baby foods is the main cause of poisoning as this contains considerable amount of ingredients toxic to the pets. If large amounts of onion are ingested or onions are a daily part of your dog's diet, the red blood cells may become fragile and break apart. Severe anemias and even death can occur if the dog ingests lots of onions and receives no treatment. Preventive measures should be implemented to prevent contamination of cats and dogs by the onion plant family as no any specific treatment or antidote is available.

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American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (2010). Treats with Garlic and How Bad Is Garlic for Cats? ASPCA.org. Bowen, J. (2 December 2007). Garlic and Onions Can Create Problems for Some Pets. The Roanoke Times, Roanoke.com.
Cope, R.B., BVSc, PhD, ASPCA. (2005). "Allium Species Poisoning in Cats and Dogs" Veterinary Medicine, August 2005. Drs. Foster & Smith, Veterinary and Aquatic Services Department. (2009). The Use of Garlic and Onions in Dogs and Cats. PetEducation.com

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http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2&aid=2414. Accessed date; 02 Aug 2011 http://www.suite101.com/content/onions-garlic-toxic-to-cats-and-dogs-a196013 Accessed date; 02 Aug 2011

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Thank you!!

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