Onion Powder Poisons Poll Pooch

MINNEAPOLIS, July 20, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — It’s summertime. It’s time to fire up the barbecue, toss in your favorite meats or veggies, and show off your cooking skills with your secret spice blend. It turns out that one of those popular summer seasonings, onion powder, can also be an extremely dangerous yet tempting treat for your pet.

“A Costco-sized container of onion powder was accidentally left on the kitchen counter,” explained Sharron Champagne of Hooksett, NH. Although her family’s two dogs, Tsuk and Scotty, were left alone with the onion powder, only Tsuk decided to take the plunge. According to Champagne, “Scotty is smarter than that.”

“Tsuk has been known to steal things off the counter,” Champagne said. “She is extremely focused on food and is always hungry. I swear she can hear a piece of lettuce falling on the other side of the house. Apparently, Tsuk pulled the container of onion powder off the counter and ripped it open. The container was about three-quarters full, and what she didn’t eat she left on her mat.

At first we weren’t too worried because she takes care of so many things and we didn’t know that ingesting onions was so dangerous for pets. After a few days she became lethargic, stopped eating, started drinking more water than usual, and her urine was dark in color. She also started vomiting. That’s when we realized something was seriously wrong.

The Champagne family called the toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline, who advised them to take Tsuk to the veterinary hospital after discussing the dog’s signs.

“The amount of onion powder potentially ingested by Tsuk posed a risk of red blood cell damage, anemia and gastrointestinal irritation,” said Dr. Renee Schmid, senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline. “Major clinical signs are often seen within three to five days of ingestion, so the timing of his clinical signs was consistent with onion exposure.”

Tsuk was taken to the VCA Capital Region Veterinary Emergency and Specialty, and their medical team followed up with the Pet Poison Helpline for treatment recommendations. Once a file has been opened by a pet owner or veterinary professional, all follow-up consultations are included. They were advised to take blood tests, which confirmed that Tsuk’s red blood cell count was extremely low and that Tsuk needed a life-saving blood transfusion. Severe anemia can be detrimental because oxygen transport to tissues and organs throughout the body is compromised, which can lead to serious and life-threatening damage. Blood transfusions in animals require intensive monitoring and care to ensure that dangerous reactions do not occur. They also placed her on an intravenous drip and provided her with additional supportive care, including monitoring her oxygen levels and administering antioxidants.

“After three days in the ER and thousands of dollars in vet bills to save his life, Tsuk is now doing great. We are so happy to have made the decision to treat her, added Champagne. “Unfortunately, she still hasn’t learned her lesson. A few weeks after collecting onion powder, I brought home some tulips and left them in the plastic wrapper on the counter. When I came back a few minutes later, she had torn them up. Apparently anything plastic should be released. We now have a very small bottle of onion powder, and when the garlic powder runs out, we reduce that bottle as well. Garlic powder has the same toxin and signs as onion powder but has a narrower margin of safety.

“Fortunately, the Champagne family was able to professionally treat Tsuk for his accidental poisoning, but many families are not financially prepared to handle a similar situation,” Dr. Schmid said. “Our recommendation to all pet lovers is to consider pet health insurance before something critical and costly happens. There have been incredible advances in veterinary medicine, but many these treatments come at an increased cost. We want pet owners to make the best medical decisions for their pets based on their veterinarian’s recommendations, not finances. That’s why we’re proud to partner with Nationwide, who has been protecting pets longer than any other pet health insurance provider in the U.S. In fact, all Nationwide pet insurance policies include 24/7 access to our veterinary professionals.

Creation of a pet poison helpline Toxin Tails to educate the veterinary community and pet lovers about the many types of poisoning dangers that pets face, both inside and outside the home. All animals highlighted in Toxin Tails were successfully treated for poisoning and fully recovered.

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