January 15, 2011 "Ask Seth"
My parrot loves grilled and roasted onions and seems to do fine with them. I have been told it's bad to feed onions to parrots. Why?
In one of Foster & Smith’s catalogs (a vendor with a discount through Pet Assure!), they mention food that should not be fed to a parrot. One of the items on their list was onions. My parrot loves grilled and roasted onions and doesn’t seem to have suffered any ill effects from eating them. Can you please share why onions should not be fed to a parrot?
Onions, both cooked and raw, can be toxic in excessive amounts. Onions contains N-Propyl Disulfide which is known to denature oxygen carrying hemoglobin on red blood cells. This destroys the red blood cells and can cause anemia, jaundice, and bloody urine in birds. Much of these finding on onions pertains to dogs too, yet we all know birds are very sensitive animals. It is suspected that onions may be unsafe in parrots so I recommend not feeding them at this time. More studies need to be completed to better understand the potential hazard of parrots eating onions. Remember the research done in dogs is in excessive amounts. Contact your veterinarian if you have any additional concerns.
Seth Mayersohn, CVT