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Can Pigs Eat Onions? (Red, Green or Spring)

Can Pigs Eat Onions? Can potbelly hogs or guinea pigs consume onions without issues?

Onions are vegetables that play an essential role in our daily meals due to their richness in antioxidants and vitamin C, so pig farmers are attempted to feed the pigs with it, but are onions safe for pigs to feed on.

The American Society of the prevention of cruelty to animals (ASPCA) states that onions are toxic to animals, and therefore no animal should be fed with onions. But does this include pigs?

In this article, I will be showing everything you need to know about feeding pigs with onions and the safety of onions to pigs.

Can Pigs Eat Onions?

Yes, Pigs can eat onions, but they shouldn’t be allowed to do so as onions are toxic and not nutritional. It is safer not to allow them to feed on onions.

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Allow Your Pigs To Feed On Onions

1. Onions are toxic to pigs.

When I say onions are toxic, it simply means that onions can cause some health issues if eaten carelessly and in large quantities.

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To the pigs, onions are not of any nutritional value. To worsen the matter, some varieties of onion have “hemolytic anemia,” which can lead to severe complications like anemic conditions in the pigs.

Symptoms of Toxicity in Pigs

After a few hours of onion consumption, the pigs exhibit some signs. The common signs are bluish gums, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, and increased heart rate. 

Can Onion Toxicity Be Cured?

The severity of toxicity can determine whether the pig can be cured or not. If it’s mild, the toxicity can be cured by taking one or two doses of a vet’s prescribed medicines. The pigs will be placed on bed treatment and given a blood transfusion in severe cases.

You need to understand that a pig’s body is not designed to filter out the toxins from the consumed food; food gets stored instead in the fat storage system.

So, when they eat onion, the body cannot detect nor filter out the toxins. This is why toxicity is a significant issue for pigs.

2. Onion taints meat

Pigs that are raised for meat should never be fed with onions. Onions belong to the same family as garlic. As such, they are known for their strong flavor and smell. If a pig continuously feeds on onions, the pig’s meat becomes bitter and tasteless.

There is this famous story that a farmer lets his pigs graze around to harvest onion crops for one or two months just before slaughter. When the pigs were slaughtered, their meat was totally inedible, tasting bitter onions. 

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You should know that boiled and cooked onions are no exception. Cooking, boiling, or frying the onions won’t change it. If you must serve your pig onions, try mixing them with healthier options. This should be for pigs, not grown for meat.

You shouldn’t in any way, no matter the mixture, serves pigs grown solely for meat onions.

3. Onions can lead to anemia in pigs

Onions contain thiosulphate, and a buildup of it forms clumps in the pig’s body that results in rupturing of the red blood cells. When the red blood cells are ruptured, the pigs start starving of oxygen and thus leading to the formation of anemia.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Onions?

Guinea pigs may appear more potent than ordinary hogs, but onions can kill them. Onions contain disulfide, which makes them a poisonous pill to swallow. A small amount of onion feed to a guinea pig can lead to severe anemia, eventually death.

The only pig-friendly ingredient in onions is vitamin C. Onions are very rich in vitamin C. Due to the ample biosynthesis, pigs do not need vitamin C to function properly. If you must feed them with vitamin C, look for healthier options.

Safest Amount of Onions pigs should Consume?

A percentage of onions that is equal to 0.5% of the total pig’s body weight can lead to severe toxicity that may lead to death.

Also, consumption below this percentage is dangerous, but it is less severe, as any issues caused here can easily be cured.

Other things To Feed Your Pigs

Instead of feeding your pigs with onions, there are other options you can try out. They are; grapes, green peppers, blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, and pellets.

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These fruits and vegetables are healthier and safer for pigs. And one important thing is that the above mentioned are all rich in vitamin C.


According to research, despite onions containing calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, vitamin A, potassium, phosphorus in reasonable quantities,  onions are still not advisable to be fed to pigs.

This is not to say that onions are bad, but they are only toxic for pigs. A small number of onions result in severe life-threatening diseases like anemia and bitter meat. Unlike raw meats, cooking, steaming, or boiling does not remove the toxicity away.

If it is possible, avoid feeding them onions at all. Go for healthier options.

Mark Lockett

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