Onions—the staple of so many different dinners.
They are one of the most diverse vegetables that we use, and we use them in virtually everything.
With this in mind, it’s natural to wonder whether they’re any good to share with our feathered friends.
So, can conures eat onions?
Onions, unfortunately, are quite toxic to conures and parrots generally. Onions contain sulphur compounds, released on chewing, which can cause serious internal irritation, ulcers, and can even rupture red blood cells. In short, onions could kill your parrot even in small amounts.
So, the answer is simple—your conures absolutely cannot eat onions.
They are deadly toxic and will cause serious problems if they eat even a small amount.
Protecting your parrot against these potential issues is a big part of owning these inquisitive birds, so be sure you understand what you are getting into.
With that in mind, let’s find out more.
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Are onions good for conures?
No, they are not.
Raw vegetables are a really important part of your conure’s diet, of course, and there are things that onions share with these healthy vegetables which are good for your conure.
They are fibrous, for instance, and contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.
But this is not outweighed by the potential dangers, and there are countless other choices for where you can the same benefits onions have to your conures.
Vegetables like carrot, bell pepper, broccoli, lettuce, and cabbage—will all provide the benefit that onions might without the potential for harm that onions can cause.
Your conure does, of course, need a wide variety of vegetables in its diet—but onions are not one of them.
So, we’ve established that onions are not good and in fact very bad for your conures.
But why exactly is this?
Let’s find out.
Are onions bad for conures?
Yes, onions are very, very bad for conures.
Your main concern is the presence of sulfur compounds in onions.
Comparatively speaking, onions are incredibly high in sulfur compounds, for a few reasons.
One of these reasons is the fact that they are root vegetables, and there is a greater presence of sulfur in the ground.
But why exactly are these sulfur compounds dangerous?
Well, they are dangerous to varying degrees.
Let’s start by looking at the lower end of the risk factor.
If your conure eats a small amount of onion, at best, it is going to end up with an irritated esophagus and mouth.
This is due to the sulfur content in the onions.
It is very irritating to your conure, and may even lead to ulcers.
This is on the lower end of the risk.
In more extreme cases, if your conure eats a large quantity of onion, then the risks are even greater.
One common problem for conures is anemia, which can result from eating many different household foods, like garlic.
Onions, too, can cause anemia, through the sulfurs rupturing of red blood cells.
Anemia means your conure cannot get enough blood, and thus enough oxygen, to parts of its body.
It will thus become weak and may struggle to move around.
In the worst cases, this could lead to death as it is deprived of energy entirely.
So, this is no laughing matter.
Onion poses a very serious risk to conures, and because it is something that we often have around the house, the risk is a common one.
Are there any ways to prepare an onion that make it safe for conures?
Can conures eat raw onion?
No, conures cannot eat raw onion.
Raw onion is the most dangerous, with the highest concentration of sulfur compounds.
If your conure eats raw onion, then there are many risks such as we have already discussed.
Your conure could develop ulcers at best and become anemic at worst.
Though onions may seem somewhat harmless on the face of it, remember that they make your eyes water whenever you cut them.
This goes to show just how strong they are as a vegetable and the extent of irritation that they can cause.
Don’t let your conure eat raw onions—this is the most dangerous option.
So, are cooked onions any safer?
Can conures eat cooked onion?
Raw onions may be the most dangerous, but that doesn’t mean that cooked onions are much better.
While trace amounts of the sulfur content are lost in the cooking process, it’s never going to be enough to entirely eliminate the risk.
And, besides, as I’ve said, any benefit you might get out of onion, you can get from another vegetable without the risk of sulfur damaging their insides.
Cooked or raw, onions are not safe for your conure, and they need not eat it in any form.
Just don’t take that risk.
What about the skin?
Can conures eat onion skin?
No, conures cannot eat onion skin.
Though the risk of sulfur damage is reduced, there’s virtually no nutrition to speak of in onion skin.
They won’t get anything out of eating the skin, and they will probably just refuse to eat it in the first place.
The skin of an onion is uniquely tough and not at all like the skin of other fruits and vegetables.
And, again, the sulfur is still there, even if reduced in quantity.
So, the same risks still apply.
Don’t give your conures onion skin.
What will happen in the event that a conure does eat onion, then?
What happens if a conure eats onion?
It naturally depends on the quantity eaten.
If it is only a very small amount, the likelihood is nothing will happen.
Your conure will just carry on, and maybe suffer some minor irritation.
That said, I still don’t think you should ignore it whatever the amount is—but more on that shortly.
If a conure eats a large amount of onion, then there are a couple of possibilities.
Firstly, as I mentioned, is the possibility of internal ulcers.
These are most common in the stomach and can be extremely painful.
Treating them can often take a while, and they will cause severe discomfort for your conure.
In the worst case, your conure will become anemic and may die.
Anemia, as I touched on, occurs when not enough blood is getting to the extremities and the organs.
This leads to severe fatigue and weakness, meaning your conure will not be able to move easily by itself.
This, in severe enough cases, can cause death.
It may seem like a lot of fuss over just an onion, but they are more dangerous than you might realize.
So, under no circumstances should your conure eat onions.
Unfortunately, though, it happens—so what can we do if a conure accidentally gets into some onion?
What to do if your conure eats onion
Firstly, don’t panic.
Keep a level head so you can get to the action as quickly as possible.
That said, I would always suggest that your best bet is to call a vet as soon as possible.
Identifying and properly diagnosing issues in your parrot is going to be very hard without training, so don’t take that chance.
Get your parrot seen by a vet as soon as you can.
If there’s no vet available, then stay with your conure as long as you can, and make sure it is okay.
As I said, in most cases if it only eats a small amount, the consequences should be minor.
If it has eaten a lot, then your best bet is to get it some kind of small treat and, again, just stay with it.
Make sure it is okay.
It may seem as though you’re a bit helpless in this situation without a vet available, so the best protection against this situation is to make sure your conure has no chance of getting near onion.
It’s a great habit to keep your conures out of the kitchen, as there are many potential dangers there.
Where ever you keep your onions, make sure your conures cannot get near it, and you should have no problem.
Onions do have the potential to be very bad for your conure, then.
Even a small amount has the potential to be fatal, and so it’s vitally important that you keep any onions in the house far away from where they are.
If your conure does eat any onion, speak to a vet as soon as you can—it’s always better to be safe than sorry with these sorts of things.