Can Cockatiels Eat Onions? (Read Before You Feed!)

No, cockatiels should not eat anything that has onions in it. But why? And what precautions should you take to keep your bird safe? Let’s find out.

There are some foods that your bird can eat and others that are harmful for your bird to consume.

Things like seeds, pellets, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit,  

Foods such as avocado, chocolate, caffeine, and onions can be toxic for cockatiels.

Cockatiels cannot consume onions or anything from the onion family, such as leeks, garlic, shallots, etc.

They cannot eat onion in any form, raw or cooked, nor can they consume foods containing or sprinkled with powdered onions.

Why are onions toxic to cockatiels? What to do if your bird accidentally consumes it? I will answer all these questions in the following article.

Can Cockatiels Eat Onions

Why Onion Is Toxic For Cockatiels

Onions are among the foods that are poisonous for your cockatiel and cause some serious damage to your pet.

As cockatiel owners, you should be aware of the potential damage that onion consumption can cause to your bird.

Eating onion in any form can lead to hemolytic anemia, stomach and mouth ulcers, and a disrupted digestive system. In some cases, it can also cause death in birds.

Hemolytic Anemia

The disulfides in onions can cause hemolytic anemia in cockatiels as they can rupture the red blood cells in your bird’s body.

This process happens so quickly that the body cannot replace the ruptured blood cells with new blood cells.

If your bird has consumed anything containing onion, you may notice symptoms such as lethargy, rapid heart rate, breathing, and weakness.

Your bird may collapse, and it can even lead to death.

These symptoms become apparent around a week after consumption, at which point it will probably be too late.

So it’s better you prevent feeding onions to your pet bird.

All forms of onions are toxic for cockatiels


Onions are also rich in sulfur compounds which become disulfides and cause two-fold damage if consumed.

First, it can irritate the mouth and food pipe of your pet.

Secondly, it can disrupt your bird’s digestive system leading to vomiting, diarrhea, and a reduced or loss of appetite.


Onions are also known to be highly acidic. The acidity can cause mouth and stomach ulcers if your cockatiel eats onion.

They may also experience acid reflux or heartburn if they consume a lot of onion.

If your feathered friend has a stomach ulcer, you’ll notice symptoms like lethargy, weight loss, blood vomits, and blood in urine and stool droppings.

How Much Onion Is Toxic For a Cockatiel?

Any amount of onion or onion in any form can be toxic and even fatal for your cockatiel. Onions are a part of the list of harmful foods to your cockatiel.

Onions can cause rupturing of red blood cells, mouth and stomach ulcers, and disrupt digestion in your cockatiel.

It can also lead to death. You often don’t notice the symptoms of onion poisoning early enough to combat it in your bird.

Hence the best thing to do is be cautious and avoid feeding it to your bird, even accidentally.

Is There Any Form of Onion That is Safe For Cockatiels?

Onions come in many forms and types, and you might wonder if any of these can be consumed by your pet cockatiel. The answer is no.

Onions, raw or cooked, can be quite toxic to your bird. Onions contain thiosulfate, which, when ingested by your bird, will interfere with calcium absorption in its body.

This can then lead to the fusing of spinal bones and cause paralysis and extreme pain.

Thiosulfate can also cause liver damage, seizures, and subsequent death.

Similarly, powdered onion, onion broth, or other forms such as green onions and spring onions are also hazardous for your cockatiel because of the presence of sulfur compounds.

What To Do If Your Cockatiel Eats Onions?

If your cockatiel has consumed only a small quantity of onion, it might only lead to digestive disruption or an upset stomach on a small scale. But it’s still better to get it checked by a vet.

However, if your bird has consumed a big piece of onion or anything with onion in a large quantity, take it to the vet immediately.

The vet will be able to get rid of the onion toxins from your bird’s body before they’re absorbed and cause any damage.

The vet may opt for a crop wash or lavage to flush out the toxins, or he might make your bird regurgitate to rid its body of onion.

Is It Safe To Cook Onions Around Cockatiels

While you cannot feed your cockatiel onions in any form, you can cook onions around them. But ensure that you do so in a well-ventilated area.

When onions are cooked, the gas they release gets dispersed in the air and is therefore not toxic to the birds.

But be careful regardless because birds have a sensitive respiratory system, and many strong odors can cause discomfort.

Cockatiels should not be given green onions either

But the main concern with cooking isn’t about what you are cooking but what you are cooking in.

The coating on non-stick pans often releases fumes that can be dangerous and even fatal for your bird. So if you have a pet cockatiel, it is best not to cook it in non-stick pans around it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What foods are toxic to cockatiels?

Foods such as avocado, chocolate, onions, or anything from the onion family, such as garlic, shallots, etc., can be toxic to cockatiels.
Caffeine, apple seeds, fruit pits, and foods high in salt, fat, and sugar can be toxic to the bird as well.

Can cockatiels eat spring onions?

No, cockatiels cannot eat spring onions. They are a type of green onion and have a milder flavor, but they are still a part of the onion family.
Hence they will contain disulfides and sulfur compounds, which are harmful to cockatiels.

What do cockatiels get sick from?

Foods that are toxic for your bird can make them sick. Onions, for example, contain compounds that are quite harmful and even fatal for cockatiels.
They can cause ruptured red blood cells, stomach ulcers, mouth ulcers, and a disrupted digestive system.
Salty foods can cause kidney failure, loss of fluid balance, and death. Caffeine and chocolate have theobromine, which is poisonous to cockatiels. 
Avocados and excessively fatty foods are also equally precarious and should never be given to them.

What are smells toxic to cockatiels?

Birds tend to have a delicate respiratory system; hence, a lot of fumes and smells can be toxic.
This list includes tobacco and smoke to perfumes, air fresheners, hairsprays, and acetone.
Birds can also have trouble breathing because of the smell of paint, permanent marker, or even strong glue.

Wrap Up

Onions in any form, raw or cooked, can be toxic for cockatiels and lead to severe health issues and even death.

Onions contain sulfur compounds that can cause red blood cells to rupture and cause digestive issues.

The acidity of the vegetable can trigger mouth and stomach ulcers. Onion consumption can make your cockatiel very sick and might even lead to death.

Hence, it is best to avoid feeding onion to it in any form or quantity.

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Team Beauty of Birds's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

You can meet our team here.
Team Beauty of Birds is separate from the “Parrot Parent University” parrot training course and its instructors.

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