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Can dogs eat grapes?

Dog eating a grape advice
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Grapes are bad for dogs. A small amount of grape juice ingested by a dog can cause severe sickness. Learn how to spot the signs and what to do if your dog eats a grape. 

By Nick Whittle

The reason for grape (and raisin) toxicity of dogs is not fully understood. However, it is known to pose a serious risk to a dog’s health such as sudden kidney failure, renal failure and abdominal pain. Primarily, the chemical of grapes causes the sudden onset of kidney failure, which if untreated (or being of a particularly serious nature) can kill.

Can dogs eat grapes? 

Some nutritionists argue that grapes are not fatal to every dog and the seriousness of a dog’s toxicity after eating grapes relies on the age, gender and overall health of the dog. However, it must not be assumed, even if a dog is healthy in every other respect, that she is immune to the effects of the fruit.

If in doubt, do NOT feed your dog grapes and always try to keep grapes out of reach of dogs. As few as four or five grapes are all that it takes to end the life of an eight kilogram dog.

Learn why grapes are bad for dogs.
As few as four or five grapes are all that it takes to end the life of an eight kilogram dog.
© Shutterstock

Symptoms of grape toxicity of dogs

Within just 12 hours a dog that has eaten a grape or a raisin will suffer with vomiting and diarrhoea. Other symptoms within that time include:

  • Anorexia
  • Anuria (complete cessation of urine)
  • Dehydration
  • Foul breath
  • Lethargy
  • Oliguria (passing only a small amount of urine)
  • Oral ulcers
  • Polydipsia
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Weakness

If the illness goes untreated, undiagnosed or is too acute to warrant any remedial attention kidney failure will follow between 24 and 72 hours of eating the poison. Once the dog’s kidneys have ceased to work the vet will usually recommend euthanasia, if the animal hasn’t already died.

Your dog has eaten a grape. What should you do?

If you suspect your dog is suffering toxicity due to eating a grape you must not panic but you must act fast, and it is worthwhile to contact your veterinarian for advice in the meantime. If your dog ate a grape within the last two hours one of the first things you could try is to induce her to vomit.

Great care should be taken when trying to do this and under no circumstances should you:

  • Physically sticking your finger down the dog’s throat
  • Feed your dog mustard
  • Feed your dog salt

Vets recommend the use of hydrogen peroxide (a chemical formula you can pick up at most high street chemists). You should dispense some hydrogen peroxide into a syringe in order to deliver it straight to your dog’s mouth. If you don’t have a syringe, use a teaspoon (about 5 mls).

Generally speaking, aim to give your dog a dose that is appropriate for her size (approximately 1 – 2 mls per kilo of body weight). If your dog weighs 22 kilos administer 25 – 50 mls of hydrogen peroxide.

Do not induce vomiting if your dog is unconscious, struggling to breathe or distressed. You also need to be certain that what your dog is experiencing are signs of grape poisoning.

Whether or not your dog vomits you need to take her to the vet. Your vet may need to clear out your dog's stomach as well as treat other ailments caused by the toxin.

Veterinary treatment of grape toxicity of dogs

There is so much a vet needs to do with a dog that has been poisoned. Decontamination of the dog’s system is their primary concern, for the sooner the toxins can be flushed and the physical damage repaired the more likely the dog is to survive.

Emesis may again be induced followed by a dose of activated charcoal. Your dog may also be given drugs by intravenous drip to make her wee in an attempt to flush out the poisons and to encourage the kidneys to work. However, in extreme cases of grape and raisin poisoning the dog’s kidneys may have already ceased to function. In these cases, dialysis is considered.

If the dog’s kidneys have stopped working and dialysis is not a viable option your vet will recommend your having the dog put down.

The true prevention of such a sad outcome is of course to hide grapes from your dog or to keep them out of reach. Dogs will eat anything that can be eaten and will not care about the effect it has on their system. Unlike us they cannot reason that some things will hurt them more than others. Thus it is your responsibility as a dog owner, to make sure she doesn’t accidentally poison herself, and it should go without saying that you should under no circumstances feed your dog grapes.

If you suspect your dog has eaten a grape, contact your veterinarian, then monitor her health closely, and be aware of what symptoms may be exhibited as time ticks on. A deterioration of her health due to poisoning will soon become apparent and it is then that you should act to save her life.

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