Dogs will eat anything that looks and smells good - especially if it's human food. That's why dog owners need to distinguish between safe and toxic dog treats. Though some fruits are safe for our beloved pets to eat, others can be deadly.
Can dogs eat grapes and raisins?
In short, no.
Grape and raisin ingestion poses serious risks to a dog’s health, including sudden kidney failure, renal failure and abdominal pain. These can all lead to permanent kidney damage, and if left untreated, can kill.
Though not much is known about the reasons behind grape and raisin toxicity in dogs, scientists do confirm that it is associated with the flesh of the fruit. In this sense, dried grapes are just as toxic to dogs as fresh ones - regardless of whether the fruit is peeled or seedless.
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 of any kind and, if you have grapes at home, always try to keep them out of reach. As few as four or five grapes are all that it takes to cause sudden kidney failure and end the life of an eight kilogram dog.
Feeding your dog human foods as dog treats is not completely prohibited, as some of them can be safely digested. These include bananas, carrots, and apples, to name a few. But grapes, in small or large amounts, should never be given to your pooch.
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:
- Anuria (complete cessation of urine)
- Foul breath
- Oliguria (passing only a small amount of urine)
- Oral ulcers
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.
What to do if your dog has eaten grapes?
If you suspect your dog has ingested grapes or raisins, you must not panic but you must act fast, and it is worthwhile to contact your veterinarian for advice in the meantime.
You can also call an animal poison helpline for advice. In the UK, Animal PoisonLine provides 24/7 support to owners who think their animal may have been poisoned, and can successfully help advise you and save you a trip to the vet's.
Inducing vomiting is often recommended in the case of poisoning, especially if your dog ate a grape within the last two hours.
Great care should be taken when trying to do this and under no circumstances should you:
- Physically stick 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 indeed 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 humanely euthanized.
Avoiding grape or raisin toxicity
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 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 our responsibility as dog owners, to make sure they don't accidentally poison themselves, 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 be apparent and you will need to act fast to save her life.