Although we may love them and be tempted to share our grapes with a tail-wagging, fruit-loving canine, dogs, in particular, should under no circumstances be given grapes to eat. Grapes are known to be highly toxic to man’s best friend and they can do damage to your favorite feline.
They can be, and the dog breed, age, or sex will have no bearing on the outcome. Take heed! The same premise is valid for raisins. A raisin is merely a dried grape, so no raisins either.
While most known cases deal with dogs, there have been cases reported of toxicity from grapes and raisins in felines. These tend to be uncommon because cats don’t seem to eat grapes or raisins very often. Felines are notoriously finicky when it comes to eating and they are more untrusting when it comes to food items that they don’t know. This may be the principal reason why grape toxicity is primarily known as a canine problem and why there is little data available on cat grape toxicity.
It’s safest to assume that all grapes and raisins are toxic to pets. This would include:
*Wine, grape juices, and grape jams and jellies do not appear to cause toxicity but can be avoided all the same.
There is no amount of grape that has yet to be proven safe. A single, lone grape can be fatal if ingested because it can lead to sudden kidney failure. Of course, this may vary from dog to dog, as individual sensitivities are different. One dog may tolerate a small dose while another dog may react to poisoning after only a single or after a few grapes. In any case, reactions will be unpredictable.
Research has not yet identified the substance in a grape that is so toxic. Some theories revolve around what the toxic component might be. Some hypothesize that a mycotoxin produced by mold, or a fungus may be to blame, while others wonder if the aspirin-like salicylate may be a naturally found component in grapes that by some means reduces the flow of blood to the kidneys.
Pet Food Sherpa told us that dogs could also be sensitive to tartaric acid which is found in grapes. Other theories include the presence of pesticides on the grape’s outer skin. The bottom line is to keep your pooch and kitty away from the fruit bowl if you have any grapes in it and in any case keep this fruit out of reach.
There are signs to be on the lookout for if you think your pooch or feline may have ingested a grape or raisin:
The most immediate sign may be vomiting if a grape or raisin has been ingested, and you will probably see this within the first 24 hours after ingestion. Other symptoms such as diarrhea, lethargy, and potential loss of appetite can manifest themselves within 12 to 24 hours. The most severe symptoms may appear after 48 hours when kidney damage may have already begun.
Kidney failure may manifest itself through a lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, and bad breath that smells like ammonia. As damage continues, the kidneys fail, and your pet can no longer produce urine. Blood pressure will increase, and the dog may slip into a coma due to the buildup of toxins in the bloodstream. At this point, the prognosis of recovery and survival is very poor.
If you know your dog or feline has eaten grapes or raisins, even if only one, call your veterinarian immediately. A vet may suggest inducing vomiting. If, however, your dog or cat is already having difficulty breathing, is unconscious, or is obviously in distress, avoid attempting to induce vomiting and rush him or her to the nearest veterinarian or pet emergency clinic.
It is not advisable to try to induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide that you may have in your medicine cabinet. This can cause ulcers or burns inside the mouth. Also, do not try to induce vomiting if you don’t know what your pet has ingested.
Your veterinarian will most likely try to decontaminate your pet especially if you caught the grape ingestion early on. The grapes and raisins need to be removed from your pet’s stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Your vet may do this by inducing vomiting with the pharmaceutical apomorphine.
Then your veterinarian may choose to give your pet charcoal orally. This is done so that any substance still present in the GI tract will bind to the charcoal. Blood work will be done to evaluate the state of the kidneys.
Your pet may then be hospitalized for a few days to administer IV fluids to help flush out the system through urine production in an attempt to safeguard kidneys. Bloodwork will be repeated during hospitalization to monitor kidney health.
Prevention is always the best medicine when it comes to grapes and raisins with pets. Remove any from a pet’s reach and do not give them to family pets as a treat. If you see your pet eat grapes and raisins or even suspect that they may have ingested them, call your veterinarian immediately or contact the closest veterinary emergency hospital or an Animal Poison Control Center. Do not waste any time. The sooner your beloved pet gets help, the better chance there is of his or her survival and full recovery.
Know a pet that is not feeling well? Sending a care package is a great way to let the pet (and the pet parent) know you're thinking of them.