Dogs will eat just about anything you give them especially if it’s something you’re eating too. It’s tempting to offer them little tidbits. That’s rarely a good idea, and it’s a very bad idea if the food is grapes. Grapes and all products that are made from grapes are toxic to dogs. Raisins, currants, and sultanas are dried grapes. Products like grape juice or trail mix with raisins can lead to grape poisoning in your dog. Unfortunately, even organic, pesticide-free, and homegrown grapes are also toxic.
Science doesn’t yet know precisely what makes grapes so deadly to dogs. Research has shown that the toxic agent is apparently in the grape itself. That means that seedless or peeled grapes are not safe. Grape poisoning affects different dogs differently. One grape can be deadly for some dogs, and other dogs can eat a dozen with no ill effects. The size, breed, age, or health of the dog are not factors in which dogs are affected or the seriousness of the symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Grape Poisoning?
Your dog may vomit or experience diarrhea, which can make it lethargic and dehydrated. If you know for sure your dog consumed grapes, and it doesn’t vomit, you can try to induce vomiting. Call CVETS first for advice on how to do that safely. Take your dog in for emergency care immediately, if it is:
• In shock
• Unable to breathe easily
If you have observed pieces of grape in your dog’s vomit or feces, or if you saw it eat grapes, tell our vet. He or she will know immediately what to do.
Other symptoms of grape poisoning include:
• Exceptionally bad breath
• Increased thirst
• Increased amount of urine, or no urine
• Pain if you touch the abdomen
• Refusing to eat or drink
• Seizures or tremors
Veterinarian attention is needed as quickly as possible for these and any unusual or abnormal behavior.
Is Grape Poisoning Really an Emergency?
My dog has had unpleasant consequences in the past from something it ate. After whatever was eaten had passed through its system, my dog was just fine. Why can’t I wait and see what happens this time?
It’s always possible that grapes aren’t poisonous to your dog. But if they are, the sooner you get your dog to CVETS, the better chance it has of surviving without kidney damage. Untreated grape poisoning can lead to sudden kidney failure often within 72 hours. It may be too late by then for it to fully recover. So yes, if your dog has eaten grapes, it’s an emergency situation.
What Can CVETS Do for Grape Poisoning?
As soon as you bring your dog in, we start procedures to remove any toxin that might remain in its system. Each dog is different, and our choice of treatment will fit the condition of the dog. If you aren’t sure of what your dog ate, we’ll probably start with tests. If you are sure your dog ate grapes, we might induce vomiting. Depending on how soon you bring your dog in, the toxin might still be in its stomach, and we might try to flush it out. Feeding your dog activated charcoal to absorb the contents of its stomach is another option.
We may administer certain medications that keep the kidneys functioning if they start to fail. If testing shows that the toxins involved in grape poisoning are in your dog’s bloodstream, we may begin IV therapy. We will be continually monitoring kidney function.
If the kidneys are no longer able to produce urine, your dog is in critical condition. Dialysis provides life support if there’s a chance the kidneys will recover. Euthanasia, is the choice no one wants, but it may be the only practical alternative left when kidneys fail.
CVETS is Columbia, SC’s state-of-the-art regional center for pet emergencies. Bring your distressed pet to us; your pet’s life may depend on it.