Dogs love eating people food, and many people enjoy sharing tidbits of their holiday feast with dogs. While our canine companions can safely enjoy small “treats” of many fruits, vegetables and cooked lean meats, other human foods can cause serious illness or worse.
Many dog owners know chocolate, onions and garlic can harm a dog’s health. But grapes? Yes, grapes and raisins are among the fruits that shouldn’t be shared with dogs. Keep reading to learn why grapes and raisins are potentially dangerous, what the signs of possible grape poisoning are, what to do if your dog eats grapes or raisins, and how you can better spoil your pup with treats.
What veterinary toxicologists do and don’t know about grape toxicity
Grapes, raisins, sultanas and Zante currants (all members of the Vitis genus) — as well as the foods that contain them — can be toxic to dogs and potentially cats and ferrets. Dogs’ reactions to these fruits can vary tremendously. Some dogs may be fine if they eat grapes or raisins but, for others, even one or two grapes can be enough to cause acute (sudden) kidney injury and failure.
All grapes and raisins — seeded and seedless, organic and conventionally grown — have caused toxicity in dogs of all genders, breeds and ages. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know how these fruits will affect a specific dog and, in fact, veterinary toxicologists still don’t know what’s in grapes and raisins that poisons dogs. Whatever the toxin is, however, toxicologists believe it’s a water-soluble compound found in the flesh part of grapes. They also suspect individual sensitivity plays a role in determining which dogs become sick after eating grapes or raisins.
Because there are so many unknowns, veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center recommend never feeding these fruits — or any grape- or raisin-containing products such as juice, breads, cookies, bagels or trail mix — to your dog.
Symptoms of grape toxicity
A number of signs and symptoms are common to dogs experiencing grape-induced toxicity. According to veterinary toxicologists with ASPCA, vomiting is the most common sign, and nearly 100 percent of dogs will begin vomiting within the first 24 hours. They have found that dogs who experience vomiting on their own within 48 hours of grape or raisin consumption seem to be the dogs at greatest risk of kidney damage. Once vomiting begins, dogs may become depressed and dehydrated. As kidney injury progresses, blood and urine tests will detect changes in creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels and urine specific gravity.
While vomiting is an initial sign of grape or raisin toxicity, other initial signs can include diarrhea, lethargy (lack of energy) and increased thirst. Still other signs of grape and raisin toxicity are decreased or no appetite, abdominal pain, and decreased or no urine production.
What you should do if your dog eats grapes or raisins
If your dog has eaten grapes, raisins or any foods containing these fruits, treatment is absolutely critical to protecting your dog’s kidneys. As soon as you realize what has happened, call your veterinarian, who may recommend you induce vomiting as soon as possible before bringing your dog into the clinic. If your regular veterinary practice is closed, contact Pet Poison Helpline, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center or a local emergency veterinary clinic.
Consider these food treat options
If you feel compelled to offer “people food” treats this holiday season, consider these healthier options:
- Apple slices
- Green beans (plain, cooked or steamed)
- Carrots (plain, raw or cooked)
- Banana chunks
- Turkey breast meat (roasted, plain, without skin or gravy)
- Sweet potatoes (baked, plain, no butter or marshmallows)
But the best way to treat your dog? Provide tasty treats that are specially formulated for dogs. Just remember, treats should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s total calories for the day.
RELATED POST: Table Scraps Are No Gift for a Dog’s Sensitive Stomach