Which Substance in Grapes Are Toxic to Dogs?
Can dogs eat grapes? No, they shouldn’t! You may or may not know that grapes are toxic to dogs, but they are, and in some cases, can cause serious diseases.
Up until recently, it has been a mystery what causes grapes to be toxic. The answer hasn’t been clear because some dogs seem to have a strong reaction to just a single grape, whereas another dog might eat a bunch and be ok.
Recently there has been a potential breakthrough, and the culprit may have been found–which is tartaric acid. It is still being researched, but this is an exciting new possible understanding.
Tartaric acid levels can vary in grapes depending on the variety and season harvested, explaining why some dogs develop toxicity and others may not. This has yet to be 100% proven. Other possibilities include fungus growing on the grapes or pesticides used during growing.
What About Raisins And Currants?
Unfortunately, raisins and currants can also be toxic and should not be fed to dogs. Also, grape or currant juice should not be given to dogs, and care should be taken to prevent a dog’s access to these products.
Signs And Symptoms of Grape Toxicity in Dogs
Signs of grape toxicity in dogs are not specific to grapes and usually are signs of disease, these include:
- Vomiting (the most common sign)
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness and lethargy
- Diarrhea, usually within a few hours of ingestion
- Pain in the abdomen
- Increased drinking and urination
- Producing no urine despite drinking
- Kidney failure
If you suspect your dog has eaten grapes, don’t wait for signs to develop. Instead, contact your veterinarian immediately and seek advice.
Diagnosing Grape Toxicity in Your Pupper
Any history suspicious of grape or raisin ingestion is helpful so if you happened to notice a chewed-up raisin box on the way to the vet, for example, make sure to tell your vet!
Unfortunately, without a known history of grape ingestion, the signs of grape toxicity are not specific and can be signs of disease caused by other issues.
Signs related to kidney failure (excessive drinking and urination or no urine being produced) are more specific and may help your veterinarian diagnose grape toxicity.
If grape toxicity is suspected, then some diagnostic tests that might be recommended include a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemistry panel (to check kidney function), and a urinalysis (to check kidney function). The results can help with diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.
Sometimes a diagnosis of grape toxicity may never be confirmed as there is no specific test.
How Many Grapes Are Too Much For Canines?
Unfortunately, there is no defined toxic dose. One dog could eat five grapes and be ok, and another dog could eat five grapes and develop kidney failure.
In general, the more grapes a dog eats, the more likely they are to be toxic. Seedless grapes or seeded grapes can be equally toxic.
There is no proven safe quantity of grapes that a dog can eat, so it’s best to avoid your dog ingesting them all together.
What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Grapes?
As soon as you realize your dog has eaten grapes, contact your veterinarian right away and make your way towards their clinic. If it is after hours, you may need to contact your local emergency veterinarian. If the grapes were recently ingested, your vet could induce vomiting, expelling the grapes from your dog’s system before toxicity can set in.
If it has been some time between grape ingestion and a veterinary consult, then hospitalization may be required to protect the kidneys.
The Busted Myths of Grape Toxicity in Canines
MYTH: One or two grapes are acceptable to be fed to dogs
Wrong! Even one grape could be toxic in certain scenarios. Smaller dogs are at higher risk of toxicity from just one grape, but large dogs could develop issues also. It’s not worth it. Don’t feed grapes or raisins, or currants to dogs.
MYTH: It’s the seeds in grapes that are toxic, so seedless grapes are fine
Wrong! Even seedless grapes can be dangerous.
MYTH: My dog eats grapes all the time and is ok, so I can keep doing it
Wrong! Your dog may have been lucky in the past and not had a problem, but this doesn’t mean it will always be the case. Switch to a safer treat and save the grapes for yourself.
MYTH: If you see your dog eat grapes, just keep an eye on them to make sure they are ok
Wrong! Do not wait to see if your pet is ok. Grapes can cause acute kidney failure, which is very serious and happens quickly. Acute kidney failure can cause lasting effects and can even be lethal. So if you see your dog eat grapes, then take them to a veterinarian ASAP.
Can Dogs Eat Grape Seeds?
Grape seed extract has been given to dogs for a long time with no apparent problem. Although it is potentially safe since the toxin in grapes is not yet confirmed, it is not recommended to let your dog eat any part of the grape.
Are Dogs Allowed to Drink Grape Juice?
Grape juice and currant juice should not be given to dogs. It can cause toxicity, and there is no safe amount known. Any fruit juice should be avoided in dogs due to the high sugar content and grape and currant juice since it can be toxic.
Can Grapes Kill Dogs?
Unfortunately, yes, they can. If a dog ingests a lethal dose of grapes and doesn’t receive adequate treatment in time, then the kidneys can develop acute renal failure and stop functioning, which can be lethal. It is the grim reality of grape ingestion, so it’s so important to be educated on toxic substances in dogs.
Who Should I Call for Advice If I Think My Dog Has Eaten Grapes?
You should make contact with your veterinarian as soon as possible for advice. They can give you specific information for your pet about what to do next. Alternatively, you could call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control on (999-426-4435). Remember, time is of the essence, so don’t delay in reaching out for advice.
Effective Treatment Strategies Against Grape Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog eats grapes, they need to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. If the grapes were recently ingested, then your dog can be induced to vomit with special medicine. This can help to remove the grapes from your dog’s system and prevent toxicity.
If the grapes are expelled quickly enough after ingestion, then this may be the only treatment required. However, if there has been an extended period of time between ingestion and a veterinary visit, the medicine may be more intensive. The therapy may also be more intensive if your dog ate a larger quantity of grapes, even if it was recently.
Intensive treatment might involve blood tests, hospitalization, activated charcoal, intravenous fluid therapy, and particular medicines to help support the signs of toxicity.
Is Grape Poisoning in Canines an Emergency?
Grape poisoning is an emergency and requires immediate attention. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to begin treatment. Delay can cause a worse outcome.
Unfortunately, such a delicious fruit can be lethal when fed to our favorite pooches. Although the toxic substance has yet to be confirmed, what we do know is that grapes can be fatal to dogs and should never be fed to them.
Raisins and currants can also be toxic and should be kept away from your dog’s access. Unfortunately, there are lots of myths and understanding surrounding grapes and their toxicity due to the variable levels of toxic doses from one dog to another.
If you think your dog has eaten grapes, then this is an emergency, and your dog should receive medical treatment right away to prevent kidney toxicity leading to acute kidney failure.
Helen is a small animal veterinarian from New Zealand. Animals have always been a big passion of hers and working with them is a dream come true. In her spare time Helen loves traveling to exotic locations and volunteering her time and skills to help animals around the world. Education is a
passion of hers and she is excited to be able to contribute to I Love Veterinary to inform passionate animal-lovers around the world.