There are several foods that are toxic to pets. From chocolate to grapes, how much is safe to give to your pet?
Consider the story of Rio. His owner Angela found him sick one day. A survey of the kitchen found that grapes that had been left out were eaten by Rio. She rushed him to the veterinarian, where Rio had his system flushed and the staff worked on absorbing the toxin.
Rio was under 24-hour care for almost a week and still needed treatment at home. His diet had to be adjusted to compensate for the kidney damage he had suffered, but he did survive. Not all dogs are this lucky.
Grapes and raisins (dried grapes) are toxic to dogs. The type of grape doesn’t matter; it can be green, red, commercially grown or from your backyard. The source of the toxicity is unknown, but what is known is that dogs have become ill and died from ingesting grapes and raisins.
Several substances have been examined to determine the toxin in grapes, such as herbicides and pesticides. Many possibilities have been ruled out, and the exact component of a grape that causes the toxicity is still a mystery. Grape seed extract is not listed as a threat.
From Rio’s story, veterinary criticalist Nathan Lippo, DVM, DACVECC, says that any amount of grapes can be toxic to a dog.
“The toxin in the fruit is unknown, but we do know it’s in the flesh of the grape — not the seeds, not the skin…. It affects them pretty badly,” says Dr. Lippo.
Toxicity from grapes and raisins can bring about renal (kidney) failure. Treatment will depend on the amount of fruit ingested and how the dog’s body reacts to the toxin.
How Toxic Are Grapes for Dogs?
The amount of grapes or raisins that can hurt a dog can vary by the dog’s weight. Raisins are more concentrated, so it takes fewer of them to cause problems.
According to Small Animal Toxicology, by Michael E. Peterson, DVM, MS, and Patricia A. Talcott, MS, DVM, PhD, DipABVT, there’s a way to get a rough estimate of the toxic amount of grapes or raisins for a dog.
- Grapes: They report that dangerous doses begin at about 0.18 ounces of grapes per pound of dog weight. That’s 1.8 ounces (one or two grapes) for a 10-pound dog, and 3.6 ounces (three or four grapes) for a 20-pound dog.
- Raisins: About 0.07 ounces of raisins per pound of dog weight may be toxic. In real terms, that’s a mere 0.7 ounces of raisins for a 10-pound dog, and 1.4 ounces for a 20-pound dog.
But some researchers say the amount of grapes/raisins eaten may not have any bearing on how much harm is caused to your pet. In their report “Grape and Raisin Toxicity in Dogs,” Michelle Savigny, DVM, and Douglass K. Macintire, DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC, of Auburn University discuss how a border collie ate a whole 16-ounce box of raisins and lived, yet a Labrador retriever (a larger dog) died after eating a slightly larger box of raisins.
So here’s the take-home message: Any amount of grapes or raisins should be considered toxic.
A variety of symptoms are possible with grape toxicity:
- Abdominal pain
- Fluid cessation (will not drink water or urinate)
- Loss of appetite
- Breathing difficulty
- Kidney failure
Death is also a possibility, depending on the amount consumed. The body has to process and absorb the grapes, so death is not instantaneous — but time is important. The sooner treatment begins, the higher chances of recovery you give to your dog.
Grape or raisin ingestion should be considered an emergency. Treatment should begin immediately.
If the ingestion was within two hours, vomiting is usually induced and activated charcoal administered. Intravenous fluids may be given for 48 hours. Blood chemistry panels are checked for 72 hours. Other options may include urinalysis, kidney medications or an ultrasound to examine the kidney size and look for mineral deposits.
Grape toxicity in pets was recognized years ago when a pattern was found in reports of sick dogs. A common factor was the ingestion of grapes or raisins, and veterinary professionals and pet lovers alike have been trying to spread the word since its discovery.
Avoid leaving grapes or raisins out on counters or in open pantries where your dog might be able to reach them. The same goes for cats; grapes and raisins are toxic to our feline friends as well.
Remember this jingle:
Grapes are sweet, grapes are fine, and even better when in wine.
But one thing you will regret is giving them to your pet.
Some people still do not know about this sweet treat being such a dangerous threat, so please share this article to help us get the word out.
Photos: star5112 (top), Zest-pk/Flickr
* * *
Tell Us What's on Your Mind. Join us on our community forums and chat with other people who are passionate about pets. Start Here.