Raisin, grape & currant poisoning in dogs | Harmful foods for dogs

  • by Nick de Wit
Raisin, grape & currant poisoning in dogs | Harmful foods for dogs

It often comes as a surprise to pet owners that raisins, grapes, sultanas and currants are a big no-no for dogs. It’s hard to believe that something as seemingly innocuous as a grape or raisin, which humans eat by the handful, could be incredibly harmful if given to your beloved pooch. 

For the purposes of this article, ‘grape’ refers to all grape-based products: grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas. This is to simplify our explanations, but it’s critical to remember that the dangers apply to all of these.

How many grapes does it take to harm my dog?

Size counts: the smaller your dog, the fewer it takes to cause poisoning. By the same token, the larger your dog, the more it will take to make her ill (so a small amount might not have an effect). 

But the size of your dog isn’t the only determining factor. Different dogs have different sensitivities to grapes, which means that your dog may be affected by an amount of grapes that doesn’t affect a different dog of the same size.

If you’ve never given your dog grapes before, you should immediately add this to the list of human foods that your dog shouldn’t eat. If she’s eaten grapes without an issue in the past, there’s no need to worry - they obviously didn’t affect her. But be sure to avoid them in future.

The same goes if your dog accidentally slurps up a grape or two. These things happen! Just keep an eye on your pooch and take her to the vet immediately if any of the symptoms below start to appear. However, if your dog gets into the bag of grapes or raisins and devours the whole lot, rather be safe than sorry and get her to the vet right away. Again, remember that it takes a much smaller amount of grapes to poison a small dog than a big dog.

What are the side effects of grape poisoning?

Raisins and grapes cause kidney failure in dogs. The exact toxin that causes the kidney failure is unknown, but we do know that some dogs are severely affected and show extreme signs of illness that can even result in death.

Many studies are being done to determine why some dogs are resistant to the toxin while others are highly sensitive to it. However, the cause of resistance is still unknown at this point.

Symptoms of grape poisoning in dogs

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Unusual smelling breath
  • Diarrhoea, possibly with black stool
  • Excessive drinking and urinating

The first 3 symptoms are the most common and usually seen within the first 24 hours of consuming the grapes. If left untreated, kidney failure can lead to severe illness and ultimately death.

What should I do if my dog has just consumed grapes?

If it has been less than two hours, get your pet to the vet immediately. Your vet may need to induce vomiting to get your dog to regurgitate the grapes before they are digested. 

If it’s been longer than four hours, vomiting will no longer be useful, as the raisins will have been digested already. But you must still take your pooch to the vet: your vet will need to monitor your pet’s kidney function by taking blood and urine samples. Depending on the results, your dog may need to be put on a drip and start supportive treatment.

Treatment for grape poisoning

Treatment will be aimed at helping the kidneys to function and flush the toxins out of the body. Your dog will be placed on a drip and kidney function will be monitored. Your pooch may be given medication to help improve kidney function, and may also be placed on a special diet to help reduce the amount of work the kidneys need to do.

But my dog has eaten grapes in the past with no problem!

This is something vets often hear from fur parents, but it doesn’t mean your furbaby is safe from grapes. Instead, consider your pet lucky that she is not overly sensitive to grapes, but continue to exercise caution and never give her large amounts, as these can still result in kidney failure. Also, don’t assume that any new dogs that are welcomed into your home will be as tolerant to grapes as your lucky pooch.

Prevention is always better than cure. Grapes are simply not grape for your pooch, and with so many other healthy and delicious treats out there, there’s no need to take a chance. Rather, skip the grapes and pick up some peanut butter instead!

Disclaimer: Always consult your vet for professional advice. The Zuki.co.za blog is provided as an educational tool and should not be used to diagnose illness or treat an animal.

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