Your dog is your friend and an important member of the family. But dogs see us humans eat our food, and want to eat it, too. Sometimes they can’t help but get into things just because they’re so curious.
Dogs are natural scavengers and will eat anything they deem edible. They evolved from their ancestors, wolves, who are hunters, and became domesticated alongside humans. Wolves are pack hunters but will scavenge when given the chance.
Humans were once hunter-gatherer nomads before they invented agriculture. After living in one area for an extended period of time, they produced leftovers and other waste products. Dogs’ digestive systems then evolved in order to be able to digest the starches humans ate.
Because dogs’ jaws and teeth became smaller the longer they lived around humans, so were they more inclined to scavenge for leftovers.
They obviously deviated from their ancestral hunting instinct which demanded an obligatory carnivorous diet.
Combine dogs’ natural curiosity and scavenging ability with the fact that some human foods are quite toxic for dogs, and it’s hard to know exactly what dogs can and can’t eat — even accidentally.
It is up to you to administer medical treatment as soon as possible. If your dog has eaten grapes, please seek veterinarian attention or call the Pet Poison Helpline at wwww.petpoisonhelpline.com immediately.
North American dog owners can call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680.
Otherwise, read on for information about the issue of dogs eating grapes.
Can Dogs Eat Grapes?
In short, no, and it’s up to you as their owner to prevent them from eating grapes. Neither can they eat raisins or currants, or any product with grapes, raisins or currants in it, for that matter.
The flesh of either is poisonous to dogs even in small amounts and can be fatal. DVM Dr. Andrew Jones and scientists aren’t exactly sure which substance in grapes is poisonous, but it does not matter if the grapes are peeled or seedless — grapes in any form are toxic.
Other Related Poisonous Foods
- raisins (which are simply dried white-fleshed grapes)
- currants. Similar to raisins, they’re a dried fruit made from a seedless variety of grape); typically Zante currants (tiny dried grapes)
- true currants (which are black and tart rather than sweet)
- sultanas (seedless dried white-flesh grapes)
- grape juice
- wine (fermented grape juice)
- cereal, trail mix or granola containing grapes, raisins, currants or sultanas
- baked goods containing grapes, raisins, currants or sultanas
- candy, desserts and other sweets containing grapes, raisins, currants or sultanas
- prunes (dried plums)
Both plums and prunes are high in sugar content and fiber which will overwhelm your dog’s digestive system.
When your dog consumes either of these things, their body will try to digest the food and filter the waste products.
But they can’t handle everything; when they can’t pass grapes (or any poisonous foods), that’s when their bodies will react in a negative way.
Why Grapes Are Bad for Dogs
Please do not believe the talk that people can use grapes as treats for dogs. Grapes cause severe kidney damage, which leads to:
- Acute kidney (renal) failure, which has a rapid onset and allows for waste products to accumulate in the blood, leading to blood poisoning (sepsis);
- A lack of urine production (anuria), which is a symptom of acute kidney failure. Since the waste products accumulate in the blood instead, your dog won’t be able to urinate and get rid of them. Anuria is life-threatening in and of itself.
Anuria is preceded by uremia, which is the accumulation of the urea by-product in the blood.
Symptoms of uremia include:
- shortness of breath (panting, quick breaths, frantic breathing)
- confusion (not being able to understand you, or possibly bumping into things)
- fatigue (unusual tiredness)
- nausea (lack of appetite and showing symptoms of discomfort after eating)
Oliguria precedes uremia and is the decreased production of urine. If your dog isn’t urinating as much, as usual, that could be a sign of grape poisoning and kidney failure.
Kidney failure results in a decreased lifespan, increased need for water due to dehydration, more frequent bathroom breaks; even the need for dialysis treatments several times a week, should the kidneys no longer be able to function properly. It can also lead to high blood pressure and other conditions.
Dogs of any age, breed or sex, and even dogs in the best of health can be poisoned by eating grapes.
It should go without saying that dogs with existing health issues or compromised immune systems would have fewer chances of survival after eating grapes. Kidney failure is not only an “old dog” issue.
Several supplements and a few medications are available for dogs with kidney failure. Their purpose is to boost the dogs’ nutrition by providing vitamins and minerals and filter waste products from their bodies, which would result in increased urine output.
Board Certified Veterinary Internists at the University of Davis recommend aluminum hydroxide (ALOH)to remove excess phosphorus from the dog’s body.
Help! My Dog Has Eaten Grapes!
Call the Pet Poison Helpline and take them to a veterinarian immediately. And if they’ve eaten grapes within the last 2 hours — and the Pet Poison Helpline advises you to do so — you’ll need to induce vomiting.
To do so:
- Measure out 1 milliliter of 3% hydrogen peroxide per pound of your dog’s weight. For reference, 1 teaspoon is 5 ml. Do not exceed 45ml, even if your dog weighs more than 45lbs.
- Put the hydrogen peroxide into a needleless syringe or turkey baster.
- Squirt it into the back of your dog’s mouth.
Use this method no more than twice. If 15 minutes after the first time vomiting has not induced, you can use it a second time.
Your dog will likely already start to vomit as the first symptom of poisoning anyway, but it’s important to get them to do so as soon as possible.
Administering hydrogen peroxide is the only safe way to induce vomiting, according to DVM Jaime Shriver.
If they have already started vomiting, do not induce further vomiting. Instead, contact the Pet Poison Helpline for advice on what to do in the meantime, so you can alleviate symptoms and prevent further kidney damage.
It’s important for your dog to get veterinarian treatment as soon as possible.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Grapes
- Safely hide away any grapes, currants, and raisins, and any products containing them. Make sure they are in sealed containers and in an enclosed space that your dog can’t access. Tabletops and countertops are not sufficient.
- If they somehow get one in their mouth, try to take it out right away.
- Discourage the feeding of table food to your dog. Instead, make sure they have chewable toys and that they are fed two to three times a day.
Symptoms of Grape Poisoning in Dogs
There are a number of symptoms your dog may exhibit after grape poisoning, such as:
- hyperactivity, or jitteriness
- pieces of grapes in the stool
- diarrhea (a symptom of dehydration and stomach upset)
- cramping and other abdominal pain (e.g. if you touch their abdomen and they cry out in pain)
- bloating (a sign of fluid retention)
- loss of appetite (not eating like usual)
- anorexia (refusing to eat)
- ataxia (lack of muscle coordination)
- lethargy or weakness (not as energetic; sleeping or being more tired than usual)
- dehydration (e.g. panting, diarrhea, drinking more water than usual)
- oliguria (passing small amounts of urine at a time)
- anuria (not passing urine at all)
- foul breath
- oral ulcers (sores in the mouth)
- tremors (shaking)
- seizures (involuntary physical spasms)
- coma (unconsciousness)
Symptoms of sepsis (blood poisoning) are similar to those of uremia.
Symptoms of anuria include:
- Fluid retention in the form of swelling (edema)
- Blood in any urine produced (a clear sign of kidney disease)
- Fatigue or lethargy (unusual tiredness or lack of energy)
Whether your dog demonstrates either of these symptoms is not indicative of the severity of grape poisoning. Any consumption is poisonous and can even be fatal.
Symptoms can take anywhere from few hours to a few days to appear, so if your dog has eaten grapes, do not wait for them to have symptoms before taking action.
Can Grapes Kill Dogs?
While it’s not necessarily a cut-and-dried death sentence, consuming grapes is definitely poisonous and damaging to dogs, sometimes with permanent effects from the resulting health issues.
Put it this way: Your dog will live far longer and healthier if they don’t consume grapes.
In a case of 3 dogs by the Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kyungpook National University in Korea, the dogs exhibited symptoms 7-10 days before death.
All dogs showed “emaciation, anorexia, depression, hemorrhagic vomiting and diarrhea” before death. The owners gave them new food for over a month before their symptoms appeared and they died.
How Do I Know If My Dog Ate Grapes?
If you aren’t always aware of what your dog has eaten, and it’s possible for them to have eaten grapes, then signs of grape poisoning will likely appear.
See the above for the various symptoms of grape poisoning. In short: If your dog is exhibiting unusual behavior, take them to the vet.
How Is Grape Toxicity Diagnosed and Treated?
Your veterinarian will take steps to ensure the highest quality of life for your dog by:
- Various tests including those for blood urea nitrogen and creatine levels
- IV catheter for hydration
- Urinary catheter to monitor urine output
- Administration of Lasix as a diuretic, and possibly other medications
- Gastric lavage, which is irritating the stomach with large amounts of fluid.
- Administration of activated charcoal, which will bind the toxins and prevent their absorption in the stomach and intestines.
Ongoing treatment, including vitamin and mineral supplements, will prevent further kidney damage and aid in the recovery of the kidneys to proper function.
My Dog Ate Just One Grape, Is That OK?
It would be reassuring to hear that if your dog ate only one grape, they’d be okay. But according to a story from the ASPCA, a Pekingese/Pomeranian-mix dog named Leah ate a small handful of grapes (about 10) and almost died. She spent several days being treated at the vet.
Now, that’s a small breed of dog. It’s fairly accurate to say that even if Leah had eaten just one grape, she would have suffered health problems.
Some dogs demonstrate less sensitive than others, but that doesn’t mean grapes aren’t dangerous; it’s possible to have kidney damage without exhibiting symptoms. 7 grapes or raisins could be toxic, according to DVM Laurinda Morris.
And according to a case report of 4 dogs demonstrating acute renal failure after ingesting varying quantities of raisins or grapes, 2 out of the 4 dogs demonstrated a “favorable outcome.”
They demonstrated acute oliguric (decreased urine output) or anuria (no urine output) renal failure. If you applied that percentage in a general sense, your dog has a 50% chance of having a favorable outcome.
In a review of records of 43 dogs after ingesting grapes or raisins, they had hypercalcemia (high calcium levels) and high amounts of phosphorus. They also had necrosis, or death, of some kidney tissue. 23 dogs survived, and 15 of them went into full remission.
In a case involving 10 dogs, they had damage or death of kidney tissue and intestinal damage. 5 out of 10 were able to regenerate the thin outer tissue of the kidneys.
Since there is no proven “safe” amount of grapes, it’s difficult to know exactly how many will cause symptoms of poisoning in your dog.
You shouldn’t think that if your dog seems to be fine at the moment, they are unaffected. Take action immediately by calling the Pet Poison Helpline and taking your dog to the veterinarian.
The longer you wait, the less effective gastric decontamination is.
Alternatives to Grapes (Etc.)
Apples, blueberries, watermelon, bananas, strawberries, and pears are acceptable fruity alternatives. Applesauce and plain nonfat yogurt are both healthy and very easy to digest for your dog.