You may think that you know all the major foods in your kitchen that are potentially toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, coffee, garlic, and onions, just to name a few. But what about grapes? These tiny little fruits have to be harmless, right?
Actually, no: Grapes are one of the most toxic foods that you can give a dog, and you should do everything in your power to make sure your pet never eats one.
However, as the guide below will show you, it’s not quite that simple.
Are Grapes Safe for Dogs?
Grapes are extremely toxic for dogs. Just one or two of these little fruits can cause an otherwise healthy dog to suffer kidney failure and die in only a few hours, so there’s no number that’s safe to feed your pooch.
Here’s the strange thing about grapes, though: They’re not toxic to all dogs. Some dogs can eat them without issue. Also, some dogs can eat a few and be fine, but can die if they eat too many.
It’s not a breed-by-breed thing, either. It varies from individual dog to individual dog.
Why? No one knows for sure yet. We also don’t know what it is that makes grapes toxic — is it the skin? The flesh? The juice? We’re not sure, but we do know that the stems seem to be especially toxic.
So, there’s an outside chance that your dog may be able to chow down on grapes without being any the worse for wear. However, unless you’re willing to risk your pup’s life — and thousands of dollars in emergency vet bills — we’d advise holding off on feeding them grapes.
What About Raisins?
Raisins are actually even more toxic than grapes, so keep them far away from your pup’s mouth as well. Currants are also extremely bad for dogs.
Both raisins and grapes are often used as ingredients in other foods, especially desserts, so be careful about any human foods that you give your dog. This is one reason that you should swear off sharing human food with your pet altogether.
Does It Matter How Big My Dog Is?
Kind of, but not really.
It’s certainly true that smaller dogs will have a much more serious reaction to ingesting grapes, so you should be extremely proactive about seeking treatment if your little pup has had a grape or two.
That said, big dogs can have extreme reactions to a small number of grapes as well. The fact is there’s no number of grapes that’s safe for your dog to eat.
What Happens If My Dog Eats a Grape?
Assuming your pooch is one of the many that reacts poorly to ingesting grapes, you’ll notice some or all of the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
If proper medical care isn’t found early on, these symptoms will soon give way to kidney failure. Be especially on the lookout for instances of your dog trying to pee, but being unable to get anything out. That’s a sure sign that their kidneys aren’t functioning properly.
My Dog Just Ate a Grape. What Should I Do?
The first thing that you should do is make sure there are no other grapes around for them to eat. While one grape is often enough to cause serious issues, you’ll only make things worse if you allow your dog to eat several.
After you’ve canvassed the area for strays, call your vet or the poison control hotline. They’ll ask you questions like how long ago the dog ate the grapes and how your pup is behaving.
Depending on your answers to those questions, they may encourage you to induce vomiting. This often involves forcing them to drink hydrogen peroxide, which isn’t a fun task — but it’s well worth it if it will save your dog’s life.
They’ll likely then tell you to take your dog to the emergency room. It’s important that you follow this step, even if your dog isn’t showing any symptoms. The longer you wait, the more damage your dog could be suffering — and by the time kidney failure starts, there’s often little to do other than put the dog down in order to ease their suffering.
Of course, your dog may be one of the lucky ones that doesn’t suffer any adverse reactions. You’ll still want your vet to give you the all-clear rather than wait around to see if your pooch goes into shock or not.
What Will the Vet Do for My Dog?
If you’ve caught the problem early enough, it may be possible to get the grapes out of your dog’s stomach before they’re absorbed into the bloodstream. Your vet will likely force your dog to eat activated charcoal in order to induce vomiting; this process is not pretty, and it’s certainly not fun for your dog, but it’s the best-case scenario for all involved.
If the grapes have already been digested, your vet will likely put your dog on an IV to flush those toxins out of the body as soon as possible. Your mutt may also be given drugs to control nausea and vomiting, and blood pressure medication may also be necessary.
Even if everything goes well, your dog will likely need to be kept for a few days. During that time, the vet will monitor your dog’s kidney function and continue to force fluids intravenously.
If your dog is unable to produce urine or their kidney values are poor, euthanasia will likely be the only option. However, this is unlikely if the problem is caught in time.
What’s the Best Way to Prevent My Dog From Eating Grapes?
The best way is to never give them the opportunity. If you’re not a huge fan of grapes, don’t even buy them — and if you do, only eat them in places that your dog doesn’t have access to. Be sure to pick up any dropped grapes immediately as well.
If you do keep grapes in the home, store them someplace secure. Don’t leave them in a bowl on the counter.
If you have kids in the house, make sure they know not to feed your dog grapes. Make sure you convey the seriousness of the situation too; you don’t want them thinking that it’s no big deal if your pooch has just one or two.
Be sure to check the ingredients list of any food that you’re thinking of sharing with your dog, to make sure there aren’t any questionable foods listed. In fact, you’re better off only using dog treats.
It’s also a good idea to teach your dog the “leave it” command. That way, if you do drop a grape around them, you can stop them from eating it. This can also be used to prevent them from making other bad decisions, like scarfing down-dropped medicine or chasing the cat.
What Can I Feed My Dog Instead of Grapes?
As mentioned above, you don’t need to give your dog any human foods at all. Stick to those that are manufactured with your pooch in mind, or give them affection in lieu of food.
However, if you absolutely must reward your pup with something sweet, give them a strawberry or an apple slice. Blueberries and cranberries are also safe and extremely healthy for dogs.
If you really want to spoil your pup, you can fill a Kong toy with yogurt and freeze it. Not only will this make a delicious dessert, but it will also keep your dog entertained for hours, and it’s a great way to cool off on a hot summer day.
So, What’s the Verdict? Are Grapes Safe for Dogs?
There are very few foods that are as dangerous to dogs as grapes are, so you should take every precaution to ensure that your pup never eats one. If they do, contact your vet immediately.
We still don’t know why grapes are so bad for dogs or why they don’t affect all dogs equally. What we do know, however, is that you don’t want to find out the hard way that your pup can’t tolerate them.
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