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, it’s quite the opposite: Grapes are one of the most toxic foods that a dog can consume, 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. If you think your dog ate as much as even one grape, get on the phone with your vet immediately, as your dog may need treatment.
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 within only a few days, so there’s no number that’s safe for your pooch to eat.1
Here’s the strange thing about grapes, though: They’re not necessarily equally toxic to all dogs. Some dogs can eat a few grapes without issue. Also, some dogs can eat a few and be fine, but might still 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 recently it has been suggested that tartaric acid in this fruit may be responsible for toxicity.
Some veterinary toxicology services do mention that ingestion of one grape is unlikely to cause serious signs in most dogs, but there is no guarantee, as currently there is no available evidence on the amount of grapes that may lead to signs of kidney failure. Some dogs seem more sensitive than others, and there is just no way of knowing. So we suggest playing it safe and never leaving any grapes unattended around your dog. If they snatch one or more, get on the phone with your vet straight away.
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 possible that smaller dogs may have a much more serious reaction to ingesting grapes, so you should be extremely proactive about seeking treatment if your little pup has had just 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 are safe for your dog to eat. You should never assume that just because your dog is big, they will be fine. No matter how big or small your dog is, you should still call your vet. Remember that grape toxicity leads to kidney failure in some dogs, and this is fatal.
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 signs:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Weakness and wobbliness
- Increased drinking, following by decreased drinking as kidney damage progresses
- Abnormal urination, initially increased
- Reduced urination and inability to produce urine
If proper medical care isn’t started early on, these signs will soon give way to kidney failure. Any changes in the dog’s drinking or urination are 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.
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 signs. The longer you wait, the more damage your dog’s body could be experiencing — and by the time irreversible kidney failure starts, there’s often very little to do other than consider letting the poor pooch go.
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 preventatively treat them promptly in order to give them the best chance of making a full recovery.
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 toxic substances are absorbed into the bloodstream. This is best done within the first 4 hours from the dog eating grapes, and as long as 6 hours. The concern is that the longer the treatment is delayed, the more risk there is that the grapes will exit the stomach and start causing signs of toxicity.
If your dog has just eaten grape(s), or it happened in the last few hours, your vet will administer a medication that will safely lead to vomiting. This will empty as much of the stomach contents as possible, hopefully removing all of the grapes as well. Afterwards, the vet may give your dog activated charcoal, which absorbs all the toxic substances that are left in the stomach or intestines. This will minimize the harmful and toxic effects of grapes on the dog’s body. Your dog still may need to be hospitalized and stay for intravenous fluids and monitoring.
If the grapes have already been digested, your vet will need to put your dog on an IV drip to flush the toxins out of the body as soon as possible. Your pup will also be given pain killers, symptomatic treatments, and medication to control nausea and vomiting. Blood pressure medication may also be necessary.
Even if everything goes well, your dog will likely need to be kept at the clinic for a few days. During that time, the vet will monitor your dog’s kidney function by performing regular blood tests and continue to administer fluids intravenously.
If your dog is unable to produce urine or their kidney values are very high and not improving with treatment, indicating the final and irreversible stage of kidney failure, 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. Also make sure that they know to tell you if there’s any chance the dog had access to grapes.
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 food at all. This may just give them an upset stomach, which is easily avoidable. Stick to those treats and ingredients that are manufactured with your pooch in mind, or give them affection and physical and mental stimulation in lieu of food.
However, if you absolutely must reward your pup with a piece of fruit, give them a strawberry or an apple slice. Blueberries and cranberries in moderation are also safe and healthy for dogs.
If you really want to spoil your pup, you can fill a Kong toy with yogurt and freeze it, as long as your dog is not allergic to dairy products. 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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