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Raisin Toxicity in Dogs: Vet-Approved Facts & Advice

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maja Platisa

In-House Veterinarian, DVM MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There are quite a few foods that you probably already know not to feed your dog: chocolate, chicken bones, alcohol—the list goes on and on. But one food that doesn’t get as much publicity as some others is also one of the deadliest: raisins.

S,o what causes raisin toxicity? How many raisins can a dog safely eat? (None!) We answer all these questions and more below.

If your dog has eaten even just one little raisin, do not waste time; call your vet immediately as your dog may need urgent treatment! This could mean the difference between life and death. We will explain why in this article, but for those readers whose dogs have eaten raisins, you can come back to this later. More importantly, call your vet now!

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What Causes Raisin Toxicity in Dogs?

Raisin toxicity is one of the most unusual conditions in dogs. The fact is, we don’t know much about it, including what causes it. What’s even stranger is the fact that not all dogs suffer from it. And we don’t just mean not all dog breeds—it’s truly an individual thing.

One dog can eat them and be fine, while another dog will be dead within a few days if they don’t receive treatment in time or end up developing kidney failure. (We don’t recommend feeding your pup any raisins to see which group they’re in, either.)

Also, it should be noted that grapes are dangerous and potentially fatal, too, but raisins are more potent.

sick dog laying in bed
Image Credit: Lindsay Helms, Shutterstock

What Happens if My Dog Eats a Raisin?

The biggest thing you have to worry about is kidney failure and lack of urine production. This can happen in a matter of hours or days, so time is of the essence.

Other signs to watch out for include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Increased or decreased drinking (depending on the stage of disease)
  • Increased or decreased urine production (depending on the stage of disease)
  • Blood in urine
  • Dehydration
  • Stomach pain
  • Drooling
  • Weakness and wobbliness
  • Foul breath
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coma
  • Death

How Many Raisins Can a Dog Eat Before Toxicity Sets In?

There is no amount that is safe to eat. Even one little piece can cause severe toxicity in some dogs, so if you suspect your dog has had even a single raisin, take immediate action and get them to your vet. This could mean the difference between life and death.

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What Should I Do if My Dog Eats a Raisin?

The most important thing you can do is act quickly. Call your vet immediately and take your dog to the vet clinic. Time is of the essence, as raisins may remain in the stomach for a very short period of time, after which the signs of toxicity will start. There is absolutely nothing you can do safely at home, and you will just waste valuable time. Your dog needs to see a vet within an absolute maximum of 4-6 hours from eating the raisin(s), and ideally straight away or as close to 2 hours from ingestion as possible. As they reach 4-6 hours, the raisins may have exited the stomach and entered the intestine and your vet may not be able to prevent them from getting absorbed. At that point, it is down to treating the consequences.

Your vet can safely and efficiently induce vomiting by administration of a particular medication unless your dog is already unconscious, having breathing problems, or showing signs of serious distress. If they can get the raisins out of the stomach before they’re fully absorbed, your vet may be able to stop the toxins from getting in the bloodstream.

What Can a Vet Do?

Alongside making the dog safely vomit the raisins up, the vet may try to wash out the stomach while your dog is under anesthetic. They may also give your dog activated charcoal to soak up the toxins if it’s been too long since the raisins were eaten.

Your dog will likely need to be hooked up to an IV to flush the toxins from their system and encourage the kidneys to keep producing urine. Your pooch will also likely be given medication to control nausea and vomiting and regular blood checks will be performed to monitor their condition.

dog laying on surgery table
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

What Happens if I Wait Too Long?

If your dog gets to the point where their kidneys are no longer producing urine, which is the end stage of kidney failure, the situation will take a grim turn. Some dogs can be put on dialysis to see if their kidneys will recover, but this is a long shot and is not readily available in all countries or veterinary clinics.

A kidney transplant is not really an option in most cases, as it would mean having a donor dog, which may bring up ethical questions, not to mention the risks for both dogs and the cost of such a procedure.

Sadly, if your dog reaches this point, there’s often very little that can be done other than to consider euthanasia, as kidney failure is quite uncomfortable for dogs and there is no cure.

How Do You Prevent Raisin Toxicity?

Obviously, the best way to prevent this condition is to ensure your dog never eats a raisin. Don’t even bring them into the house if you can help it, but if you must, be very careful not to drop any when eating them. Store them where your dog can’t get to them, and make sure everyone in the family, especially children, knows how dangerous they are for your pooch.

You should also teach your dog the “leave it” command. You can use this to get them to ignore a dropped raisin long enough for you to pick it up. It doesn’t last forever, though, so any raisin you miss could be a ticking time bomb.

If they do manage to eat one, we hope we’ve impressed upon you the importance of taking immediate action.

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Despite its lack of publicity, raisin toxicity is no joke. If you don’t want to get stuck with a hefty vet bill (or something much worse), then it’s important to take the condition seriously and do anything you can to prevent it from befalling your dog.

This may mean cutting raisins out of your diet, but isn’t that a small price to pay for keeping your best friend safe?

See Also:

Featured Image: forwimuwi73, Pixabay

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