Grape toxicity and pets: Delicious but deadly

| January 10, 2011 | 10 Comments

Grapes may be one of people’s favorite fruit-based snacks, but they are not a safe snack for our pets. While grapes don’t cause humans any harm, they can cause acute kidney failure in dogs, and even possibly in cats. Despite recent research, the exact agent in grapes that causes the toxicity is still unknown. It was previously thought that perhaps something related to pesticides or heavy metals in grapes was causing the problem, but that hypothesis has since been disproven. Current theories suggest that the fleshy portion of the grape, rather than the seed, is the toxic culprit. Thompson seedless grapes, the common green ones from the supermarket, statistically seem to create the highest number of problems in animals — however, this could just be because that variety of grape is the most commonly purchased. Other products made from real grapes, such as raisins, grape juice and grape jelly, have also shown to cause problems. And heated and fermented grape products, like those used in baked cookies and cakes with raisins, can also be toxic to pets. One notable exception is grape seed extract, which is found in some pet products and synthetic grape-flavored medications, and is not currently thought to be a pet hazard.

One of the most frustrating things for owners is just how small an amount of grape ingestion can be toxic. I have had people tell me, “Well, he only ate 2 or 3 grapes,” or “Well, he got into some trail mix with raisins, but there weren’t many in it.” Unfortunately, any known grape ingestion — regardless of the amount — could potentially cause a problem.

People also tell me, “I have been giving my pet grapes for years without a problem.” Regardless of what you may have given your pet in the past, that doesn’t ensure that your pooch won’t react badly to grapes in the future. In fact, some dogs that have eaten grapes in the past with no signs of toxicity ultimately may run into trouble with them. The consequences of grape toxicity can be severe, so why take the risk? To avoid these kinds of problems, we highly recommend not giving your pet grapes in any amount.

Like many other products that are toxic to animals, your pet may appear normal for up to 24 hours after they eat grapes or a grape product. Within 24 hours or so, you might start seeing them not wanting to eat, vomiting, acting like their abdomen is in pain or experiencing diarrhea. Within 48 hours after ingestion, they can start experiencing more serious problems, such as showing a decrease in the amount of urine they produce — or not producing urine at all. These are some of the signs of acute kidney failure.

And just like any toxicity, early treatment is the key. If you suspect your pet has eaten grapes, raisins or products containing them, bring your pet to Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital or to your regular vet as quickly as possible. Grapes can sit in the stomach for hours after being ingested, so your vet will most likely give your pet an injection to make them vomit. They may also be given what is known as activated charcoal to help bind up any additional grape products in the GI tract. Your pet will also likely be placed on intravenous fluids for 48 hours and have their kidney function checked daily for 72 hours via a blood test. The prognosis of any given case usually corresponds with how soon you realize that your pet has eaten the grapes — and how fast you react to get them the proper treatment.

© 2010 Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital. All rights reserved.

Filed Under: Digestive, Poisons, Vomiting

Comments

  1. Angelica says:

    What happens if my dog eats grape jelly? He only had one lick of it, and i dinnt see anything on his tounge. Im really worried about him. we only just got him anyway. After i read this i just got more worried. Im keep telling my mom that dogs cant eat grapes, and he wont be okay, but she says the internet is a lie and hes gonna be okay. My mom knows nothing about dogs! Only the fact that it exists. Im the only one who ever had a dog. i know that dogs cant eat grapes and i want to bring him to the vet, but I cant drive, IM ONLY TEN! I made him drink lots of water, and told everyone in my house but nobody will litsen to me! Im the only one who cares about him and really want to help him, but my parents wont litsen! what sould i do? HELP ME! PLEASE! :’(

    • Dr. Stewart says:

      Angelica, you are right to be concerned about grapes, and although there are people who lie on the internet, there are also good sites to visit for information. I would NOT be overly concerned with a lick of grape jelly from your dog. I think there is more sugar and filler in most jelly to not be concerned about a lick. If your dog ate a whole jar of grape jelly, I would be worried. You were totally correct in encouraging the dog to drink more water and telling your family about the risks of grapes and dogs (and raisins.) Please keep up the good work, and continue to read these blogs and listen to the pod casts for more dog information. You can let your mom read too if she is interested in learning about your family pet! Good luck with your new dog and great comment!

  2. Shrimp says:

    My kitten ate half of a small “sweet baby” grape, and then was quite itchy for about 10 minutes. The itchiness seems to have subsided. Is itchiness ever a typical symptom of trouble from eating grapes?

    • Dr. Stewart says:

      I have never heard of an itchy response, but it is possible. The usual response is renal damage and uncreased drinking and urination. I would not expect one baby grape to do this, but it is certainly possible. Maybe the cat had another situation going on at the same time, like hives or a flea bite? A first time exposure to a grape should not do this. No more grapes to pets please. :)

  3. Dalton says:

    What happens if my dog where to lick a grape? I believe he only had one or two licks but is that anything i should be concerned about?

  4. Please help, I ddnt realize I might b hurting my precious Stormie until I read some of these posts. I have fed her toasted bread with grape jelly on it quite a few times. I probably gave her half to two thirds of the jar. Even tho it was a small jar I am now terrified that I have hurt her badly. What shld I do? I just took her to the Vet. yesterday and he ddnt say anything about the grapes or renal failure. I’m scared for her. She’s just over three yrs. old and weighs 63 lbs. She is a Blue Pitt Bull Terrier.

    • Dr. Stewart says:

      There is probably very little risk, but I would stop feeding her any grape products. She is a big dog and there is usually more sugar than grapes in most jelly. Have you local vet check her renal (kidney) values at the next visit and avoid grapes. Good luck.

  5. brooklyn says:

    I left to go to the bathroom and my beagle bechion
    And chiuauaua ate my peanut butter
    and jelly sandwich. I’m scared. thoughbbuddy ate my mom’s
    Full bag of m&m’s and more chocolate thing and
    grapes… >_< he's a rebel I'm only 12 help

    • Dr. Stewart says:

      The peanut butter and jelly should not be a problem. The M&M’s might be a problem depending on how much they ate, and the grapes will be a problem depending on how much they ate. Time to get your parents to bring the dogs to the vet and get them checked out. If it has been over 48 hours then the only concern is the grapes and this (read the blog) will manifest in kidney problems. You need ot watch for too much drinking and too much or too little urination. Good luck and get them to a vet!

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