Grape toxicity and pets: Delicious but deadly

| January 10, 2011 | 24 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


  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!

  6. Darcy says:

    My kitten ate some grape seeds what do I do?

    • Dr. Stewart says:

      As far as I know the seeds are not toxic. You can always try to make the cat vomit and bring him/her to the vet for a blood work follow up after 2-3 days post ingestion. You will know if there are problems after 2-4 days. I dont think there are toxins in the seeds but I am not 100% on this and the jury is still out.

  7. Elaine says:

    I can’t be sure if my cat ate any grapes or not. I know she licked them(I saw that), but, I have no idea if she actually ate any. It’s been three days. She has not vomited, had diarrhea, or been lethargic. She is still playing. But, it’s impossible to judge her water intake as she will only drink from a running sink faucet and it seems to me that she is urinating less, although I could just be paranoid. And I just lost one cat so that also makes it difficult to determine if her urination is normal by the contents of the litter box. Is she in the clear with the no vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy for three days, or could her kidneys still shut down? When will she be in the clear for sure and I don’t have to obsess over this anymore?

    • Dr. Stewart says:

      Although the lack of clinical signs is great news, your cat could still have some kidney compromise that is sub-clinical. There is not very much you can do about this, so fretting is not going to help, but you can have a blood test with your vet and have her renal values evaluated. This might give you a piece of mind and let you sleep better at night. If her kidneys are truly compromised but sub-clinical they MIGHT change her food and add some fluids to her diet, but the decontamination phase is over. Good luck!

      • Elaine says:

        Thank you so much for the reply. Mitten is next to impossible to take to the vet. She will fight me to the ends of the earth to avoid being put in a carrier and she attacks the vet and is extremely hard to examine. I’ve only found one vet that can actually somewhat handle her and will examine her. She’s also next to impossible to pill, so sedation, prior to the vet visit, is out of the question. After going to the vet, she gets depressed and lethargic for days and seems traumatized. That’s why I didn’t take her immediately, besides the fact that this happened on Friday night and my vet wasn’t open until Monday. Is there any point and time, in the future, where I would be able to rest easy and not worry about her, if I can’t get her to the vet? I’m just scared taking her will do way more harm than good, for her at least. What will sub-clinical compromise do to her? Will she die from it?

        • Dr. Stewart says:

          Hard to say without knowing her renal values. Usually they do not do immediate damage, but they might open the door to kidney compromise in the future. I would have her blood checked next vet visit for vaccines or yearly stuff. You can PROBABLY hold off for now. I really can not evaluate her though. There is very little you would do anyway if she is that bad except maybe change her food.

  8. Annie says:

    My puppy of 12 weeks bit into a grape early this morning. I already know they can be fatal to some animals but my mother left one on the floor and he got to it. I got him in time before he ate it but could a bite into it be fatal ad well? It’s been maybe 12-15 hours now and he’s been peeing a lot, but i don’t know if that’s a side effect.

    • Dr. Stewart says:

      Peeing a lot is a side effect, but biting a single grape should not be enough to give him problems. If she left a few grapes and he ate them, then that is a problem. You can always have him checked out at your vet if you are concerned. It does not seem it would cause any harm if he chewed on just one and you got it away before he ate the whole thing.

  9. Sophie says:

    My puppy drank a bit of grape juice, I’m not quite sure how much but now she’s all sleepy and floppy- what should I do I am really worried do I take her straight to the vet she is 13 weeks old btw and I’ve given her lots of water because I think that’s good? Please help thanks

    • Dr. Stewart says:

      To my knowledge there has not been any reported toxicity in grape juice. Either because the toxic element is not present or the juice has been pasteurized and this kills the toxin. You should be ok.

  10. Mona Pelkey says:

    Recently, my dog’s vet prescribed 2.5 mg of Claritin (loratadine) daily for his allergies. Since I could not find a children’s size tablet to cut in half for him, I have been giving him 2.5 mg of children’s liquid loratadine. It is artificially grape flavored. Would that be an issue as well as real grapes?

    • Dr. Stewart says:

      Wow, that is a new question for me. I would assume there is no grape in that flavoring. I would be concerned about alcohol and other ingredients, but not the grape. Maybe ask you vet the same question to back me up. I really don’t think it will be a problem, but I could never be sure. You can always call the ASPCA or Pet Poison Helpline and pay $38 for a final professional opinion. Or…. call the toxicology dept at your nearest vet school. My gut says don’t worry, but my conscience would advise me to tell you to seek smarter advice.

  11. Jo says:

    My 7month old English bulldog just ate a small seedless grape my daughter dropped on the floor should I be concerned?

    • Dr. Stewart says:

      The answer is no one knows the toxic dose of grapes for sure, but I HIGHY suspect it is not one single grape in a larger dog like an EB. I think you are fine. Watch for increased urination and drinking. If you are very concerned bring the dog to the vet for blood work and repeat the blood work in 24 and 48 hours to make sure all is well.

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