Grapes are one of nature’s little treats – literally. They’re sweet, tart, refreshing, satisfyingly fleshy, and versatile all at the same time!
Unfortunately, while these plump little fruits are wonderful on their own or as an addition to a salad or sangria for humans, they’re straight up poisonous to dogs.
No, we’re not kidding. The toxicity of fresh and dried grapes (raisins) to dogs has been well documented for years now. It doesn’t matter whether the grapes they’ve had are green, red, or purple, or whether they’re seedless, seed-in, skinless, or skin-on – all grapes in all forms are bad for dogs.
But just because grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs doesn’t mean your dog is going to avoid them. Dogs are curious animals who will get into all sorts of foods (and non-foods) that they shouldn’t eat.
With that in mind, what should you do if Fido does decide to act like a Roman emperor and eat a bushel of grapes? We’re going to answer this question and more in this short article on how to treat dogs for grape poisoning below.
What Causes Grape Poisoning in Dogs
It seems strange to even imagine grapes being harmful (besides their choking hazard). However, the reason for why grapes are poisonous to dogs is because all grapes contain high levels of tartaric acid and potassium bitartrate – two chemical compounds that dogs and other canines are especially sensitive to.
For reasons that are still being studied, dogs who are exposed to these compounds are liable to suffer from acute renal failure among a host of other unpleasant and potentially lethal side effects. However, the amount of tartaric acid and potassium bitartrate found in grapes varies heavily depending on where they were grown, how ripe they were at harvest, and a variety of other factors.
What Are the Symptoms of Grape Poisoning in Dogs
It is important to note that there is no well-established toxic dose of grapes for dogs. A dog’s size and breed will affect how it reacts to the amount of grapes he ingests. Additionally, some scientists believe that a dog’s sensitivity to grapes or raisins is an individual characteristic – this would explain why some dogs can eat a handful of grapes without succumbing to poisoning while others are poisoned by eating just a few grapes or raisins.
If your dog is suffering from grape poisoning, it is likely that they will begin vomiting or having diarrhea within 24 hours of having ingested the grapes.
However, grape poisoning in dogs can also come with a variety of other symptoms within the first 24 hours including increased thirst and increased urination.
If left untreated, these symptoms can evolve and lead to loss of appetite, lethargy or weakness, or decreased urination – a sign that the kidneys are shutting down.
Other symptoms include:
- Foul breath
- Oral ulcers
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Grapes
If you believe that your dog has eaten any amount of grapes, you must treat it as a medical emergency because that’s exactly what it is: an emergency. However, do not give in to your gut instinct and just start to induce vomiting. This can actually be more dangerous than helpful, especially if your dog is showing signs of distress, is having trouble breathing, or if you’re unsure of exactly what they ate.
Call your local veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 to get guidance on how to proceed if your dog has eaten grapes. If you are recommended to induce vomiting at home, follow this short guide to maximize its effectiveness and ensure your dog’s safety.
- Step 1: If your dog has not eaten anything within the last 2 hours, offer it a small meal. Doing this increases the chances of vomiting, but do not force the dog to eat if he’s not interested in the food.
- Step 2: Using 3% hydrogen peroxide, measure 1 mL (milliliter) of hydrogen peroxide per pound of the dog’s actual weight. You can either use a no-needle syringe, a turkey baster or medicine/eye dropper and squirt the solution into the back of the dog’s mouth. Remember: no dog should ever be given more than 45 mL of hydrogen peroxide, regardless of their weight.
- Step 3: If the dog does not vomit within 15 minutes of the first administration, you can try again using the same amounts. However, you should know that this method should not be used more than two times, especially if they are spaced within 15 minutes.
If the dog does not vomit after the second hydrogen peroxide administration, do not use it again.
Instead, get them to the nearest veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian’s primary focus will be to reduce the risk that your dog’s body will be able to absorb any toxins in the grapes.
What a Vet Will Do if Your Dog Has Eaten Grapes
Who would’ve thought that one little grape would lead to a vet visit? Sigh…
Well, if you’re taking your dog to the vet because they ate grapes, call the veterinarian while you’re en route to let them know you suspect your dog has grape poisoning. This will allow them to prepare for your arrival.
The veterinarian will begin treatment by formally diagnosing your dog as suffering from grape ingestion and poisoning. To do this, they will perform a series of routine laboratory tests including a biochemistry profile, blood count, and urinalysis. Administering these tests will help the veterinarian understand to what extent your dog’s kidneys have been affected by the toxins in the grapes and will inform their next steps.
The exact treatment process that your veterinarian decides to employ will heavily depend on how many grapes your dog ate, how long it’s been since ingestion, and how severely affected he is by grape poisoning. The above testing will be a vital part of treatment.
If your dog ate the grapes less than two hours ago and has not vomited yet, your vet will likely begin by inducing vomiting and washing out their stomach. After this, your veterinarian will then use activated charcoal to help bind and absorb any bits of grapes that are leftover in your dog’s stomach. This is somewhat similar to the treatment that humans get for alcohol poisoning, so if this happens to your dog, just say…” well he got too drunk” – sounds much cooler than saying “My dog was nearly killed by a grape”, doesn’t it?
After this, your vet may begin administering a treatment using intravenous (IV) fluid that helps remove toxins from the dog’s bloodstream by encouraging the kidneys to maintain urine production. The vet might also give your dog supplemental medication to then reduce vomiting as well as maintain healthy levels of kidney function.
Now, if your dog’s kidneys have totally failed to the point where they aren’t producing urine anymore, the situation becomes much more serious. In some cases, a procedure known as hemodialysis may be applied to help your dog’s kidneys recover (if they can recover). In more severe cases, a kidney transplant may be necessary.
How to Prevent Grape Poisoning in Dogs
We know. This situation sounds pretty nightmarish (and ridiculous).
But don’t worry, all you have to do to prevent your dog from getting grape poisoning is keep them from eating grapes! That means you just have to keep grapes out of reach and, if you spill some, pick them up!
Preventing your dog from getting grape poisoning is almost as easy as treating your dog’s ear or skin infections with Banixx!
Banixx For Dogs
We hope you found this article helpful and if your dog ever gets any cuts, abrasions, ear infections or hot spots, we hope you keep Banixx Pet Care in mind. Learn why so many pet owners turn to Banixx for their pet care needs at our dog page.