They may seem like a perfectly harmless treat, but did you know that grapes, sultanas, currants and raisins can all cause kidney injury in dogs? The cause is unclear. If your dog has a habit of stealing food off the table, be sure to put dried fruit out of reach (including, fruit cakes, hot cross buns and raisin toast).
What Makes Grapes Toxic to Dogs?
This has been a topic of hot debate, but the short answer is that at this stage, nobody really knows. Experts in the field are yet to discover exactly what is in grapes that makes them so dangerous to dogs.
There are several theories (pesticide residues, heavy metal contamination) that have been discredited. It is possible that grapes either contain a compound that is directly toxic to the kidneys or that they result in severe fluid losses (vomiting and diarrhoea) that may predispose dogs to kidney failure.
Health Problems Associated with Grapes And Dogs
If your dog ingests grapes or raisins, the most pressing concern is that it may lead to kidney failure which can be very expensive to treat and is potentially life-threatening. Some animals that develop acute kidney injury will go on to have problems with their kidneys for the rest of their lives, significantly affecting their quality of life.
Signs That Your Dog Has Eaten Grapes
The Animal Poisons Helpline is often contacted about dogs eating grapes. Many cases occur when people leave grapes in reach of pets. Sometimes people drop grapes on the floor when handling or eating them, and dogs quickly gobble them up before they can be stopped.
If you suspect that your dog has ingested any grapes, sultanas, currants, or raisins then please contact the Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738 (AU) or 0800 869 738 (NZ) or your veterinarian immediately. Whilst there are certain symptoms that may occur from grape ingestion, you should never wait for symptoms to develop before seeking help (symptoms can be delayed and may not occur until the damage has been done). In most cases if early treatment is sought, outcomes are good.
What About Cats?
Whilst there is less evidence to suggest that cats may react in a similar way, there are anecdotal reports of kidney injury in cats ingesting grapes.
How Many Grapes Are A Problem?
Because the true mechanism of poisoning is not really understood, all ingestions of grapes should be treated seriously. There have been isolated case reports of dogs developing kidney injury after ingesting small quantities of fruit.
How To Prevent Grape Poisoning In Dogs And Cats
To prevent your pet from ingesting grapes, never leave them within reach of your pet. Common examples include a child leaving a half-eaten bowl of grapes on the couch, or a fruit bowl in easy reach of a daring dog. Consider not feeding grapes to children whilst pets are around and be careful not to drop grapes on the floor in a room with hungry pets.