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Grape and Raisin Toxicity

Grapes and raisins are a lesser known toxin to dog and cat owners, but one that every pet owner should be aware of! This toxicity can be even more dangerous than chocolate! Grapes and raisins can lead to kidney damage or even life-threatening kidney failure.

Often, owners don’t realize grapes and raisins are toxic and feed them to their pets. Other times, mischievous pets get into a bowl of grapes on the counter, a box of raisins in a Halloween candy stash, trail mix, a freshly made fruitcake, or even a wine spill.

So, what do pet owners need to know? Here are some answers to the most common questions about grape and raisin toxicity.

Are grapes and raisins toxic to cats?

While the majority of toxicity cases are with dogs, there have been reports of cats showing grape and raisin toxicity signs. These are less common because cats don’t typically indulge in grapes or raisins.

Why are grapes and raisins toxic to pets?

No one knows yet what specific part of the grape is toxic or how the toxicity even occurs. We suspect that the toxic effect is due to the pet’s inability to metabolize:

1: Certain parts of the grape, such as tannins.

2: Toxins or pesticides that may be present on the grape’s skin.

3: Chemicals within the fruit that cause kidney damage.

Dogs should not eat any part of a grape, raisin, or drink juices containing grapes (including wine).

What happens when my pet eats grapes or raisins?

Not every dog and cat is affected, but when a grape toxicity does occur, it can be very severe and life-threatening.

What do I do if I suspect my dog or cat ate grapes or raisins?

We recommend IMMEDIATE veterinary treatment for any dog or cat that ate (or is suspected of eating) grapes or raisins. We often have owners bring in multiple pets because they don’t know who the culprit is. DO NOT wait for visible symptoms or signs. Every second counts when it comes to treating grapes/raisins toxicity.

What will the veterinarian do to treat my pet?

1: Decontamination
The first step in treatment is decontamination. If your pet was caught early enough, it’s very important to get the grapes or raisins out of your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. Your family veterinarian or ER veterinarian will induce vomiting using a medication called apomorphine.

2: Charcoal
The next step commonly involves giving oral charcoal medication to help bind to any remaining substances in the GI tract. This medication is obtained by a veterinarian and is not available over-the-counter.

3: Blood Work
Baseline blood work is obtained to evaluate what the kidney values are at the time of ingestion.

4: Hospitalization
Hospitalization is typically recommended for 48 hours for IV fluids to help increase the production of urine and protect the kidneys. During hospitalization, blood work is checked frequently to monitor the kidneys for up to 72 hours post ingestion. If kidney damage does occur, it can be very severe and life-threatening. If there are no signs of kidney damage after 2-3 days of being hospitalized, many dogs can do well!

Can I give my pet hydrogen peroxide at home?

We DO NOT recommend giving hydrogen peroxide at home to induce vomiting. This can often cause severe oral or stomach ulcerations.

With grape and raisin toxicity, prevention is worth a pound of cure. Ensure your pet never has access to grapes and raisins, and don’t feed them as treats. If you suspect your pet ate grapes, raisins, or any other toxic item, contact your family veterinarian or local veterinary emergency hospital right away. Every second counts! The sooner you bring your pet in, the better chance of survival and recovery.

Written by Colette Nix, DVM

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