Dog laying down looking sad raisin sultana ingestion

Are grapes and raisins poisonous to dogs?

Up until recently ingestion of any number of grapes/raisins/sultanas was considered potentially dangerous to dogs. The Veterinary Poisons Information Service now advises that ingestion of a single grape is very unlikely to be harmful and close monitoring is acceptable. However, if it was more than one, you are not sure how many have been ingested, or your pet is showing clinical signs, they should be assessed by a vet immediately.

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Symptoms of grape or raisin poisoning in dogs

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea (possibly with blood present)
  • Excess salivation/drooling
  • Poor appetite
  • Increased drinking or urination
  • Weak and wobbly when walking
  • Lethargy and tiredness
  • Bad breath
  • Dehydration
  • Blood in the urine

Causes of grape or raisin poisoning

The specific mechanism of poisoning has not yet been discovered. Several theories exist, including: a component of the grape skin, a chemical on the grapes or raisins prior to purchasing them or an organism that grows either on or within the grape or raisin.

What you can do yourself

TVM UK, an animal health company, has developed an easy-to-remember acronym - S.P.E.E.D - to help owners if they think that their dog has eaten or drunk something poisonous. Your vet only has a short time frame to try to minimise the absorption of the poison so immediate treatment is essential and potentially life-saving.

S - Stop access to any poison. It may seem obvious but stop your dog eating or drinking any more of the substance.

P - Phone the vet. Keep your vet’s phone number and their emergency (out of hours) number handy in case you ever need them.

E - Emergency appointment. You cannot ‘wait and see’ with poisons. Many do not affect your pet straight away. Some can take several days to show symptoms whilst there is ongoing damage to the internal organs. Getting your pet seen immediately gives them the best chance to get effective treatment.

E - Evidence - Knowing what the potential poison is will really help your vet to make a rapid diagnosis and create the best treatment protocol for a successful recovery. If you have a label of the substance then take it with you. If you don’t have a label but have access to the substance then bring a sample to the vet for testing (only if it is safe to do so and you are not putting yourself or anyone else in danger). If you don’t have a label or a sample but your dog has been sick, then bring a sample of this with you (if safe to do so) as the ingredient may be present in the vomit. If you don’t have access to any of these then don’t worry as your pet’s blood can be tested via certain laboratories.

D- Don’t delay. Never wait because it could be too late. Act straight away!

Treatment of grape or raisin poisoning in dogs

If you dog has eaten grapes, raisins or sultanas, prompt examination is important and potentially life-saving. Your vet only has a short time frame to minimise the absorption of the toxins before they start causing harm. In the first instance your vet will try to make the dog sick to remove the stomach contents and this must happen within the first two hours. After this time the food will move on into the small intestine. Do not try to make your dog sick at home as this may cause harm and will delay treatment. Activated charcoal may be given after vomiting has been induced to reduce absorption of the toxins. Pets needing more intensive treatment may be hospitalised. Intravenous fluid therapy is given together with drugs to encourage urine output and reduce the risk of kidney damage. Blood tests will be done to monitor kidney function.

When to see your physical veterinarian

  • If your dog has eaten grapes or raisins, or you notice any signs of poisoning, then contact your veterinarian immediately and make an emergency appointment.
  • Visit TVM UK for more information on common poisons that can affect your pet.

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