Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are poisonous to dogs
The mechanism of poisoning has not yet been discovered but grapes, raisins or similar fruit, can cause kidney failure and death. Dried fruit in baked items, such as fruit cake, mince pies and hot cross buns are still toxic and should never be fed to your dog. Different dogs have a different tolerance to the amount that they can eat before toxicity occurs. Certain breeds also seem to be affected more severely than others but no breed is safe.
Symptoms of grape or raisin poisoning
- 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
- 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
A prompt appointment is essential 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 you think 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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