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Can Dogs Eat Grapes? The Evidence Screams A Loud No!

Writer, Mom of a Fab Fur Fam of Five | + posts

Lynn is a writer and long-time Learning & Development Manager at a large PNW retailer. She's also mom to 3 dogs & 2 cats!

Most fruits and vegetables are not only acceptable to offer your dog, they carry many nutritious benefits. Unfortunately, this is not the case for grapes or raisins. These tasty fruits can be very toxic to your dog and could cause acute kidney failure or even death. Find out more about this dangerous fruit and why you should NEVER share them with your canine companion.

Can my dog eat grapes?

Grapes, and their dried counterpart the raisin or currant, are included in many fruit bowls and salads around the world. They carry many benefits for humans, including antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and loads of vitamins and minerals. But for dogs, they spell big trouble.

When we talk about grapes (of any color and including seedless), we are also talking about raisins, currants, and grape juice. These fruits contain toxins that can poison your dog and potentially cause acute kidney failure and even death in 72 hours or less. 

Let’s look at the reasons why grapes in any of their forms should never be offered to your dog.

Are grapes toxic to dogs?

There has been a lot of research done analyzing grape and raisin toxicity, and scientists have found no straightforward answers. Here are some theories that have been ruled out.

  • Fungus and Molds: Fungus or molds on grapes or raisins proving toxic to dogs were ruled out. Studies of grapes from many origins (wineries, organic grown, backyard gardens, commercial farms, and grocery stores) found no correlation between the unique sources of the fruit.
  • Seeds: Research proved that seedless grapes were just as toxic, so they do not consider the seeds as the toxin.
  • Allergies: Dogs can show allergies to plant-based foods, but it’s not common. The evidence wasn’t consistent enough to prove allergies as a reaction to the fruit.
  • Pesticides: They studied grapes and raisins from different countries using different farming practices. Whether the fruit was grown organically, or with pesticides, the toxicity remained the same.
  • Salicylate: Scientists ruled out this aspirin-like compound found naturally in grapes as the toxin causing dogs to get sick.

So while we don’t know for sure why dogs develop a toxic reaction from grapes, we know it comes from something in the skin or the fruit’s meat. For that reason, grapes are not a fruit dog owners can give to their dog in any form.

Are grape seeds toxic to dogs?

Grapeseed extract has been a supplement for dogs with arthritis for years, with no wide adverse effects. So while the safety is mainly unproven, there seems to be no correlation between the toxicity of the grapes and grape seed extract. 

However, since the toxic reaction to grapes can be different for each dog, veterinarians advise avoiding all grape products.

What about grape juice?

Since grape juice is a direct product from the grape’s meat and skin, it is toxic to dogs.

This is also true for any cooked product (like muffins, cakes, mixed juices, etc.) containing grapes, raisins, or currants.

How many grapes can hurt my dog?

All dogs are different. That said, studies on dog breeds and grape or raisin ingestion suggest any amount of grape can be poisonous.

Keep in mind that body weight may matter when grapes have been ingested. A Pomeranian or Yorkie might have a much lower tolerance to the same amount of grapes as a large dog, like a Labrador or Shepherd. 

For the larger dogs, a grape or two may not cause any problems, but even one grape could cause acute renal failure in a smaller dog. And some large dogs will react to very few grapes, too. 

There is no absolute conclusion for how many grapes will cause a problem for your dog. The risk factor making one dog more susceptible to grape poisoning than another is unknown. The best solution is to make sure all grapes, raisins, and currants are outside of your dog’s reach.

What if my dog ate grapes?

If you suspect your dog has gotten into the fruit bowl and swiped a few grapes, call your vet or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Even if you aren’t sure your dog ate the grapes, or if it was a large amount, waiting until the symptoms start could be too late. Research has suggested that the sooner treatment for grape poisoning begins, the better the outcome.

Watch for these symptoms of grape poisoning:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea: Usually happens within 2-12 hours.
  • Abdominal pain: Abdomen will be tender to the touch. It can happen in 12-24 hours.
  • Loss of appetite: 24-48 hours after ingestion.
  • Weakness, lethargy: Can happen within 24-48 hours of ingestion.
  • Dehydration: Signs are panting, a dry nose and mouth, and pale gums.
  • Increase in thirst: This could mean an increase in urination or a decrease in urine production to the extreme of no urine production. This symptom may signal the beginning of acute kidney failure and can happen 24-72 hours after ingestion.
  • Kidney failure: This can be fatal if not treated immediately. Symptoms may present within 72 hours.

If you know or suspect your dog ate grapes, call your vet. If it’s been less than two hours since ingestion, you may be directed to induce vomiting. Your veterinarian will tell you the best way to do that.

What is the treatment for a dog with grape poisoning?

  • If it’s been less than two hours since the grapes were eaten, the vet will immediately induce vomiting. Once the stomach is empty, they will give activated charcoal to bind the toxins and prevent absorption, limiting any additional kidney damage. 
  • They may order urinalysis and blood work to assess kidney function and any damage. 

The prognosis can be very serious if there is kidney involvement, but many dogs have recovered after eating grapes and receiving immediate medical care.
The important thing to remember is grapes in any form are not safe for dogs and should be avoided under any circumstance. If you suspect your dog got into grapes or is showing grape/raisin toxicity symptoms, call your vet or the ASPCA Poison Control (888-426-4435) immediately.

As much as pet owners enjoy sharing their food with their dogs, grapes are not a fruit to share. They are toxic and may cause acute kidney failure if not caught immediately. So for your dog’s well-being, keep grapes well away from their curious noses!

Ruh-rohs and meow-ches happen!

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