You might think that grapes are innocuous. These delicious fruits are a staple, showing up as raisins in our cereals or ‘filler fruit’ for various preserves, but it turns out that they are actually quite toxic for your dog. That said, if your dog ate grapes, there are some things that you should know.
Grapes have a chemical in them called tartaric acid, which is highly toxic for dogs and many other animals. Within 72 hours, they can actually shut down your canine’s kidneys, so grape ingestion is one of the more serious dangers that can and does occur.
In today’s article, we’re going to tell you a little more about grape toxicity so that you’ll know the signs and symptoms, what you can do, and also some foodstuffs that you might not have known contain grapes. Let’s take a look at this important health information that you NEED to know about grapes!
Table of Contents
What can happen if a dog eats grapes?
Grape toxicity can actually be lethal, and chemicals in the grape that are harmless to humans can actually cause kidney failure in dogs. Don’t believe us? The AKC backs us up on this in an article which they’ve posted here.
The symptoms may show up quickly, or simply some time within the next 24 to 72 hours, so if you even suspect that your dog might have gotten into some raisins or grapes and especially if you see some in their stool, then you want to get your vet involved right away.
While grapes and raisins sound harmless, many animals cannot filter the chemical profile of this fruit (more on this shortly) and it’s vital that you get your dog to the vet if they have eaten some.
Why are Grapes toxic?
We’ve known that grapes were toxic to some animals for some time, but it wasn’t clear exactly why, and it was a mystery that we would ponder for close to 20 years before someone made a connection. Interestingly enough, the ‘Eureka’ moment didn’t have to do with grapes, but with homemade playdough.
Kids absolutely love the stuff, so naturally their pets might end up ingesting it from time to time in the form of playdough burgers and the like, and the subsequent vet visits isolated the problem as being homemade playdough made with ‘cream of tartar’ – which has tartaric acid.
This acid, incidentally, turned out to be the toxic component of grapes that had thus far eluded us. You can read the American Veterinary Medical Association’s journal entry here for more information, but that’s it in a nutshell – tartaric acid is the chemical that occurs naturally in grapes that is a kidney-killer for dogs and cats!
What amounts are toxic?
Even one grape can be toxic, but now that we know the exact chemical involved, we can give you a little more of an estimate based on body weight. For every pound of body weight of your dog, .3 ounces of grapes is the amount that can make your dog sick. With raisins, it is .5 ounces per pound of body weight.
So, for a 10-pound dog, 3 ounces of grapes or 5 ounces of raisins has the potential to make your dog either very sick or to even cause kidney failure. The biggest problem, aside from the tartaric acid itself, is that the amounts of this chemical will vary with different types of grapes.
As such, while we can give you a general estimate on the toxic amounts, if your dog has ingested even one or two grapes then we recommend contacting your vet right away. Tartaric acid is just too dangerous so you’ll want to err on the side of safety to avoid a potential tragedy.
Symptoms of Grape ingestion
According to the VCA hospital, within the first 24 hours of ingestion a dog may shows signs of lethargy, along with a lack of appetite, vomiting, and they may even develop diarrhea. After the first 24 hours, however, is when this may follow with signs that the kidneys are shutting down:
- Excessive urination
- Severe thirst
- Abdominal pain
- Their breath may smell like ammonia
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
As you can see, these are pretty severe symptoms, so if you even suspect that your dog may have gotten into your raisin stash or absconded with a grape then it’s best to err on the safe side and get your vet involved. You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center toll-free at (888)426-4435.
All forms of Grapes count
Unfortunately, there are no ‘safe’ forms of grapes, with the exception of a grape flavor that is completely synthetic. Grapes, raisins, and currants are toxic and so is grape juice. Wine grapes also have it, so if your dog decides to steal some wine that you are drinking, then this is potentially very serious.
As grapes and raisins are in all kinds of foods, especially bakery treats that seem harmless, you’ll want to be on your guard. To make things a little easier, you can Google ‘grape allergy’ and find lists of food items that contain grapes where you might not expect them. We’re including a few examples to give you a head start:
- Some sourdough bread recipes
- Fermented foods
- Trail mix
- Many fruit preserves
- Some flavored waters
These should give you a general idea, but the overall point is that grapes are all over the place, so you need to watch out carefully. Some empanadas, for instance, have tasty chicken inside but add 3 or 4 raisins for extra flavor and you might not notice it if you aren’t looking for them.
Now that you know about grapes, raisins, and currants, however, you should be well-equipped to better avoid potential health pitfalls for your furry friend.
Some closing comments on grapes
If your dog ate grapes, it is going to be vital that you get some vet assistance right away or contact the ASPCA poison control center at (888)426-4435. While they look harmless and humans can eat them by the bucketload, Canine physiology is just not prepared to digest them properly, and they can cause kidney failure FAST.
If your dog has so much as swallowed one raisin or grape, then you should get them to the vet for a quick checkup to avoid any potential issues. Remember – the amount of toxicity varies from grape to grape, so if your dog ate grapes then it’s best to act now. Your dog’s life may depend on it!