Grape or Raisin Poisoning in Dogs

Key Takeaways

Grape toxicosis is poisoning caused by the ingestion of a toxic dose of grapes, raisins, or currants. 

• Since this type of toxicosis is not fully understood, even a very small number of grapes should be considered a toxic dose

A dog who has ingested any amount of grape species, including raisins, needs emergency care

• Symptoms of grape toxicosis include vomiting, little or no urine production, diarrhea, ammonia-smelling breath, and abdominal pain

Gastrointestinal decontamination via inducing vomiting immediately after ingestion has the best prognosis. Induction of vomiting should only be performed under veterinary guidance. There is no safe way to induce vomiting at home.

• Physical examination, blood work, and urinalysis are used to determine whether kidney failure has developed

• Treatment after kidney failure has developed is supportive in nature and includes IV fluids and anti-nausea medications

• Prognosis depends on how quickly treatment begins after ingestion has occurred

A Closer Look: What is Grape Poisoning in Dogs?

Grape toxicosis is a poorly understood condition, and the underlying mechanism causing toxicity is unknown. Not all dogs who ingest these fruits develop symptoms of poisoning. Clinical signs of grape toxicosis may be divided into early and late-onset symptoms. 

Early symptoms of grape toxicosis usually appear 24 hours after ingestion and include:

• Lethargy • Lack of appetite  • Diarrhea • Vomiting 

Later symptoms, caused by kidney failure, appear 48 hours to several days after ingestion and include:

• Vomiting • Abdominal pain • Smell of ammonia in the breath • Inability to urinate • Reduced water consumption

• Coma

Risk Factors

Grape toxicosis is uncommon in dogs, and many owners are unaware that grapes are toxic to pets. There is no safe number of grapes which can be consumed, since as little as one grape per 10 pounds of body weight can result in kidney failure. Grape toxicosis is an emergency. Immediate medical attention is warranted, as early gastrointestinal decontamination significantly increases the animal’s chances of recovery. Not all dogs who ingest these fruits get poisoned and there is no way of predicting which dogs may be affected.

Possible Causes

Grape toxicosis can be caused by the consumption of any plant belonging to the Vitis genus:

• Grapes • Raisins • Sultanas

• Currants: in the United States and the United Kingdom, "currants" refer to the Zante currant, dried Corinth grapes the size of raisins

The mechanism causing poisoning in dogs is currently unknown. The kidneys are the most severely affected organ in this condition, and many cases result in kidney failure.

Main Symptoms

Symptoms of grape toxicosis include:

Lethargy • Lack of appetite • Diarrhea • Vomiting

Testing and Diagnosis

Symptoms of grape poisoning are nonspecific. During the first 48 hours, the dog exhibits symptoms common to a number of conditions, including dietary indiscretions. If ingestion of grapes is known, this information will guide diagnosis.

Dogs presenting generalized signs of illness usually receive the following work-up:

• Discussion of the animal's dietary history • Physical examination • Analysis of the dog's vomit • Blood work

• Urinalysis

Steps to Recovery

There is no antidote for grape toxicosis. When ingestion of grapes is known to have occurred, and before the onset of symptoms, treatment focuses on gastrointestinal decontamination through induction of vomiting. Early veterinary care is the best way to remove the fruit from the animal’s system. There is no way to safely or effectively induce vomiting at home

Once symptoms start to appear, therapy is supportive and includes: 

• Gastrointestinal decontamination • IV fluid therapy • Anti-nausea medication • Dialysis

• Diuretics to encourage urination

Prognosis varies from very good to extremely poor. It depends on the sensitivity of the particular dog, how quickly decontamination occurs, the amount of ingested fruit, and if the animal has developed kidney failure. Dogs that develop kidney failure require lifelong management often involving medications and repeated bloodwork.

Prevention

Grape toxicosis is not contagious. Prevention depends on the diligent storage of produce and trash.

Is Grape Poisoning Common in Dogs?

Grape toxicosis is uncommon in dogs. Many owners are unaware that grapes are toxic to pets.

Typical Treatment

Typical treatment of grape toxicosis may include: 

• Gastrointestinal decontamination  • IV fluids  • Anti-nausea medication • Dialysis

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