In this article we take a look at grape and raisin toxicity in dogs, a problem we often face at this time of year. Grapes and raisins of all types have been associated with acute renal failure, a problem that in some cases can be fatal.
Posted: 15 December 2018
The Christmas period is a particularly risky time of year with so many food offerings containing these fruits. Mince pies, Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, Stollen bread, fruit loaf and many chutneys all contain lots of raisins. It’s therefore so important to get the message spread to avoid accidental snacking by our canine friends.
At the moment, pathologists and clinicians don’t know why the fruit is toxic, but some of the potential reasons include;
Clinical experience shows that a dog is more likely to be affected when large quantities of fruit are eaten. It also appears that some individuals are more sensitive than others. Some dogs appear to tolerate small doses of the fruit without consequence whilst others can show signs of toxicity after the ingestion of just a few grapes or raisins. However, there is no sure way to predict which dogs may be more sensitive, so the advice is always to keep dogs away from foods containing these fruits.
Any animal with a history of having eaten raisins and then found to be in early, mid or advanced renal failure should be considered suffering from this form of toxicity, especially if the renal failure is unexpected. Look for some or all of the following signs.
Within the first 24 hours, most affected dogs will show signs of vomiting.
In the following 1-2 days after eating the fruit, dogs may go on to develop;
When presented with a suspected grape poisoning, it’s wise to recommend a full complement of diagnostic tests such as a haematology report, a serum biochemistry profile, and a urinalysis to assess the amount of damage to the kidneys. These test results will help determine the prognosis.
Treatment options include;
Even asymptomatic patients that have been adequately decontaminated should have a renal panel and electrolytes monitored for 2-3 days post-ingestion.
Overall, the prognosis varies significantly from one individual to another. It will depend on the time before decontamination and the response to treatment. Dogs that go on to develop oliguria or anuria generally are much more of a concern and have a poorer prognosis. Fortunately around half of all dogs that eat grapes and raisins never develop any clinical signs, though in practice it’s still wise to start early treatment for all animals.
At present, grape and raisin poisoning has only been identified as a problem in dogs. However, since there are still many unknowns associated with this poisoning, it would be sensible to avoid feeding grapes and raisins to other animals.
If you’re presented with a case this winter, don’t forget to get help and advice from the Veterinary Poisons Information Service.
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