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My Dog Ate Grapes: What Should I Do Next?

If your dog recently ate grapes, the first thing you should do is contact your veterinarian. There are certain things your vet will recommend, and signs you should watch for.

Joanna Woodnutt

Last Updated: September 14, 2020 | 6 min read

Brown Dog Smelling Grapes

This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not substitute as contact with a trained professional. If your dog ate grapes or raisins, we recommend you contact your own veterinarian immediately.

Can dogs eat grapes? Are they toxic? These are questions you are likely asking yourself if your dog recently ate a grape. The answer is no, dogs cannot eat grapes. And, yes, even one grape or raisin can be toxic to dogs. In fact, thanks to some recent informational campaigns, it’s becoming common knowledge that grapes can be toxic to dogs.

But just how toxic are they? What steps should you do if your dog eats one? The answer here is going to depend on a variety of factors, but due to the toxicity levels, the first thing you should do before doing any other research is immediately contact your vet.

While the most common symptom is vomiting, and your dog may live to tell the tale, it’s important you take urgent action. Our veterinarian Jo Woodnutt gives some advice on what you can expect, and steps you should take immediately after it happens.

Are Grapes Poisonous For Dogs?

Maltese dog with foods that are poisonous
There are many different human foods that are quite harmful for dogs.

Veterinarians have known that grapes are toxic to dogs for nearly 20 years. The discovery came about after a centralised toxin database made a pattern clear- dogs were dying of renal failure after consuming grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas. There are many different foods that are quite toxic to dogs. This includes Garlic, Chocolate, Onions, Coffee, and nuts like Macadamia nuts.

The confusing thing is that some dogs can eat these without a problem, whilst some die after a single raisin. 20 years later, we still don’t know why these things are toxic to dogs, and why only some dogs seem to be affected. It doesn’t seem to matter if the grapes are fresh, dried, cooked, raw, organic, or homegrown.

Dogs have been poisoned by both seeded and seedless varieties, and by red and green grapes. Dried grapes used in cooking and baking have also been found to be poisonous, causing the same strange signs as grapes.

Can a Single Grape Kill My Dog?

Dog in Field with Grapes
Even a single grape can cause major health issues in your dog.

Unfortunately, yes, it’s possible for a single grape to kill a dog. Unlike many poisons, grape toxicity doesn’t seem to be dose-dependent. In other words, you can’t take the weight of grapes ingested and the weight of the dog and decide if you need to worry. We don’t yet know whether it’s the individual dog that’s sensitive to the grapes, or whether it’s something in some grapes and not others. Either way, if you and your dog are unlucky, a single grape could kill a dog- even a big one.

My Dog Ate A Grape, What Should I Do?

Dog staring at some Grapes
If your dog ingested grapes by accident, there are steps you’ll need to take right away.

Unfortunately, because grapes are so unpredictable, your dog really needs to see a vet for immediate treatment. Don’t wait until they show symptoms like eating grass, vomiting, etc. By then the damage will have been done and it’s possible it’ll be too late to do anything except supportive care. Here are our step-by-step instructions for what to do if your dog eats a grape.

Make Sure Your Dog Can’t Eat Any More

Like Chicken bones, soap, or any potentially dangerous object or food, you need to limit exposure immediately. This usually means locking your dog in a room so that they can’t get access to any more grapes or clearing up any spills. Don’t forget other pets in the house, too! Get them out of the way, and figure out (if possible) exactly how many grapes your dog consumed.

Phone Your Vet Immediately

Whilst some toxins need you to see how much they ate and how they’re feeling, with grape ingestion it’s best to call your veterinarian right away. If your vet isn’t open, you need to call the nearest open veterinary clinic, which may be an emergency clinic. If you are in the US, you may also be able to call the Pet Poison Helpline to get advice.

Follow Your Vet’s Instructions

Your vet is the best person to advise you on what to do next. Since grape poisoning is so unpredictable, they will probably suggest that you go in for a visit in order to start treatment. This usually involves making the dog sick, administering drugs to block the absorption of toxins, and taking a baseline blood sample so that it’s clear if there’s a problem at a later date. Current advice suggests that dogs are hospitalized for up to 72 hours after eating grapes or raisins, but your vet will discuss that with you so you can make an informed decision.

Do Not Self-Treat Your Dog

It might be tempting to try to treat your dog at home. This is not recommended. Trust your vet to give you the best advice in your individual situation. It’s possible that your dog may not have a life-threatening reaction, but you do not want to risk that they do by self-treating.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are some commonly asked questions around canine grape consumption. We’ve preemptively answered them below, in case you still aren’t clear on your next course of action (which should be to call your vet!).

Should I Make My Dog Throwup?

If your dog eats a grape or raisin, you should call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline for advice. They may ask that you make your dog sick at home and give you the drug combinations they would like you to use. Alternatively, they may recommend a visit for more aggressive therapy. Making your dog sick at home is not risk-free as your dog could inhale their vomit.

In addition, if it doesn’t work it then limits the options for your vet, meaning your dog will be in a worse situation. `Your vet will weigh up these risks when you call them for advice and determine the best course of action. It’s never a good idea to make your dog sick without talking to a professional first, even if they’ve told you to do so in the past.

What Happens When Dogs Eat Grapes?

Grapes cause acute kidney failure in dogs. The toxins in grapes appear to attack part of the canine kidney. Although it appears the kidney can often recover from this damage, dogs will need extreme supportive care until they do. The first and most common symptom of grape poisoning is vomiting. Next comes diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and wobbliness. As the kidneys become affected, dogs may stop urinating, which is a very poor sign.

When Will Symptoms Show Up?

The first symptoms of grape poisoning usually happen within 24 hours. Signs of renal failure on blood tests start to happen after 24-48 hours. If a dog hasn’t had symptoms within 72 hours, it is likely that they’ll make a full recovery. A blood test at this point can show whether any further care is needed.

Will My Dog Be OK?

When grape poisoning was first discovered, only about 50% of dogs survived once they started showing signs of kidney problems. With modern medicine, and increased awareness leading to quicker intervention, this has improved. It’s now thankfully much rarer for a dog to die from eating grapes, as long as they get appropriate treatment. Current recommendations are that dogs should be made to vomit.

They should then receive activated charcoal. Once complete, they should be hospitalized for 72 hours for fluids. We know that not all dogs will get poisoned by grapes, and many will be fine without treatment. However, until we know more about why some dogs seem unaffected, prompt and aggressive treatment for all appears to be necessary.

How Can I Stop My Dog From Eating Grapes?

Since grapes, raisins, currants, and sultanas are extremely unpredictable. The best way to keep your dog safe is to stop them from ever getting hold of any. Make sure that everybody in the house is aware never to feed grapes to the dog. You should actively keep everything that’s toxic away from your dog.

Shut your dog away during snack time if the kids are prone to dropping raisins. You should also be careful of cereals, such as granola, and baked goods including flapjacks, hot cross buns, and Christmas cakes.

Final Thoughts

One tiny grape can seem harmless. Especially if you have a large dog. Unfortunately, even this tiny amount can damage a dog’s kidneys. While many dogs will be fine, there’s no way of knowing whether your dog will be ok or whether they’ll be severely affected.

The only surefire way to ensure that your pup immediately gets the attention they need is to contact your vet immediately for advice. This is the best thing you can do and should be the second thing that happens immediately after removing grapes from your pup’s reach.

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