Question: I heard that grapes and raisins can be toxic for my dog. Is this true?
It is indeed true that grapes and raisins are potentially toxic to dogs. The mechanism of this toxicity is not entirely understood and the nature is idiosyncratic and not known to be dose related, with some dogs showing no signs after ingesting many grapes or raisins and others becoming very sick after just one grape or raisin. The toxicity seen with grape and raisin ingestion may be characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, and acute renal failure. Acute renal failure can lead to death, and therefore if you suspect your dog may have ingested raisins or grapes it is important to seek veterinary care right away. Since it is unknown which animals will become sick from grape/raisin ingestion and at what dosage, treatment of all suspected intoxications is recommended to err on the side of caution. Since digestion and absorption of grapes and raisins is slow, it is beneficial to induce vomiting up to several hours after suspected ingestion to get out as many grapes and raisins from the pet’s gastrointestinal tract as possible and therefore decrease risk of toxicity as much as possible. Baseline and serial monitoring of kidney values and electrolytes via blood testing is recommended every 24 hours for up to 72 hours post suspected or known ingestion of the grapes or raisins. It is ideal to put any dog that is suspected to have eaten raisins or grapes on IV fluids for 24 to 48 hours as it is unknown which patients will develop more serious renal disease. Unfortunately there is no known antidote for grape and raisin toxicosis and prevention of exposure and a quick response to any suspected ingestion is the best medicine!