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Forbidden Fruit! The Hidden Dangers of Grapes and Raisins for Small Dog Breeds


Two Cute dog faces with vector cartoon images of grapes and raisin. The tile is "Forbidden Fruit: The hidden dangers of grapes and raisin for small dog breeds."



Introduction


Grapes and raisins are delicious and nutritious fruits enjoyed by humans worldwide. However, they can be extremely dangerous, and even deadly, for dogs if ingested. This article will examine why grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs, which breeds are most susceptible, the signs and symptoms of toxicity, how it's diagnosed and treated, the prognosis for affected dogs, and most importantly, how to prevent exposure and what to do if your dog eats grapes or raisins. By the end, dog owners will understand the serious risks of grapes and raisins and be equipped to protect their pups. The focus will be on small dog breeds, which tend to experience more severe reactions as compared to larger dogs. This vital information could save your dog's life.




Image of a small white dog with a Tartaric Acid warning

Why Grapes and Raisins are Toxic to Dogs


The exact mechanisms and compounds that cause toxicity in dogs when ingesting grapes or raisins had been a mystery until just recently. The toxicity was thought to be a combination of a few compounds found in grapes. But after a case study was conducted, motivated by a dog that showed similar symptoms after ingesting homemade playdough, science has pinpointed the culprit. The playdough recipe contained cream of tartar, which contains tartaric acid, and is also found in grapes and raisins. This acid was responsible for high levels of nitrogen in the blood.



Symptoms of Grape or Raisin Toxicity


Cute Small breed dog with a vector cartoon image of a clipboard listing symptoms a dog may get after eating grapes or raisins.

Dogs that have ingested grapes or raisins may show signs of toxicity within a few hours. The most common symptoms include:


Vomiting - One of the earliest signs of grape or raisin toxicity is vomiting. Dogs may vomit multiple times after ingesting grapes or raisins. The vomit may contain pieces of grapes or raisins. 


Diarrhea - Dogs with grape or raisin toxicity often develop diarrhea, which may be bloody or watery. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration if left untreated.


Loss of appetite - Dogs who have eaten grapes or raisins typically lose interest in food and may refuse meals. 


Lethargy - Affected dogs may become tired and weak, uncharacteristically less active and energetic than usual.


Increased thirst - Toxicity can cause dehydration, leading to increased thirst as the body tries to replace lost fluids. Dogs may drink more water than normal.


Abdominal pain - Dogs may whine, whimper, or cry out in pain when pressure is applied to their belly. This indicates abdominal discomfort.


Dehydration - Vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst can result in dehydration as fluid is lost faster than it can be replaced. Dehydration is marked by loss of skin elasticity, dry gums, and weakness.


Kidney failure - Grapes and raisins can cause sudden kidney failure, which is potentially fatal. Signs include increased urination, clotting issues, and fluid buildup.


Should a dog show any combination of these signs after ingesting grapes or raisins, toxicity could be suspected. The sooner treatment begins, the better the prognosis.


Diagnosis


Veterinarians will diagnose grape or raisin toxicity based on the dog's symptoms and history. If the owner knows or suspects the dog has ingested grapes or raisins, they should inform the vet immediately. 


The vet will perform a physical exam, looking for symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, or seizures. They may also check the dog's gums and hydration status. 


Diagnostic tests like bloodwork and urinalysis can help confirm grape/raisin toxicity. These tests may show elevated kidney values, low blood calcium, and the presence of grape or raisin particles in the digestive tract. 


Abdominal X-rays can sometimes detect grapes or raisins still in the stomach. An ultrasound of the abdomen may also be performed to check for kidney issues or obstruction.


The combination of clinical signs, history of ingestion, and diagnostic test results allows vets to definitively diagnose grape or raisin toxicity. Quick diagnosis is key so treatment can be started right away, giving the dog the best chance of recovery.


Treatment


Treatment for grape and raisin toxicity focuses on decontamination and supportive care. Be diligent in reacting and seeking professional advice right away. There are multiple steps needed to treat a dog that becomes symptomatic. The first step is to induce vomiting if the ingestion occurred within the last 2 hours. This helps remove any remaining grapes or raisins from the stomach before they can be absorbed. 


Activated charcoal may also be given to help absorb any toxins still in the gastrointestinal tract. The dog will also be given IV fluids to help flush out the kidneys and maintain hydration. 


Other supportive care measures include monitoring blood work for signs of kidney damage, controlling nausea or diarrhea symptoms, and addressing any other complications that arise. The vet may recommend hospitalization and close monitoring for at least 72 hours after ingestion.


Dogs with severe kidney damage may require more aggressive treatments like dialysis to remove toxins from the blood. However, most dogs will fully recover within 3-4 days with prompt veterinary treatment.


Prognosis


The prognosis for dogs that have ingested grapes or raisins depends on how quickly treatment is administered and the amount consumed. 


With prompt veterinary treatment, most dogs make a full recovery. However, the toxins in grapes and raisins can cause severe, acute kidney injury, which can be fatal if not treated right away. 


Dogs that ingest large quantities of grapes or raisins are at higher risk for irreversible kidney damage and death, even with treatment. Studies show the mortality rate ranges from 15-40% in dogs with grape or raisin toxicity.


However, if treated promptly before kidney failure develops, the prognosis is good. Vomiting within a few hours of ingestion can help eliminate some of the toxins. Aggressive IV fluid therapy and medications started within the first 24 hours can prevent kidney damage from worsening. 


With early treatment, most dogs will recover kidney function and avoid any long-term kidney problems. The sooner treatment is started, the better the chances are for a full recovery.


Small Breeds Beware


small dog with vector cartoon art of grapes and raisins sitting with a sign that reads "Smal amounts of raisins or a few grapes can be dangerous to dogs."

While all dogs are susceptible to the dangers of grapes and raisins, smaller dog breeds are reported more often than bigger dog breeds. The culprit behind the toxicity in grapes and raisins was just newly discovered, and the amount linked to dog weight isn’t always the same. So the reasoning as to why smaller breeds seem to be at a higher risk isn’t fully understood. The common thought is the environment, dog behavior, and biology, could hold responsibility for how a dog is affected by the toxicity in grapes and raisins.


Smaller dogs have a smaller system so a toxic level to their size could be linked with more reported cases than the bigger breeds. Meaning, that toxicity is linked to body weight. Smaller breeds metabolize differently across breeds. Therefore biology could hold a link as to why some small breeds are reported more often than other breeds. Even though the science hasn’t caught up, it appears size matters.


Behavior aspects could also be a culprit, human owners are more apt to feed the smaller breeds human food than the owners of the bigger breeds. With the rise of raw food diets, this is changing drastically and more dog owners are transitioning to real foods. 


So while grapes and raisins are toxic to all dogs, smaller breeds experience the poisoning effects more often than the bigger breeds. Keep reading for prevention tips. 



Prevention


Small dog in a cartoon vector image with grapes and raisins and a sign that reads "Prevention Tips"

The key to safety is always prevention. The best scenario is to simply not have grapes or raisins in the home.  Never feed grapes, raisins, or foods containing them to your dog. While most owners of the small breeds tend to treat their dogs like children, do not give grapes or raisins as a snack. It’s wonderful to supplement your dog's diet with healthy real fruits and vegetables. Just like children, most of these foods are an asset to your dog's nutritional needs. It is important to research what you feed your dog. 5Strands genetic nutritional testing provides amazing options that are tailored to your dog's specific needs.  But never give your dog grapes or raisins. Even small amounts can be dangerous.


Keep grapes, raisins, and foods containing them stored safely out of your dog's reach. Make sure they are stored in containers that your dog can not access. Plastic bags and fruit bowls do not qualify as 'dog safe." Never leave grapes and raisins unattended on countertops or tables. Store security immediately when putting groceries away. 


If small children reside in the home, refrain or supervise closely when snacks including grapes and raisins are provided. Always inform children, at age-appropriate stages, of the dangers grapes and raisins can have on family pets.  


When eating grapes or raisins, be careful not to drop any on the floor where your dog could eat them.


Do not share grape products like juice or jelly with your dog. The grapes used to make them are still toxic. Be diligent with baked snacks including raisins. It might seem like a healthy treat, but baked goods containing raisins could turn from good to bad quickly. 


When dog walking avoid areas where dropped grapes or raisins may be present, like vineyards. Watch for wild grape vines on your personal property or in any locations you may frequent with your furry family member. For example: hiking trails, dog parks, or bike paths. 


Carefully read ingredient labels on new treats, foods, or medications before giving them to your dog. Avoid products containing grapes or raisins.


When in doubt, do not give your dog any food containing grapes or raisins. Prevention is the best way to avoid toxicity.


What to Do if Your Dog Eats Grapes or Raisins


If you suspect your dog has eaten grapes or raisins, immediate action is crucial. Here are the steps you should take: Call your vet or the Animal Poison Control Center. They can advise you on whether to induce vomiting or bring your dog for professional monitoring.


Rapid action is key to preventing kidney damage in dogs that have ingested grapes or raisins. Know the signs of toxicity and don't hesitate to call your vet or poison control at the first sign of a problem. With prompt treatment, most dogs make a full recovery.


Conclusion


Grape and raisin toxicity in dogs is a serious health threat, especially for small dog breeds. Even small amounts can lead to kidney failure and death if left untreated. Key takeaways include:


Grapes, raisins, and foods containing them should be kept far away from dogs. Even small quantities can be dangerous.


Vomiting, lethargy, and other symptoms may arise within 24 hours of ingestion. Immediate veterinary care is crucial.


Treatment focuses on inducing vomiting and providing IV fluids to flush toxins and support kidney function. The prognosis is good if treated early.  


Certain breeds like Chihuahuas and Yorkies are especially susceptible due to their small size. However, all dogs are at risk.


Preventing access to grapes and raisins is key. Check labels before feeding treats and human foods. Keep counters and tables clear.


If ingestion is suspected, call your vet or animal poison control right away. Swift action can save your dog's life.


Raising awareness and staying vigilant are the best ways to protect dogs from this threat. While scary, the outlook can be positive if grape or raisin toxicity is addressed quickly.


Three small dogs behind a vector cartoon image of a sign that reads "Animal Poison Control Center (888)426-4435

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