Q: My neighbor told me that grapes are poisonous for dogs. I’ve never heard this before, and I was hoping you could tell me if this is true or not. J.P., Farragut
A: Grapes and raisins can absolutely be poisonous to dogs, but not every dog that eats grapes or raisins will be affected. Many dogs that eat grapes never get sick, but a small percentage will go into acute kidney failure. Veterinary researchers have been unable to identify the reason why and have found no correlation regarding age, sex or breed.
The toxin seems to be in the flesh and/or the peel of the grape. However, the seeds or oil from the seeds do not appear to make dogs ill. There have also been reports of grape/raisin toxicity in cats, but it seems that most cats don’t like the flavor of grapes/raisins, so toxicities don’t occur frequently.
Since we don’t know which dogs will and will not be adversely affected, it is recommended that all pets that have ingested grapes/raisins be treated. Inducing vomiting as soon as possible is an important part of treatment. Medications are given to aid in absorbing the toxins and to protect the stomach and intestines.
Dogs are admitted to the hospital and placed on a high rate of intravenous fluids. Kidney enzymes are closely monitored for 72 hours. Prognosis can be quite variable and is based on the amount of grapes/raisins eaten, the size of the dog and the time lapse before treatment.
If you have pets in your house, be sure that everyone in the house knows not to feed grapes or raisins. Not everyone is aware of this, as this was only recognized 10 to 15 years ago.
So tell a friend, like your neighbor did, and help spread the word.
If you have questions about your pet, you may e-mail Dr.
Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org