When you have dogs around your home, it can be very easy to think and feel that you can feed them anything. It’s often the misconception that for as long as it’s healthy for human beings, then your four-legged friend can have it, too. However, a dog isn’t like human beings, and their bodies are also created differently. This early on, it’s important to set the record straight that there are some fruits that may only do more harm than good to your dog. In fact, it can poison and kill them.
If your dog is anything like mine, it will eat anything that smells or looks tasty. My dog has a love for barbecued sausages but isn’t picky – sandwiches, jam donuts, ice cream and toppings, whatever he can get his teeth into…
When I sometimes have my nephews over at the weekend, I like to serve them some ice cream with fruits as dessert. The problem is that one of these fruits is extremely toxic to dogs.
How this can cause problems is my nephews tend to prefer the ice cream to the fruit and could end up unloading the fruit into my dogs’ mouth.
Usually this wouldn’t be a problem but if you feed your dog this fruit it could be fatal. The point being is it’s an easy mistake to make that anyone could make and it’s important for you and all friends and family to be aware of this fruit. If this happens to me, then it could to you, too. After all, this is an all-too-familiar scenario that may be present in almost every home.
Believe it or not that fruit is grapes, yes you read that correctly grapes are toxic to dogs – let me explain exactly why now.
Grapes and Their Effect on Your Dog
Grapes fall on top of the list of fruits that aren’t healthy for your dogs. The problem is that even small amounts of grapes are toxic to dogs and can cause acute renal failure.
It’s not exactly known why grapes are toxic to dogs. Researchers think the toxicity is in the flesh rather than the skin or seeds. So, peeling your pooches’ grapes or buying seedless grapes won’t help.
The issue came to the forefront in the late 1990’s when the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) became aware of several otherwise healthy dogs suffering kidney failure after eating grapes (or raisins).
This piqued the ASPCA’s interest and lead to a study that tracked the outcomes of 43 dogs who ate grapes and / or raisins. The study, Acute Renal Failure in Dogs After the Ingestion of Grapes or Raisins: A Retrospective Evaluation of 43 Dogs, was published in 2005 in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
These are some of the metrics included in the study:
- Now, to clear some things up. It wasn’t just one or two grapes. These dogs ate an average of 496 grams of grapes with an intake range between 8 grams and nearly 900 grams.
- The average weight of the dogs when they got sick was 25 kilograms. The weight range was between 8kg and 48kg.
- Golden Labradors made up 30% of those 43 dogs although they only make up only one of 360 dogs breeds worldwide.
- The average age of the 43 dogs was 4.0 years, but the dogs ranged between 6 months and 13 years.
- All the dogs vomited. In decreasing order the other symptoms were lethargy (77% of dogs), anorexia (72% of dogs), diarrhea (51% of dogs), reduced urine output (49% of dogs), abdominal pain (29% of dogs), ataxia (23% of dogs), and general weakness (19% of dogs).
- Most dogs experienced multiple symptoms. Symptoms typically began 24 hours after eating the grapes.
The most common symptom of grape poisoning is vomiting. This, then, leads to kidney failure, with symptoms including drinking frequent urination.
What to Do If Your Dog Eats Grapes
Like humans, a dog’s digestive system recoils against any toxic foods and tries to expel them. This explains the universal rate of vomiting and high rate of diarrhea.
If you think your dog has just eaten grapes or raisins, the official advice is to get your dog to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. The veterinarian will induce vomiting, pump your dog’s stomach, and administer charcoal.
If no veterinarian is at hand, you can induce vomiting in your dog yourself. 5ml (or one teaspoon) of hydrogen peroxide for every 5 kilograms of your dog’s body weight administered orally to your dog should induce vomiting. But ideally, it is a job for the veterinarian.
Often you won’t become aware of the problem until your dog is vomiting or voiding their bowels. Grape residue in vomit and fecal matter is a tell-tale sign of poisoning.
However, there are also instances when it isn’t safe to induce vomiting, such as when the following situations occur:
- When you’re unsure of what it is that your dog has eaten
- When your dog is unconscious
- When your dog is showing signs of shock
- When your dog has difficulty breathing
- When the diarrhea isn’t yet to a high rate
In the first bullet, this is precisely the reason why it’s very important to be careful with what you feed your dogs. Never feed anything that you’re unsure of. If there are specialized food for the breed of your dog, like the best dog food for Shih Tzu and other breeds, stick to it. You’d rather be safe than sorry.
Be on the lookout also for other symptoms, like the following:
- If your dog isn’t eating, is having difficulty urinating, is unusually lethargic, these are all symptoms to be aware of.
- If you suspect a problem – get your dog to the veterinarian, they can run biochemistry tests quickly which will help determine what the problem is.
- Loss of appetite
- Seizures and tremors in your dog, particularly when this has never happened before
- Lethargy, weakness, and quietness
- Foul breath and oral ulcers
What Happens When Dogs Eat Grapes
When dogs eat grapes, the outcomes can be catastrophic. Only 53% of the 43 dogs survived in that study. Some of those dogs were so sick they had to be euthanized.
Grapes are one fruit you should never feed you dog.
Outcomes for Dogs After Eating Grapes
Of those 43 dogs in the research sample, 15 made a complete recovery. That’s good news for them and their owners.
20 of the dogs died after eating grapes.
That leaves 8 dogs who did not make a full recovery, suffering ongoing kidney issues.
A dog that suffers a particularly adverse reaction to eating grapes may be required to have ongoing hemo-dialysis until the kidneys recover.
Some dogs may need a kidney transplant to survive.
What’s My Advice?
We’ve talked about what to do after your dog has eaten grapes.
Pro-activity is far preferable to reactivity and the best possible solution is to keep grapes away from your dog.
If you have guests around your table, as I often do, and a dog that likes to scrounge snacks, make sure your guests know what they can and cannot feed him/her.
It’s not just grapes, lots of tasty lunchtime foods like avocado and tiramisu can makes dogs very sick. For a more complete list of foods you shouldn’t feed your dog check out this article.
Just as you watch what small children eat and keep dangerous foodstuffs well out of reach, so too you should with your dog!
Final Word / Conclusion
Generally, it’s safe to feed your dog with fruits. These are rich in minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants that prove to be nothing less than healthy for yourself, hence also for your four-legged family members. But, in reading this, you’re now more enlightened that not all fruits have this effect on dogs. Grapes, in particular, can be very toxic for dogs.