No, dogs should not eat grapes as they are toxic and can be extremely harmful to them.
Grapes, along with raisins, sultanas and currants, are well-known to be dangerous for dogs. Even small amounts of grapes can lead to severe health complications. Eating grapes can cause rapid and unpredictable kidney failure in dogs.
In 2021, the ASPCA (Animal Poison Control Centre in the USA) made a breakthrough discovery into the exact compound that makes grapes poisonous to dogs after investigating reports of a dog being euthanised after eating homemade playdough containing potassium bitartrate. Potassium bitartrate is the salt of tartaric acid and both of these compounds are uniquely present in high concentrations in grapes.
"Owing to the similar clinic courses (vomiting and acute renal failure) and histologic findings following the ingestion of potassium bitartrate and grapes in dogs as well as the demonstrated dog susceptibility to tartaric acid, we propose that tartaric acid and its salt, potassium bitartrate, are the toxic principles in grapes leading to acute renal failure in dogs." Colette Wegenast, DVM
Table of Contents
- What are the differences between grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants?
- What are the symptoms of a dog eating grapes?
- How many grapes are toxic to dogs?
- What to do if your dog eats grapes?
- What Are Alternative Safe Natural Treats for Dogs?
What are the differences between grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants?
Grapes, raisins, sultanas, and currants are all variations of the same fruit family, but they differ in their moisture content, processing methods, and flavours. Despite these differences, they are all toxic and can cause serious health problems when consumed by dogs.
Grapes: Grapes are small, round, or oval berries that grow on vines in clusters. They come in various colours, including green, red, purple, and black. Grapes are often enjoyed as a fresh fruit, used in making juices, wines, and various culinary dishes.
Raisins: Raisins are dried grapes, typically made from varieties of grapes with a higher sugar content. The process of drying concentrates the sugars and flavours, resulting in sweet and slightly chewy raisins.
Sultanas: Sultanas are dried grapes that belong to the same family as raisins. They are typically made from green seedless grapes, which are dried to create small, golden-brown, wrinkled fruits. Sultanas are often used in baking, cooking, and as a topping for cereals or desserts.
Currants: Currants are small, round berries that grow in clusters similar to grapes. There are two main types of currants: black currants and red currants. Black currants are dark purple to black in colour and are often used in culinary applications like jams, jellies, and desserts. Red currants are bright red and have a tart flavour.
What are the symptoms of a dog eating grapes?
The symptoms of grape toxicity in dogs varies in severity and will not always manifest immediately after ingestion.
- Vomiting: This is often one of the first signs and can occur within hours of ingestion.
- Diarrhoea: Dogs can experience diarrhoea, which can be accompanied by blood in more severe cases.
- Lethargy: A dog can become unusually tired or weak, showing reduced energy and reluctance to engage in regular activities.
- Loss of Appetite: Grapes' harmful effects can lead to a decreased interest in food and water.
- Abdominal Pain: Dogs can show signs of discomfort, restlessness, or sensitivity when their abdomen is touched.
- Increased Thirst: The consumption of grapes can lead to excessive thirst and frequent urination.
- Tremors or Shivering: Some dogs can exhibit trembling or shivering, which can be indicative of nervous system involvement.
- Dehydration: Due to vomiting, diarrhoea, and increased thirst, dogs can become dehydrated.
- Kidney Dysfunction: As the toxicity progresses, dogs can experience kidney-related symptoms, such as reduced or no urination, or even signs of acute kidney failure.
- Change in Behaviour: Dogs can become unusually subdued, anxious, or even exhibit signs of discomfort.
The onset of symptoms after a dog ingests grapes varies widely and is not always consistent. Some dogs show signs within hours, while in other cases, symptoms don’t appear until a day or two after ingestion. The unpredictability of the timeline is one of the reasons why grape toxicity is particularly concerning.
In some instances, symptoms can start as soon as a few hours after ingestion and may include vomiting and signs of gastrointestinal distress. Other symptoms like lethargy, loss of appetite, and increased thirst can follow in the next 24 to 48 hours.
It's important to remember that the toxic effects of grapes on dogs can also be delayed. Some dogs don’t show any symptoms until several days after consuming the grapes or grape-containing products. This unpredictability highlights the need to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has ingested grapes, raisins, sultanas, or currants. Early intervention can make a significant difference in the outcome and treatment of grape toxicity in dogs.
How many grapes are toxic to dogs?
The toxicity of grapes and raisins to dogs is not solely determined by the quantity consumed. Even a single grape or raisin can potentially be harmful, and the reactions can vary greatly between individual dogs. This means there's no established safe threshold for consumption.
General guidelines given by vets:
1-2 grapes for a 4-5kg dog
3-4 grapes for a 10kg dog
5-6 grapes for a 20kg dog
7-8 grapes for a 30kg+ dog
Raisins or Sultanas
(Raisins are more concentrated, so it takes fewer of them to cause problems.)
20g for a 4-5kg dog
40g for a 10kg dog
60g for a 20kg dog
80g for a 30kg+
Due to the historical unpredictability of reactions from individual dogs, it is safer to consider all grapes and their variations toxic to dogs.
Can dogs safely eat mince pies?
No, dogs should not be given mince pies. Mince pies typically contain ingredients that are potentially harmful or toxic to dogs. These ingredients can include raisins, currants, and sometimes even alcohol.
Raisins and currants are commonly found in mince pie fillings which are harmful to dogs. Additionally, some mince pies might be made with alcohol, which is also toxic to dogs.
What to do if your dog eats grapes?
If you suspect or know that your dog has eaten grapes, raisins, sultanas, or currants, it's important to take immediate action to ensure their safety and don’t wait for symptoms to appear as, unlike other toxic foods, the effects of grape ingestion may not be immediately apparent.
- Contact a Veterinarian: If you're unsure whether your dog has consumed grapes or related products, or if they are exhibiting any symptoms of toxicity, contact your veterinarian right away. Describe the situation, the weight of your dog, how many grapes or their variants have been eaten and any symptoms your dog is experiencing.
- Induce Vomiting: If the grapes were ingested within the past two hours and your veterinarian advises it, they might instruct you on how to induce vomiting at home. However, this should only be done under professional guidance as there can be risks involved.
- Don't Attempt Home Remedies: Avoid attempting home remedies or treatments without consulting a veterinarian first. Some common "remedies," such as feeding your dog saltwater, can be harmful.
- Follow Vet's Instructions: If you're advised to bring your dog to the veterinarian's surgery, do so immediately. They might perform procedures to prevent further absorption of the toxins or administer medications to mitigate their effects.
- Monitor for Symptoms: Even if your dog doesn't immediately show symptoms, continue to monitor them closely for any changes in behaviour, appetite, urination, or general well-being.
What Are Alternative Safe Natural Treats for Dogs?
Seeking safe and natural alternatives to grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants is important for the safety of dogs. Opt for options that provide both satisfaction and nutrition. Safe fruits include items such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and watermelon which can be fed fresh or frozen. There are other alternative natural dog treats that are safe and healthy for your dog to consume.
Just Meat Little Trainers
Just Meat Little Trainers are small and moist natural treats, ideal for training or as a bedtime snack. Made from pure meat, these treats are available in a range of single proteins making them a good choice for dogs with allergies.
Sprats are a wholesome natural treat packed with the goodness of oily fish which is important for cognitive development, joint, eye and skin health. These dried fish can be broken into smaller pieces to use as training treats or dotted about your dogs normal food for added interest.
With Wags and Woofs,
Laura, Dolly & Reggie