Hey, I don’t mean to bother you but my kids saw the dog eat a grape off the floor. “What should I do” Do I really need to take him into the emergency clinic? Will he be OK?

The Pet Ingestion Problem

When I hear my phone buzzing with a text in the late evening, I can give a pretty good guess that this is a likely question that is coming through. Pet ingestion of forbidden food is usually pretty high on the list of scenarios where people aren’t really sure what to do.

Toxicity of Raisins and Grapes in Dogs

They feel silly, and really know that they should go in. But they’re busy and not convinced it is actually worth the hassle or expense. Grapes and raisins are toxicity owners find unsettling because it is a relatively recent discovery.

Everyone knows a dog that has snacked on a raisin or grape with no apparent harm done. So, what gives?

Call Your Vet!

Unfortunately and inconveniently, the answer is that “yes”, you should call your vet or head into the clinic now so they can handle it?.

Handling it will usually include making your pet vomit up the offending fruit in a timely manner so they don’t absorb it into their system.

The reason that getting there sooner is helpful is that, as will most poisons, once the offending item moves beyond the stomach it’s much harder to get out of the body.

The situation is that nobody really knows the exact amount of raisins or grapes that can cause problems. Or which dogs will show symptoms or in what time frame exactly. All we do know is that some dogs seem to go into kidney failure after being exposed to grapes or raisins.

The studies have not yet shown any other factors that could be neatly tied together around this pairing of renal failure and grapes. Not the breeds, not the amount ingested, not the timing, not the size of the pet. “So the upshot is


Kidneys are one of the primary ways the body filters out things that it needs to get rid of while saving things it wants to keep for use later. Without working kidneys, waste products build up in the blood, and water balance is not well regulated.

Unlike the liver, kidneys can not regenerate if severely damaged. So even though most animals have more filtration capacity than they need. But once it’s gone or damaged the future of the body’s waste removal needs become much more complicated.

Back to grapes and raisins, I and many of my colleagues also have so very many questions around what causes the problems we see in some animals and not others.

It causes many families to stress to rush to the emergency clinic and get their dog to vomit or to do bloodwork and check for possible kidney problems after eating grapes.

Is it common to see total renal failure after eating grapes or raisins when in practice? Not really, but if it is your patient or your dog that gets sick then it is tragic.

I wish there was a test we could do to know which dogs are at risk and what the toxic doses are but for now, we just don’t know all the answers.

What we do know is that your dog needs their kidneys and we want to protect them as best as possible. Kidney failure on any scale makes us sad because the pets feel so sick.

Please, continue to be the grown-up for your furry friend. If you know they ate grapes or raisins take a deep breath, count to ten, and refocus your life to accommodate the situation.

As with all possible toxicities: call your vet, the animal emergency clinic, or the Animal Poison Control Hotline to make a plan to ensure your dog’s kidneys remain happy.

For more on what human foods are good for dogs and which are not, check out this article.

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