Grape and Raisin Toxicity in Dogs
Grapes and their dried counterparts, raisins, may seem harmless, but not to dogs. Even small amounts of grapes or raisins can prove fatally toxic for a dog. The problem is that not all raisin and grapes will exert similar results. Moreover, not all dogs will react to the toxic principles of raisin and grapes.
What to Watch For
Dogs of any age, breed, or gender may be affected. One of the most serious complications of grape/raisin toxicity is acute (sudden) kidney failure with lack of urine production (anuria). Vomiting and/or diarrhea often occurs within the first few hours, and after 24 hours of ingestion, vomit and fecal contents may contain pieces of grapes and/or raisins. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, dehydration, and unusual quietness and weakness.
Although the exact substance that causes the toxic reaction is not yet known, it has been shown that even small amounts of grapes or raisins can prove to be fatally toxic for some dogs.
This is an emergency which requires immediate treatment. If you are positive that your dog ingested grapes or raisins, you will need to induce vomiting as soon as possible, before the toxins in the fruit can be absorbed. Call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680 immediately to determine if you should do this at home.
However, it is important that you do not induce vomiting if your dog is unconscious, is having trouble breathing, or is exhibiting signs of serious distress or shock. And whether your dog vomits or not, after the initial care, you must rush him to a veterinary facility immediately.
Activated charcoal is also useful for preventing absorption of toxin. Your veterinarian will typically administer this preparation after the vomiting has ceased or in the event digestion has already occurred. Some dogs are more sensitive than others and may need more intensive care, such as a stomach wash/lavage and long-term fluid therapy.
If your dog has vomited or had a bout of diarrhea, and you are able to collect a sample of it, this will help your veterinarian to diagnose the severity of the condition and begin treatment that much more quickly.
Routine laboratory tests include a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. These tests may return results of increased blood calcium, which in severe cases can lead to hypercalcemia, and higher than normal levels of phosphorous and creatinine, both indicators of the kidney's functioning status. Some changes in the urine, like the presence of glucose and/or protein, may be seen.
Ultrasound can also be a useful diagnostic tool for determining the size of the kidney along with finding evidence of abnormal deposition of minerals in the kidneys.
A stomach wash/lavage and fluid therapy are among the first lines of treatment after vomiting has been successfully induced. Intravenous fluid therapy will be given for at least the first 48 hours, and drugs for encouraging urine output will be administered. If urine is not being produced within a short time, your veterinarian may find it necessary to place your dog on dialysis to support the kidneys while they recover. During this time, your doctor will be monitoring your dog's blood chemicals on a daily basis.
Once the kidney has failed to the point that urine cannot be produced by the body, the entire system soon follows and the affected animal dies. In some cases, even timely treatment will not be enough if the toxin has already been absorbed. Time is of the essence with this situation, but in all cases, prognosis is guarded.
Keep raisins and grapes out of reach of your dog, as dogs will ingest almost anything. Make sure that all family members are aware of the toxic capability of this food, as well as other foods that have been found to be toxic to pets, such as chocolate, onions, garlic, etc. And if you do discover that your dog has ingested raisin or grapes, act immediately to avoid complicating the situation.