Why Do Grapes Cause Renal Failure In Dogs

Colette Wegenast, DVM, senior consulting veterinarian in clinical toxicology at the APCC, was contacted by AAHA’s NEWstat to discuss how this ground-breaking discovery was made.

Dr. Wegenast discovered the symptoms didn’t fit the normal scenario while looking into a case of homemade playdough toxicity in a dog. She explains:

“If considerable amounts of handmade playdough are consumed, dogs will exhibit severe symptoms related to hypernatremia (a high level of sodium in the blood), necessitating urgent fluid therapy. Because there was less salt in the playdough in this instance, hypernatremia did not occur. The dog did experience extensive vomiting before developing severe azotemia (high amounts of nitrogen in the blood).

She asked for the playdough recipe and saw that it was unique from most others. It contained tartaric acid, which is also found in cream of tartar. This prompted Dr. Wegenast and two associates to look into:

“The revelation that tartaric acid and potassium bitartrate are only found in grapes in high amounts and that dogs are [members of] a species that has been demonstrated to be susceptible to tartaric acid with acute renal failure recorded in the older studies was the lightbulb moment. Following more research, tartaric acid and potassium bitartrate continued to fit the bill for the notion that they are the poisonous components in grapes and raisins.

As a result of this novel finding, testing, treatment, and prevention for grape and raisin poisoning should all be improved. You now understand why you should never give your dog grapes, raisins, or sultanas.

How many grapes does it take to kill a dog’s kidneys?


While the risks associated with canine consumption of chocolate and marijuana are well recognized, scientists caution that some canines may get kidney failure or even pass away after eating grapes and raisins.

According to Tina Wismer, medical director of the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 4,068 calls from pet owners whose dogs had consumed grapes or raisins in 2016—a 39 percent increase from 2,934 calls in 2015—were made to the hotline’s national Poison Control Center.

According to Widmer, the relationship was made in the last 15 years following a number of calls from veterinarians involving dogs who had consumed grapes or raisins and developed kidney failure.

According to a 2002 “Animal Watch” report from the society, some dogs may exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and trouble urinating after consuming grapes or raisins.

“Our hotline veterinarian looked into our database after that and found numerous additional instances of dogs that had consumed grapes and raisins and had developed kidney failure. The investigation into the association between grapes/raisins and canine kidney failure was spurred on by that discovery “said Wismer.

According to Wismer, the number of calls has increased as more people learn that grapes and raisins can be fatal to dogs. However, it is yet unknown why some dogs are affected while others are not.

According to Wismer, “We don’t know if it’s something in the grapes themselves or if it has some genetic basis and just some animals are vulnerable.”

A technician at MedVet, an animal hospital at 3123 N. Clybourn Ave. in Roscoe Village, said that a dog recently consumed a few bites of a raisin bagel and ended up in the emergency room. Another dog, a 14-pound terrier mix owned by a DNAinfo reporter, spent three nights and four days in the hospital after consuming a red seedless grape. The cost of the four-day excursion came to $2,395.

An average of two to five cases of grape ingestion are seen at MedVet each week, according to veterinarian Jerry Klein. Additionally, he continued, the prognosis is typically good if veterinarian intervention is prompt.

According to Klein, there is no way to estimate how many grapes it will take to have an effect on a dog because the precise mechanism of the toxicity is unknown.

“Since each grape varies in size and weight, the exact amount will vary, but the important thing to remember is that even one grape might result in kidney failure. One grape can cause some dogs to become ill, while others can consume multiple grapes without experiencing any ill effects “explained Klein.

If a dog eats a grape, according to Klein, the first action should be to force the dog to vomit, especially if the fruit or grapes were recently consumed.

To lessen the possibility of kidney damage, MedVet advises IV fluid delivery, normally for two days, if vomiting does not work.

According to Klein, grapes and raisins have “an idiosyncratic toxicity,” meaning that not all dogs are affected.

“While some dogs can be negatively impacted by a single grape, many can tolerate vast amounts without any issues. Other than ingesting, there are no known risk factors for patients. Unfortunately, we are unable to determine the minimal dangerous dose, thus it is advised that all dogs be aggressively treated in the event that the intake may cause acute renal disease “said Klein.

According to Klein, the society advises obtaining baseline kidney values by blood work and hospitalization for two to three days with IV fluid therapy to remove absorbed toxins from the body.

The “most likely affected” canines, according to Klein, “tend to be the mischievous types of dogs who get into the trash or take food off the counter.”

“Stories of dogs stealing grapes from supermarket bags before their owners can put them away or of young children sharing grapes with the dog or dropping them on the ground have been told to us. Additionally, we’ve seen owners give their dogs grapes or raisins on purpose without thinking that they could be hazardous “added Klein.

According to Wismer, the society is aware of one death from raisin consumption that occurred last year, but it is difficult to track deaths from grape or raisin ingestion because there is no official national tracking organization.

Typically, according to Klein of MedVet, fatalities from grape ingestion are uncommon, but there have been cases in which animals with kidney failure and anuria—a condition in which dogs have such severe kidney damage that they are unable to produce urine—have been humanely put to sleep because of their lengthy recovery times and bleak outlooks.

This is rare and rarely happens in the most severe cases of renal failure, according to Klein.

Do grapes invariably result in canine renal failure?

It is uncertain how many grapes or raisins are toxic, and not all dogs are affected in the same way. According to documented incidents of grape toxicity in dogs, consuming just one or two grapes or raisins can result in fatal acute kidney failure.

Not all dogs who consume grapes or raisins get kidney failure, but we do not understand why some dogs experience extreme effects while others do not. However, grapes should never be given to a dog because you never know how they would react.

How soon do dogs’ kidneys fail after consuming grapes?

When dogs eat raisins, grapes, or Zante currants, toxicosis has infrequently been recorded. Clinical symptoms include lethargy, anorexia, polydipsia, dehydration, an increase in blood creatinine and BUN values, and the onset of vomiting and/or diarrhea within 612 hours of consumption. Oliguric or anuric renal failure may advance within 24–48 hours. Early cleanup of ingested materials and intravenous fluid therapy administration are part of the treatment.

Some dogs have been known to develop anuric renal failure after eating grapes or raisins. Anecdotal reports of renal failure in cats and ferrets following consumption of grapes or raisins exist, but cases have only been documented in dogs thus far. Why some dogs may eat grapes or raisins without any ill effects while others suffer from renal disease is unknown. Although damage to canine kidney cells caused by raisin extracts has been demonstrated in vitro, the condition has not been replicated experimentally.

Can drinking grapes lead to renal failure?

While many of us like sharing snacks with our canine companions, many human foods, such as grapes and raisins, are poisonous to dogs.

We do not now understand the precise harmful mechanism. Because the toxicity is idiosyncratic, it is impossible to predict which dogs will be harmed or not. Some dogs can become toxic after ingesting only a tiny amount, while others can consume enormous amounts without showing any noticeable side effects. In a dog who is vulnerable, even a small amount can be lethal. Any age, breed, or gender of dog might be impacted.

The ability of grapes and raisins to seriously harm the kidneys and produce abrupt renal failure is one of their most dangerous side effects. Clinical symptoms can include oliguria (passing only little volumes of urine), changes in urination or drinking habits, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, tiredness, fatigue, and stomach pain.

It should be treated as an emergency if you see your dog eating grapes or raisins, and you should seek veterinarian help right away.

If you are unable to obtain veterinary care, you should phone a veterinarian for advice or dial Poison Control so that vomiting can be induced as safely as possible.

Before the fruit’s toxins are absorbed, vomiting should be induced as quickly as feasible. If your dog is having problems breathing, displaying any indications of distress, or is unresponsive, this should ideally be done at a hospital under a veterinarian’s supervision.

Activated charcoal is usually given as the next step in decontamination since it binds up any toxins still present in the digestive system. To screen for signs of kidney damage, baseline bloodwork and urine tests will be carried out. Kidney values should be monitored every day for a few days because renal failure can sometimes take up to 72 hours to manifest itself. For 2-3 days, fluid therapy is often advised as the main course of treatment for grape or raisin toxicity.

The majority of grape or raisin ingestion cases are identified as witnessed ingestions, however if parts of partially digested grape or raisin are discovered in feces or vomit, a veterinarian should still be consulted as soon as possible. The greatest cure is prevention, so keep raisins and grapes out of your dog’s reach and warn family members about these items’ hazardous potential.

Can a dog live after consuming grapes?

  • really unpleasant breath increased thirst increased urine production, or none at all An abdominal ache when touched refusing to consume anything tremors or seizures Weakness

These and any other unexpected or aberrant behavior should be brought to the attention of a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Is Grape Poisoning Really an Emergency?

The things my dog has eaten in the past have had bad outcomes. My dog was OK after whatever it had eaten had gone through its system. Why can’t I just wait and see how this one turns out?

There is always a chance that grapes won’t make your dog sick. However, if they are, your dog will have a better chance of surviving renal damage if you get him to CVETS as soon as possible. Grape poisoning that is left untreated can cause abrupt renal failure within 72 hours, frequently. By then, it might be too late for it to fully recover. Therefore, if your dog ate grapes, it is an emergency.

What Can CVETS Do for Grape Poisoning?

When you bring your dog in, we immediately begin processes to get rid of any toxins that could still be in its body. Each dog is unique, and the treatment we choose will be appropriate for the dog’s health. We’ll probably start with tests if you’re unsure of what your dog ate. We could induce vomiting if you are certain that your dog ate grapes. The toxin might still be in your dog’s stomach depending on how quickly you bring it in; in that case, we might try to flush it out. Another choice is to feed your dog activated charcoal to help it absorb the contents of its stomach.

If the kidneys begin to deteriorate, we may give you particular drugs to keep them healthy. We may start IV therapy if tests reveal your dog has grape poisoning-related chemicals in his bloodstream. Kidney function will be regularly evaluated.

Your dog is in serious trouble if the kidneys can no longer generate urine. If the kidneys have a possibility of healing, dialysis offers life support. Although euthanasia is the option no one wants, when the kidneys fail, it can be the only remaining practical option.

CVETS is a cutting-edge regional facility for animal emergencies in Columbia, South Carolina. The life of your pet may rely on it, so bring it to us if it is in crisis.

What occurs if a dog consumes two grapes?

Death could possibly happen, depending on how much is consumed. Yes, grapes can cause a dog’s death. 5

Death is not immediate since the body must break down and absorb the grapes; however, time is crucial.

Your dog has a better chance of recovering the earlier you start treatment.

Treatment of Grape Toxicity in a Dog

Treatment should start right away:

  • If the consumption occurred within two hours, the veterinary staff will typically induce vomiting and deliver activated charcoal.
  • For 48 hours, intravenous fluids may be administered.
  • For 72 hours, blood chemical panels are examined.
  • Urinalysis, renal medicines, or an ultrasound to assess kidney size and search for mineral deposits may all be alternatives.

Even if the dog isn’t exhibiting any symptoms, it’s still vital to visit the vet. Although the damage to the kidneys might be postponed, the sooner it is discovered, the better for the dog.

Preventing Grape Toxicity in a Dog

When a pattern in canine illness reports was discovered, grape poisoning in animals was identified years ago.

Since its discovery, veterinary professionals and animal lovers alike have worked to disseminate the information. Grape or raisin consumption was a common contributing factor.

To prevent your dog from getting to them, don’t leave grapes or raisins out on counters or in open cabinets.

How soon after consuming grapes do dogs exhibit symptoms?

While grapes, raisins, and currants are popular and nutritious snacks for humans, they can lead to kidney failure in dogs. Compared to grapes and currants, raisins are frequently combined with other foods, which could increase the risk of exposure. The toxicity issue is unchanged.

What types of grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs?

Ingestion of seeded or seedless grapes, commercial or homemade grapes, red or green grapes or raisins, organic or non-organic, and grape pressings from wineries have all resulted in poisoning in dogs. Foods like raisin bran cereal, trail mix, granola mix, and baked goods that contain grapes, raisins, and currants all have the potential to be poisonous. Wine, grape juice, and grape jellies don’t seem to pose a toxicity risk.

What isthetoxicdose?

Unfortunately, none of these fruits have a known toxic dose, however there are two guidelines to follow: 1) If dogs consume big amounts of fruit, they are more likely to become poisoned; and 2) Dogs seem to have ‘individual’ sensitivity. Some dogs seem to be able to tolerate a few grapes or raisins. There is no way to determine which canines may be more sensitive at this time.

Why are raisins,grapes,andcurrantstoxic?

It is yet unknown what makes these fruits poisonous. It has been debated over the years whether the toxicity could be caused by a mycotoxin (a poisonous substance made by a fungus or mold) or a salicylate (drug similar to aspirin) that may be naturally present in the grape and cause a reduction in blood flow to the kidneys. Tartaric acid has lately been proposed as a potential culprit. However, no particular hazardous substance has been distinctly identified as of yet. Since the cause of these fruits’ toxicity is still unknown, any exposure should raise possible safety concerns.

What should I do if my dog eats grapes or raisons?

Contact your veterinarian, the Pet Poison Helpline, or a poison control center right once if you think your pet may have consumed one of these fruits. It is best to avoid taking any chances with your dog’s health because there are still a lot of unanswered questions around this poisoning. The sooner the poisoning is identified and treated, like with any toxin, the less harmful it will be for your pet and the more reasonably priced the treatment will be for you.

What are the symptoms ofgrapeorraisintoxicity?

Vomiting is the most typical early sign of grape or raisin intoxication. it is often noticed within 24 hours of ingesting. Within the following 12 to 24 hours, it’s possible to experience a lack of appetite, sleepiness, and even diarrhea. 24-48 hours after ingestion—often after acute renal injury has started—more severe symptoms do not manifest. Acute kidney failure symptoms include nausea, anorexia, vomiting, uremic breath (which smells like ammonia), diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and excessive thirst and urination. The kidneys will stop working as the poisoning worsens, and the dog might not be able to generate urine. Following this, the dog’s blood pressure frequently rises sharply. A buildup of toxins that the kidneys typically remove from the body through urine may cause the dog to fall into a coma. The prognosis is bad once the kidneys have shut down and urine output has decreased.

How is grape/raisinpoisoningdiagnosed?

Unfortunately, grape or raisin poisoning has vague symptoms, and the early warning indications can resemble a variety of conditions, even a simple dietary error (eating foods that should not be eaten). Similar symptoms to renal failure from other sources are more severe. If the dog has consumed grapes, raisins, or currants in the past or if there are grape or raisin fragments in the dog’s vomit, your veterinarian will make the diagnosis of this poisoning.

To determine the degree of kidney injury, your veterinarian could also advise diagnostic procedures such a complete blood count (CBC), serum biochemistry profile, and urine. The findings of the test will be used to estimate the dog’s chance of recovery.

How is this poisoning treated?

The purpose of treatment is to stop the poisons from being absorbed and stop or lessen kidney damage.

The best course of action is to immediately disinfect the dog by producing vomiting and giving it activated charcoal. This aids in preventing the toxin’s absorption from the stomach or intestines. Inducing vomiting is crucial because grapes and raisins remain in the stomach for a lengthy period of time (even up to 4-6 hours after ingestion). After decontamination, further care, maybe including intensive intravenous fluids to nourish and preserve the kidneys in an effort to limit renal damage, may be required. Additionally, medications that help maintain blood flow to the kidneys, manage blood pressure, and treat nausea or vomiting may be given.

The purpose of treatment is to avoid or minimize damage to the kidneys and block toxin absorption.

In the ideal scenario, dogs should be kept in a hospital on intravenous fluids for 48 hours after ingesting. Animals that are ill may need to stay in the hospital for a few days. Your dog’s kidney function will be observed while receiving treatment by your veterinarian. Blood tests may be repeated one to two days after returning home. To ensure that kidney function levels have not risen, do this.

What is the prognosis followingpoisoning fromgrapesorraisins?

The severity of the ingestion, how quickly the patient was decontaminated, whether or not the patient has already experienced kidney failure, how quickly treatment was started, and whether or not the clinical signs and kidney function levels have improved since treatment started all affect the prognosis. The prognosis is great if a dog just had a few grapes or raisins (depending on the size of the dog) and received prompt treatment. The prognosis is poor and death is likely if the kidneys are destroyed and no urine is generated. The kidneys’ capacity for self-regeneration and repair is quite limited. They will no longer perform as well as they did prior to the episode once they have been injured. When in doubt, get medical help straight away by getting guidance from your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline. The prognosis for your dog will be determined by your veterinarian based on the symptoms, the specific circumstances, and the response to therapy.

How canIpreventthisproblem?

Keep any foods containing grapes, raisins, currants, or other fruits out of your pets’ reach. Never give your dog any food that might include raisins or grapes, and never give your dog grapes as rewards. Even while most dogs won’t have an issue with one grape, it is best to avoid this habit and run the danger of poisoning.

What other common foods aretoxictodogs?

Those that are fattening or include the sugar alcohol sweetener xylitol, as well as foods including onions, garlic, alcohol, chocolate, cocoa, and macadamia nuts, can all be deadly.

Are other animals atrisk?

Dogs are the only animals where grape and raisin poisoning has been linked to a problem. Avoid offering grapes and raisins to your dog or any other pet because there are still a lot of unanswered questions around this poisoning.