Oska and his lucky escape

Oska is a Labrador who got into mischief when he ate a couple of handfuls of raisins while his owner ducked out the kitchen to do some other jobs. Labradors are notorious for eating things they should not and raisins are definitely dangerous to dogs. We have put together some information to keep you informed about these toxic treats.

Oska and his lucky escape

Grapes, sultanas and raisins are toxic to dogs?

Many different varieties of grapes, sultanas and currants can be toxic to dogs as well as foods containing the fruits like raisin bread, trail mix, and breakfast muesli.

What is the toxic dose?

There is currently no information on the amount of raisins that dogs can safely ingest because there is a significant individual sensitivity between dogs. Some dogs might be able tolerate small doses of the fruit while other dogs can develop poisoning after eating just a few grapes or raisins.

We do know that dogs are more likely to become poisoned if they ingest large amounts of fruit, but there is no way to predict how your dog will react. Because of this we advise that they stay away from grapes, sultanas and currants all together.

What should I do if my dog eats sultanas, grapes or raisins?

If you think your pet has eaten any of these fruits, please contact us at the clinic immediately. Since there are still many unknowns about the toxicity of grapes and raisins, it is better not to take any chances when it comes to your dog's health. The quicker after ingestion your pet is seen the less dangerous it is for your pet and the quicker appropriate treatment can be started.

What symptoms should I look out for?

Poison from sultanas, grapes and raisins could take a couple of days to appear, making a correct diagnosis more difficult.

The symptoms to look out for are:

  • Vomitting - usually within 24 hours after ingestion.
  • Reduced appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhoea within12-24 hours

More severe signs are not seen for 24-48 hours after ingestion and are often caused by acute kidney failure due to the toxins. Signs of acute kidney failure include nausea, inappetence, drinking more than usual, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and excessive urination.

What is the treatment?

There is no specific antidote for grape toxicity. Treatment involves blocking the absorption of the toxins and preventing or minimising damage to the kidneys. In Oska’s case he was taken straight to us at the clinic when his owner realised what had happened. He was made to vomit immediately to decontaminate his stomach and minimise the risk of any absorption. He was then given activated charcoal. The activated charcoal helps to prevent absorption of the toxin from the stomach or intestines. Due to the large amount of grapes ingested, Oska was kept on IV fluids for 48 hours to flush any absorbed toxins out of the body and to help maintain kidney function.

What is the prognosis for grape or raisin toxicity?

The prognosis for animals who ingest grapes or raisins depends on many factors, including how severe the poisoning was, how soon the patient was decontaminated, whether or not the patient has already developed kidney failure, how soon treatment was initiated, and whether the clinical signs and kidney values improved once treatment was started.
If a dog only ate a few grapes or raisins (depending on the size of the patient) and received immediate treatment, the prognosis is excellent. If the kidneys are damaged and no urine is produced, the prognosis is very poor and like fatal. The kidneys have very little capacity to regenerate or repair themselves so once they are damaged, they will not function as well. Oska had blood tests when he first arrived at the clinic and again after 48 hour on the drip. The great news for Oska is that his blood results were normal after 48 hours on the drip and he has made a full recovery.

If in doubt, seek treatment right away by contacting us at Pascoe Vale Veterinary Hospital. Your vet will advise the best course of treatment for your dog based on symptoms, individual situation, and response to treatment.