Grapes are largely considered as a source of very powerful antioxidants such as resveratrol, anthocyanins, and catechins. These are in addition to the antioxidant properties provided by its micronutrient vitamins and minerals. It also contains low calories, making it suitable for individuals that hope to shed off a few pounds. Given these many health-giving properties of grapes, many dog owners are inclined to ask if their dogs can eat grapes, too. Unlike other human foods for which we can give you a very straightforward answer, grapes can be a tricky matter to decide. Science says dogs should not be given grapes and raisins because they are toxic. However, there are also dog owners who give their pooches grapes and raisins yet no harm has ever befallen their furry friends. So, can dogs eat grapes?
What Science Says
Veterinarians and other animal scientists strongly advise against the giving of grapes and raisins to our respective pooches. Whereas other human foods, even though they can be toxic, we can give small amounts; this is not the case with grapes. Science has revealed that dogs that are given grapes, no matter how small the amount is, are bound to develop grape toxicity that leads to severe kidney damage. Now that is a scary thought.
However, what is puzzling is that science cannot pinpoint the exact chemical, substance, or ingredient present in grapes that is causing the toxicity. Moreover, science also cannot pinpoint exactly which part of the grape is causing the toxicity. Other fruits that are toxic to dogs will have the seeds or even the skin as having the toxin. This is not the case with grapes. It is for this reason that some dog owners are actually questioning the ‘credibility’ of these ‘scientific’ statements.
What Actual Pet Parents Say
To make the debate even more interesting, there are dogs that have been given bowls of fresh grapes yet did not develop any sign of kidney damage. The only problems they encountered were related to the unusually large volume of fiber that was then present in the dog’s gut leading to some gastrointestinal symptoms.
What is amazing is that science also acknowledges the observation that some dogs, regardless of how much grapes you give to them, simply don’t develop severe kidney disease as seen in other dogs. This boils down to the question as to whether grape toxicity among dogs is more a function of genetics whereby a specific gene present in the dog’s DNA makes it extra-susceptible to grape toxicity.
A Case of Caution
Given the fact that science has not yet isolated the exact toxin that is causing some dogs to develop severe grape toxicity or that part of the grape that contains a significantly higher proportion of the toxic substance, it is possible that the scientific community’s recommendation for not giving grapes to dogs is more cautious. We believe veterinarians and other animal experts only want you and your pooch to have the best. Until they have isolated the exact toxic ingredient, it is best to steer clear of grapes; for your dogs, of course.
What You Should Know about Grape Toxicity
Since there are dogs that would seem more susceptible to the development of severe kidney damage after consumption of even the smallest amounts of grapes, it is thus imperative that you know more about grape toxicity. If you see any of the following manifestations after the consumption of grapes, then it is possible that your pooch has been hit with grape poisoning.
- Diarrhea and/or vomiting – this typically occurs within 2 to 3 hours after grape ingestion. If so, you may want to examine the stool and/or the vomitus for any sign of grapes such as undigested skin, seeds, or even flesh.
- Lethargy or weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Unusual quietness
- Abdominal pain
These are some of the initial manifestations that your dog can develop after ingestion of grapes. They can occur anywhere from a few hours to a few days after grape consumption. However, it has been noted that the toxicity can progress rather quickly with these symptoms leading to more serious complications within a matter of hours. If you see the following manifestations you’ll know that your dog’s kidneys are already severely affected.
- Passing of scant urine, a condition called oliguria, which signals a reduction in kidney functioning
- Complete cessation of voiding, a condition called anuria, which typically signals kidney failure
- Foul breath because of the abnormal accumulation of nitrogenous wastes in the blood unable to be eliminated because of kidney failure
- Oral ulcerations
- Seizures – these are related to the accumulation of urea and other nitrogenous wastes that have crossed the blood-brain barrier causing neuronal irritation
- Coma – this is brought about by the reduced neuronal activity in the brain as a result of educed oxygenation to the brain tissues secondary to seizures
What You Can Do
Looking at the clinical manifestations of grape poisoning, it is understandable that you should be concerned. If you do know that your pooch ate grapes within the last 2 hours, it is imperative that you try to induce vomiting to help prevent the absorption of the toxins into its bloodstream. However, if it has already been more than 2 hours, your best recourse is to bring your pooch to your veterinarian for a more definitive management of the poisoning.
If your pooch is still within the critical first 2 hours after grape consumption, you can induce vomiting. Give your dog 1 mL of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution for every pound of your dog’s body weight. You can give this using a syringe or a spoon. Make sure to put this at the back of its mouth so that it will be inclined to swallow it. Take note that you have a maximum limit as to the amount of hydrogen peroxide you can give which is 45 mL. This means even if your dog weighs 50 pounds, you will still give the maximum of 45 mL.
Can dogs eat grapes? We believe they can but shouldn’t. As long as science has not yet identified the toxin that is making some dogs fall ill with severe kidney disease, it is best not to give your pooch even a small bit.