Grapes, raisins can cause kidney failure in pets  

Q. I heard that grapes and raisins are poisonous to pets. Is this true?

A. Unfortunately, grapes and raisins are toxic to pets, including cats and dogs . The exact toxic agent and mechanism of action are unknown. Speculation is that some byproduct of digested grapes/raisins causes toxicity.

The ultimate effect of an overdose of either of these products is kidney failure. The number of grapes causing toxicity is approximately 1 per pound. A 10-pound dog would require only 10 grapes to receive a toxic dose. Raisins can be toxic at a rate of three per pound, or 30 raisins for a 10-pound dog.

Clinical signs usually start within six to 24 hours after ingestion. The initial signs are gastrointestinal, such as loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. Signs of kidney failure include vomiting and decreased urine production. As with any toxicity, time is of the essence. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested grapes or raisins.

Treatment is aimed at preventing absorption from the gastrointestinal tract by inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal to bind any digested grapes/raisins in the intestines. Decontaminating the gastrointestinal tract is only useful if it is initiated within three to six hours of ingestion. The sooner the grapes/raisins are removed, the less likely deadly kidney problems will develop.

Hospitalization with intravenous fluids and injectable medications aimed at supporting the kidneys is required for a few days. Kidney values are monitored daily as well. Unfortunately, pets in renal failure have a poor prognosis for recovery.

The best advice is to avoid feeding grapes/raisins to your pet. Even a handful of either to a pet can be unnecessarily risky.

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