Apollo is an adventurous Labrador who enjoys playing fetch, going on hikes with his owners and spending time in the outdoors. He is also equally comfortable hanging out on the sofa. Unfortunately, one day when his owners were out of the house, his inquisitive nature got him into trouble. He discovered some grapes tucked into a back pack at home and he helped himself.
For those of you who don’t know, grapes and raisins are among a number of ‘people foods’ that are toxic to dogs. Grapes and raisins are particularly concerning because they can cause kidney failure and failure to get treatment right away can lead to loss of kidney function and death. Reports have shown that grocery store grapes, backyard home-grown grapes, and just a small number of raisins can all lead to problems. Most challenging is the fact that despite numerous studies, scientists have not been able to determine how or why the kidney disease occurs so treatment is limited to supporting the kidneys and hoping that the patient recovers.
Apollo’s owner returned home 3-4 hours later, only to find the back pack open, a broken grape on the couch and an empty bag. They were aware of the risks of grape ingestion, so Apollo was rushed to one of our local Seattle emergency hospitals. The ER docs induced vomiting to bring up any grapes in the stomach (no grapes were found), administered activated charcoal to prevent absorption of any grapes that were already in the intestinal tract, and then started Apollo on intravenous fluid therapy. The goal of fluid therapy is to induce diuresis (flush the kidneys) with the hope that the body can excrete any toxin before damage occurs. Blood tests to monitor the kidney parameters are taken at the beginning and periodically over the next days and weeks.
Apollo was lucky. His owners fortunately noticed the empty bag and missing grapes, were aware that grapes are toxic to dogs, and they sought care immediately. Apollo had some minor changes so the doctors at Hawthorne Hills Veterinary Hospital will continue to monitor him, but we expect that Apollo will make a full recovery.
While Apollo managed to get grapes out of an adult person’s backpack, in households with small children it is especially important to be vigilant with foods. Many kids eat raisins as a snack and most kids enjoy feeding ‘treats’ to their pets. In addition, most dogs enjoy following kids around to see what can be begged or eaten if it falls on the ground. Educate yourselves about the risks, adjust feeding routines (for pets and people), and don’t delay seeking care if you find your pet has consumed something they shouldn’t. Help keep them safe from accidental toxic exposures.
The following links provide some additional information about other toxic foods and also plants toxic to pets.
- Veterinary Partner article about grape ingestion: https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=6137765
- ASPCA link to other people foods to avoid: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets
- ASPCA link to poisonous and non-poisonous plants: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/dogs-plant-list