Let's get right to it: Can dogs eat grapes? No. Regardless of your dog's breed, body weight or age, you should never feed them grapes or grape products, including seedless grapes, grape juice or dried grapes like raisins, currants and sultanas. Eating grapes is extremely bad for dogs and can result in acute renal failure.
Most pet owners who ask, "Can dogs eat grapes?," have one of two motivations: Either you believe your dog just ate grapes and you want to know how to react, or you're looking for healthy human food to share with your pet.
If you caught your dog eating grapes, stop reading. Contact your veterinarian and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Helpline (888-426-4435) immediately.
Whether you want to be prepared for a future grape incident or you want to know what to feed your dog instead, keep reading to learn about the signs of grape toxicity and healthy alternatives to this dangerous fruit.
Can Dogs Eat Grapes? Here's Why the Answer Is No.
Veterinary medicine hasn't come up with a reason why grapes cause ill effects in dogs, but we do know this: Dogs can have a toxic reaction to grapes regardless of whether the grapes are peeled, seedless, or organic. So, dogs appear to react to the fruit itself, and grape toxicity doesn't seem to be brought on by pesticides used to treat the fruit. (Even homegrown grapes should be off the table.)
Grapes produce what's known as idiosyncratic toxicity, meaning some dogs will have a serious and sometimes life-threatening reaction to eating the fruit while other dogs will be perfectly fine. So while the answer to "Can dogs eat grapes?" is a resounding no, the answer to "Can your dog eat grapes?" is: Finding out isn’t worth the risk.
Veterinarians aren't sure of how many grapes a dog needs to eat before experiencing an adverse reaction. Even though some dogs have consumed large amounts of grapes with no resulting issues at all, other dogs have become ill from eating a small number of grapes.
The amount of grapes that causes a toxic reaction appears to be different for different dogs, and veterinarians and veterinary researchers haven't found a correlation between the size of the dog and how many grapes it takes to make them sick. So, your Yorkie may eat a couple of grapes and feel fine, while your mastiff may eat a few grapes and have a severe reaction.
Therefore, the safest amount of grapes to feed your dog is none at all.
Unexpected Sources of Grapes
If we dog owners want to avoid giving grapes to our dogs, we need to know where this fruit may hide. Raisins are mixed into many products, and grape juice is often used as a natural sweetener. So before you share any human food with your dog, check the label carefully.
Here are some unexpected sources of grapes and raisins:
- Cinnamon raisin bagels
- Raisin bread
- Oatmeal cookies
- Other baked goods with raisins
- Raisin bran
- Other cereals
- Trail mix
- Dried fruit mixes
- Energy bars
- Juice blends
We now know we shouldn't feed our dogs these foods, but we must also be extremely careful about preventing other access to them.
Growing grapes you grow outside gives your dog the chance to try some out of curiosity. House guests may not be aware of the toxicity of grapes when sharing food with your dog. Open bowls of grapes or raisins can be hazardous for counter-surfing pups. The bottom line: Always proceed with an abundance of caution when you have grapes in the house. Store grapes in the fridge, and if you're eating grapes or raisins, don't leave your food unsupervised for even a minute.
What Will Happen If Your Dog Accidentally Eats Grapes?
Grape/raisin toxicity can cause severe dehydration and damage kidney function. It can also lead to sudden kidney failure, which may happen up to 72 hours after your dog eats grapes. If you notice any of these symptoms, your dog may be suffering from grape or raisin toxicity, and you should call your vet immediately:
- Abdominal pain or sensitivity when you touch your dog’s abdomen
- Increased thirst (and therefore increased urine production)
- Decreased urination or no urination
- Dry nose or mouth
- Pale gums
- Trouble breathing
Depending on the dog, symptoms can occur within hours of ingestion.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Grapes?
Grape consumption will not always result in grape poisoning, but this is not a wait-and-see scenario. If you don't act immediately, you're taking a gamble with your dog's life.
Catching grape poisoning early is key to preventing kidney damage. So, put your dog in the car and drive to your vet. If your vet isn't open, head to a 24-hour emergency clinic. Call your vet or the clinic when you're on your way to let them know that your dog ate grapes. That way, they'll be prepared to admit you as soon as you arrive.
If you don't have a 24-hour emergency clinic in your area, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Helpline at 888-426-4435. They may advise you to induce vomiting, but you should only do this under medical advice. Some dogs should not be made to vomit, especially if they are unresponsive or having trouble breathing.
What to Expect at the Vet
If you're sure your dog ate grapes and you've caught it early, your vet will most likely induce vomiting. If you only suspect that your dog ate grapes, your DVM may run blood work to determine if toxins from grapes are circulating in the bloodstream. Your vet may also run a urinalysis to check your dog's kidney function.
If your dog is experiencing acute kidney failure, your dog may need dialysis. Your veterinarian may also give your dog intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and support the kidneys.
Even if your dog isn't showing signs of kidney failure, your vet may want to put them on fluid therapy and keep them for overnight observation.
Healthy Human Food to Feed Your Dog Instead of Grapes
Like people, dogs benefit from a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You can support your dog's health by feeding them minimally processed whole foods like fruits and vegetables — just not grapes. Here are some healthy fruits to feed your dog instead:
- Dragon fruit
Whenever you feed fruit to your dog, give them the flesh but not the seeds. In some fruits, like apples and mango, the flesh is safe and healthy for dogs, but the seeds contain toxic chemicals. As far as the skin goes, if you would peel a fruit before eating it yourself, you should also peel it for your dog. So, in apples, for example, the skin is safe for your dog to eat, but in mangoes, it's not.
You should also be careful about the amount of fruit you give your dog. Too much fiber can upset your dog's stomach, so it's best to start by giving them only a couple of bites of fruit at a time. Whenever you introduce a new food to your dog's diet, support their digestion with a pet probiotic.
And if you're looking for more ways to add healthy, whole-food-based nutrition to your dog's diet, consider adding dog supplements. Look for formulas with real, recognizable ingredients, like this healthy blend of organic pumpkin and apples.
Whole Foods the Healthy Way
Not all human food is safe for dogs. Grapes can lead to a toxic reaction that requires immediate veterinary care, so it's essential to keep grapes and any products that contain grapes or raisins away from your dog.
But, there are lots of safe, healthy ways to add more whole foods to your dog's diet. Feed your dog small amounts of pet-friendly fruits like strawberries and watermelon, and look for all-natural supplements made with real ingredients.
What's your favorite human food to share with your dog? Let us know by leaving a comment below.