Monday, November 7, 2011

Grapes and Raisins – Deadly to Dogs

By Beth Davidow, DVM DACVECC

A gorgeous, full of life five-year old male Australian Shepherd narrowly avoided dying last month. His case is offered as a follow-up to last week’s blog post on toxic dangers to pets. It reminds us all of the potential, deadly dangers that await our pets in our every day food.

Roadie, the Australian Shepherd, had spent the weekend with some friends while his owner was on a trip. During that weekend, Roadie ended up feasting on ripe grapes from a vine in the friend’s yard. Initially, Roadie’s caretakers were not concerned with what he had eaten as their own dog had eaten grapes in the past without problem. However, by Monday, Roadie had become ill and started vomiting.

As Roadie’s condition worsened, his owners took him to their regular veterinarian on Tuesday where Roadie was diagnosed with severe damage to his kidneys. By Wednesday night, his kidneys were much worse and Roadie was referred by his vet to the ACCES ICU for monitored, round-the-clock care. By Thursday, Roadie’s kidneys were barely functioning. Unable to produce urine, all the toxic waste products normally eliminated from the kidneys, were accumulating in his blood stream. Roadie was in such a severe state that dialysis treatment was discussed. After much thought, the owner decided to continue with the current medical treatment.

Through aggressive medications, the ACCES ICU team was finally able to increase the amount of urine Roadie’s kidneys were making. Roadie was then supported with IV fluids while his kidneys healed. It was a close call, but after 10 days in the ACCES ICU Roadie was finally able to go home.

Pet owners should be aware that both grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. Unfortunately, the mechanism of action is not known. For awhile, it was hypothesized that it was pesticides sprayed on commercial grapes, but this kidney failure has now been seen in dogs eating untreated grapes. Another proposed theory is that the toxin that affects the kidneys is from fungus that is on some grapes and not others. It is an odd toxicity in that there does appear to be some dogs more prone to the toxins than others. In this case, one dog had eaten off the grape vine for a long time with no signs but the Aussie was severely affected.

The lowest amounts recorded to cause kidney injury are 0.1 ounce per kilogram of body weight of raisins or 0.7 ounces per kilogram of body weight of grapes.

If your pet gets into a quantity of raisins or grapes over these amounts, call your veterinarian immediately. Inducing vomiting and aggressive intravenous fluids for 24 hours can often prevent the development of signs. Most deaths from these foods occurred when treatment was delayed.

Other foods that can be toxic to pets include chocolate, onions, bread dough and macadamia nuts. Always talk to your veterinarian first before offering your pet any human food.

If your pet gets acutely sick, always let your veterinarian know about any foods that they might have had access to that would be out of the ordinary.

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