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Sour Grapes

We heard it on the grapevine

Cabernet Grapes - Brent, PaulAs much as veterinarians warn us about chocolate, onions, garlic and anti-freeze, you may not know that large amounts of grapes or raisins can prove deadly to your dog, too. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) began a study after receiving a large number of reports of dogs developing kidney failure after eating large quantities of grapes and raisins. Agility competitor Kate Prosser found out the heartbreaking way when her five year old Vizsla Anya died after eating a 500g bag of raisins.

Always happy, Anya had qualified for this year's ABC final. She ate the raisins on the Saturday afternoon, but the Kate was not very worried as she didn't realise how toxic raisins could be.

On Sunday, 12 January 2003, the dog was taken to the vet because she was very ill, vomiting a lot and not drinking. Kate mentioned to the vet that she had read an article somewhere that raisins could be toxic to dogs whereby the vet replied he had never heard of that. He did not bother to check with a poison centre and gave the dog an injection to stop it vomiting with some anti-emetics!

Anya was admitted to the vets and put on a drip the following day (Monday) after Kate got them to take a blood sample which showed she was in acute renal failure. She seemed better in herself by Wednesday, but her blood tests showed her toxin levels were getting worse and that her kidneys were not working. After Anya collapsed completely and could not stand, Kate took her to Bristol for peritoneal dialysis as her own vet was unable to perform this operation. This was the only hope left.

They had tried everything to save her but she died on Wednesday night.

Veterinary toxicologists found that all dogs in the reports showed signs of vomiting within six hours of eating from nine ounces to two pounds of grapes or raisins. Other signs included diarrhea, anorexia (loss of appetite), lethargy, abdominal pain, and kidney failure. Treatment with intravenous fluids and other medications only resulted in recovery of about half of the cases. The other half did not recover.

What exactly is the toxic component?
At present, the exact role of grapes or raisins in these cases is still unclear. But a dog who has ingested large amounts can now be diagnosed and treated successfully. The first line of defense is decontamination, and the canine should be hospitalized and placed on IV fluids. If the blood work appears normal after three days, it's unlikely that kidney failure will occur; if there is evidence of renal failure, more aggressive treatment--including fluids, medication and possibly dialysis--is called for.

Please take the threat of poisoning from raisins seriously. As with most of these things, eating a few seem to be harmless and the quantity that will prove fatal varies hugely from dog to dog.   If your dog is sick after eating them, get them to a vet and insist on a blood test - the sooner they can be attached to a drip the more chance they have of surviving.

For more information see The Wrath of Grapes

Anya's obituary

From Alison Stewart...
Please could you put a warning on your web site of the dangers of feeding dogs’ grapes and raisins. My 4 ½ year old Lab managed to get hold of a bunch and within 24 hours was diagnosed with acute kidney failure. He is still seriously ill and I would not like to see other people watching there pets get so poorly so quickly.

My vet was unaware of the fact grapes are toxic in large quantities, but fortunately for me the nurse had read something in passing so bloods were taken very quickly. It is still too early to say what Scooby’s outcome will be, but the death rate from cases in America would appear to be 50:50.

As yet the reasons are unknown as to what causes the problems but pesticides and sprays have been ruled out.

If this could just get people talking and thinking twice of using these foods as training treats, it would be a great start to preventing these deaths or at least getting them treatment early.  (21/10/05)

Postscript: Just a quick note to let everyone know that Scooby seems well on the way to making a full recovery.  (03/11/05)

From Ean & Vee Richardson MRCVS (Orchard Veterinary Surgery - Romsey, Hampshire)...
In searching the net to find out more about the toxic ingredient in raisins and grapes, we were struck by the similarity to acorn poisoning in farm animals. In these animals kidney failure is caused by Tannic Acid which is also found in grapes and raisins. Although it is only supposition it would seem to be a logical starting point and probably worth further investigation. (06/03/03)

From Nayma M. Gelo...
Thank you so much for posting this article. I have a Black Labrador Retriever called Noochie and a ferret names Boo. Boo loves raisins. It is the only treat he likes.  Noochie likes to share so I give a couple every few days.  However, my mother loves to feed Boo lots of them and gives Noochie even more.

Although it is not a lot, I just want to say thanks because it may have gotten really bad at some point. I also keep the raisins with Noochie's cookies so a mistake could have occurred. God bless. (06/03/03)

From Kate Prosser...
Our Dogs newspaper have run a story on this this week so hopefully it will continue to reach new ears. (31/01/03)