Grapes and raisins can kill dogs. Read this to find out how to keep your pet safe this Christmas.

For many people, it seems unbelievable that grapes and raisins can poison dogs. They’re harmless to humans. We’ve all seen dogs occasionally eating foods containing raisins with no apparent ill effects. How can they suddenly be poisonous?

Why are grapes and raisins not always poisonous to dogs, and never poisonous to humans?

First, like all poisons, the poisonous effect depends on the dose taken per kilogram of animal body weight. Large dogs can safely eat some raisins without problems.

Secondly, the toxic ingredient in raisins seems only to be present intermittently, so a dog may eat raisins without problems on several occasions, then fall seriously ill the next time.

What is the toxic ingredient in grapes and raisins?

The actual toxic ingredient is still a mystery. The fact that grapes and raisins can be poisonous has only been deduced by circumstantial evidence, with many dogs developing acute renal failure for no obvious reason, with the only common factor being the previous ingestion of grapes or raisins. Samples of the fruit in such cases has been analysed, but a toxic agent has not yet been isolated.

The best guess so far is that it is a water-soluble substance, and that it’s in the flesh of the grape/raisin, but not the seed. One theory is that it is a mycotoxin (i.e. a poison produced by moulds or fungi on the grapes). The problem in dogs was first highlighted after a year with high levels of rainfall. This had led to damp grapes which were more likely to develop fungal growth.

But why should humans be safe from this toxin? It’s well known that cultured dog kidney cells in the laboratory are exquisitely sensitive to other types of mycotoxins. It makes logical sense that dog kidneys might also be more sensitive to damage by another mycotoxin, even its identity has yet to be established.

So how much do owners need to worry about grape/raisin toxicity?

If a terrier steals a mince pie, is a visit to the vet needed? If a Labrador has a slice of Christmas cake, do they need to be taken to the emergency vet?

This is always a judgment that is not black and white. It seems sensible to look at the lowest recorded doses of grapes or raisins linked to acute renal failure in previous cases of poisoned dogs. This allows an estimate of the probable toxic dose depending on the animal’s body weight.

Grapes

The lowest toxic dose is around 20g grapes per one kilogram of body weight. A typical grape weighs 2 – 5g, making a toxic dose is around 4 grapes per kg.
So if a 5kg terrier eats 20 grapes, or a 30kg Labrador eats 120 grapes, there’s a high chance of a serious problem, and veterinary intervention is definitely indicated.

Raisins

The lowest poisonous dose in confirmed cases has been around 3g/kg. An average raisin weighs around 0.5g, making a toxic dose approximately 6 raisins per kg.
So if a 5kg terrier eats 30 raisins, or a 30kg Labrador eats 120 raisinsthey need to see the vet. Some studies have suggested that the toxic agent is neutralised by cooking, so cooked raisins (e.g. in pies and cakes) may not present such a high risk.

Important note

Please remember that the above doses mention quantities that have definitely caused serious kidney failure in the past. The decision on whether or not to take a pet to the vet is a personal decision, taken after balancing the possible risks. Many people prefer to take a conservative approach, to be as safe as possible. For example, if a dog has eaten even half of the above quantities, it may be safer to take them to the vet for “just in case” treatment.

What do vets do for dog that have eaten grapes/ raisins?

1) If ingestion has happened in the previous hour.

This is the ideal situation: the vet can give an injection to cause the pet to vomit, emptying the stomach and removing the grapes/raisins before any toxic ingredients have had a chance to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

2) If ingestion has happened in the previous two days but the pet is still well

Depending on the situation, vomiting may still be induced, activated charcoal may be given to limit absorption of the toxin, and intravenous fluids may be given to flush fluids through the kidneys in an attempt to minimise any damage. Blood and urine tests may be recommended to monitor kidney function. If the dog is well after three days, then the high risk period is over.

3) If ingestion has happened and the dog is unwell (e.g. vomiting, dull, inappetant)

In such cases, the kidneys may have already been damaged by the toxin. Urine and blood tests will be carried out to assess the severity of the damage to the kidneys, and intensive care will be needed to save the pet’s life, including high levels of intravenous fluids. The prognosis is guarded: unfortunately, some affected dogs die, despite the vet’s best efforts.

 Conclusion.

  • Keep grapes and raisins away from dogs.
  • If any dog eats them accidentally, phone your local vet (even if it’s after-hours)
  • Tell your vet how many grapes/raisins were eaten along with the body weight of your pet.
  • Your vet will then advise you on the safest course of action.

Remember, if your dog has eaten something it shouldn’t, use our free poisons guide. And if they’re under the weather, our interactive dog symptom checker will let you know if it’s an emergency.

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60 thoughts on “Grapes and raisins can kill dogs. Read this to find out how to keep your pet safe this Christmas.

  1. Thank you for this article. My schnauzer ate trail mix and I rushed him to the er vet within minutes and they made him vommit it all up. They tried to guilt me into keeping him there still for days and im young and dont have thousands to spend or the credit to borrow it so i cried all night. The more I read the more I felt like he could be okay and it helped me emotionally and I’m happy to say hes doing just fine now! Wish I had a vet like you in my area!

  2. Great article! Thank you for making me aware. I have a Labrador which as you know will try and eat anything if it is left around. I don’t think she has got to any grapes or raisins yet luckily.

  3. I gave my dog 4 to 5 grapes from a cookie not knowing that they were toxic. He’s about 5/6 kg. I’m so worried. It was about 2 hours ago

    1. The problem with grape and raisin poisoning is that we don’t know exactly what the toxic ingredient is, or how much is needed – some dogs seem to tolerate grapes and even raisins well, but others develop toxicity with only 2 or 3! If you get to the vets within an hour or two of ingestion, then they can induce vomiting and make sure that they’ve been expelled. After that it’s a slightly harder decision, whether to hospitalise a (currently) healthy dog for intravenous fluids on the “just in case” front, or monitor closely and start treatment if any symptoms do occur. My best advice – have a chat to your vet and follow their advice, as they know your dog’s medical history and can judge the relative risk for them as an individual.

    1. Unfortunately, unlike most poisons, there isn’t a simple dose-response curve for raisin poisoning. Some dogs are fine with eating a lot; others may develop kidney failure after only 3 or 4 currants. As a result, I’d advise getting him checked by your vet!

    1. It is unlikely – as far as I’m aware, the minimum dose that has caused death was 3 grapes. However, it isn’t well understood, and doesn’t seem to be a simple dose/response relationship, so I’d keep an eye out for any possible signs.

    1. Unfortunately, it isn’t a simple dose-response relationship. Some big dogs may get ill after 3 or 4 raisins, and some small dogs may be fine after 20 or 30. We just don’t know enough about it – I would strongly advise contacting your vet for advice as soon as possible.

      1. Hope she’s OK! Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing what a safe dose is, as it seems to vary between dogs and also between batches of raisins.

    1. It’s very hard to know. Unfortunately, we don’t know what the toxic component is; also, the toxicity doesn’t always seem to be dose-dependent (so some dogs may develop poisoning after 3 or 4 raisins, others have no problems with whole bunches of grapes). The current theory is that some grapes carry more of whatever it is than others. I think it’s quite unlikely to be a problem – the record is I think 3 for toxicity – but I can’t say for certain that he’ll be fine. If you’re at all worried, or he shows signs of changes to drinking or urination, contact your vet immediately.

  4. My 15 week old whippet had one grape in its mouth, removed it, looks like she may have just gotten some juice….. Should I be worried??

    1. It’s pretty unlikely – although we don’t know what the toxic material is – or what constitutes a toxic dose, as it seems to very a lot – I’m unaware of any reported toxicity from a single grape.

  5. my 3 kg maltese ate 8 grapes and im scared out of my mind, he threw up by his own in 2 hours with all the grapes in his throw up and his poop is a solid not diarrhea, should i still worry what do i do!!!

    1. If he vomited up all the grapes, it’s very unlikely he’ll be ill. You could get him checked over by your vet, but I think he’d be unlucky to be seriously affected (although no-one can say that for certain).

  6. 75 lb Siberian husky altered female consumed a small box of yogurt covered raisins. We called the vet, and he said to just watch her. Should we be more worried? It’s been a day and she seems normal.

    1. The toxic effects of raisins are very poorly understood. I believe the record is 3 raisins leading to severe toxicity, but many dogs seem to get away with it. I think I’d have to say be guided by your vet on this one!

  7. Ok so two of my dogs did this a few minutes ago, my ten pound dog (both are chihuahuas) only ate one, the other is around 5 pounds and ate two. I tried getting them to throw up, but they just won’t (they also don’t like it when I try making them drink to much water to flush it out.) and I can’t get them to a vet (bcs with everything going on and crap they haven’t been accepting anyone) so now I’m terrified I may have just condemned my dogs to death. Anyway to make them puke that could work?

    1. Do NOT try to induce vomiting at home, the risks are huge. Most vets are still seeing emergencies, and almost all will take phonecalls for advice – so call either your practice or an ER provider.

    2. Any update on this, my 13lbs dog ate one raisin a few hours ago and I am very freaked out, he seems fine no vomiting or diarrhea.

  8. My 25 lb schnauzer-cairn terrier mix has ingested 1 grape – i caught my dad beginning to feed him one and but was too late and my dog had already eaten a single grape — should I be worried? I was going to monitor him for the next couple of hours and take him to the vet ASAP if i noticed anything out of the usual

    1. It is unlikely that a single grape would be dangerous, but we can’t say for certain, so keep an eye on him.

  9. Just found torn bag that my grand daughter was eating grapes from. believe there were about 4 or 5 grapes left. I think my 21 lb bichon ate them that was about 15 hours ago showing no signs has eaten and acting normal . Should I just continue to monitor or call vet.

    1. There’s no easy answer to that. It is unlikely that there would be toxic effects, but there’s no way to be sure. The kidney damage can be delayed by several days after ingestion, so there might not be any symptoms yet; the majority of dogs who eat grapes don’t get kidney failure, but some do.

    2. Is your dog okay? My Bischon ate 4 grapes today and I just saw that they can be toxic 😭 I am sick with worry.

      1. The problem with grapes is that we don’t know what the toxic ingredient or the toxic dose is, because it seems to vary so much between individuals and situations. Always worth a call to your vet, but 4 grapes is probably a relatively low risk for severe poisoning.

  10. A five-year-old Labrador ate three grapes at twelve o’clock today, and half an hour later when we took him out for walking, he showed a slight vomiting, after which we saw blood on his ball, but his tongue and mouth did not see the wound. In addition to the rest are very healthy, two hours later he also ate some food, what should we do?

    1. We wouldn’t usually expect bleeding from grape toxicity – if it happens (and 3 fresh grapes is very low risk), we’d expect changes in thirst and urination. So probably a coincidence, but if any question mark, call your vet for advice about your specific dog.

  11. Please can you advise me quickly. My dog is currently at the vets had the injection and charcoal around an hour after eating 3/4 of a tub of grapes. They are suggesting sending to another vets for overnight fluids up to 72 hrs and a blood test. Surely we got her there quickly enough, she is fine at the mo apparently

    1. We don’t know, unfortunately – we know that the best outcome is vomiting and then fluids, but we also know that most dogs don’t need the fluids. What we don’t know is which dogs need it and which don’t!

  12. My 47 lb. Border Collie counter surfed and ate a lot of raisins yesterday, unbeknownst to me. I realized it when I cleaned up the poop in the back yard today. I think he has pooped them all out. He seems to be fine, but do you think I still need to keep a close eye on him for the next day or so?

    1. Definitely – and I’d suggest talking to your vet in case there’s anything in his medical record that might indicate a higher chance of kidney problems. We don’t know what the toxin is, or which grapes or raisins have it in, or which dogs are most susceptible, so we have to assume that any dog could be affected.

  13. I discovered many hours after the fact that my 5 kg or 10/11 pound terrier mix (party silky) ate a scone with white (or yellow/green?) raisins (probably 10-15 raisins in the scone). He was a little listless last night, but we had taken a long hike in the heat earlier in the day, and thunderstorms and lightening was on the horizon (which terrifies him). I checked on him throughout the evening, and he woke up rearing to go this morning with regular appetite, regular thirst, and regular pee and poop. It’s nearly 24 hours since he ingested the scone, and reading here and on other accounts online it sounds as if: (1) it was already too late to force him to vomit when I discovered that he’d eaten them; (2) he had no clear syptoms suggesting a trip to the vet would be necessary; and (3) the fact that the raisins were baked in the scone may have neutralized their toxicity. I plan to watch him closely at least for 3 days from his consumption of the raisins, and if there are no issues/symptoms at that point should I consider him to be ok?

    1. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for sure! Kidney failure would usually occur within 1-2 days, but in a few cases signs may be delayed for longer. However – on the balance of probabilities, if he’s gone a day with no ill effects, it is more likely than not that he won’t be seriously affected.

  14. My dog recently (within the last hour) ingested raisin bran crunch – the person who gave it insisted that he made an effort to pick out the raisins as best he could and at most the dog only got about 2 raisins – he’s a 12 kg pug. I only realized he ingested the raisins, as 10-15 mins after ingestion he came into the room and vomited, a fairly large amount. The vomit was largely bran, but I did notice about 1-2 raisins (hard to tell bc they were chewed). Since he vomited immediately is there still a reason for concern?

    He is peeing and drinking appropriately at the time. Thanks!

    1. It’s unlikely to cause a problem if he had 2 and vomited them back up! As far as I’m aware, the record for fatality is 3 raisins.

  15. My dog is elderly and on steroids and when i have to up the dose slightly she is a monster barking at the fridge all day . Anyway I digress I have just found an empty bagel wrapper in her bed there was one stale one in it . she is 11 and a mixed breed rescue dog that we have had most of her life. The bagel was cinnamon and raisin . A shop bought one so not loaded with them but it could be a couple of hours ago now because i left her in her sleeping area as its cool . Is it too late and should I be worried ? She has the most robust stomach of any animal i have ever owned and was a street dog and a natural scavenger. It appears i threw th.e wrong packet in the bin and left the wrong one on the side and she has pulled it off the kitchen top . Thats the only way it could have ended up in her bed and i just foudn the empty wrapper . is it just a watch and wait ?

    1. The trouble with raisins is that we don’t know what the toxin is, or what dogs will be affected. Most will be fine, some will be ill, and some will die – we just don’t know why or how many! With her being on steroids I would advise you to call your vet and chat to them, though, because they can change the sensitivity of the kidneys.

  16. I gave my border collie 3 grapes and he is a 11kg pup should I ask my mom to call the vet… i didnt know they were poisonous for him I’m worried sick D: it was in the last 10 min I gave him some water with a litte bit of his food to maybe make it less worse :((

    1. The trouble is we don’t know! However, it’s pretty unlikely that 3 grapes would cause serious problems, although it’s not impossible.

  17. Hi I gave my 2 year old around 4 grapes earlier today but didn’t realise until this evening that they were so terrible! I am so worried about it now. We have had a walk in the park since and he has still been hovering around the kitchen at dinner time (as usual). He is now asleep but I’ve found myself sitting watching him terrified. Will this be likely to cause problems for him?

    1. It’s not likely, with only 4 grapes (and not raisins), but there’s no way to know for sure – it’s incredibly variable how it affects them.

    1. update,
      went to the vet 13 hours after ingestion. Normal kidney levels
      vet again the following day. BUN and concentration levels were the same but creatinine went from 1.2 to 1.4. He was given subcutaneous fluids. Will be checking with vet again tomorrow.

  18. Hi, my wife just gave our 10 week old border collie a red grape (in 2 halves)….should we contact the Vet as it is a bit of a worry reading this?

    1. The risk is very low from a single grape. I can’t say it’s zero, but I think the risk is very low indeed. My suggestion would be to ring your vet and have a chat about it, given your pup’s young age.

    1. I’m not aware of any cases that have been reported; my suggestion would be to contact VPIS (the Veterinary Poisons Information Service) and ask if they have any data!

  19. My 9.5kg French bulldog might have just eaten two cooked hydrated golden raisins when a small amount rice dropped on the floor. But I am not sure. I do not want to induce vomiting since he’s Brachiocephalic (Sp.?) should I give him activated charcoal??

    1. We have no idea what the toxin in grapes and raisins is. As a result, we have no idea if activated charcoal will help! However, as far as I’m aware there have been no reports of serious effects after only 2 raisins being consumed – the minimum dose linked to toxicity is 3.

  20. Hello, my dog (33kg) ate half a loaf of raisin bread 4 days ago. Within 15 minutes of eating it, we got her to the vet and soon after the vet induced vomiting. She threw up a lot, and we were sent home. Today (4 days after she ate the bread), she has had diarrehoea all day (3 times so far), which is very unusual. She has also been drinking a lot more since late last night/today. Should we be worried this is a delayed reaction to the raisins? After she vomited (within a half hour of eating them), she has been absolutely fine.

    1. Increased thirst 2-4 days after eating raisins can be a sign of the acute kidney injury that is characteristic of raisin poisoning. Although there are lots of other possible causes, given the known exposure to raisins I would strongly advise calling your vet and getting her seen again.

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