Are Grapes Bad for Dogs?

by Irene Hislop

25 May 2020



Dogs can have some quirky food preferences. Many have a sweet tooth, which can be dangerous. The danger of chocolate is well known; it can kill dogs. But what about fruit? While it seems strange, some fruits are dangerous to dogs, while others have nutritional benefits. Apples are safe, and many dogs like the crunch. Bananas are rich in potassium, and apricots can provide iron – just be sure to remove the stem, any leaves and the pit. Berries are generally good, especially cranberries. But what about another popular fruit? Are grapes bad for dogs? In a word – yes. They are toxic and can kill your dog.


All forms of grape are bad for dogs. That includes fresh grapes, raisins and sultanas as well as grape drinks. So no prosecco for your pooch! The tricky thing about this is that raisins and sultanas are in many baked goods from scones to Christmas cakes and puddings. They are in breakfast cereals and flapjacks. Grape juice is also used to sweeten a lot of snacks that do not taste remotely like grape. Many sugarless jams are sweetened with grape juice. A good rule of thumb is just to never give your dog processed people food. Things such as plain cooked meat, eggs and cheese are fine, as are some raw fruits and vegetables. Always be sure that what you are feeding your dog even as a little snack is not toxic to them.

Why Are Grapes Bad for Dogs?

Grapes cause kidney failure in dogs. Researchers have yet to discover exactly what in grapes makes them so toxic to dogs, but we do know that grapes are bad for dogs. Some experts suspect a toxic type of fungus or mould could be involved, while others think it is more likely that a natural component of grapes is toxic to dogs. The severity of the reaction can vary, but experts disagree on a clear link between the amount or type of grapes eaten or the size, breed or age of the dog. Some dogs may not show any obvious signs of illness after eating grapes, while others can become acutely ill and die.

The kidneys do the vital work of filtering and excreting waste. They control your dog’s hydration, keep a healthy metabolic balance and even regulate blood acidity. Kidneys play a big role in blood pressure too. So healthy kidneys are central to your dog’s overall health and wellbeing. The damage done by grapes is similar to that done by antifreeze. Both are serious poisons to dogs.

Signs of Grape Toxicity in Dogs

Dogs are master criminals when it comes to snatching our snacks. They are quick and cunning when food is involved. Tall dogs can easily counter surf, hoovering up whatever strikes their fancy, while small dogs have been known to climb up onto tables and counters. Some dogs can even open the presses! So if you enjoy grapes, it is best to keep them shut up in the fridge rather than out on the counter in a fruit bowl.


Our pets often manage to grab a snack – literally – without us seeing them. That’s why it is important to know the signs that your dog has eaten grapes. Aside from missing grapes, here’s what to watch for:

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Increased thirst.
  • Lethargy, weakness and a reluctance to move at all.
  • Tender, painful abdomen.
  • Dehydration.
  • Initial increased urine output followed by decreasing urine production.

These are alarming symptoms that should not be ignored, even if there are no grape products in your home. If your dog is exhibiting these symptoms, it suggests some kind of poisoning affecting the kidneys. It’s extremely urgent.

What to Do if Your Dog Has Eaten Grapes

Whether you know for certain for that your dog ate grapes or you suspect it based on your dog’s symptoms or missing food, time matters. Contact your vet immediately and tell them clearly you think your dog ate grapes. While some dogs might not react severely, for others it is a matter of life and death. And no one knows which it will be until it is very late to start treatment. The sooner your dog gets help, the better chances they have of making a good recovery.

Your vet is likely to either tell you to come in immediately or to induce vomiting. You may see advice online suggesting you induce vomiting. However, it is extremely important to talk to your vet first. If your dog is in shock, acute distress, having difficulty breathing or unconscious. Once you arrive at the vet, if you have not induced vomiting already, that is likely to be your vet’s first step. No antidote to grape toxicity exists. The treatment is focused on removing the grape from the dog’s digestive system as quickly as possible and providing intense support to their kidneys. The faster your dog receives treatment, the more effective the treatment will be. If your dog eats grapes, it is an emergency.

Grapes are not the only dangerous food for dogs, but there is less awareness among dog owners. Most know that chocolate and xylitol sweetener are dangerous, but if you ask dog owners ‘are grapes bad for dogs?’, many will wrongly assume they are not. We tend to assume that fruit and vegetables that are healthy for us and also safe for dogs, but this is not always true. Dogs have a different body chemistry, and although they are omnivores, they can’t eat just anything. The problem is, they don’t know that. People also tend to assume that some instinct prevents dogs from eating things that are toxic, but sadly this isn’t true. Dogs will eat some extremely strange things!

The best protection is to keep foods such as grapes and chocolate well out of your dog’s reach. That generally means securely inside a press because dogs can climb and jump to reach a lot of places.

Irene Hislop

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