As promised, we are going to cover the latest on RAISIN and GRAPE toxicosis.

This has been more common as of late and is an onerous ingestion to deal with – mainly because there is not a specific dose amount in dogs and individuals have varying responses to different exposures. We can explain some of this below, but some of this remains a mystery. In general, we recommend that you consult with us or your local veterinarian regarding any ingestion or exposures.

Background on the discovery of this toxin:

This was originally discovered at Davis in Northern California due to the proximity to the wineries in Napa. Some dogs were ingesting only a few and having signs of kidney damage, while others were exposed to entire wine barrels with seemingly no changes to kidney values.

Well after years of study, the thinking has always leaned towards something “on” the grape/raisin – but pesticides, heavy metals, and fungal contaminants were never linked. A recent and most current theory is that the tartaric acid in grapes (the same thing that you make tartar sauce from) is contributing to the kidney damage seen after ingestion. This explains why large and small amounts both seem to cause kidney failure, but also means there is known cut off for how much can cause kidney failure.

Recommendations after ingestion:

Since there is a risk for kidney failure, and no specific low-end dose for toxicity, the recommendation after ingestion is to bring your pet to the veterinarian for prompt treatment.

When a pet arrives to the hospital after accidental grape/raisin ingestion, we are going to ask some questions:

  • When was the ingestion?
  • How much was potentially ingested?
  • Has your pet vomited prior to arrival and were any grapes visible in the vomitus?
Once the doctors can establish that vomiting is the best option for your pet, we will give a medication to cause vomiting – and try to remove the toxin as much as possible.

What is a baseline:

We will also want to establish a baseline for blood work. There is no expected change on blood work this soon after ingestion, so the goal here is to establish your pets “normal level” so we can then track and monitor for kidney changes over the next 24-72 hours.

Dilution is the solution to the pollution:

Once your pet has been made to vomit, we are going to want to give fluid support by either IV or subcutaneous depending on how successful decontamination procedure has been. We are also going to wait until they are no longer nauseas and administer activated charcoal to bind any remaining toxin.

Blood values should be monitored for signs of kidney failure over the subsequent 3 days after an ingestion. This is because kidney damage isn’t painful or necessarily have any external signs that would be evident, and we will want to catch and treat any changes in values as soon as possible.

Dialysis would be the next step for a patient experiencing acute kidney failure secondary to ingestion, so we obviously want to avoid the transit and cost of this procedure if we can avoid it by other less invasive (and less expensive) means.


Bottom line – keep grapes and raisins out of reach. If an accidental ingestion occurs, please give us a call and we will get you an urgent appointment. If this is after hours, please proceed directly to our closest after-hours service at Animal Urgent Care in Mission Viejo to follow the above guidelines as necessary. As with all accidental ingestions, prompt care is a chance to stop or reverse damage to your pet.

Thank you for following along with us for this season’s topics! Next week I will send a new email and blog post about a different ingestion.

As always, in love and health,
Dr. Jenna Cooper

The opinions, recommendations and grammatical errors in these posts are my own. If your pet is experiencing an emergency or you have concerns, please seek immediate local veterinary advice.