Sunday, 3 November 2013

Grape Seed Extract - Alternative Medicine for Dogs and Cats

Safe to use as a dietary supplement, alternative medicine
for most dogs and cats.

In this article...

1. Grape Seed Extract

2. Health Benefits

3. Cautions

4. Side Effects

5. Drug Interactions

6. Selecting a Good Product

7. Administration

1.0 Grape Seed Extract (extract of Vitis vinifera)

What is safe/beneficial and what is dangerous...
The fruit of the grape vine – the grape (and dried grape - raisin), can be toxic and health threatening to dogs and cats.

  • The actual skin and flesh of some grapes contains substances that can cause renal failure in dogs and cats.  
    • Possible cause - the potent, toxic chemical pesticides, herbicides used in growing non-organic grapes.
  • While some dogs and cats are able to remain relatively unaffected by ingesting the flesh/skin of the grape other dogs and cats can and do suffer from a very serious adverse reaction – renal failure;

Safe and Beneficial...

  • The extract and the oil organic grapes is not toxic to dogs and cats;
  • The extract and the oil offer health benefits to both cats and dogs.  
  • The oil of grapes  is a good source Omega-6 fatty acids for dogs - when derived from organic grapes.

History of Grape Seed Extract

Since ancient times various parts of the grape plant (fruit, leaves, stem), however extract from the grape seed was not used until the 1970s, when a French biochemist, Professor Masquelier isolated the substance oligomeric proanthocyandin (OPCs) from the seed.

The professor first alerted to the possibility extract after studying the mission logs of the famous explorer Jacques Cartier. Cartier, his men and his ship had become ice bound during a particularly cold Canadian Winter – during that time his men had fallen victim to scurvy (caused by insufficient intake of vitamin C). During that ice-bound season Cartier had the good fortune to meet a helpful Indigenous person who taught Cartier how to make tea from pine bark. The resulting tea produced an immediate improvement in the ailing crew’s health.

The professor surmised that pine bark must contain high levels of vitamin C, he proceeded to investigate. His investigations revealed that pine bark contained substances other than vitamin C – in particular OPCs and procyanidolic oligomers (PCOs). In 1952 the professor patented his method of extracting PCO from pine bark. The trade name that he assigned to the extracted PCO was Pycnogenol.  In 1970 he successfully extracted PCO from grape seeds. PCO is one of many plant flavonoids. In 1986, the professor went on to discover more about grape seed extract and proved that the OPC strength of Pine Bark extract ranges between 80-85%. While grape seed extract has more efficacy as its OPC range is between 90-95%. Grape seed extract also contains high concentrations of Vitamin E and Linoleic Acid.

Grape seed extract is a by product of the wine manufacturing industry. The extract is made from the crushed seeds of the grape.

Grape seed extract contains active ingredients that are:

  • Anti-allergen
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Antimutagenic

2.0 Health Benefits - a partial list…

Ingested Uses

  • Anti-allergen…
    • Asthma (an inflammatory disease)
    • Food allergies;
    • Skin Allergies;
      • Eczema;
      • Psoriasis;
    • Environmental allergies (hay fever).
  • Anti-Inflammatory;
    • Grape seed extract contains natural Cox-2;
  • Atherosclerosis - hardening of the arteries, (an inflammatory disease);
  • Arthritis;
  • Brain Health;
    • The active ingredients in grape seed extract can cross the blood-brain barrier;
    • Thus allowing the antioxidant properties to aid in the prevention of oxidative stress to the brain, eyes and nerves…providing protection from:
    • Canine Dementia;
    • Cataracts;
    • Macular degeneration, and;
    • Neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Cardiovascular Disease (an Inflammatory disease);
    • Grape seed extract increase the production of nitric oxide which dilates arteries and increases blood flow.
  • Cancer prevention and cancer fighting (an inflammatory disease), for example…
    • Grape seed extract has been proven to halt the growth and survival of colorectal cancer cells and kills the cancer cells in large numbers without harming healthy cells;
    • In contrast to chemotherapy to which cancer cells may become resistant, the many bioactive compounds in grape seed extract are able to target multiple mutations – with efficacy actually increasing in stage IV cells;
    • Grape seed extract has been shown to trigger the destruction of leukemia cells by turning on a protein called JNK that regulates the cancer killing pathway;
    • Decreases risk of prostate cancer and breast cancer;
  • Cholesterol lowering;
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome;
  • Chronic venous insufficiency;
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • Dental care, gingivitis;
  • Diabetes complications such as:
    • Blood Vessel damage;
    • Macular degeneration (AMD).
  • Diarrhea;
  • Fur growth after loss or damage due to skin conditions;
  • Insulin sensitivity ;
    • Grape seed extract improves insulin sensitivity;
    • Insulin sensitivity can lead to the development of metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes).
  • Liver damage/disorders;
  • Lower Blood pressure;
  • Muscle fatigue;
  • Swelling caused by injury, sudden trauma;
  • Pain control;
  • Ulcerative colitis.

3.0 Cautions...

  • For pregnant or lactating dogs and cats use only when absolutely require and not for an extended period of time.

4.0 Side Effects...

  • Allergic reaction to grape seed extract is very rare – symptoms include the following:
    • Itching/swelling (particularly face, tongue, throat);
    • Diarrhea;
    • Nausea;
    • Rash;
    • Severe dizziness;
    • Sore throat;
    • Trouble breathing.
  • If allergic reaction occurs cease use.

5.0 Drug Interactions...

  • Anticoagulant, Antiplatelet drugs;
  • Medications changed or broken down by the liver;
  • May interact with NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory)

6.0 Selecting a Good Product…

  • Grape seed extract is available as a:
    • Gel/capsule;
    • Liquid;
    • Powder.
  • Make sure that the grape seed extract does not contain:
    • Alcohol;
    • Fillers;
    • Sweetners.
  • Organic is best as non-organic grape seed extract can be very high in pesticide residue;
  • Look for a product that contains 90 to 95% oligomeric proanthocyandin (OPCs).

7.0 Administration …


  • Provide with food – just add the grape seed extract drops, capsule or powder to food twice a day.

8.0 Holistic Support

Holistic Wellness and Behaviorist Services

Do you need holistic advice to support your companion animal's health and well being? Become a client. Book your consultation. My professional holistic nutrition, wellness and behavioral services are available to you:
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For more information go here. 
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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld


  1. can you give your dog grape seed extract if they are currently on prednisone? and how much would you give a 33 pound dog?

    1. yes you can give with prednisone. Follow the manufacturer's dosage as strength/dilution varies per product

  2. Replies
    1. Leah Atopica is deadly. The first thing you should be doing is getting your dog off of it. I worked with many dogs that become very ill on Atopica - three canine patients last week, two almost died on Atopica. I addressed those dogs health issues via a custom holistic diet nutrition wellness plan - and removed the Atopica.


Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats