Dogs, cats, grapes and raisins – what’s safe, what’s not, the truth will surprise you. Some grape products are safe, and even health supporting. Other grape products can cause grape poisoning, and raisin poisoning – but it’s not actually the grape or raisin that causes the poisoning…
It’s time for the truth – facts not fiction.
Safe for your Dog and Cat
Organic Cold Pressed Grape Seed Oil, and Organic Grape Seed Extract - 1SAFE
Organic and/or wild crafted grape seed oil, and grape seed extract are NOT poisonous (toxic) to 1dogs and 1cats. Grape seed oil is safe for most 1dogs and 1cats. Grape seed extract, an alternative medicine is also safe for most 1dogs and 1cats.
If you want to add a healthy omega-6 fatty acid oil to your dog’s (or cat’s) diet, organic grape seed oil is a viable, healthy alternative to other organic, cold pressed oils – i.e. olive oil, and organic coconut oil.
Organic grape seed extract is an alternative medicine that can offer wonderful healing properties to dogs and cats with specific health issues and conditions. You can find out more about grape seed extract here.
Not Safe for Your Dog and Cat
Conventionally grown Grapes (Flesh and Skin), Raisins - NOT SAFE
Many years ago the flesh and skin of the typical table and wine grape and raisins did not cause poisoning / toxicity in dogs and cats.
Present day – the consumption of grapes and raisins can result in serious health issues.
What happened? Why did grape flesh and skin, once non-toxic, become very toxic to dogs and cats?
Years ago, vineyard owners in North America did not use the toxic pesticides, fertilizers, and fungicides that are used today. The heavy use of toxins (poisons) in vineyards has transformed the once innocuous grape (and raisin) into a grave danger for dogs and cats.
In 1957, the inorganic fluoride-based pesticide Cryolite (Kryoside, cryolite fluoride, aluminum sodium fluoride) was first introduced for use on fruit and vegetable crops. Cryolite is still used today, primarily on citrus fruit, grapes and potatoes. Flouride is a very toxic substance to dogs, cats and us humans.
Conventionally grown white wine grapes and table grape vineyards in California are known to be heavy users of cryolite. Cryolite fluoride is used to a lesser extent on red grape vineyards. Cryolite fluoride residue remains in the skin, and flesh of the grape after the fruit is harvested (and processed). In 2002 Cryolite was banned for use on organic crops in California.
Fluoride causes many serious side effects – including:
- Brain damage.
- Liver, kidney damage and failure.
- Immune system damage.
- Joint problems.
- Thyroid damage.
Cryolite is just one of many pesticides used by conventional domestic (Canada, U.S.A.) grape growers (wine and table grapes).
The USDA tested domestic and imported grapes – tests showed presence of residue from 56 pesticides. Of those 57 pesticides:
- 8 are known or probable carcinogens.
- 17 are suspected endocrine disruptors.
- 10 are neurotoxins.
- 4 are developmental or reproductive toxins.
- 18 of the 57 pesticides are not classified as having any adverse health effects properties, due to one or both of the following factors:
- Pesticide was not studied for carcinogenic, endocrine, neurotoxic, developmental / reproductive issues.
- Pesticide was studied and the results deemed insufficient evidence of issues (in simple English that usually indicated the data studied was NOT comprehensive). PAN (Pesticide Action Network) provides a detailed breakdown of the above here.
This site provides an example of some of the herbicides used on domestic grapes - many of these herbicides are suspected and known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins and developmental or reproductive toxins.
Conventional table grapes grown in California are treated with more fungicide than almost all other fruit crops grown in California - with the exception of pears...
Which begs the question - when does food stop being ‘food’?
USDA certified ‘organic’ produce is treated with some herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides - however much less so than GMO, and conventional produce crops. Organic grapes do not carry the same dangerous level of toxic poisons found in conventionally grown grapes. Imported conventional grapes can be even more toxic than domestic conventional grapes.
Truth and Cautions
Grapes are not the source of grape and raisin poisoning. The toxic substances used in non-organic grape vineyards are the source of toxic poison that can seriously harm your dog and cat...
Wild crafted and Organic Grapes and Raisins
We have wild growing Ontario fox grapes on our property. My dogs have eaten small amounts (not gorged on!) these wild grapes – no ill effects whatsoever. My dogs also self-select and self-harvest other wild fruit and herbs – for example: wild juniper berries, hawthorn berries, common wood land strawberries, wild blackberries, and raspberries, old orchard and wild apples (yes, complete with the seeds – no harm), wild grasses, golden rod, and more. Wild dogs forage in the same manner, as do some coyotes and wolves.
Do I recommend feeding a dog or cat organic or wild crafted grapes? No, but primarily due to the fact most grapes (and raisins) are very high in sugar. I prefer that calories come from more appropriate whole fresh foods, such blueberries, cranberries, dark leafy greens, etc.
Before we talk about grape poisoning let’s talk about food intolerance to grapes…
Food Sensitivity to Grapes is NOT Grape Poisoning
Like all food stuffs, an individual dog, cat, human or other animal may have a food sensitivity, leading to intolerance or allergy to that food item. This is true for grapes and raisins. If your dog or cat has a sensitivity to the actual grape it won’t matter if the grape (raisin) is organic or conventionally grown. Food intolerance can result in loose stools, diarrhea, and even vomiting. Food allergies can result in leaky gut syndrome leading to overgrowth of candida – some symptoms are itchy, inflamed skin, ear infections, eye infections etc. Extreme allergic response to grapes - anaphylaxis, is very rare.
Consumption of Grapes or Raisins, May or May Not Harm Your Dog or Cat
Harmful or not depends on many factors…
Some dogs and cats have a naturally stronger ‘constitution’, are less ‘sensitive’ to substances that cause immediate harm to a more sensitive animal with a weaker constitution.
- If one or more high-risk factors are present the threat to your dogs (or cats) health rises. The following provides some high risk factors…
- The grapes are conventionally grown, and from i.e. California.
- Your dog or cat drinks fluoridated water on a daily basis - any additional fluoride load increases the risk of harm.
- Your dog or cat is on a daily diet of highly processed pet ‘food’ – your animal’s system is therefore already dealing with a heavy toxic load.
- Your dog or cat is over-vaccinated, and/or has been or is on conventional drugs (both place a burden on the liver and kidneys).
- Your dog (cat) is on conventional off the shelf or veterinarian prescribed flea, tick preventatives; and / or your dog is on heartworm ‘preventatives’ – in which case your animal is already carrying a health deteriorating toxic load of synthetic chemical pesticides.
- The state of your dogs’, cats’ health at the time the grapes are consumed.
- If an animal has a known, or underlying health condition that weakens his/her ability to remove toxins from his/her body, i.e. poorly functioning liver and/ or kidneys, weak immune system, etc.
Actions You Can Take to Reduce Risk of Grape / Raisin Toxicity
- Don’t bring conventionally grown California grapes or raisins into the house, especially if you have children.
- Those grapes / raisins can end-up in your dogs, cat’s mouth!
- If you have a dog (or cat) and young children:
- Don’t bring ANY grapes into the house until your children are of an age to be trusted not to ‘drop’ grapes, or feed grapes to your animals.
- Purchase organic grapes, and organic raisins, for you and your children.
- Grow your own grapes, chemical-free.
- Don’t give your dog or cat the flesh and skin of grapes and raisins.
Signs of Grape, or Raisin Poisoning
- Appetite loss.
- Abdominal pain.
- Breathing is unusual.
- Change in behaviour, i.e.:
- Abnormally quiet.
- Unusually inactive.
- Extreme Emergency -
- Get your animal to a veterinary hospital ASAP
- Urine flow is unusual –
- Only small amounts of urine are passed.
- No urine is passed.
- Exhibiting other signs of stress, or shock.
- Loss of consciousness
- Onset of symptoms may occur several hours after consumption of grapes or raisins.
Treatment for Grape or Raisin Poisoning /Toxicity
If your dog or cat has consumed some wild or organic grapes or raisins, don’t stress – he/she is unlikely to have any adverse reaction unless he/she has a food intolerance or food allergy to grapes – no different than any other food allergy. Remember, it’s not the grape that causes poisoning – it’s the method of growing the grape that can cause poisoning.
If your dog or cat has consumed conventionally grown grapes or raisins, (not wild or organic grapes or raisins) and, many hours after ingesting - is NOT showing ANY signs of poisoning / toxicity:
It is a good idea to provide your animal with some additional support for his/her liver and kidneys for at least 10 days.
- You can do this by adding wild crafted or organic milk thistle to his/her diet, or choose another equally supportive appropriate herb.
- For more information on milk thistle, including cautions, interactions, dosage, go here.
If your dog or cat is showing signs of grape poisoning, you do need to take action.
If signs are indicative of extreme emergency (see list of symptoms above) get your animal to a veterinary hospital ASAP.
1.0 If your dog / cat has vomited / is vomiting:
- Do NOT do anything to induce further vomiting.
2.0 If your animal is:
- Showing signs of poisoning, BUT has NOT vomited:
- And your dog / cat is experiencing one or more of the following do NOT induce vomiting:
- Experiencing –
- Breathing problems.
- Other distress.
If conditions 1.0 and 2.0 do not apply to your animal, you may help induce vomiting by doing the following –
- If no food has been consumed in the past two hours you can offer a little food to help his/her system regurgitate. If your animal does not want the food do NOT force him/her to eat.
- If ingestion of the grapes occurred no more than 2 hours previous, you can then choose to try inducing vomiting with a 3% hydrogen peroxide (do not use anything stronger!). Note - if ingestion occurred more than 2 hours previous hydrogen peroxide is unlikely to induce vomiting - in this case (if your dog is showing symptoms of poisoning) call your veterinarian.
You Will Need:
- 3% hydrogen peroxide solution.
- A spoon or syringe to administer the solution.
- For animals less than 45 pounds:
- A dose is 1 ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide per every 1 pound (.45 kg) of body weight, up to 45 lbs. Don't exceed this dosage.
- For animals 46 pounds and over:
- A dose is 45 ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide (do not exceed this dosage).
Administering the Dose
- Administer directly into the mouth aiming for the back of the mouth.
- After this initial dose, wait 15 minutes.
- If vomiting DOES occur do NOT re-dose.
- At this time you will need to quickly access your animal’s condition - decide whether further intervention is required, such as a treatment of activated charcoal, or a more invasive intervention your veterinarian will need to perform.
- If, after 15 minutes vomiting does NOT occur;
- You can re-dose making sure to follow the directions above.
- Wait another 15 minutes.
- If vomiting does not occur, and your animal IS experiencing signs of poisoning, get your animal to a veterinarian hospital ASAP.
1Exceptions are –
- Individuals that have a food sensitivity to the item (food intolerance or allergy), the item is contradicted.
- Individuals with health issues / medical conditions that contradict consumption of the item.
- Individuals on conventional drugs that contradict consumption of the item.
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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld