Saturday, June 06, 2009

Dogs and Raisins

This post is a warning.

Until a few days ago, I did not realise that raisins and other grape products were poisonous to dogs. After all some trainers used to advocate raisins or grapes as treats! You can still find recipes for birthday cakes for dogs with raisins baked in. Then in about 2004, a study did prove that an excessive consumption of grapes or grape related products can be fatal to dogs. There is anecdotal evidence about cats as well. At the moment, no one knows what a safe level of grapes or raisins is. Some dogs tolerate them. Others don't.

We have two border collie puppies -- Tess and Hardy. The reason why you do not get two puppies at once is that they are like twins. If one doesn't think up some mischief, the other one will. Anyway, they got into the store cupboard, and covered the kitchen in flour. A friend then issued the warning about raisins because she knew a dog who once ate half a fruitcake and ended up on a drip.

I duly put the raisins out of range.
My eldest son, trying to be helpful put the raisins back in the store cupboard. To compound matters, he then went and had a snack of raisins, and forgot to lock the cupboard. After all our other pets knew enough to stay out...

Tess & Hardy being partners in crime got into the cupboard. Tess explored the cupboard while Hardy decided to play with the nice raisin bag. I discover the pair in situ.
My son swore that there were very few raisins left and besides, Hardy could not have eaten very many. He implied that I was panicking over nothing. After all, Hardy would have to consume huge amounts of raisins and there were very few left.
So erring on the side of my son, I decided to wait and see.

Not all dogs are allergic. The main symptoms of raisin poisoning are vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Follow by loss of appetite, lethargy and ultimately complete kidney collapse and death. The vomiting normally occurs within 6-12 hours.

Hardy developed the runs with raisins the next morning so I knew my son's assertion was not correct. He had eaten raisins and a reasonable amount. Cue an emergency visit to the vet and Hardy on an IV for 24 hours as the test showed his kidneys were not working properly. As far as we can determine he ate about 20 raisins.
It was his size and his age. An older dog quite likely would not have had any problems.

He is now fine and there seems to be no permanent damage. He did, however, shred his discharge papers and attempt to destroy the dog bed at the vets. The raisins have now gone from the house and my eldest son is paying the pet insurance excess out of his money.
I am hoping for no more than routine vet visits. However, note Hardy's interest in his bandage.

What to do if you suspect poisoning -- this includes the consumption by dogs (and cats) of chocolate, raisins and onions.

1. Make the dog vomit. A weak solution of hydrogen peroxide in milk will do it. Be proactive. Do not wait and see, even if your 18 year old son swears there was very little left and look the bag wasn't even ripped.
2. Call your vet immediately as the vet can make the dog vomit and may have other ideas about treatment. The vet would rather you call, then did not. The earlier the intervention, the greater the chance of saving the dog's life.
3. If you notice vomiting or runs with undigested bits of raisin or chocolate or onion, call the vet. Lots can be done. The vet will take a blood sample and if there is a problem, the dog will be put on an IV drip for 24 -48 hours. The IV treatment works the vast majority of the time.
4. Prevention is worth a lot. So keep chocolate, raisins and onions away from puppies and dogs.
It saves trouble in the end.
When not playing with her border collies puppies, Michelle Styles is busy working on her next historical romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon. You can see more puppy pictures on her blog.


PJ said...

Michelle, I am so glad Hardy is okay! He's so adorable! We had a scare like that a few years ago when one of my dogs got into a stash of chocolate a house guest had left out in their bedroom. I always tell guests about the dangers and ask that they keep the guest room door closed but accidents happen. I called our vet and he also recommended the hydrogen peroxide solution. She was fine but it sure was scary.

Another caution: Anti-freeze/coolant from your car is toxic and frequently fatal to dogs. The standard type smells and tastes good to them so be careful to keep them away from any spills.

Kim said...

Michelle, I'm so glad Hardy is ok. I never heard of raisins being bad for dogs and cats but I knew about chocolate.

PJ, my aunt had a dog die because the neighbor changed their antifreeze and left the discharged solution in a bowl in their driveway. Actually, a couple of dogs in the neighborhood died that day. Very sad.

Michelle Styles said...

Hardy is even more adorable in real life. He is a real people dog and more than a bit of a charmer. His sister Tess is a bit more stand offish but wonderfully sweet.

Hopefullly the post helps someone. Until this happened I was only vaguely aware of the raisin poison potential.

My son says it was the most expensive handful raisins he hopes ever to eat!

PJ-- I am so pleased your dog was fine after eating the chocolate. it is such a scary thing.

My sister told me about when her dog bit through an ant stake and how she make sure the dog vomited etc. The dog is now doing really well.

I had heard about the attraction to antifreeze so I am glad but PJ and Kim have mentioned it as it can be fatal to dogs.

Terry S said...

Gosh, I'm so glad Hardy pulled through and with no lasting damage. For small dogs even one raisin can be deadly. Expensive lesson for your son even with pet insurance.

Add to your list of foods not for dog consumption - Macadamia nuts and avocados. (And lilies are a huge problem for cats.) I've also seen on various websites a listing of all the Christmas dangers for pets.

Closest call we ever had with any of our dogs was with chocolate and Halloween. It was Milky Way fun size bars that year. The dog was walking around the house humming and a "I found something" attitude. We pried his mouth open and found a somewhat soggy, but unopened candy bar. Thank goodness for his penchant for holding his finds in his mouth and showing off instead of devouring them. Needless to say, although we have forbidden foods in the house, they are always safely away from curious doggies at all times.

Estella said...

I am so glad your puppy is OK!

Avi J said...

Hi Michelle, oh your poor dog. Hope he is better. I usually give them mik and then charcoal tablets, it absorbs the poison. My dog bit a frog last year and this saved is life.

Helen said...


I am so glad he is well they are so beautiful

Have Fun

Michelle Styles said...

Terry S -- Thank you for adding to the list.

And I do agree that it is a matter of keeping things up and away.

Avi -- yes charcoal is supposed to be excellent as well. Hooray that your dog is fine after biting the frog.

Estella and Helen -- they are very cute. I am glad we got them, but two puppies at once is like having twins. It does cut into my writing time...and they do have the abilty to go off in two different directions at the same time...

Mariee said...

Aww, they're adorable! I know that chocolate is bad for dogs, but had no idea that raisings also are. I recently got a 6 month old shetland sheepdog, she's really curious and always tries to eat everything, so thanks for the warning. I'm glad your puppy is okay :)