Dr. Dolittler

Grapes and raisins can give dogs kidney failure



Q. It seems grapes and raisins are on everyone’s list of what not to feed dogs. It didn’t used to be that way. Are they bad for cats now, too?

As recently as 10 or 15 years ago, dog owners were not routinely advised to refrain from feeding grapes and raisins. Back then, gastrointestinal distress was considered the likeliest consequence of consumption.

We’ve come to learn, however, that some dogs experience acute kidney failure if they eat raisins or grapes (raisins are apparently more toxic because they are more concentrated). A 2003 study identified the problem, and since then, we’ve noted that as few as a scant handful of raisins can kill a large dog.

It’s worth noting that not all dogs will succumb after eating these fruity treats. It seems they don’t all react to the toxin in the same way. But it’s impossible to know ahead of time. That’s why veterinary toxicologists say grapes and raisins should be eliminated from dogs’ diets. Even if your old dog did just fine eating bags of grapes and boxes of raisins, it’s cold comfort should your new dog die of kidney failure.

The quandary is that we don’t understand exactly what the toxin is, whether it affects only certain grapes and raisins or whether canine genetics are part of the equation.

As to you second question, it’s still unknown whether grapes and raisins affect cats and other pets the same way. You probably don’t have to worry about your cats because they don’t go in for fruit much. Nonetheless, I would counsel caution here, too.

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice in South Miami. Her website is drpattykuhly.com. Send questions to khulyp@bellsouth.net, or Dr. Dolittler, Tropical Life, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

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