All dog owners love to give their German Shepherds a special treat now and again. But, as there are so many “human foods,” it can be difficult to know exactly what they can and can’t eat. So, can German Shepherds eat grapes?
German Shepherds can’t eat grapes as they are toxic to dogs. Although dogs are omnivores and can eat some fruits in moderation, grapes should not be eaten as the poisoning from grapes and raisins can cause sudden kidney failure. Even a small amount can have fatal consequences.
It is not yet known exactly what substance in grapes causes the reaction in some dogs and investigations remain ongoing. So, what exactly do we know about grapes and dogs? More importantly, what should you do if your German Shepherd eats one?
In this article, we’ll explore how many grapes are toxic to dogs, the signs and symptoms of grape toxicity, and instructions and advice on what to do if your German Shepherd accidentally eats them.
How Many Grapes are Toxic to Dogs?
We all know that grapes are good for us humans but what exactly is it about them that makes them good? Grapes are a source of fiber, potassium, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also low in calories and are virtually fat-free.
Grapes are known for preventing heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. They contain plenty of water and are refreshing to eat, especially in the summer months. Grapes are a good food source for the likes of you and me, but NOT for German Shepherds, or in fact for any breed of dog, whether large or small.
Dogs eating grapes and raisins have been associated with acute kidney failure and even a small amount can prove to be fatal.
This discovery has been quite recent over the past few years as explained by Dr. Bobby Cawthron, lead veterinarian at Aspen Grove Vet Care in Fort Collins. I was wondering why there are so many videos on-line of dog owners feeding their pets grapes! They clearly were none the wiser:
Some large dogs like German Shepherds may be fine if they accidentally eat a handful of grapes, however, other dogs, (and in particular smaller breeds), the poisoning could damage the kidneys after eating even just ONE grape:
“A very small number of grapes, raisins, sultanas or currants can cause severe problems in some dogs. Our vets have witnessed emergency cases when just one has been eaten. However, on the other side of the coin, a handful may cause no symptoms.”VetsNow
So as far as how many grapes can a dog eat before getting sick, there is no definitive answer and there is no way to predict this. It is a very grey area as just like humans, each dog is unique and will react differently. We don’t know what the exact minimum dose is.
I found that as a very general guideline, a dangerous dose may be one or two grapes for a dog that weighs 10 pounds or three or four grapes for a dog that weighs 20 pounds or more. In addition to this, raisins are more concentrated and so it takes fewer of them to cause problems.
As scientists do not know exactly what causes the toxicity, whether it could be a pesticide or fungus, your German Shepherd should avoid all types of grapes whether they are red, green, purple, seedless or even peeled.
Raisins are also a definite no as these are more concentrated. This also includes other dried variants like sultanas and currants and any foods containing small amounts of grapes, for example, raisin cereal, trail mix, granola, and baked goods. These are all potential sources of poison. So be on your guard if you leave raisin cookies lying around!
There’s no way to determine how your German Shepherd will react to grapes, so it’s wise to completely avoid them.
What Happens If My Dog Eats a Grape?
Here are some signs and symptoms to be aware of if you suspect that your German Shepherd has eaten some grapes, courtesy of Pet MD. Some of these may occur just a few hours after the poisoning:
- Loss of appetite
- Unusual quietness
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Increased thirst
- Increased, decreased or no urine production
- Bad breath
- Oral ulcers
- Kidney failure
- Tremors, seizure or coma
If your German Shepherd has eaten grapes or raisins, treatment may be critical so you must treat this as an emergency. Do not waste any time. It is best to contact your vet or Pet Poison Helpline for immediate advice.
As there are still many unknown factors associated with grape poisoning, it is better not to take any chances when it comes to your German Shepherd’s health. As with any toxin, the sooner the poisoning is diagnosed and treated, the less dangerous it will be for your dog and the least expensive for you! We all know how expensive vet costs can be!
I found the below quote which I thought was helpful as I wanted to point out just how serious grape poisoning in dogs can be:
“The most common early symptom of grape or raisin toxicity is vomiting, which is generally seen within 24 hours following ingestion. Lack of appetite, lethargy, and possibly diarrhea can be also seen within the next 12-24 hours. More severe signs are not seen for 24-48 hours after ingestion – often after acute kidney failure has already begun.”By Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT, Associate Director of Veterinary Services, Pet Poison Helpline
What Do I Do If My Dog Ate a Grape?
If your German Shepherd ate a grape within the last two hours you may be advised to make him vomit as soon as possible before all the toxins in the fruit can be absorbed. If your dog has already been sick do not try to get him to vomit again. Listen to the advice given, even if you are unsure as to how many grapes your German Shepherd has eaten.
Your vet may give you instructions on how to make your German Shepherd vomit before you take them for treatment. This initial first aid that you give to your dog may be critical for protecting their kidneys from any long term damage.
On the other hand, you may be initially advised not to induce vomiting if your German Shepherd is having trouble breathing, is showing signs of distress or shock or has lost consciousness, or if you are unsure whether your dog ate some grapes or not!
If it is recommended that you try to make your German Shepherd vomit at home, then you will need to follow the below steps as advised by Pet MD:
- If your dog has not eaten within the last two hours, give them a small meal. This may make your dog vomit but it is not essential if your dog is not interested in eating.
- Measure 1 milliliter (ml) of 3% hydrogen peroxide (available from drugstores) per pound of your dog’s weight, using either a syringe or teaspoon (a teaspoon contains approximately 5ml). The maximum amount of hydrogen peroxide to be given at any one time is 45 ml, even if your dog weighs over 45 pounds.
- Squirt the hydrogen peroxide into the back of your dog’s mouth using a syringe. You can use a turkey baster if you don’t have a syringe.
- If your dog does not vomit within fifteen minutes, repeat the process using the same amount of hydrogen peroxide. However, don’t do this more than twice and wait fifteen minutes in between.
Whether your German Shepherd vomits or not, you must still rush him to see a vet straight away. Your vet may need to wash out your dog’s stomach or give some activated charcoal to deal with any toxin that is still present as this will help to absorb the contents of your dog’s stomach.
Your German Shepherd may also need some extra fluids given intravenously. This will help to flush the toxin from their bloodstream and to encourage your dog’s kidneys to keep producing urine.
The vet may then give medication to reduce vomiting and to keep your German Shepherds kidneys going. There is no specific antidote if your dog eats grapes or raisins, and all a vet can do is support your dog’s kidneys in the best way possible.
Prevention is the best advice. Keep grapes (and their dried variants) completely out of reach as most dogs will eat almost anything if given half the chance! I like to keep mine in the fridge as I know they are safe there.
Remember to pick up any grapes or raisins that drop on the floor as some dogs can be like a mini vacuum cleaner! Also, keep them away from any surface your German Shepherd could access, like the kitchen table or worktops.
It’s a good idea to make sure that family members and close friends are also aware of the toxic nature of grapes and raisins. I like to explain to them the severe harm that they can cause. This is especially important if they are non-dog owners as they may not be aware of just how serious this can be.
To learn more about what other fruits a German Shepherd can eat, including the benefits, check out my complete guide. It explains the topic really well and includes 29 examples!
What Other Foods Are Poisonous to German Shepherds?
All dog-lovers know that it can be enjoyable to give your German Shepherd a treat every once in a while, however, you must make sure that the food is not toxic.
These are some other foods that you must avoid as they are highly poisonous to dogs. It is not an exhaustive list but it does cover the main ones:
- Macadamia Nuts
- Moldy Food
- Raw Potato
- Star Fruit
- Xylitol (sweetener)
- Yeast Dough
You now know that your German Shepherd cannot eat grapes or raisins. To learn about other foods poisonous to German Shepherds: this article provides loads of helpful information and contains some hidden dangers that you ought to know!
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