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Can German Shepherds Eat Grapes? Killer Fruit!

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 challenging to know exactly what they can and can’t eat. So, can German Shepherds eat grapes?

German Shepherds can not eat grapes as they are toxic to dogs. Although dogs are omnivores and can eat some fruits in moderation, grapes should not be consumed as the poisoning from grapes and raisins can cause sudden kidney failure. Even a small amount of grapes can have serious consequences.

It is unknown precisely 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 some?

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 some grapes.

Can German Shepherds Eat Grapes? German Shepherd and a bowl of grapes
My German Shepherd Willow with some grapes

Let’s get started!

Can Grapes Kill a German Shepherd?

Grapes are good for us as they are a source of fiber, potassium, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, are low in calories, and are virtually fat-free. They are also known for preventing heart disease and strokes. We know that grapes are poisonous to dogs, but can they kill a German Shepherd?

Grapes can kill a German Shepherd. Grape toxicity in dogs has been associated with acute kidney failure, which can lead to death. As scientists do not know what causes the toxicity, e.g., a pesticide or fungus, dogs should avoid all types of grapes as even a small amount can have fatal consequences.

This discovery has been quite recent. Dr. Bobby Cawthron, lead veterinarian at Aspen Grove Vet Care in Fort Collins, explains this in the below video. I was wondering why there are so many videos online of dog owners feeding their pets grapes! They clearly were none the wiser…

Grapes and Raisins, Oh My!

Can One Grape Kill a German Shepherd?

There are many common questions in veterinary toxicology. Likewise, if you are the proud owner of a German Shepherd reading this article, you may wonder if eating one grape could kill your dog.

Although the fatal dose of grapes or grape products is unknown, it is improbable that eating one grape will kill a German Shepherd. However, in other dogs, particularly smaller breeds, grape toxicity could damage the dog’s kidneys after ingesting just one grape.

A tiny amount of grapes, raisins, sultanas, or currants might cause serious issues in certain dogs. Veterinarians have seen emergencies where only one grape has been ingested. On the other hand, a handful of grapes may not cause any symptoms.

Case reviews have shown no relationship between the number of grapes consumed in dogs that died and those that survived. The lowest doses of grapes reported to result in renal failure are 4 or 5 grapes in one dog and 2.8 g/kg in another.

So as far as how many grapes a dog can eat before getting sick, there is no definitive answer, and there is no way to predict this. Just like humans, each dog is unique and will react differently. We just don’t know what the exact minimum dose is.

For more concentrated raisins, it takes less of them to cause problems. The lowest dose to cause renal failure is 3g/kg. 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!

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What Happens if a German Shepherd Eats Grapes?

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
  • Lethargy
  • Unusual quietness
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased, decreased, or no urine production
  • Bad breath
  • Oral ulcers
  • Kidney failure
  • Tremors, seizure, or coma
Can German Shepherds Eat Grapes?Grapes and raisins

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 regarding 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 severe 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 GSD Ate Grapes?

If your German Shepherd ate a grape within the last two hours, you might 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 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 him for treatment. This initial first aid that you give to your dog may be critical for protecting his 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 him 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 flush the toxin from their bloodstream and encourage your dog’s kidneys to keep producing urine.

The vet may then give medication to reduce vomiting and to keep your German Shepherd’s 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 includes 29 examples of safe fruits you can give your dog!

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:

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Caffeine
  • Cherries
  • Chives
  • Chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Leek
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Moldy Food
  • Onions
  • Rhubarb
  • Tomatoes
  • Raw Potato
  • Salt
  • Star Fruit
  • Mushrooms
  • Xylitol (sweetener)
  • Yeast Dough

The most common household food items toxic to dogs involving accidental consumption are grapes, chocolate, onion, xylitol, macadamia nuts, and alcohol.

Final Thoughts

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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