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Some Information on Raisin / Grape Toxicity in dogs

Click for - Update - submitted 6 May 2004


The following warning was forwarded to us from a dog lover in the USA. and concerns the possible adverse affect on dogs of ingestion of a quantity of dried raisins.

The affected dog is not a Border Collie but we felt it prudent to pass this warning on as we are aware that many trainers in the UK do use dried fruits as rewards when training their Border Collies - and other breeds of dog.

This is a fairly new situation and very little is known about the subject, cause or potential for occurrence in canines. Our enquiries within the UK have not yet revealed anyone who has any knowledge of these matters. We simply urge caution and suggest that anyone who feeds such treats should substitute another form of reward until more is known about the subject and should take the precaution of ensuring these products are not accessible to their dogs.

There has been some research into the accumulative affect of some pesticides used in raisin and grape crop production, particularly anti fungicides, and the results of such research is available on the Internet. This is, however, very rare and may have no bearing on this case.


Border Collie Rescue has been in touch with the National Animal Poison Control Centre (NAPCC) in Illinois and they have confirmed over the phone that they are looking into this situation and are taking it seriously. They have a statement on their Website - Click here for the link or read on until you come to it. The NAPCC is part of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

We have not edited or amended this warning and have the authors consent to print it as it was sent.

I don't know anyone in Great Britain.  Please, please, please pass this on....

McGee, our beloved 9 year old BI-black Sheltie, crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on Sunday, January 28, 2001. He only lived with us for 15 months, but in those 15 months he endeared himself to us forever.

We adopted him through Sheltie Rescue in Columbia, Maryland. He came to us overweight, depressed, and hyperthyroid, and we had worked very hard to bring down his weight and to treat his condition. As he got to know us, he became an integral part of our little family, following us wherever we went, and profusely complaining whenever he was left behind. We were always greeted with the greatest of fanfares every time we came home, his tail was always wagging, and he always gave lots of kisses. He never did quite get the hang of Frisbee, but he surely tried really hard (couldn't quite get his big butt off the ground). He was always the gentleman (even if he did occasionally help himself to some garbage or your unattended sandwich), polite and attentive to the last. He was friendly with everyone, human, canine, feline, or lagomorph. He made sure to make each and every new guest welcome by bringing him or her one of his toys. He patiently tolerated my two rabbits who never could seem to stop bugging him whenever he tried to lay down.

McGee died of a RAISIN OVERDOSE. On January 25, he ate 18 ounces of raisins which were sitting on the coffee table. He loved raisins, and he would sit politely waiting for his turn while my two rabbits begged for their raisin treats. The overdose caused renal (kidney) failure  which in turn caused an unusually high concentration of calcium in his blood. The veterinarian originally suspected rat poison. He vomited repeatedly and by the second day, he could not walk. He died peacefully at the Metropolitan Emergency Animal Clinic in Rockville, Maryland with me and one of his other human housemates at his side.

McGEE'S DEATH IS THE FIRST DOCUMENTED CASE OF RAISIN/GRAPE TOXICITY IN MARYLAND, and one of only a few documented cases nation-wide. Please help me to spread the word!!!!. As much as veterinarians warn us about chocolate, onions, and anti-freeze, your veterinarian probably DOES NOT YET KNOW about raisin and grape toxicity. Tell your fellow dog owners (especially those who keep raisins for their rabbits), newsletters, breeders, pet food stores, rescue groups, your veterinarian, and anyone else you can think of. And if your dog eats a lot of raisins or grapes and begins vomiting, get him to the animal hospital IMMEDIATELY, and treat it as seriously as any other poison overdose.

McGee's body has been donated to the Animal Poison Control Centre for an autopsy. This is the first opportunity the Poison Control Centre has had to autopsy a complete body. I hope that his sacrifice will help bring awareness to dog owners everywhere. I would like to thank Doctor Carole Foster, Doctor Deborah Weiss, Dr. Hampshire and the rest of the staff at the Metropolitan Emergency Animal Clinic for their help and compassion during my friend's last days.

If you have any information or would like to get information about raisin/grape toxicity, please contact the National Animal Poison Control Centre at 1717 Philo Road, Urbana, IL, U.S.A.

L S - Maryland - USA


The telephone number of this organisation (NAPCC) is (from UK) 001 888 4264435, however at this stage they would be unable to tell anyone much over the phone and may charge for the service. However, if you have any information that may be of value to them in their research - please contact them and pass it on. Remember to check the time zone difference.

Border Collie Rescue would also be interested in hearing of any cases - particularly from the UK.

The following link is to the NAPCC Website where they have placed a simple statement about the situation.


The following information has been sent by the author of the article. Citation from - The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (May 15, 2001. Volume 218, Number 10, pages 1555-1556).

It's time to stop feeding grapes or raisins as treats


Grape and Raisin Toxicity in Dogs

Lauren Shifflett was the lady who contacted us with the original alert. It was her dog this happened to and so she does have first hand experience. We have not edited this article and you may find her description of the results of the toxic effects rather disturbing. We are pleased to have been in the position to publish her first warning and spread the word. Unfortunately we are still coming across individuals and dog trainers who still use raisins as treats and rewards for their dogs. One or two that we have pointed the original article out to have commented that there was nothing proved so why change, and besides, the toxin seems to have to be present in large amount to poison the dog.

To this we can only say - There needs to be more research done on this condition before we can draw any firm conclusions, however there are now a number of identified cases where a dog has died as a result of eating raisins or grapes. We do not know if this toxin is accumulative. Small amounts, in themselves not harmful, may remain and build up in the dog until a fatal level is reached. Because we do not know we should employ prudence and simply avoid feeding our dogs on Raisins or Grapes ( and cut out that odd glass of wine as well ! ). There is no doubt that the recorded incidence of death from cancer in dogs is increasing, genetic diseases are increasing, allergic reactions are increasing. Some contributory factors are obvious - bad breeding and environmental factors that cause problems in humans and other species. Perhaps we are simply getting better at identifying these problems. Perhaps we are inadvertently contributing by our habits and whims. Why risk it?

If you wish to contact Lauren, she has thoughtfully provided a direct e.mail address below.

Article by Lauren Shifflett  - e.mail -

Although many dog owners and dog trainers have traditionally used raisins and grapes as treats, RAISINS AND GRAPES IN LARGE QUANTITIES CAN BE LETHAL TO DOGS.  As few as a handful of raisins or grapes can make a dog ill; however, of the 10 cases reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), each dog ingested between 9 ounces and 2 pounds of grapes or raisins.

If your dog has ingested large quantities of raisins or grapes, (s)he will immediately begin to vomit repeatedly, and will become extremely hyperactive and jittery.  After about 24 hours, the dog will become lethargic and depressed.  (S)he may experience abdominal pain and may stop urinating, drinking, and/or eating.   (S)he will also become dehydrated.  Both his/her vomit and feces will contain partially digested raisins or grapes.  His/her breathing may become irregular, and (s)he will also become hypercalcemic (high calcium concentrations) and hyperphosphosphatemic.

Ultimately, without treatment, the dog will go into renal (kidney) failure, and may die a horrible very painful death.  Of the 10 reported cases, only 5 dogs survived, & these only with early, aggressive, & long-term treatment.

The best cure for an overdose, of course, is prevention.  Because dogs can get hold of raisins or grapes from a variety of sources—the kitchen counter, the coffee table, vines in a private vineyard, a child’s lunch box—

DOG PROOF YOUR VINEYARDS & REMOVE RAISINS AND GRAPES FROM CANINE REACH.  Do not feed your dog raisins/grapes as treats so that you can avoid him/her “getting a taste for them”.  Remember that raisins are even more concentrated (and hence more toxic) than grapes—approximately 4 pounds of grapes equal 1 pound of raisins.  The APCC also warns that any substance in large doses can be toxic.

However, if you suspect your dog has eaten a large amount of raisins or grapes, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately, and have them contact the Animal Poison Control Center for assistance.  Have your veterinarian initiate decontamination measures, and administer fluids and/or dialysis to assist/restart the dog’s kidneys.   Be aware that initially your veterinarian may suspect rat poison as the above symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of rat poison.

The APCC is still unable to determine the cause of renal (kidney) failure.  Possibilities include 1) an agent in grapes and raisins themselves; 2) fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides contamination; 3) heavy metals; 4) high amounts of Vitamin D; or 5) fungus or mold contamination.

Information on raisin and grape toxicity is still very new; therefore, your veterinarian and fellow dog owners may not yet be aware of the danger.   Please pass on this information to every dog owner, veterinarian, rescue group, breeder, newsletter, listserve, and pet food store you can. 

For more information about grapes and raisin toxicity and/or all substances toxic to dogs and other animals, please see the ASCPA Animal Poison Control Center Website at:

If you suspect your dog has ingested any poisonous substance, please contact your veterinarian and/or the APCC at 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435) immediately. 

Also please read “Renal failure associated with ingestion of grapes or raisins in dogs.” The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA). May 15, 2001. Volume 218. Number 10. Pages 1555-1556.



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