Sunday, May 10, 2009

Grapes and Their Shriveled Cousins

Did you know?

MMMM, grapes! They were on sale at the local market this week so I got a bag each of green and red. Buying them reminded me of a recent poisoning case from the grapes shriveled cousin - the raisin. A dog had consumed an unknown number of raisins and wasn't feeling like himself. His owners called after he had vomited a few times on the kitchen floor and was advised to bring the dog to our ER for medical care right away.

Let me tell you why!

Seriously, there seems to be something in the skin or fleshy part of grapes and raisins that when ingested by some dogs and cats makes them very ill and can lead to kidney failure. It is a relatively recent toxin alert for veterinarians and there is still much to be learned. There have been very few, if any, studies about this toxin since its discovery so the amount of consumption is sketchy as well. The safest bet is to keep all grapes and raisins out of reach for the four legged people in your house.

Signs of grape or raisin toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, not eating, increased drinking, and abdominal pain. Kidney failure can occur within 48 hours of ingestion. It's best to begin treatment very quickly after ingestion, especially since it is unknown what quantity of grapes or raisins may make your animal sick.

Your family veterinarian or emergency vet will give your dog medicine to make him vomit (much more difficult to do in cats, but they are also less likely to eat raisins). After vomiting the dog will be given activated charcoal in an attempt to block the absorption of the toxin in his intestinal tract. Additionally, he will be started on IV fluids to try to flush the toxin from the kidneys. Blood tests will help monitor BUN, creatinine, phosphorous, and calcium levels, all indicators of kidney function. The vomiting will be controlled with a medicine known as an antiemetic. The veterinarian will also be watching for the amount of urine produced by the animal - another indicator of kidney function. All of this monitoring is best done in the hospital by a trained veterinarian and should not be attempted at home.

Outcomes are best for animals that start treatment as soon as the ingestion is discovered.

The moral of the story...whether smooth or wrinkly the grapes and raisins are best left in the cupboard.

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