Actually, yes. The idea has floated around the internet as an urban legend, but it really is true. The exact mechanism that causes the toxicity is still unknown, but consumption of grapes or raisins by your dog can cause renal (kidney) failure which can lead to death.
How much is considered a toxic dose?
There are numerous variables that seem to play in to determining a toxic dose. The lowest known amount that caused a toxic response was about 1 oz, or 1/2 Tablespoon, of raisins. However, the animal's metabolism, other foods it may have eaten, size of the animal, and other factors combined determine whether an animal will be affected.
If you are a visual learner perhaps the following pictures will help you understand the potential danger. Some of our Veterinarians wanted to know just how many raisins are in a single oatmeal raisin cookie. So in the middle of a slow ER shift they found out! This dissection was of a standard 3" diameter cookie from a local supermarket bakery - the kind you might pick-up to bring to your next holiday party.
|One Cookie = 1 TBS Raisins|
|Drs. Fields & Germundson|
Turns out this brand contains a whole tablespoon of raisins in a single cookie. Who knew? But really, in all seriousness, that means that if a 10 lb dog ate one cookie it could be a potentially deadly dose of raisins.
What should I do if my dog eats raisins or an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie?
The best thing to do is bring your pet to your veterinarian right away. If the consumption of the raisins or cookies was recent the veterinarian will try to induce vomiting followed by administering activated charcoal to absorb any remaining toxins in the stomach. A blood test will be used to check the blood chemistry values related to kidney function. Your pet will be started on IV fluids to help flush the kidneys of the toxin and should be hospitalized to monitor blood chemistry levels as well as fluid input and output, another indication of renal condition. If your pet is already exhibiting signs of renal failure medications such as furosemide, dopamine, or mannitol will be used to support the kidneys.
Caught soon enough, and provided with good supportive care, your dog should make a full recovery.
If you perform any of your own at home dissection of oatmeal raisin cookies in the name of science be sure to let us know your results. But, keep the raisins and grapes out of reach of your dog!