A number of months ago, I harvested the grapes in my vegetable garden. In the process a number of them fell on the ground. I didn’t think too much of that and left them to become raisins and then mulch. In the process of puttering in the garden, little Pocket (my 10 pound pit bull foster) was wandering around behind me gobbling up random stuff on the ground as puppies will do. I noticed that she was munching on the little shriveled grapes and, knowing that grapes can be bad for dogs, stopped her and made a mental note to keep an eye on whether she seemed to get sick from them.
About 4-6 hours later she started retching and shaking and looking at me with eyes of misery. Once she had thrown up 5 times in a very short amount of time, I knew she would have the more serious risk of dehydration if I didn’t rush her to the hospital. Once there, I learned that, as they don’t really know what it is about grapes/raisins that is toxic, they can only treat it as a general poison. Having let it sit in her stomach for so long, her body had already started to absorb the poison. They made sure she stayed hydrated with subcutaneous fluids and that she didn’t appear to have anything still in her stomach by forcing her to throw up anything remaining. They administered charcoal tablets which act to absorb any remaining poisons. They let me know that the thing to watch for, unfortunately, is kidney failure, which wouldn’t show up in blood panels for another heart wrenching 5 days. In the mean time, tummy comfortable foods like white rice and chicken were her fare of choice.
Thankfully, four tests and $500 later, she showed no signs of kidney distress and was proclaimed past the danger zone. I have since learned that as little as one grape/raisin per pound of dog is enough to be lethal. Needless to say, the grape vines were banished from my garden and all shriveled remains raked and properly disposed of.
Just this morning, I was driving to work and little Pocket slipped out of her seat belt in the back seat. This is not an uncommon occurrence unfortunately. She has learned just the right-sidle-back-skootch-out move that frees her from it. Usually when she gets out, she perches on the front of the back seat with a smug look on her face, confident that I will, as always, roll my eyes and chide her tiredly about how the seat belt is there to keep her safe yaddayadda.
This morning, however, I heard her shuffle out but then heard nothing until I heard a quiet crunching that bit through the engine noise. [expletive deleted]! I had a large bag of trail mix (with raisins) that I had thrown on the floor to bring in to work! I pulled the truck over and the bag was duly ripped open and Pocket’s still smug face was chomping away. This time I did not wait the 4-6 hours. I drove straight on to the vet’s office and told them what happened. Knowing that she already had had such a dramatic reaction previously, they promptly took her back and proceeded to work on getting her to throw up the contents of her stomach. After about 2 hours, they proclaimed her stomach empty and seemed confident that very little was absorbed. I am currently contemplating the prospect of clearing my home of all things grape and raisin, much as you would for an drug addict who doesn’t appear to be able to stay away from their drug of choice.
In this holiday season, where food is everywhere and you will find yourself setting things out or transporting them to other locations, I caution you to be aware of their availability to your pets. Many foods are potentially toxic to them and it’s not fun to learn about which ones are the hard way – at the emergency vet. Here is a good listing of toxic plants/foods to keep your dog away from.