Raisin & Grape Toxicity

Recently it has been clearly documented that grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. It is unclear whether this is a new problem, or if the toxic nature of grapes and raisins became recognized after the establishment of a computerized animal toxicity database about 25 years ago. Whatever the case, the number of identified cases of illness or death in dogs after they have eaten raisins or grapes is on the increase.

What are the symptoms of grape or raisin toxicity?

grape_and_raisin_toxicity_in_dogs_2The most common early symptom of grape or raisin toxicity is vomiting, usually within a couple of hours after ingestion. Next, the dog may develop diarrhea, excessive thirst, excessive urination or lethargy.

Acute kidney failure from a toxic dose of grapes or raisins will usually develop within 1-3 days. Symptoms of kidney failure include vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain, and tremors or seizures. If the toxicity progresses, the kidneys will shut down and the dog will not produce any urine. The dog may develop foul breath (its breath will have the odor of urine) and in some cases ulcers may form on the gums at the locations where the salivary ducts drain. As the kidney failure progresses, the dog’s blood pressure will elevate dramatically and the dog will usually lapse into a coma.

If you suspect that your pet has eaten any grapes or raisins, please contact Rita Ranch Pet Hospital immediately at (520) 624-6100.

What types of grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs?


The type of raisins or grapes does not appear to matter, with reported cases of toxicity occurring after dogs have eaten seedless or seeded varieties, commercial or homegrown fruits, and grape pressings from wineries.

What is the toxic dose?

Since raisins are dried and therefore more concentrated than grapes, it appears that raisins are relatively more toxic than grapes. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the estimated toxic dose of grapes is 32 grams of grapes per kilogram of body weight (0.5 ounces per pound) and for raisins it is 11-30 g/kg (0.18 to 0.48 oz/lb).

Why are raisins and grapes toxic?

Currently, it is not known why grapes and/or raisins are toxic. Some researchers suspect that a mycotoxin (a toxic substance produced by a fungus or mold) may be the cause. However, so far no toxic agent has been identified. Since it is currently unknown why these fruits are toxic, any exposure should be a cause for concern.

What should I do if my dog eats grapes or raisins?

If you suspect that your pet has eaten any grapes or raisins, please contact your veterinarian immediately. Do not waste any time. Since there are still many unknowns associated with this toxicity, it is better not to take any chances when it comes to your pet’s health.

How is the toxicity diagnosed?

Unfortunately, the symptoms of grape or raisin toxicity are non-specific, and are similar to kidney failure from many other causes. Instead, your veterinarian will base a presumptive diagnosis of this toxicity based on a history of eating grapes or raisins, or the presence of pieces of grapes or raisins in the dog’s vomit.

Your veterinarian will recommend diagnostic tests such as a Complete Blood Count (CBC), a Serum Biochemistry Profile and a urinalysis to assess the amount of damage to the kidneys, which will help determine what the dog’s prognosis is for recovery.

Is there an antidote?


How is this poisoning treated?

The goal of treatment is to block absorption of the toxins and prevent or minimize damage to the kidneys.

If treatment is started within 2 hours after the grapes or raisins were eaten, your veterinarian will induce vomiting to eliminate the fruits from the stomach, and will administer activated charcoal to block further absorption of the toxins. The patient will be put onto intravenous fluids to help flush any absorbed toxins out of the body as quickly as possible and to help maintain kidney function. Drugs to control nausea or vomiting and to help maintain blood flow to the kidneys will be administered as indicated.

During the course of treatment, your veterinarian will monitor the patient’s kidney values to assess the response to treatment and determine whether the treatment needs to become more aggressive.

What is the prognosis for recovery from poisoning from grapes or raisins?

Prognosis depends on many factors, including how many grapes or raisins were eaten, how ill the dog was when treatment was begun and whether the clinical signs improve once treatment is started.

If the dog only ate a few grapes or raisins, and received immediate treatment, the prognosis is reasonably good. If the kidneys shut down so that no urine is produced, the prognosis is poor. It is important to realize that the kidneys have very little capacity to regenerate or repair themselves, and once the kidneys are damaged, they will not function as well as they did before the episode. Your veterinarian will estimate the prognosis for your dog based on its clinical signs and individual situation.

How can I prevent this problem?

Keep all grapes and raisins, or foods containing grapes or raisins, out of reach of your dog. Do not share any food that may contain grapes or raisins with your dog, and especially do not use grapes as treats for your dog.

What other common foods are toxic to dogs?

Onions, chocolate, cocoa, macadamia nuts, avocados and foods containing the sweetener xylitol can also be fatal.

Are other animals at risk?

So far, grape and raisin toxicity has only been identified as a problem in dogs. Since there are still many unknowns associated with this toxicity, it would be prudent to avoid giving ANY grapes and raisins to your pet dog or any other pet.

Microchipping Your Pet

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a tiny transponder, about the size of a grain of rice that is encoded with a unique identification number.  It is used for permanent identification. The technology is relatively recent, but is becoming widely available.

chip 2 chip

How is the microchip put into my dog?

Before insertion, the sterile microchip is scanned in the package to confirm that the identification code of the transponder is the same as that shown on the package bar code label.

The needle containing the microchip is loaded into the application gun or syringe, and the pet is positioned for the injection. For dogs and cats, the standard site for microchip placement is in the subcutaneous tissue along the dorsal midline (the spine) between the pet’s shoulder blades. For correct placement, the pet should be either standing or lying on the stomach. Some of the loose skin between the shoulder blades is gently pulled up, and the needle is quickly inserted. The applicator trigger is depressed, injecting the transponder or microchip into the tissues.

Once the chip is inserted, the pet is scanned to ensure that the chip is reading properly and the identification number is checked. It is now a permanent and tamperproof method that cannot be lost.

Does it hurt to insert the chip?

The procedure is fast, safe, and appears to be relatively pain-free in most pets.  The chips are usually inserted without incident, even in the tiniest kittens and puppies. The application needle is quite large, and some clients will choose to have the microchip implanted at the time of sterilization, so that the pet can be anesthetized for the injection.  However, this is not necessary, and the microchip can be implanted at any time that is convenient.

Is there anything I have to do?

Once your pet is microchipped, you must register him or her with the appropriate agency. Your veterinarian will provide you with the relevant documents and contact information and will tell you if any fees are required. Failure to register your pet’s microchip identification will render the entire process useless. If you move or change your contact information, be sure to update your pet’s microchip information. If your pet is lost and recovered, this information will be used to reunite you with your pet.

How is the microchip detected?

The microchip can be ‘read’ with a microchip scanner, which detects the specific electronic code embedded in the chip, and displays the identification number on the scanner’s screen.

Since the occasional microchip may migrate, or move out of position, the microchip reader will be passed over the entire body of the pet in order to ensure that the chip will be detected if present.

Most, if not all, humane societies and animal shelters now have microchip readers, and routinely scan all stray and injured animals.  Steps are being taken to standardize the readers and develop databases that can be readily accessed.

My dog always wears a collar with identification tags.  Isn’t this enough?

Unfortunately, collars and tags can break, be lost or be removed.  When the tags are new, they are easy to read.  However, as they get old and worn, it can become challenging to make out all the information that is on them.

My dog has a tattoo already.  Why should I microchip him?

Unfortunately, tattoos can be difficult to read.  They are commonly placed in the flank area, where they can be obscured by hair.  Even when they are in the ears, they can become faded over time. They can also be readily altered. Even when they are readable, the information about the pet and its owner can be difficult to obtain.

Microchips cannot be easily misread, and the identification number is tamper-proof.  The information about the pet and owner is usually readily retrievable.

© Copyright 2005 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license. April 18, 2016

Coccidia Infection in Dogs


What is coccidiosis?

Coccidiosis is an intestinal tract infection caused by one-celled organisms (protozoa) called coccidia. Coccidia are sub-classified into a number of genera, and each genus has a number of species. At least six different genera of coccidia can infect dogs. These microscopic parasites spend part of their life cycle in the lining cells of the intestine. Most infections are not associated with any detectable clinical signs. These infections are called sub-clinical infections. Most clinical infections in dogs are caused by the species Isospora canis. Cryptosporidium parvum is another coccidian parasite that may cause diarrhea in some puppies.


How did my dog become infected with coccidia?

Oocysts (immature coccidia) are passed in the feces of an infected dog. These oocysts are very resistant to environmental conditions and can survive for some time on the ground. Under the right conditions of temperature and humidity these oocysts “sporulate”. If the sporulated oocysts are ingested by a susceptible dog they will release “sporozoites” that invade the intestinal lining cells and set up a cycle of infection in neighboring cells. Dogs may also be indirectly infected by eating a mouse that is infected with coccidia.

What kinds of problems are caused by coccidiosis?

Most dogs that are infected with coccidia do not have diarrhea or other clinical signs. When the coccidial oocysts are found in the stool of a dog without diarrhea, they are generally considered a transient, insignificant finding. However, in puppies and debilitated adult dogs, coccidiosis may cause severe, watery diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal distress, and vomiting. In severe cases, death may occur.

How is coccidiosis diagnosed?

Coccidiosis is diagnosed by performing a microscopic examination of a stool sample. Since the oocysts are much smaller than the eggs of intestinal worms, a careful fecal evaluation must be made. Infection with some of the less common coccidial parasites is diagnosed with a blood test.

How is the coccidial infection treated?

The most common drug used to eliminate coccidia is a sulfa-type antibiotic. It is usually given for ten to fourteen days. In severe infections, it may be necessary to repeat the treatment. Other drugs are also used if diarrhea and dehydration occur. If the sulfa-type drug is not effective, other treatments are available. Re-infection of dogs is common so environmental disinfection is important. The use of diluted chlorine bleach [one cup (250 ml) of bleach mixed in one gallon (3.8 L) of water] is effective if the surfaces and premises can be safely treated with it.

Are the coccidial parasites of my dog infectious to humans?

The most common coccidia found in dogs do not have any affect on humans. However, less common types of coccidia are potentially infectious to humans. One parasite, called Cryptosporidium, may be carried by dogs or cats and may be transmitted to people. This parasite has also been found in the public water supply of some major cites. It poses a health risk for immuno-suppressed humans such as AIDS patients, those taking immune suppressing drugs, cancer patients, or the elderly.

Good hygiene and proper disposal of dog feces are important in minimizing risk of transmission of all canine parasites to humans, or to other animals.

© Copyright 2005 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license. April 5, 2016

Ouch! Cat Bite FAQ

We have met many pet owners that have been bitten or scratched by their own cat!  Whether rounding them up in the carrier, giving medications, or helping an injured cat — an angry feline is nothing to mess with.  The mouth of your cat is one of the most bacteria-ridden places in your home.  As such, it can cause serious infection and inflammation to broken skin.

“Cat bites are highly infectious,” says Dawn Quinn, a registered nurse. “The deeper the bite, the greater the chances are that it can become infected.”

These bites are exceptionally dangerous and prone to infection because a cat’s needle-like teeth can push bacteria deep into flesh, tendons, and joints. The small but deep puncture wounds are hard to thoroughly clean and tend to trap bacteria inside, where it quickly spreads.

“Because cat bites carry the risk of infection,” says Quinn, “they shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can lessen your chances of developing an infection by washing your wound with antibacterial soap thoroughly and immediately. If you have Betadine on hand, you may use it to disinfect your wound.”

She says that deep puncture wounds might bleed, and that you should apply pressure to stop the bleeding, then apply a clean bandage. She also recommends visiting urgent care or an emergency room.

“A course of oral antibiotics is almost always prescribed in the case of deep puncture wounds,” she says. “Depending on the circumstances of your bite, you may need to think about rabies or tetanus infection, and a health-care provider can help you evaluate your level of risk.”

According to Quinn, infected bites will be red and painful, and might have some drainage. You might see bumps or blisters. Late stages of infection might result in fever, weakness, swollen lymph nodes, headache, and a general feeling of being unwell. It’s not uncommon for cats to get overstimulated during play and lash out from excitement (though it is rarer for a family cat to lash out in a way that breaks skin).

In non-playful situations, though, there are some signals you should heed. According to Hannah Curtain, certified veterinary technician, “The biggest red flags are the vocal signals, such as yowling or hissing. Always watch for signs of fright and offensive or defensive behavior when handling a cat. A cat in danger-mode will probably be crouched with its ears and whiskers pinned back, tail down, dilated pupils; it might be growling or yowling as a warning to stay away.”

Red flags!

Remember that cats don’t inflict injury based on whether or not they “like” the person they injure, and their behavior shouldn’t be taken personally. They’re simply acting in self-preservation, striking if they feel threatened.

Curtain advises that “people who handle animals should approach them in a calm, confident manner, but they should be prepared to back off if the situation is too stressful for themselves or the animal. Animals can sense when a handler’s energy is off and can interpret this as a threat. Just like people, animals sometimes just need a break to cool down and then the situation can be approached again.”

Source: catster.com