Green grapes.

Topping the list of every doggie no-no list are chocolate, onions, and grapes. Grapes are an especially hard one because some dogs can eat a single grape and die, while other people have stories of their dogs eating grapes off the vine seemingly without a problem.

The answer to why dogs suffer from grape toxicity has only recently been resolved. In 2021, a case study linked tartaric acid in grapes to the symptoms in dogs. They made this discovery when a dog ate some homemade playdough and got extremely sick.

The symptoms of the disease matched with those of grape toxicity, but it was actually the cream of tartar in the playdough causing it. Since both grapes and cream of tartar have tartaric acid, the vets surmised that this was what caused grapes to toxicity.

So, Why the Extreme Range in Toxicity?

There are many possible reasons why one dog may have only mild symptoms, while others die. One of those reasons may be the grapes themselves. For example, grapes grown in a warmer environment tend to have lower levels of tartaric acid than grapes grown in a cold year.

Some varieties of grapes also have lower levels of tartaric acid. Pinot noir and Malbec grapes for example, are lower in tartaric acid.

If a dog happens to eat a grape with lower amounts of tartaric acid due to variety or the growing season, he may not get sick—but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen with a different grape.

Signs and Symptoms of Grape Toxicity

How severely grapes effect your dog could also be related to the size your dog is and the amount of grapes eaten. Symptoms of grape toxicity are many, including the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Sensitive abdomen
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased thirst and urine production
  • Decreased or no urine production

Most of these have to do with the dog’s kidney having problems. This is why the dog can either have increased thirst and urine production or none at all.

What To Do If Your Dog Has Eaten A Grape

If you caught your dog eating a grape, it’s best to call the pet poison hotline. In the USA, that number is (888) 426-4435. There’s a fee for the service, but it can help you determine what your next step should be. If your pet is already experiencing symptoms, you may want to rush your pet to a veterinary ER immediately.

Eating grapes can have deadly or otherwise life-changing consequences. Even if your pet has eaten one safely before, it’s best to avoid letting them have any in the future.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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