My Dog Ate Raisin Bread! Should I Be Worried?

What do you do if your dog ate raisin bread?
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Surely, those tiny, little raisins inside the cinnamon raisin bread that you just baked couldn’t be harmful to a dog. 

There’s no way they could cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, and tremors. Kidney damage? As if!

As unbelievable as it all is, it’s absolutely true.

If your dog ate raisin bread, you’d do well not to underestimate just how toxic it can be. If you have a bottle of hydrogen peroxide on hand, it’s time to get it out and to induce vomiting. 

Otherwise, call your vet immediately and make plans to take your pup to a hospital straight away. If you don’t, you risk symptoms escalating rapidly towards full kidney failure. Once there, it’s hard for a dog to come back.

Is Raisin Bread Toxic To Dogs?

Unless your dog is afraid of packing on the pounds, or is currently trying out the latest no-carb (but poop-permitted!) diet, then the raisins inside raisin bread is what you need to be worried about.

But what about the original fruit? Can dogs eat grapes?

Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs in pretty much all of their forms- as juicy fruit hanging off the vine, refreshingly sweet juice, or dried and shrivelled produce.

It doesn’t matter if they’re seedless, seeded, homegrown, commercial, organic, red grapes, green grapes, blue grapes, or rainbow grapes: they’re all the same under the sun when it comes to your pup!

Foods containing grapes aren’t off the hook either, with products like trail mix and cereal all potential carriers of poison.

So yes, that includes raisin bread too. In fact, raisin bread has the probability of being even more dangerous than other snack foods, seeing as they can contain as many as 150-200 raisins per loaf!

Is It Safe For Dogs To Eat Bread?

For those that want to know whether bread is safe for dogs to eat, the short answer is yes- in moderation.

Plain, white bread is generally safe for canines, as long as they don’t have any allergies to wheat or flour, and as long as it doesn’t cause any other type of stomach issue.

While plain bread won’t hurt a dog, it’s essentially a “filler” type of food so it doesn’t provide a whole lot of nutrition either. It is always a good idea to keep your dog’s diet balanced and complete with everything it needs, such as omega-3 fatty acids and collagen.

Make sure that if you choose to feed your dog flour-based foods, it doesn’t contain any other potentially harmful ingredients like chocolate or nuts.

Uncooked dough is another story altogether. Dough is made with yeast so that it will rise; unfortunately, a dog’s stomach provides the optimal environment for that to happen.

The result is that the stomach will become distended, and exposure to the toxic levels of ethanol being released will occur. While it may seem like bloat is the issue, the main danger derives from alcohol toxicosis.

If your dog ate dough, or even worse dough with raisins kneaded into it, then you need to take it to see the vet immediately.

What Happens If A Dog Eats Raisin Bread?

Raisin bread slice

Raisin poisoning will quickly show in dogs of all ages, breeds, gender and sizes if they manage to get their paws on raisin bread, and the symptoms can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased water consumption
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Trouble breathing
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As the poisoning gradually becomes more severe, the dog will inch closer and closer towards total kidney failure. It will progressively become weaker, be resolutely unwilling to move or eat, and show significantly declined urine production.

How Soon After Eating Raisin Bread Will A Dog Get Sick?

Vomiting and diarrhea are usually the primary reactions to watch for when a dog has eaten raisins. The fact that the raisins in this case are eaten in conjunction with starchy, expandable bread could mean that they are digested more slowly- which is definitely a good thing.

Gastrointestinal signs will usually be displayed first, to be followed later by kidney issues.

Vomiting and diarrhea could begin within two hours following ingestion, which will then be followed by excessive thirst, signs of stomach pain, anorexia, weakness and lethargy in the next 24-48 hours.

Over the next 1 to 3 days, signs of kidney damage will start to become more obvious if your dog was not immediately treated. These symptoms can include abdominal tenderness, extreme energy loss, complete loss of appetite, fluid retention, tremors, and spasms.

In some cases, dogs don’t show symptoms of kidney failure, and can even appear to be fully recovered after the initial bouts of stomach discomfort.

However, the course of toxicosis can run anywhere from a range of three days to three weeks, so this should not be mistaken for raisin ‘immunity’.

Without early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, raisin poisoning can easily lead to sudden acute renal failure- which will in most cases result in death.

While dogs of any breed, age, size or gender may be affected by raisin poisoning, it perplexingly varies from dog to dog. Some canines may experience severe effects, while others can tolerate the fruit even in moderate to large amounts!

Why Do Raisins Make Dogs Sick?

Despite decades of research and studies, there is still no consensus as to why grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs.

According to VCA Hospitals, some researchers believe raisins are poisonous due to the mycotoxin (a toxin produced by mold or fungus) on and in the fruit. Mycotoxin has been shown to be extremely damaging to cultured dog kidney cells when tested in a laboratory setting.

This mycotoxin theory was born when a sudden spike in grape and raisin poisonings in dogs coincided with a year that had particular heavy rainfall. This rainfall was thought to have caused grapes to be constantly damp, leading to heightened fungal growth.

In other schools of thought, the flesh of the fruit in particular (as opposed to the seeds or skin) has been put forth as the source of the toxins- though it’s certainly not sure that the other components are safe either.

There’s also those who think that it’s due to an aspirin-like drug contained within raisins called salicylate that cuts off blood flow to the kidneys.

However, to date, no actual toxic substance has been confirmed even through sample analysis. Regardless, every contact with the fruit by dogs needs to be considered potentially fatal.

How Many Raisins Will Hurt A Dog?

Purple and yellow raisins

As you’ll soon discover in this section, raisin toxicity seems most logically (though not necessarily) to be dose-dependent– meaning that the larger the dog, the more raisins they need to eat to be affected.

However, this is not strictly the case with every dog, as even small ingestions have been shown to be severe in particular instances. Raisin toxicity carries the characteristics of an idiosyncratic problem– meaning that results can appear largely random and individual sensitivity is significant.

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Not only do we not know for sure what it is inside grapes that makes them toxic, we also don’t know how much will make a dog sick. Eating even a small quantity of raisins, grapes or currants can ultimately lead to acute renal failure in canines.

There is even disagreement amongst vets as to the toxic dose of raisins in dogs, based not on scholarly conflict but instead just because each case is so inconsistent and unpredictable.

One vet asserts that the toxic dose is 2-3 grapes per kg of body weight (1-2 grapes per pound).

Another suggests that critical doses begin at 0.18 ounces of grapes per pound of body weight, which would equate to just 3-4 grapes for a 20 pound dog.

Raisins are thought to be more concentrated in their toxicity, and usually have lower asserted toxic doses. One of the lowest reported dangerous doses for raisins is 0.04 ounces per pound of dog body weight.

Using this calculation would mean that a 20 pound dog would only need to eat around 22 raisins to become poisoned! While that may sound like a lot, try counting how many raisins there are in the loaf of raisin bread on your countertop, and you’ll soon realize just how possible it is.

While it’s true that one raisin or grape probably won’t do serious harm to your dog, given the unpredictability of reactions it’s probably best not to take that risk. Keep all raisins and raisin products far away from your dog’s reach!

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Raisin Bread?

Three slices of raisin bread

At Home

Once you discover that your dog has dug into the raisin bed, take your dog to your vet immediately. There’s no point in hesitating or waiting for the symptoms to appear, because once they do then it can all go downhill very quickly.

Remember, the sooner that you can get the poisoning under control and treated, the less harm will be done to your dog, and the less expensive it will be for your wallet.

If for some reason you can’t get your dog to the animal hospital straight away, you need to contact the Pet Poison Helpline and ask them for advice on what to do.

What they may suggest is for you to induce vomiting as quickly as possible. This will only be effective if only a short amount of time has passed and the raisins are only minimally digested in its stomach.

Using 3% hydrogen peroxide at one teaspoon per five pounds of body weight, load it into your dog’s mouth with a syringe and make it swallow as much as you can.

It is easier to get the solution to trickle down the throat by inserting the apparatus from the side of the dog’s mouth, rather than from the top. Let the dog walk around for 10-15 minutes, after which time it should throw up the raisin bread.

If it does not vomit, repeat the process again up to 3 times in a 30 minute period. If it still does not vomit after the third try, you really need to get it to a vet right away as its life may be in immediate danger.

At The Vet

Once you are at the vet, he may also induce vomiting in order to decontaminate your dog, provided that ingestion was not longer than two hours ago.

Following that, the vet may administer activated charcoal with the goal of binding the toxins in your dog’s digestive system and preventing them from being absorbed into the bloodstream. The overall aim is to protect the kidneys from damage as much as possible.

In more serious cases, your vet may also perform a gastric lavage (stomach pump) on your dog and then put it on IV fluids for 24 to 48 hours to flush out the toxins, as well as to keep urine production going.

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Medications may also be provided, along with constant monitoring of kidney function and repeated blood work checks while the dog recovers. It may be hospitalized up to a week, depending on how severe its symptoms of kidney damage are.

Even after it leaves the hospital, blood work may need to be done every 2 to 3 days. This is to ensure that all the key values are at the right levels, and to keep an eye on signs of renal stress and damage.

Prognosis

Happy pug outside

You will be happy to learn that if raisin poisoning is treated early, any kidney damage caused may be reversible and the dog stands a good chance of being able to recover fully back to its old self.

The prognosis for recovery depends on a few different factors, including:

  • How severe the initial poisoning was
  • How quickly your dog was treated properly
  • The extent of damage to the kidneys and whether or not they have developed kidney failure
  • How the dog responds to treatment for kidney damage.

As long as the dog only ate a few raisins in the bread and was immediately treated by a professional, it should be able to recover very well.

However, if the poisoning was allowed to get worse and the kidneys subsequently began to shut down, they may be so damaged that urine is no longer produced. This will lead to blood pressure increasing rapidly, likely resulting in the dog falling into a coma.

Once the kidneys are damaged to the point where urine is no longer produced, the prognosis turns very poor and the case is unfortunately more than likely going to be fatal.

Even if the dog survives, it will have impaired kidney function that will affect it for the rest of its life.

Kidneys are not able to repair or regenerate themselves well, and dogs and dog owners that are affected may need to look into the possibility of kidney transplant if it is suggested as an option.

In Summary

If your dog happened to treat itself to a piece of raisin bread while you weren’t looking, it is a more serious matter than it may appear on the surface.

Raisins carry significant toxicity towards dogs, and to this day vets and animal researchers are still unsure as to the exact reason why. It may be due to the possible presence of mycotoxins or salicylate that causes grapes and the like to be so dangerous to canines.

What isn’t in question is just how poisonous they can be to dogs. While the exact toxic doses also don’t have consensus, most vets would agree and advise that as little as 1-2 grapes or 5-6 raisins can cause dogs to experience symptoms of kidney failure (dependent on their size).

As soon as you discover that your dog ate raisin bread, it would be in your dog’s best interests to take it to the nearest vet or animal hospital immediately. Doing so with the appropriate haste could save your best friend’s life, after all.

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