All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Raisins and Dogs - A deadly Combination

My good friend, Judy, who is also an active Labrador retriever rescuer, lives with Murphy, Cosmo, Addie, and Buck: four big Labs who, on most days, are trustworthy, well-behaved dogs.  The problem is Buck, the oldest of the pack at eight years, is very food motivated.  Even after he has had a hearty dog-meal (which is always specially prepared from healthy, fresh ingredients), his nose is constantly searching for an additional treat.  Last week, his remarkable sense of smell led him and his “siblings” to a deadly delicacy.

While his “pet parents” were out, Buck discovered a stash of raisins in the pantry and let his buddies know about his delicious find.  In very short order, at least a dozen boxes were chewed open and their contents ingested.  When Judy returned home, she saw the “evidence” of what had transpired and was wise enough to take immediate action.  Her regular veterinarian was already closed for the night, but she was familiar with an emergency veterinary hospital just three blocks from her house.  (I highly recommend keeping the phone numbers of a local emergency veterinarian AND the veterinary poison control hotline handy—either programmed into your phone, or physically posted on your refrigerator or another obvious location. Time is critical when emergencies occur and hunting for a number uses up valuable minutes.) 

All four dogs were rushed in for treatment.  To Judy’s horror, she was advised that the dogs had a 50/50 chance of having permanent kidney damage due to raisins being nearly as toxic as rat poison to pets.   Judy worried whether her four-legged “kids” would all survive and dwelled upon how awful it would be if she lost them all.  It would not be known if they would pull through for 48 more hours.

Regrettably, there is no known antidote for raisin and grape poisoning.  In fact, veterinary researchers are not even able to determine what it is in these fruits that cause the kidneys of companion animals to shut down.  Consequently, all that could be done for Murphy, Cosmo, Addie, and Buck was supportive care. The four dogs were given drugs to induce vomiting as well as charcoal to help soak up toxins.  They were placed on IV Fluid therapy, and kept calm and quiet. 

The hours ticked by slowly. Compounding the worry was the fact that Judy did not know when the dogs actually consumed the raisins, which was a critical piece of information.  The sooner treatment can begin post ingestion, the better the chances are for survival.  Judy could only hope that treatment was begun in enough time.

Blood samples were drawn at specified time intervals to monitor kidney function.  When it was considered safe, the dogs were allowed to be moved to their regular veterinarian’s office for further tests and IV fluids.

Finally, on the third day, blood tests revealed that Murphy, Cosmo, Addie, and Buck were going to be OK.  Judy’s prompt response and her veterinarian’s knowledge about raisin toxicity saved these dogs’ lives.  It was a happy (and very expensive) ending.    

I asked Judy what she would recommend to other pet parents out there so that they won’t ever have to go through such an ordeal.  She said, “Make sure to keep raisins, chocolate, onions, and anything else that is toxic to pets completely out of reach.  Do a thorough search of your home to make sure things are high up enough so they can’t get a hold of it.”  And to that, I would only add this – think of your pets as “toddlers.”  Baby-proof cabinets and doors so that they cannot be opened and don’t leave food on tables or counters.  If you have visitors, be extra vigilant because outside family members and friends may not know all the safety rules.

I know Judy is feeling very lucky knowing that her beloved dogs are around to share the days with her.  She knows all too well that this story could have ended tragically and it is Judy’s hope that readers will share her experience with others to keep pets safe and healthy.  

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