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Help! My Dog Just Ate Raisin Bread! Is Raisin Bread Toxic to Dogs?

Ellen Marcinkiewicz

Last Updated: December 12, 2022 | 5 min read | 1 Comment

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This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not substitute as contact with a trained professional. If your dog ate raisin bread and is reacting adversely, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

There’s nothing quite like the smell of raisin bread fresh from the toaster. It’s hard to resist! But while this type of bread may be a delicious treat for humans, there’s an important reason it should never be shared with our canine companions.

You might already be aware, but raisins are highly toxic or poisonous to dogs. They can even lead to deadly kidney failure if immediate action isn’t taken. Awareness and early intervention are vital to improving your pet’s prognosis and outcome.

So, if your dog has eaten raisin bread (or any type of grape), it’s important to seek veterinary advice immediately. Read on to find out what you can expect, and what the possible outcomes are after you take the proper steps.

Is Raisin Bread Toxic for Dogs?

Sliced Bread With Dried Grapes
Raisins and any other form of grapes are toxic to dogs and should never be fed to them.

The bread itself, though not overly nutritious for dogs, is not where the real hazard lies. Uncooked bread dough is an exception. The uncooked dough can cause life-threatening bloat that can lead to stomach twisting (gastric-dilation volvulus or GDV). It can also result in alcohol poisoning from the fermenting yeast.

It’s the raisins themselves, however, where the usual danger lies. Any type of grape (fresh, dried, or cooked in bread or cakes) including raisins, currants, and sultanas can be extremely toxic to dogs. All foods in this family are considered toxic and will be referred to under ‘grapes and/or raisins’ for the duration of this article.

There are a number of foods that commonly contain grapes and raisins. These foods should never be fed to dogs. They include fruit bread, trail mix, cinnamon raisin bagels, fruit scones, fruit cake, bread rolls, cereals with raisins, and oatmeal raisin cookies.

My Dog Ate Raisin Bread, What Now?

Guilty Dog Peaking Through a Door
Unfortunately ingesting bread that has raisins inside can have dire consequences if not taken care of immediately.

If your pup has gotten ahold of a loaf of raisin bread, then you’ll want to take immediate action. Follow the steps below in rapid succession to ensure your canine companion has a lower chance of an adverse reaction.

Step 1: Examine Your Dog

If your dog is extremely lethargic, flat, wobbly, struggling to breathe, or is having seizures, go to your nearest emergency vet immediately. If they seem bright and comfortable, proceed to step 2. Complete the next steps as quickly as you can, as early intervention is key.

Step 2: Remove All Raisin Bread

Stop your canine companion and any other pets at home from eating any more bread. Clean up and remove anything within reach and make sure no other animals can access the trash can.

Step 3: Gather Information

The more information you can give your vet, the better, as it will help guide their advice and treatment. When do you think raisin bread was eaten or did you see them eat it? How much could they have eaten? What was the brand or product type? Did they eat any of the plastic bread wrappings? This might mean quickly piecing together what is leftover or looking through the trash.

Step 4: Seek Urgent Veterinary Attention

Due to the unpredictable toxic nature of raisins and grapes, it’s always best to call a vet, even if you think they have only eaten a small amount of these foods. Give the vet all the information you’ve gathered. They’ll need to know your dog’s weight, breed, age, and details of any illnesses or medications they’re currently taking. Your vet will advise you from here regarding the best course of action.

Signs of Raisin Toxicity

Stethoscope on Dog's Belly
It can take up to two days for the first symptoms of raisin toxicity to be seen.

Though cases may vary, signs of gastrointestinal upset are usually seen first with raisin or grape toxicity in dogs. During the first 24-48 hours post-exposure, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, anorexia, and abdominal discomfort are often seen.

Signs of kidney failure usually emerge over the next few days but can take up to weeks after ingestion to fully reveal themselves. Signs commonly associated with kidney failure include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia (not eating)
  • Weakness/wobbly gait
  • Irregular pacing
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Abdominal pain

In extremely severe cases:

  • Seizures/coma
  • Decreased urination that may progress to not urinating at all (known as anuria – when the kidneys are no longer producing urine)

Kidney failure is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. Urgent and immediate veterinary attention is required to give your dog the best chance of survival. Some dogs may be left with residual damage to their kidneys, even after receiving life-saving treatment.

What Happens if a Dog Eats Raisin Bread?

Puppy Dog at the Vet
If your vet is concerned your dog is at risk for raisin toxicity, they will recommend bringing them into the clinic.

Decontamination is one of the key steps in treating raisin toxicity. This is the process of reducing the amount of toxin absorbed by your dog. If the raisin bread was ingested recently and it is safe to do so, your vet will give an injection to make your dog vomit. This will help remove as much bread from the system as possible before it can do its damage. Never attempt to do this yourself at home. This should only be performed under instruction by your veterinarian.

Making a dog vomit can be quite a risky procedure if not done safely. For example, if there are neurological symptoms present, your pup may choke and inhale vomit into the lungs. This can result in aspiration pneumonia. Some of the chemicals traditionally used to make dogs vomit at home have also been associated with ulceration and damage to the stomach and esophagus (gullet).

If vomiting is unsuccessful, or if your dog is suffering severe effects, your vet may choose to empty and flush their stomach. This is called ‘gastric lavage’. Another popular treatment is activated charcoal. This will help bind and eliminate toxins from the body. There is no antidote for grape and raisin toxicity.

Supporting the kidneys is the other important part of treating raisin toxicity. Your vet may keep Fido in hospital on a drip (intravenous fluid therapy) for days to weeks in severe cases. This will support their kidneys and assist with toxin elimination. Blood and urine testing will be performed at regular intervals to monitor their kidney parameters. It will also help track urine output during the recovery process.

Will My Dog Be OK?

Sad Puppy Looking up at Camera on Tiled Floor
Your veterinarian will be the one to properly diagnose the recovery of your pup.

Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on an individual basis depending on your pet’s circumstances. Dogs that have eaten a small amount of raisin bread and receive decontamination treatment immediately tend to have a very good prognosis. If your dog develops kidney failure, supportive treatment especially in the early stages can sometimes reverse the damage to the kidneys.

Unfortunately, dogs that develop severe kidney failure or do not respond to supportive treatment tend to have a much poorer prognosis. Although this is rare, dogs that get this far will often die despite intensive care.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why are raisins poisonous or toxic to dogs?

    The truth is, we still don’t know which substance found in grapes and raisins causes toxicity in dogs. Several different mechanisms have been proposed by scientists, but we don’t yet know for sure.

    We do know that poisoning from grapes and raisins is extremely variable between dogs, with some dogs much more sensitive to their toxic effects than others. This has not been linked to size, age, breed, or gender, and toxicity can occur spontaneously even if your dog has eaten grapes in the past without any problems – unfortunately, they might not be so lucky a second or third time around.

  • How many raisins does it take to kill a dog? 

    Because the toxic ingredient in grapes and raisins is unknown, this also means a toxic dose and associated risk factors cannot be established. Meaning it’s safest for dogs to avoid them altogether. Doses as low as just a few raisins or grapes have sadly been reported to cause fatal kidney failure even in large breed dogs.

    On the flip side, small dogs have been known to eat large amounts of Christmas cake and live to tell the tale. Unfortunately, there’s just no way of knowing if a dose of raisins or grapes is ‘safe.’ It’s best to call your emergency veterinarian if you know or suspect your pup has eaten even a small piece of raisin bread.

  • What do I need to watch out for?

    Look out for symptoms of upset stomach, or any type of neurological symptoms. This could be lethargy, panting, pacing, and just signs of your pup being unwell. The sooner you act, the better off your pup will be.

  • Can raisin bread kill my dog?

    Unfortunately, there is no way to know how your pup will react to raisin consumption. Raisins in large quantities, can in fact be lethal to dogs. Again, the best course of action is to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to evaluate your pup.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, even a small piece of raisin bread can mean a whole world of trouble for our furry friends. It’s safest to avoid feeding grapes (in any form) to our dogs altogether. This means educating family and friends when they come over to visit, as well as supervising children closely when eating.

Using a pet-secure trash can or preventing access to the trash is also recommended. This is especially true for food-motivated pets who are likely to scavenge tasty leftovers. When baking with raisins it might even be best to confine your pet to another area of the house. This can prevent them from helping themselves to dropped ingredients!

The effects of grape and raisin toxicity are unpredictable. Even small amounts, they have been reported to cause deadly kidney failure. If you know or suspect your dog has eaten raisins or grapes, seek veterinary attention immediately. The earlier decontamination can be performed, the better the outcome is likely to be for your beloved pet.

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