Grapes are a tasty and nutritious fruit enjoyed by humans around the world. But did you know that grapes can actually be toxic to some animals? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about what animals should avoid grapes.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Dogs, cats, birds, and some farm animals like horses, goats, cows, and sheep should never eat grapes or raisins. Grapes contain toxins that can cause kidney failure in these animals.

We’ll start by explaining why grapes are dangerous for certain animals. We’ll then list out all the pets and farm animals that should avoid grapes completely. We’ll also discuss some safer fruit alternatives you can feed these animals instead.

By the end, you’ll be a grape expert – knowing exactly which animals can and can’t enjoy these sweet fruits.

Why Grapes Are Toxic for Some Animals

Contain damaging toxins

Grapes contain toxic compounds that can be very harmful to some animals. The most concerning toxins are tannins and polyphenols. Tannins are plant-based compounds that can bind to proteins and cause kidney damage.

Polyphenols are antioxidants found in many fruits, but grapes contain especially high levels that are problematic for some animals.

The exact mechanisms behind grape toxicity are not fully understood. However, research indicates that ingesting even a small amount of grapes or raisins can cause serious and potentially fatal kidney failure in dogs. Cats and some livestock animals like cows, goats and sheep are also susceptible.

The toxin is not yet identified but appears to target the kidneys directly. It causes dysfunction and acute kidney injury, preventing the kidneys from properly filtering waste products from the blood. This leads to an accumulation of toxins and rapidly developing kidney failure.

Can cause sudden kidney failure

The most common symptom of grape toxicity is sudden kidney failure. This causes loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and dehydration. Dogs may stop producing urine, indicating a major kidney problem.

Without treatment, grape toxicity can lead to severe irreversible kidney damage and even death in under 24 hours. Symptoms usually occur within 6 hours of grape ingestion. The sooner treatment begins, the better the chances of recovery.

The amount of grapes that can cause toxicity is highly variable. In some sensitive dogs, just a few grapes or raisins can trigger kidney failure. Other dogs can eat a bunch of grapes and be fine. It’s impossible to know how much is dangerous for an individual dog.

Cats are less sensitive than dogs, but grapes are still very risky. Livestock like cows, goats and sheep are also susceptible. Pigs seem to have a higher tolerance and horses do not appear prone to grape toxicity.

If your pet eats any quantity of grapes or raisins, immediately contact your veterinarian. Rapid treatment greatly improves the chances of reversing kidney damage. Treatment involves inducing vomiting if ingestion was recent, intravenous fluids to flush out toxins and kidney function monitoring.

Animals That Should Never Eat Grapes


Grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to dogs. The consumption of even a small number of grapes or raisins can result in serious and potentially fatal kidney damage. The toxic compound in grapes that causes kidney issues in dogs is still unknown, and the amount needed to make a dog sick varies.

However, it’s best to avoid feeding grapes or raisins to dogs altogether. Some signs of grape toxicity in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, increased thirst, and abdominal pain.


Similar to dogs, grapes and raisins can also cause kidney damage in cats. The toxic mechanism is not fully understood but is likely the same as in dogs. Cats tend to be more selective with food than dogs, but it’s still best not to leave grapes or raisins out where your cat could accidentally ingest them.

Early signs of grape toxicity in cats include vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea. So if your cat gets into some grapes, get them to the vet right away.


Grapes contain acids that can cause serious health issues for birds. The most common symptoms from grape toxicity in birds include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and difficulty breathing. Grapes can also lead to kidney damage in birds.

Parrots, cockatiels, and budgies should never be given access to grapes or raisins. If your pet bird accidentally eats a grape, call your avian vet immediately.


Grapes and raisins should not make up any part of a horse’s diet. While research is limited, both grapes and raisins have been associated with adverse health effects in horses. Signs of grape toxicity include lethargy, increased thirst, changes in manure consistency, and lack of appetite.

In severe cases, kidney damage is possible. While a few grapes likely won’t cause major issues, it’s best not to let horses access grape plants or raisins to be safe.


Grapes and raisins can be problematic for cows as well. The sugar content can cause digestive upset, diarrhea, weight loss, and lack of appetite. Grapes may also contain pesticide residues that could build up in a cow’s system over time.

Many farmers avoid feeding grapes and raisins to their cattle due to these potential adverse effects. It’s unclear exactly how many grapes it takes to make a cow sick, but it’s better to not test it.


Goats tend to have sensitive digestive systems and grazing habits that make grapes and raisins risky feed items. Both grapes and raisins contain high sugar and low fiber, which goats do not tolerate well.

Even small amounts may cause diarrhea, gastrointestinal upset, dehydration, or energy level fluctuations in goats. Dried fruits like raisins also pose a choking hazard for goats. For these reasons, it’s recommended to never feed grapes or raisins to goats.


Sheep also tend to have sensitive digestive systems like goats. Grapes contain high amounts of sugars and carbohydrates that sheep cannot process well. This can lead to diarrhea, gastrointestinal issues, and poor health. The high sugar in grapes may also worsen enterotoxemia disease in sheep.

Grapes that fall to the ground may also accumulate mold, pesticides, or lead to choke hazards. For optimal sheep health, it’s best to avoid allowing sheep to graze on grapevines or feeding raisins.

Safer Fruit Alternatives


Bananas are one of the safest and most nutritious fruits that can be fed to dogs as an alternative to grapes. Rich in potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and fiber, bananas are an antioxidant powerhouse fruit. The soft texture also makes them gentle on a dog’s digestive system.

An average-sized banana can be sliced up and served to dogs as a treat. Just be sure to avoid giving the peel, which can be a choking hazard.


Oranges are another great fruit option for dogs. They are high in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. The juicy flesh can be a tasty treat for your pup. Be sure to peel the orange and break it into segments to avoid a choking risk from the peel or seeds.

It is generally recommended to limit oranges to no more than one segment per day for small dogs due to the natural sugars. Larger dogs can handle a bit more. The fiber and nutrients in oranges make them a healthy addition to your dog’s diet.


Melons like cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon have a high water content which makes them ideal for keeping dogs hydrated on hot days. They are also packed with beneficial nutrients like vitamin A, C, and potassium. Cubed pieces of melon without the rind make a refreshing summer treat.

Just avoid giving the seeds which can cause intestinal blockage if swallowed. It’s best to introduce melon gradually and monitor for any digestive upset.


Apples are a crunchy fruit safe for dogs. They contain vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. A few thin apple slices are a nutritious snack. Be sure to core the apple to remove seeds and stem first. Too many apple seeds can be toxic, so limiting intake is best.

Also avoid giving the core or stem as it can be a choking risk. Introduce apples gradually to check for any allergies.


These tiny berries pack a nutritious punch. Blueberries contain vitamin C, K, fiber, and antioxidants. They are low in sugar making them a healthier treat option. Just a few berries are enough for a dog-friendly serving. Blueberries can be enjoyed fresh or frozen.

Dogs may gulp them down whole, so mashing them up into a blueberry slurry if you have a voracious eater is advised.


Now you know exactly what animals can and can’t safely eat grapes. While they’re perfectly healthy for humans, grapes contain toxins that can cause rapid kidney damage in dogs, cats, birds, horses, cows, goats, and sheep.

If you own any of these animals, be sure to keep grapes completely away and out of reach.

Instead, you can feed your pets and farm animals healthier fruits like bananas, oranges, melons, apples, and blueberries. Following this grape safety guide will help keep your animals happy and healthy.

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