If you are a proud French bulldog parent, you know your Frenchie has a sweet tooth. And as a devoted parent, you want to indulge its sweet cravings and toss its way some sugary fruit or treat every once in a while.
However, when feeding sugary fruits to your French bulldog, you need to know which are safe and which are not. One of the most popular and frequently debated fruit is grapes.
So, can French bulldogs eat grapes? The simple answer is no. You must never offer your dog grapes or raisins as this fruit can be highly toxic.
As you must have noticed, we used the word can – grapes and raisins can be toxic to French bulldogs. While the short answer is no, there is a longer answer and explanation behind the word “can”. Let’s dive in and reveal everything you need to know about French bulldogs and grapes.
THE GRAPE FRUIT IN A NUTSHELL
Cultivated for over 8000 years, the grape is a popular and versatile fruit. Botanically speaking, grapes are berries that grow on a grapevine in clusters. Typically it can be green, black, or purple. It can be used fresh or dried (raisins). It can also be used for making wine and grape products such as juices, jams, jelly, vinegar, grape seed extract, and grape seed oil.
While we can safely enjoy the wide range of grape products listed above, French bulldogs and dogs, in general, do not have the same privilege.
CAN FRENCH BULLDOGS EAT GRAPES?
As mentioned, the short answer is no. French bulldogs cannot eat grapes and raisins because grapes can be toxic. The accent is put on the word can.
To be more accurate, grapes are toxic to some French bulldogs, while others can safely enjoy this sugary fruit. What makes some French bulldogs sensitive and others resistant is not clearly determined.
Differentiating between a sensitive and a resistant French bulldog is impossible. For that reason, it is advised to assume that grapes are toxic and avoid feeding them to your Frenchie. Feeding your French bulldog dog food is the safest option. As for treats, there are also plenty of healthy treats for Frenchies.
The mechanism behind the grape’s toxicity to French bulldogs
The exact mechanism is not determined. There were several theories, including:
- Presence of certain components (various monosaccharide complexes, tannins) that cannot be efficiently metabolized
- Presence of mycotoxins or pesticide residues on the grape’s surface
- Presence of salicylate-like chemicals inside the grape.
Today, the leading theory is that not all dogs have the enzymes necessary for metabolizing grapes. The presence of those enzymes is genetically determined.
If your French bulldog eats grape while genetically lacking the enzymes necessary for breaking down and metabolizing grapes, it will develop acute renal failure.
Acute renal failure (ARF) is a life-threatening condition that indicates kidney impairment. The compromised kidney function leads to an inability to produce urine and waste product elimination. The accumulation of waste products has detrimental effects.
What makes grapes potentially toxic to French bulldogs?
Grape toxicity in French bulldogs is associated with both backyard (regular and organic) and winery pressing grapes and with both seeded and seedless varieties. This shows that the toxin is not in the seed – it is in the grape’s flesh.
The skin’s role in the toxicity development is also unknown as there have been intoxication cases where the skin was eaten and left out.
Knowing the exact toxin that triggers the problem would help differentiate the dangerous from the grape’s safe parts. However, the specific toxin keeps eluding identification.
Studies show that the toxin is not a pesticide, fungal or heavy-metal. Sadly, this knowledge does not significantly reduce the number of options.
The different grape products and “friendliness” toward French bulldogs
From what is already stated, we can conclude that grapes and raisins are off-limits for French bulldogs, but what about other grape products?
Grape juice – since there are no toxicity reports associated with grape juice, it appears this grape product is safe. However, this applies specifically to homemade grape juices. Store-bough grape juices pose another risk for French bulldogs are they are too sugary and loaded with preservatives.
Grape jams & jellies – the concept is the same as in grape juice. The grape factor in these products does not seem to be troublesome for French bulldogs, but the sugar/additives content is.
Wine – while making wine, the grapes are processed, which seems to inactivate the toxin responsible for grape toxicity. However, this does not mean you French bulldog should be drinking wine – wine contains alcohol, and alcohol is definitely toxic to dogs.
Grape seed extract – not only is it not toxic to French bulldogs, but grape seed extract is also a powerful antioxidant. Anecdotal reports suggest grape seed extract can be used to manage inflammatory processes. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, grape seed extract can be used in French bulldogs with arthritis.
Products like raisin-bread, chocolate-covered raisins, trail mixes and raising-containing cereal are always dangerous and must always be kept out of your Frenchie’s reach.
French bulldog risk factors to grape toxicity
When it comes to grapes toxicity, there is no breed, gender, or age predisposition. The only known risk factor for grapes toxicity is kidney disease. French bulldogs with co-existing kidney issues are more likely to develop renal failure.
Another interesting factor is that grape toxicity is not dose-dependent. What does this mean? This means that sensitive dogs will become intoxicated regardless of the amount of grape they ingest, while resistant dogs will not.
For example, if your French bulldog lacks the enzymes necessary for metabolizing grapes, it will become ill even after eating as little as one grape. On the other hand, if it has the enzymes, it will be able to eat quite a few grapes without experiencing any issues.
Signs and symptoms of grapes intoxication in French bulldogs
Affected French bulldogs start showing signs of intoxication in about six to 12 hours upon eating grapes. The main concern – acute renal failure develops later, after around 72 hours.
These are the expected signs and symptoms:
- Vomiting (undigested grapes/raisins might be present)
- Diarrhea (undigested grapes/raisins might be present)
- Abdominal pain
- Hyperactivity followed by sudden drop in the stamina level
- Shivering (tremors)
- Excessive thirst and polydipsia (increased water intake)
- Impaired breathing
- Increased urine production followed by oliguria (decreased urine production) and finally anuria (lack of urine production).
THE GRAPES INTOXICATED FRENCH BULLDOG AT THE VET’S OFFICE
The diagnosis suspicion is almost always set on the Frenchie’s history of exposure, but the vet must confirm it. The vet will start by performing a complete and thorough examination of your French bulldog, including blood works and urine analysis.
Although the reason for the Frenchie’s sickness is known, the examination is essential for determining the severity of the intoxication.
To assess the severity and presence of consequences, the vet will order abdominal x-rays and ultrasound. These diagnostic procedures will give an insight into the kidney’s size and structure.
If necessary, the vet will order additional tests such as a kidney biopsy to evaluate the kidney’s damage level.
The blood analysis will show increased levels of the following parameters:
- Liver enzymes
- Pancreatic enzymes
- Serum glucose
- Serum calcium
- Serum phosphorus
If a French bulldog present with acute kidney failure and the owner cannot provide accurate history, the vet must consider other possible diagnosis such as:
- ethylene glycol (antifreeze) poisoning
- cholecalciferol (vitamin D) poisoning.
Treating the French bulldog with grape toxicity
Sadly, when it comes to grapes, there is no specific antidote that can reverse its effects and fix the situation. When dealing with a grape-intoxicated French bulldog, the goals of the treatment include:
- Toxin elimination or decontamination – vomiting induction followed by activated charcoal administration (if the ingestion occurred within the last two hours) or intravenous fluids (if the ingestion occurred more than two hours ago).
- Kidney protection – administration of drugs that protect the kidneys and stimulate urine production. Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are advised if available.
- Primary supportive and symptomatic therapy – managing the vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, seizures, and other accompanying issues.
Prognosis for French bulldogs with grape toxicities
For French bulldogs with developed acute renal failure the prognosis is guarded. The term guarded indicates the survival chances are 50/50. For French bulldog that have not yet developed renal issues, the prognosis is generally good.
What should I do if my French bulldog eats grapes/raisins?
The first aid for eating grapes is vomiting induction or activated charcoal application based on how recently the accident occurred. However, the first thing you should do is call your vet. The vet will instruct you whether to perform one of the first aid actions or simply rush your French bulldog to the clinic.
How can I prevent my French bulldog from eating grapes/raisins?
To prevent your Frenchie from eating grapes/raisins keep them out of its reach – the refrigerator, the kitchen’s countertop, or a high-placed cupboard, basically anywhere your French bulldogs does not have access. The same rule applies to all grapes-containing products, not just the fruit.
It is also worth mentioning that you must adequately discard any uneaten grapes – preferably in a plastic bag and then in a garbage can your Frenchie cannot open. It is even better if you can toss them in outside can. That way, you can be sure your French bulldog will not be able to get hold of them.
Will eating only one grape harm my French bulldog?
This is a tricky question with no right or wrong answer. Whether one grape is enough to make your French bulldog sick depends on its sensitivity. If your Frenchie lacks the enzymes necessary for metabolizing grapes, the answer would be yes. However, if it has enzymes, the answer would be no.
How can I know whether my French bulldog is sensitive to grapes?
That is another tricky question – you cannot know whether your French bulldog is sensitive to grapes or not. There are no tests and no tell-tale signs that can give you the answer. Since there is no way of knowing, it is best advised to stay on the safe side and assume grapes are off-limits.
Being a responsible French bulldog parent has its ups and downs – it is a challenging yet gratifying experience. No matter how careful and caring you are, accidents can happen. You cannot predict and prevent every single situation. However, being proactive and knowing what to do in a case of an emergency is your responsibility.
In those terms, being a responsible French bulldog parent means having your trusted vet’s phone number on speed dial. Suppose your Frenchie ate a grape or two; instead of panicking, call your vet and follow his/her instructions. Being calm and reacting appropriately can be life-saving for you Frenchie.