the puppy files: cupcake’s $1500 box of raisins

I’m writing this tale in hopes of preventing others of making the same mistake, though I will likely seem pretty damn foolish as I do so.

You see, I know that raisins are bad, very bad, for dogs. And I know the safest place for puppies when you can’t watch them is in a crate. Yet, I somehow seemed to carelessly forget both of these things and our insanely loveable, six month old labradoodle Cupcake managed to devour a snack box full of raisins Saturday afternoon. Thank heavens he’s fine now, but let me tell you of our scare.

We went upstate to spend the night in our little cottage. We only have one crate for Cupcake and though it collapses, we stopped bringing it on overnight trips with us a month ago. Cupcake sleeps solidly through the night at the foot of our bed, and we never leave him alone long enough to get into trouble during the day. That was until Saturday, when the three of us headed out to a restaurant leaving our dear little pooch alone for a couple of hours. Coming home with our bellies full, we open the door to find Cupcake, happy and excited to see us as always, standing over a shredded box of empty raisins on the rug. I had left them in a bag on a chair, and now that too was on the floor.

My heart instantly leaped into my throat. Raisins are on the list of things that are toxic to dogs (along with grapes, chocolate, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts). How toxic? I didn’t know and instantly started Googling “My dog ate raisins” to find out. The results terrified me. Eating raisins causes sudden kidney failure in some dogs. But the specifics were unclear: How many raisins? How quickly? Some dogs? This Snopes page offered some useful, albeit scary, background.

Apparently, animal doctors made the link to kidney failure in dogs with grapes and raisins in late ’80s. They found that after eating a few ounces of them, some dogs would stop eating, have diarrhea, and grow lethargic. After a few days, they would not be able to pass urine, causing intense abdominal pain — and sometimes resulting in death.

Everything I saw advised to call a vet immediately, so I dialed the number of the nearest 24 animal hospital (about 40 miles away). They told me to give him a teaspoon on hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. After a quick run to CVS, we managed to do this — and it worked! Up came a rather impressive pile of all the things Cupcake had eaten recently including a whole lot of raisins. I thought that would be it, but the vet told us we needed to come in none-the-less.

We got to the clinic and immediately felt out of place. Obviously the other pet owners were there with really sick animals (who were howling and whimpering sadly from behind closed doors), while our dog was scampering around, as cute and energetic as ever. How could anything be wrong with him?

The doctor called the Animal Poison Control Center, to get the prognosis. She came into the exam room grim faced and told us this is very serious, and Cupcake would have to spend two nights at the hospital, and be treated with intravenious fluids and charcoal to flush the toxins out of his system. After this — and a $1500 bill — she promised he would be 100% well.

Reluctantly, we left our dear dog at the clinic and headed home to a much emptier house. I called every twelve hours to check on him, and got nothing but positive news. He came home today with a funny cone around his neck, a shaved leg, brimming with wags and kisses. It’s possible that he would have been fine if we hadn’t taken him to the hospital, but who could take a chance like that? We’re so happy to have him back.

And for the record, we now live in a raisin free house.

More posts from the Puppy Files:

The cutest dog, ever?

Getting our home ready for puppy

Choosing the perfect breed

From our partners

Oh, the horrible part of being a pet owner is when they get sick…. or when you suspect that they might get sick. I’ve had dogs forever, and had no idea about the raisin thing, so thanks for the public service announcement! Glad to hear that Cupcake is back home!


How scary was that?! Our little terrier mix puppy ate a whole bag of chocolate chips one night and we had to drive to the next town to the 24 hour emergency vet. He induced vomiting and exclaimed “Wow, that sure was a lot of chocolate, good thing you brought him in, he would have died”.We had to do the whole charcoal bit and the poor thing was sick and jittery for two days. He’s fine now but no more chocolate chips in the house

Liz E.

Had a similar scare when our mischievous doggie ate an entire pack of gum that contained Xylitol. Called the vet hospital, and they told us to get him there within 15 minutes. They induced vomiting, gave him charcoal, and kept him under observation for 24 hours and he was okay. Apparently, most dogs die from ingesting Xylitol because by the time they show symptoms it’s usually too late. Glad to hear your puppy is okay!


I’m so happy to hear Angela and Mary’s pets are well. A recent stint with the hold recording of the vets office informed me that dogs should not eat ham either, I hadn’t heard that.

Oh you poor thing! I hope your nerves have settled…I bet you were beside yourself. I always knew raisins were a no-no, but had no idea just HOW serious it was. I’m so glad this tale has a happy ending.

Yikes! I didn’t realize that about raisins–I knew I disliked them for good reason. :-) I’m glad Cupcake is going to be okay. And I love that collar he’s got–our golden retriever is currently wearing the Cone of Shame so she doesn’t scratch an injury on her face, and I think she’d be much less despondent in one like Cupcake’s.

Mary S

Oh, no! I’m so glad that Cupcake is okay. Years ago our Newfoundland ate a box of chocolate-covered espresso beans that we’d gotten as a party favor. I called the vet in a panic, and they said that with the small amount (it was a small box) she’d eaten, she would be fine, and she was. Big dogs have a slightly higher tolerance for such things. That being said, we don’t let our dogs near any of the bad stuff, just in case.


Wow, how scary! Good thing we always put Samson in his crate–he’s also six months old, a Great Pyrenees mix. We recently got him an *enormous* crate for downstairs, it’s like his own bedroom, lined with a ridiculously cushy bed. And I think I’d better get rid of the raisins, just in case, even if he is a huge dog.


Thank you for your post. I knew that raisins were bad for both cats and dogs but the why isn’t common knowledge. I’m glad your pup is doing fine.

My old dog was a stray and would eat just about everything… apart from raisins. I always wondered why, now I know.