Sunday, January 23, 2011

Garapes are not good for Dogs

"Magoo was a big, playful Labrador retriever who often got himself into sticky situations ..."
So begins a story in the latest report from the ASPCA on foods that can be toxic to dogs. It turns out that Magoo got into the pantry and snagged himself about a pound raisins. He ate the whole thing, of course.
The ASPCA never mentions Magoo's fate. But they tell us that as few as a handful of raisins can impair a dogs health and has been fatal for some. Ditto for the grape.
Who knew?
Growing up, I regarded our family dogs as "the first cycle of the dishwasher." They were good at waiting their turn to what we left on our plates and we were not too concerned about offering these "people food". It never occurred to us that our dogs health could be affected by a few meager table scraps. What was safe for us, we thought it was safe for our pets.
What's more, whenever I ate grapes, I found one or two to give our German Shepherd "Tiffany". The grapes always popped out of her mouth as she tried to bite, and Tiffany, ever a good sport, refused to give up until she was bruised in each application. It guaranteed at least 60 seconds harmless fun.
Tiffany was also fond of chewing gum (she chewed it - wrapper and all - but not swallow) We had the sugarless kind, which is often sweetened these days with xylitol.
Little did I know that I'd been poisoning our pets! (More on xylitol below).
Why are grapes harmful?
So many grapes and raisins go, no one is sure why they are harmful. It is confirmed that even grapes grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides can be toxic to dogs. But not for every dog, and not every time. It is also unclear whether small amounts eaten over a longer period, a cumulative effect.
What we know is that the final outcome in almost all cases of grape or raisin toxicity is acute renal failure reported. (. The term "acute" means that the condition is severe and comes on quickly) The dog ultimately can not produce urine, which means they can not filter toxins from their systems - a process essential for life.
In the twelve months, when the effects of grapes were studied, provided the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, 140 cases involving one or more dogs. More than one third of the dogs developed symptoms ranging from vomiting to kidney failure, and seven deceased dogs. The ASPCA based their study on reported cases, so naturally there may be cases where a dogs health is entirely unaffected by eating grapes. But until they know all the facts, the Society advises against feeding pets grapes or raisins in an amount.

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