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This substance in grapes may be the cause of poisoning – and found in your pantry too

Grapes are toxic to dogs. It’s the fact that most dog parents know about. The fruit is so dangerous for the pooches that eating grapes (19.6g per 1kg body weight), raisins or sultanas (2.8g per 1kg body weight) can damage the kidneys and be potentially fatal.

The exact mechanism of poisoning is still unknown and so far it has been linked to mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides, excessive amount of glucose in grapes, and even vitamin D.

And now there have been a breakthrough that may actually explain the cause of the problem.

According to a letter published in the April 2021 issue of Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the dogs may be reacting to tartaric acid also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate. The lightbulb moment happened when a dog ate some home-made play dough containing cream of tartar (a common pantry ingredient obtained as a byproduct of wine making and used as a baking ingredient) and developed symptoms similar to the ones caused by grapes.

The group of veterinarians who dealt with the poorly dog and ¬†analysed the ingredients of his eaten “trophy”, reported the link to the JAVMA adding that grapes are one of the unique fruits (tamarind is the other one to think of) with high quantities of tartaric acid / potassium bitartrate – the substances that have been known to cause sensitivity reaction and poisoning in dogs in the past.

More research will be needed to confirm this theory. Until then, keep your dog away from grapes and remember to check dog treats and recipes for the cream of tartar because it is often used as a raising agent and flavour enhancer in dog biscuits. And if you love your Palvolva, you’d often use cream of tartar to achieve extra fluffy meringue and super voluminous whipped cream, so remember to never let your dog pinch those either.

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Can my dog eat… pears?

Carrots, apples, blueberries… more often than not these fruits are on top of the snack list for most canines. But what about pears? I have recently got into the habit of giving my boys a small slice of pear every morning, and the pups seem to love it so much, they give me a look of betrayal if I forget about the treat.

I’ve always knew that pears (but not the seeds) can technically be given to dogs, yet I have hardly seen anyone feeding the fruit to their cockers. Sounds odd, doesn’t it?

And if you like pears as much as I do – and clearly as much as Coop and Fred do – sooner or later you’ll end up asking yourself…

CAN OUR DOGS EAT PEARS?

YES! They absolutely can!

Pears can be such a wonderful addition to the menu if your spaniel enjoys the taste. First of all, pears are a source of fibre, quite a bit of fibre, actually. A human serving of fruit provides 6g of it. And the fibre will keep your dog’s digestive system functioning, help to clear out the toxins, maintain healthy anal glands and may even reduce the risk of some cancers. According to animal studies, eating pears also reduced formation of ulcers in the gut.

In addition, pears are full of water to maintain hydration.

Nutrient-wise, the fruit is known as a source of vitamins C and K, and minerals potassium and copper. Thus eating pears may support the immune system, blood clotting, healthy heart and blood pressure, haemoglobin levels, maintenance and production of collagen and elastin for healthy skin and tissues, and bone formation during the growth stage. Human studies also documented an ability of pears to reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.

100g of pears also contain between 27 and 41g of phenolic compounds (antioxidants, in other words) including anthocyanins – a type of pigments that give bright fruits and leaves their colour.

The amazing thing about these flavonoids is their ability to protect the body from oxidative stress and, as a result, control and reduce the risk of inflammation and chronic illnesses. In humans, anthocyanins may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s while in animals they have been shown to slow down the speed of age-related cognitive decline.

When studies looked into aging dogs, they noticed that dogs on a diet containing anthocyanins could complete complex tasks much better than “controls” and when the diet was combined with mental stimulation the participants improved greatly within two weeks. The animals were also more agile and eager to play, which could have something to do with the antioxidant’s anti-inflammatory effect.

The bottom line – include pears in your dog’s diet whenever you get a chance. Just remember, the high water, sugar and fibre content can work as a laxative, so moderation is important.

Introduce gradually, starting with a tiny bite-size piece and gradually building up to a thin slice (for an average cocker).

Photo credit: Marjatta Cajan via pixabay

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Faconi’s syndrome: the tricky aftermath of dog treats

Have you heard of Fanconi’s syndrome? If you ever thought of feeding your dog any dehydrated treats or chews, you need to keep reading.

Faconi syndrome is a defect that alters the ability of the kidneys to absorb and retain certain nutrients, electrolytes and water. It can be a hereditary disease that would only affect certain breeds such as Basenji.

However, over the past decade (it was first reported in 2007), the acquired form of the syndrome caused serious problems in many dogs, particularly toy, small and medium-sized ones.

The dogs would start urinating more than usual. They’d loose weight, appetite and become lethargic. About 60% had digestive symptoms, 30% showed signs associated with kidney function, and the remaining 10% developed tremors, convulsions and skin irritation. Some dogs were affected much more than others.

Upon examination, all these dogs had one thing in common. All of them regularly ate jerky treats or chews.

At first, the unsafe treats thought to be from China, but later on it was established that the country of manufacturing did not matter, and the reports on acquired Fanconi’s syndrome came from all over the world including the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Singapore.

Additionally, the treats were made from various ingredients – not just the chicken as it was originally thought – and included poultry, beef, glycerine and vegetable base (dried sweet potato chews and certain dental chews).

The root case of the illness is yet to be established, so please think of all the uncertainties and potential problems if you choose to give your dog any chew- and jerky-type treats.

The symptoms are not very easy to spot and if a dog develops them and is taken to the vets, the other causes need to be ruled out first, and the Fanconi’s test may take up to 2 weeks. This means that unless the dog is diagnosed fast, he may not always make it or will be left with chronic kidney problems.

Even thought these cases are rare, a few minutes of chewing bliss aren’t worth the risk. So it’s a good idea to consider a safer and healthier options including dog’s main food, fresh chopped carrots, cucumbers or apples, or even making your own treats at home.