Invasion Of The Killer Grapes

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - September 29, 2010
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Growing up in the 1970s, I found most of the information I needed in dictionaries and encyclopedias. Though more than adequate at the time, that mundane form of research pales in comparison to the modern world of technology. Today, the Internet provides a vast amount of knowledge at your fingertips. This access can be invaluable to pet owners, but at the same time can be quite challenging to veterinarians.

What do I mean? The following story is true, although the names and furry faces have been changed to protect the innocent.

Mr. Oshiro walked into our office with his cuddly little dog Kuma. His first words to me definitely took me by surprise.

“Doc, I killed my dog,” lamented Mr. Oshiro. “I didn’t mean to, but I’m guilty as charged.”

Trying to calm Mr. Oshiro down, I asked him to tell me what happened.

“Well, I read on the Internet that grapes were not good for dogs. Who would have thought that grapes can cause death? I didn’t know about this, and I’ve been feeding grapes to Kuma ever since he was a little puppy.”

“You’ve been feeding grapes to Kuma?” I asked. “The Kuma that is sitting on your lap as we speak?”

“Yes Doc, I killed my little buddy.”

As I gazed down at Kuma, he seemed quite alive. His tail wagged as he looked up at me and even mustered what appeared to be a smile.

“Mr. Oshiro, I assure you that Kuma is alive. What you read on the Internet about grapes is true, but grapes did not kill Kuma. He’s sitting there wagging his tail,” I said with an incredulous tone. “Allow me to do a physical exam and run a few tests to verify his overall health. I’ll prove to you that everything is all right.”

After the exam and a routine blood test, I convinced Mr. Oshiro that Kuma was a very healthy 5-year-old Shih Tzu.

“So, Doc, is it OK for me to feed grapes to Kuma?” asked Mr. Oshiro.

“Grapes as well as raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. The reason for this is still unclear, but it seems that the dogs that got sick ate at least 2 ounces of fruit. Since you’ve only been giving Kuma an occasional grape as a treat, he’s not been affected. Personally, I would stop giving grapes to Kuma just as a precaution.”

Mr. Oshiro vowed to never give grapes or raisins to Kuma again, and thanked me for saving his dog. I assured him that Kuma was fine coming in, but he would hear nothing of it.

Since that appointment I’ve had many owners tell me that they regularly give grapes to their dog. My advice to them is to keep the grapes to themselves. When feeding the wild side, give bananas or carrots as a healthy alternative.

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