For two decades the cause of grape toxicity in dogs has been a mystery. In 1999 The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center noticed a cluster of dogs that became seriously ill after ingesting grapes or raisins. Since then we’ve had a good understanding that grapes are toxic to dogs, but the specific toxic agent has not been identified.
There appeared to be a variable involved, while other chemicals showed consistency in dosage across cases, when it came to grapes or raising, the toxic dosage was inconsistent across cases.
If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve been asked to participate in the newest trend, making homemade slime, a moldable putty similar to play-doh. With the start of this trend, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center observed an increase of cases where a dog had eaten the homemade slime and exhibited similar clinical signs to grape and raisin toxicosis. In one case that resulted in death, the necropsy found changes in the kidneys typically found in grape or raisin poisoning. A key ingredient noted in homemade slime - Cream of Tartar. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also noted similar clinical signs in dogs following exposure to Tamarinds, a fruit native to Africa. Veterinarians at the Animal Poison Control Center followed the data and identified a link in toxicity; Grapes, Cream of tartar, and Tamarinds contain Tartaric Acid.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control published their findings in a letter to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. In the letter it is proposed that tartaric acid and its salt, potassium bitartrate, are what make grapes toxic.
This finding is backed by the inconsistency across cases of grape or raisin ingestion. In grapes, the level of Tartaric acid varies based on several factors including the variety of grape, the conditions it was grown under, and how ripe the grape is.
While it’s important to note this is a hypothesis and further studies would need to be carried out to confirm Tartaric Acid is the culprit, this is a promising discovery after two decades of mystery. Either way, this serves as a cautionary tale to keep not only grapes, but homemade slime and anything else containing cream of tartar, away from your dog!
I’m John from Pawsome University.
Until next time, class dismissed!