“Grape Poisoning” in Dogs
Bad news travels fast on the Internet and the awareness of “grape poisoning” has been an amazing thing to behold, just like the chocolate poisoning situation that has been blown completely out of proportion. Neither are especially toxic to the otherwise healthy dog but the unusually large quantity of each that a pet may consume can certainly get them into serious trouble.
In the case of chocolate, it is the ratio of body weight to the active ingredient theobromine found in chocolate that causes the problems. And the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. A pet has to consume nearly 1/3 of their body weight in milk chocolate to intoxicate them whereas it would take much less of one of the new designer dark chocolates and only a very small of baker’s chocolate to poison a pet. So, call your vet if a pet has eaten a significant amount of chocolate but do not get overly concerned if they eat a Hershey’s Kiss.
In the case of grapes, the rare occurrences of “grape poisoning” have resulted from pets consuming an unusually large number of grapes or raisins, with the latter being the most common and the culprit in the Emails and Snopes article that keep crossing my desktop. Dogs tend to eat something until it is gone and they have been known to eat an entire canister of raisins, which was the history in some of these cases. Like so many of my clients who ask me about this phenomenon, I have given my dogs grapes my entire life. So why all of the fuss?
After all of the testing was done on grapes and raisins, no toxins or microorganisms were found that would explain the deaths in these uncommon cases, which were characterized by kidney failure (just like the deaths seen during the pet food recall, which is a clue.). But one element was overlooked in their investigation: Grapes are one of the plants that concentrate fluoride, which can originate from the soil or the air. And today’s environment is much richer in fluoride than that of the past due to fluoride-based chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides), factory emissions (e.g. coal burning and metal production), and the use of fluoridated water for irrigation and rinsing of newly purchased produce.
The deaths in these rare cases of grape or raisin intoxication can be easily explained as fluoride intoxication. Fluoride in high quantity and taken internally is a serious toxin and even a carcinogen (e.g. bone cancer). Acute fluoride poisoning will first result in severe damage to the intestinal lining, causing acute villous atrophy of the small intestine, the same lesion found in celiac disease and other food intolerance). It is clear that the adaptive viruses in our villi don’t like fluoride at this level and can cause the villi to quickly shrink away in order to prevent further absorption of this potentially lethal toxin. As much as we don’t like the symptoms associated with this intestinal process (nausea, diarrhea, cramping, gas), it is a protective mechanism designed to prevent more life-threatening reactions to this toxin, such as kidney failure. But if the exposure is overwhelming, the blood levels can rapidly rise and more serious signs can occur.
The fact is humans could experience the same reaction if we ate an entire canister of raisins or consumed the equivalent amount of fluoride from a different source, such as swallowing the fluoride treatment that our dentist warned us against. Sadly, fluoride is also a cumulative toxin and over time can cause serious problems such as thyroid dysfunction and bone cancer when long-term exposure is excessive.
Again, there is nothing innately wrong with the grapes or raisins themselves. They were one of the seven sacred food of Israel and are still loaded with good things (e.g. resveratrol and grape seed extract). Because they concentrate fluoride, they are simply one of the foods that are best purchased from organic sources, which would be less likely to contain high levels of fluoride due to restrictions in the use of man-made chemicals (e.g. pesticides). It is also best to rinse produce with filtered water that is free of fluoride.
As in so many other cases, it is what man has done to the grapes that has altered them. Grapes have always been a very health source of antioxidants, with grape seed extract now being recognized as one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet. But what did man do a short while ago? He created the seedless grape. Is there is no end to our meddling in the affairs of nature?
It has been reported on the Internet that as few as a half dozen raisins have caused death in the dog. I would like to see proof of this if anyone can provide it. The most common Email that is making its way around the Net is one written by a veterinarian whose 56 lb. patient ate a half canister of raisins and was subsequently put to sleep for non-responsive renal (kidney) failure. I can believe this case history but have to question the notion that six raisins can cause renal failure in any size dog. It would certainly be a rare occurrence if it were even possible.
But how could it be possible? When the news first hit that “grapes are toxic to dogs”, I wrote an article on Dogtorj.net giving an alternative explanation for this odd phenomenon. Why would a fruit that is so innately healthy for humans be so toxic to dogs? There is no other food that is naturally (and entirely) healthy for humans that has such a detrimental effect on pets. Yes, there are foods that we consume that can intoxicate our pets (chocolate, onions, cherry tomatoes, potatoes/nightshades) but these are potential problems for some humans when consumed, especially in mass quantity or their raw form.
Fluoride is clearly the culprit in the uncommon instances of grape and raisin toxicities. The questions then become “How does fluoride cause problems?” and “How much fluoride does it take to cause a problem?”
Succinctly put, viruses hate fluoride. For those who have read the sections on viruses and pleomorphic bacteria, this is already common knowledge. Our cells are occupied by numerous viruses and intracellular bacteria, which are busily working to help that cell adapt to the ever-changing environment in which they live. Some residents have to adapt more than others as their “landlords” keep subjecting them to cigarette smoke, excessive alcohol, drugs (prescription, OTC and illicit), and environmental pollutants (including fluoride).
We love to demonize viruses and bacteria for their role in “disease” but the fact remains that much of what we call disease is simply the presence of long-term symptoms, generated by this adaptive process, that are persisting because we have not eliminated the offending insults (above) that are driving the viruses and bacteria into this mode. As we continue to pour toxins (including damaging food lectins) into our body, the process escalates from simple warning signs (allergies, GI symptoms, pain) to serious inflammatory processes (“autoimmune diseases”) and ultimately resulting in cancer. Fluoride can do all of these things, including cause bone cancer. The fluorinated quinolone antibiotics (e.g. Cipro) are known for being triggers of “autoimmune” diseases. This is no mystery once we grasp the fact that these are all forms of adaptation on the parts of viruses and bacteria, which are simply doing their job when exposed to a toxin like fluoride.
Acute fluoride intoxication is a good example. I stated above that a toxic dose of fluoride would result in acute villous atrophy of the small intestine- the sudden demise of those finger-like projections that line the intestinal tract and absorb all of our nutrients and water. Why does the atrophy occur? Quite simply, the villi shrink away to help prevent the absorption of the potentially lethal fluoride. This should make sense. What tells the villi to atrophy? Ahhh, that’s where the living residents inside that cell- the viruses and pleomorphic bacteria- come into play. This is their job.
I believe this is exactly what is happening in celiac disease and the other food intolerances. There is a genetically-encoded, inherited virus (and perhaps a partner bacteria) that tells the intestinal villi to die (undergo apoptosis) when challenged by a potentially harmful food lectin (gluten, casein, soy, corn, legume, nightshade) in order to prevent the entry of that protein into the bloodstream, where it could be carried to every tissue in the body, resulting in even more harm. The villous atrophy is meant to be a temporary, first aid measure to prevent further harm. But if we persist in consuming these harmful foods while ignoring or covering up the warning signs, then we will suffer the consequences of having these proteins attach to our neurons, kidneys, liver, joints and blood cells, eventually leading to much more serious “diseases”.
So, can 2- 6 grapes or raisins cause the death of a small dog? Perhaps so, but only if that individual is compromised in some other way. This would include being on the verge of having kidney failure for some other reason or being extremely sensitive to fluoride. How would the latter occur? By their resident organisms (viruses, pleomorphic bacteria) having a “hair trigger”, an individual could possible be as sensitive to fluoride as some people are to peanut lectins. This has certainly been shown to be the case in our newest sugar substitute, sucralose, which is a mono-chlorinated saccharide whose closest relative is DDT. Some people cannot handle chlorine entering their body in this form, resulting in violent reactions (www.splendasickness.blogspot.org). Most likely, these overly-sensitive people have other medical issues (e.g. celiac disease/food intolerance) that have led to their immune system becoming pathologically reactive to common challenges that others can handle without issue
Could some individuals be that sensitive to fluoride? Could dogs in general be predisposed to this degree of sensitivity to fluoride? Perhaps dogs have not had enough time to adapt to fluoride in the same way that they have experienced trouble adapting to man-made diets consisting of wheat, dairy, soy and corn. I know that Black Americans, Asians, American Indians and Hispanics have had their problems doing this. They lead the pack in most food-related disorders that have now been directly attributed to wheat and cow’s milk.
Adaptation takes time. It doesn’t help when we throw in known carcinogens like fluoride.