Who Holds Pet Websites Accountable for Bad Info?

Pet Website Accountability

Warning, what follows might be construed as a frothing-at-the-mouth rant.  I am okay with that.

I have always approached the process of finding health information from Dr. Google, DVM (Or MD, PhD) with hesitation.  When millions of people all over the world have the opportunity to post whatever they like on the internet, there’s bound to be some information on pet websites that is wrong, or even downright dangerous.

Having been educated in the field, I am pretty well-equipped to sort through information and determine the animal websites that use good judgement, and the ones I won’t visit again.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t get mad when I see it.

As a pet blogger (am I allowed to call myself a blogger yet?), I always try to provide responsible information to the people I imagine are reading my posts.  This generally means that I do a lot of hunting to find reputable pet websites that discuss my topic, and linking to them when I’m referencing the information they provide.

I was in the process of doing the same research when I stumbled across the following animal website.  It didn’t take me very long to find it.  It was on the first page of Google.  Among the internal pages of the website, they had other follow-up posts on the same subject.

I’m going to give you a few moments to read up on this pet website and work yourself up into a similar rage before I proceed.  Take your time.

Are you back?  Good.  Normally I wouldn’t bother linking to this tripe, because I wouldn’t want to give them the satisfaction of my few measly page hits.  But really, visit away, and be sure to send them an email telling them what irresponsible idiots they are.

I could rip them to shreds ….. and so I’m going to.  What?  Did you expect me to say something polite and responsible? >:)

I’m calling The Dog Place Out.

The webpage starts by defending itself for including grapes and raisins on a list of acceptable fruits that dogs like.  They state that they believe that it is the pesticides, not the grapes or raisins that they think to be the cause of the kidney problems.

So far, so good.  They’re entitled to their beliefs.  It doesn’t make them right, but they’re going to go on to say that in the interest of health and safety of dogs everywhere, owners should avoid giving raisins or grapes to their dogs because as responsible pet lovers (they have a pet website), they don’t want to put any dogs at risk if there’s even a tiny possibility that this is true, right?

Actually, no.  They advise owners to keep feeding grapes and raisins to their dogs, because they’ve not personally seen a case of grape or raisin poisoning themselves.

In their infinite wisdom, the website has surveyed 130 random people (whom they claim are breeders, veterinarians, and dog handlers).  Of the 70-80 million dogs in the USA alone, 130 internet people have not seen a case of grape poisoning.  That’s the logic by which this pet website justifies its claim.

These people are so attached to their grape-feeding habit that they further seek to tear apart a large group of veterinary toxicologists, (whose collective years’ worth of education and experience apparently means nothing), simply because said toxicologists charge for what they do for a living. Why?  Because their dogs like grapes.  I can’t help but wonder if their dogs like chocolate too.

“No offense” to the poison control centers, they claim.  Who would possibly take offense when TheDogPlace is only sharing their “100s of years worth of professional dog owner experience”?

If I had known that I could choose “dog owner” as a profession as a little girl, I may not have pursued veterinary medicine.  Not only that, but apparently dog owners at TheDogPlace live to be 100s of years old.

Oh, they mean COLLECTIVE years, you say?  I wonder how many years’ worth of collective experience the toxicologists at the poison control centers have?  Or collective years worth of education.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, no one knows why grapes are toxic, blah, blah, blah, there is no research into the topic (I started to tune them out after the second paragraph). I would like to point them to here, here, here, here, and here for five publications in reputable medical journals studying cases and factors involved in grape toxicity in dogs on or before the year TheDogPlace published their “article”.  Apparently their hundreds of years worth of experience didn’t cover the basic Google search.

“Why hasn’t someone fed a bunch of grapes to a bunch of dogs and waited to see if they all die horribly? Isn’t that good science?” Is the sentiment coming from TheDogPlace, lovers of canines everywhere.

This pet website goes on to demonstrate their poor understanding of a toxic exposure by claiming that chemical poisons and grape/raisin exposures are treated the same way (hint: they’re not even close). They claim the only reason an expert in the field would make such a claim is to scare you into paying them.

I know the only reason I got into the field and invested a scary amount of money into my education is because, like all little girls my age, I wanted to scare pet owners out of their money.  Not because I love animals. Fair point, TheDogPlace.

“ONIONS!” They bemoan, not relishing the fact that they shouldn’t give onion stew to a dog.  Onion toxicity is a well-documented toxin, TheDogPlace.  We even know how it creates Heinz bodies in the red blood cells, causing their destruction.  What the hell are you on about?

Their endpoint?  It’s the pesticides, not the grapes that potentially cause the death of your dog.  So go on feeding those grapes, but wash them first.  Because dogs like them.

Grape poisoning

Grapes are delicious: a good justification for any situation

Any honest pet advocate will tell you to heed the advice of your veterinary professional, because they care for the life of your animal.

It is responsible to open the lines of communication between the pet owner and the veterinary community, but it is reprehensible to tell someone to toss caution to the wind in regards to the safety of their pets. TheDogPlace fails to take responsibility for itself.

 

The Facts on Grape and Raisin Toxicity

  • It started out with 10 cases that were first identified, but the number of cases of dogs developing kidney damage after the ingestion of grapes and raisins grows each year.
  • Nobody knows why grapes and raisins are toxic (yet).
    • No, this does not completely rule out pesticides, but there are cases of kidney failure that have developed from washed grapes, packaged raisins, and freshly grown grapes from home that haven’t been sprayed.  It makes the possibility of pesticides less likely.
    • This still leaves open the possibility of genetic sensitivity, breed sensitivity, or some as-of-yet undiscovered factor in these cases that is causing the damage.
  • Raisins seem to be more toxic than grapes, cooked raisins don’t seem to cause as many issues with toxicity, and grape juice and extracts don’t seem to be toxic at all.
  • The smallest ingestion that has caused kidney damage in a dog is 0.32 oz per kilogram of body weight per the ASPCA. Assuming a grape weighs about 5-6 grams (this will vary a lot depending on grape type), this is about 6-7 grapes for a 10 pound dog.
    • Yes, this means a case of a dog ingesting one grape and developing kidney damage has not yet been seen.  But because nobody knows the cause of grape poisoning, as responsible people, we cannot rule out the possibility until we do know.
  • Once damage has developed to the kidneys to the point where a dog is showing signs, there’s no way to “reverse” the damage.  In order to completely protect the kidneys, we have to catch it early, and respond aggressively.
    • This is why your vet will suggest all the treatments they do.  Not because they want all your money, but because there’s no way to predict if your dog will die, and they want to take all the measures they can to prevent it.

It’s okay if you don’t believe it’s actually the grapes that cause the damage….

…But please don’t feed them to your dog.  I am okay with looking back in fifty years and laughing about what a tool I was, telling you not to give grapes to your dog.  I am not okay looking back and regretting all the deaths that could have been prevented simply by abstaining from voluntarily giving a potentially hazardous treat to a dog.

Shame on you, TheDogPlace.

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2 Comments on "Who Holds Pet Websites Accountable for Bad Info?"

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Trista, Domesticated Momster
Guest

I never give my dog people food except for the occasional piece of fat off of some red meat we are having…I never give her bones for fear she will choke but she does get lots of doggie bisquits. Great article! ????Trista

Erin
Member

Good idea! Cooked bones splinter, and they have a tendency to get stuck! Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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