Grapes and raisins used in mince pies and Christmas puddings can cause renal failure in dogs
Two dogs thought Santa had left them an early present — when they found the ingredients for a Christmas cake and scoffed a kilogram of raisins.
Old English Sheepdogs Teddy and Gabby were discovered standing over an empty packet of the dried fruits which are highly toxic to dogs.
Thankfully, owner Carol Spurling knew straight away the pair could be in danger and rushed them to her local vet.
“When I came home I left my shopping in the utility room”, recalled Carol, who lives in Maldon, Essex. “But unfortunately it included all the ingredients for a Christmas cake, including a bag of raisins.
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“Somehow Teddy and Gabby got into the room. They were only in there for about 10 minutes, and when I found the wrapper on the floor, I thought: ‘Oh no!’
“I knew raisins were toxic to dogs and I knew I had to act fast because a whole kilo had gone.”
Carol rushed the naughty pair to her local vet, still not knowing which one had eaten the raisins. But when vomiting was induced Gabby produced only one raisin, leaving the finger of suspicion pointing firmly towards Teddy.
He then threw up a huge pile.
In the evening the dogs were transferred to Vets Now in Witham where they were placed on intravenous drips, given activated charcoal, which absorbs poison, and monitored for problems with their kidneys.
Gabby was allowed home the following day, but Teddy was kept under further observation as recommended by the latest studies of this toxicity.
On his second night in Vets Now Witham, Teddy confirmed he’d eaten the bulk of the raisins in dramatic fashion — pooing out a pile of the fruit weighing a staggering 480g.
“The nurse even took a picture of it for her records which made us laugh,” Carol said, adding: “It was definitely not one for the family album.
“Teddy and Gabby were soon back to their normal selves when they got home after their adventure. Teddy is the naughty one — he’s a little devil.
“I feel I want to tell everybody so people know about how dangerous raisins can be,” she added.
At Vets Now, the UK’s leading provider of pet emergency care, our vets treat an average of four dogs a week for grape and raisin toxicity — and there is often a spike in cases around Christmas.
We have drawn up an advice guide on what to do if a dog eats raisins — or foods including them such as Christmas pudding, mince pies and fruit loaf.
Jen Harknett, principal nurse manager at Vets Now in Witham, admitted she’d never seen such an extreme case of raisin toxicity in a dog.
She said: “By the second night Teddy’s blood tests were normal, and there were no signs of toxicity, but his daytime vet kept him under observation due to the large amount of raisins he’d eaten, and the fact that the effects on the kidneys can be delayed.
“Everything was going well and then around midnight I was met by the most horrendous cooked fruit smell. Teddy had passed a huge pile, 480g to be exact, of solid raisin poop.
“Hopefully this case will serve as a reminder to dog owners to keep their shopping well out of reach — particularly at this time of year when families are baking Christmas treats that include ingredients such as chocolate and raisins.”
Amanda Boag, Vets Now’s clinical director, added: “All grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas can be poisonous to dogs, and potentially poisonous to cats, and the dried versions of the fruits are more frequently associated with severe symptoms.
“It’s unclear exactly what causes the toxic effects, but just one grape, raisin, currant or sultana can be toxic so real caution should be taken with foods that contain them.
“The good news is prognosis for grape and raisin toxicity is generally good if treated early and there’s been no kidney damage.”
The Vets Now clinic in Witham — where Teddy and Gabby received treatment — was recently rated as “outstanding” in the delivery of emergency and critical care by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
It’s one of 58 Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals across the UK that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.
All of Vets Now’s premises have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.
We also recently launched an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available.
While the service is not suitable for life-threatening emergencies like Teddy and Gabby’s, our experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns pet owners might have.
If a pet needs to be treated at Vets Now, pet owners are refunded the online consultation fee.