A Warrington vet has issued a warning for pet owners to keep mince pies and Christmas cake out of reach after a Golden Retriever had a lucky escape.

The drama unfolded when Oliver Louie’s owners, Roger and Rosie Wood, returned home from an evening meal to find an empty sultana packet and two sheepish-looking dogs. Earlier that day, Roger had added some sultanas to his breakfast but had inadvertently left the bag – which contained a pound of sultanas – on the kitchen top. 

Despite the dogs showing no sign of illness, Roger was aware of the potentially fatal consequences and, not knowing which dog was the culprit, took both to Beech House vets in Warrington, part of the Willows Veterinary Group. Both dogs were given an injection to induce vomiting which soon revealed that Oliver had eaten the whole lot.

Oliver Louie (right) and his sister Scarlett Bluebell

Vet Emily Guest of Beech House Veterinary Centre says that sultanas and raisins, the key ingredients of many Christmas treats, can cause fatal kidney failure in dogs if eaten. With Oliver identified as the culprit, he was immediately put on fluids and kept in to be monitored overnight until blood tests showed that his kidneys were unaffected, and he was well enough to go home.

Emily adds that although not all dogs are susceptible to sultana, raisin or grape poisoning, it was impossible to know which animals might be affected or how little is needed to cause potentially fatal renal failure. She explains, “Just four grapes have been known to kill a four-kilo dog so the risk is real. And it doesn’t matter how big your dog is, large or small.”

“With Oliver Louie it was the enormous amount of sultanas he had eaten that was also a concern. First of all we gave him an injection to make him sick. Then we gave him activated charcoal to bind with any toxins that may have been released in the gut. This prevents any sultanas which have not been thrown up from being absorbed as they make their way through his gut. We then monitored him for a few days to make sure all was well with his kidneys and he was then discharged, with no ill effects.

Oliver Louie gets a check over from Beech House vet Emily Guest (right) and vet nurse Izzy Roberts

“Oliver Louie was fortunate as his owner knew of the dangers and knew what to do. But in the run up to Christmas it’s about prevention as much as treatment. Grapes, sultanas, raisins, chocolate, onions, garlic, Ibuprofen – these are all things you may have around the home over the festive period that can be poisonous to your pet. Keep them out of harm’s way and if you suspect your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t, don’t wait but contact your local veterinary centre as soon as you can for advice.”

After receiving urgent treatment, eight-year-old Oliver Louie was given a clean bill of health but Roger is now worried other dog owners may not know of the risk.

Mince pies and other Christmas treats containing sultanas and raisins can cause fatal kidney failure in dogs

Roger, who runs his own pet food business MPM Products, explains, “Fortunately, I was aware that these products were dangerous but I’m sure lots of other pet owners don’t know. Many of the people I have spoken to since who own a dog said they didn’t realise they were poisonous.

Oliver was really lucky – I knew it was a problem and I knew what to do but if I hadn’t known and then left it without getting help, it could have been a very different story.”

Oliver Louie and his sister Scarlett Bluebell are pictured with, from left to right, vet Emily Guest, owner Roger Wood and vet nurse Izzy Roberts

“Know what can harm your dog, especially with the food that is around at Christmas time and keep it out of their way. And if you think they have eaten something that’s not good for them, don’t wait but call the emergency vet for advice.

It was just one bag of sultanas we had not noticed before we went out, but it could have been curtains for Oliver. I will now always try to be one step ahead and make sure everything is cleared up so there is no temptation in their way!”

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