Grapes, raisins and nutmeg are a poisonous threat to dogs

Vets are warning about the risk hot cross buns pose to dogs, after an alarming number of raisin-related emergency admissions.

They say the raisins, currants and sultanas in the sweet treats are highly toxic to dogs and eating them can lead to kidney failure and even death.

On top of this, nutmeg, which is a common ingredient in hot cross buns, is also potentially dangerous due to it containing a hallucinogenic toxin called myristicin.

Emergency vets at Vets Now said hundreds of dogs have been admitted to its out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals as a result of eating products containing raisins.

The UK’s biggest provider of pet emergency care treats an average of almost four dogs a week for grape and raisin toxicity – and there is often a spike in cases around Easter.

They have drawn up an advice guide on what to do if a dog eats raisins – or foods including them such as hot cross buns, mince pies and fruit loaf.

Image of hot cross buns and coffee for Vets Now article on dangers of hot cross buns to dogs
Anything containing grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas can be poisonous to dogs

Amanda Boag, Vets Now’s clinical director, said: “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.”

Vets Now emergency vets carried out a study into the treatment and short-term outcomes of dogs diagnosed with grape and raisin intoxication.

They examined 606 cases that had presented at Vets Now’s 53 out-of-hours clinics and three 24/7 pet emergency hospitals between November 2012 and February 2016.

More than half, 53%, had to be kept in overnight.

Of those, 241 (74%) cases were discharged within 24 hours, 79 (24%) were allowed home between 24 and 48 hours while four (1%) were hospitalised for more than two days.

Among the most common clinical signs recorded in the dogs were sickness, diarrhoea, lethargy and abdominal pain.

However, it wasn’t possible to determine how many, if any, suffered kidney failure due to the short-term nature of the patient records.

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Ms Boag added: “The good news is prognosis for grape and raisin toxicity is generally good if treated early and there’s been no kidney damage.

“Normally symptoms start showing between six and 24 hours after the dog has eaten grapes or raisins.

“But these may not take effect for several days and in the most serious cases, the fruits can also cause sudden kidney failure.

“If you think your dog has eaten grapes, raisins, sultanas or currants, or anything containing them, you should telephone your vet immediately or, out of hours, your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic.”

Millions of hot cross buns are sold in the UK every year, with the UK’s biggest retailer selling £70 million worth alone.

Dogs of any age, breed or gender can be affected by raisin and grape toxicity.

Owners who suspect their pet has eaten grapes or raisins should not wait for signs or symptoms to appear before they contact a vet, to ensure treatment can be given, before the toxins in the fruit can be absorbed.

Vets Now are open at nights, weekends and on bank holidays to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.