Ralph rushed to emergency vets while on holiday in Scotland

A Labradoodle called Ralph was rushed to Vets Now in the middle of the night – after he wolfed down a hot cross bun.

Ralph’s owner Keith Jeary realised something was wrong when he saw a suspicious empty plate by the fireplace.

Putting two and two together, he established that mischief-maker Ralph had helped himself to half a hot cross bun left out by one of his daughters.

Raisins and grapes can be highly poisonous to dogs and, even though Ralph looked fine, Keith was taking no chances.

After doing an internet search for emergency vets, he set off with three-year-old Ralph for Vets Now’s out-of-hours pet emergency clinic in Edinburgh.

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It was a nervous journey from the isolated farm cottage which he, his wife and family were renting while on a trip to see relatives.

Keith, from Althorne near Chelmsford, Essex, said: “We were about 400 miles from home in the countryside near Penicuik, about 20 minutes outside Edinburgh.

“We were up seeing my brother who had builders in so we rented the cottage for me, my wife, our two daughters and the dog.

“The minute I saw the plate lying there with nothing on it alarm bells started to ring.

“Ralph will eat anything he’s not supposed to and it didn’t take long to work out there’d been a half-eaten bun left there which had now, of course, disappeared.

“He seemed fine, but knowing how dangerous grapes and raisins can be to a dog we weren’t going to leave anything to chance. A dog is part of your family and we needed to get him checked over.”

Our emergency vet discussed the risks and benefits of giving Ralph intravenous fluids and inducing vomiting, and Keith agreed to her treatment plan.

He then watched as Ralph went on to throw up no fewer than 12 raisins and the hot cross bun he’d pinched from the fireplace.

In some cases, just one or two raisins can be fatal for dogs – emphasising the importance of Keith seeking help. 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.

Image of Ralph the labradoodle and his owners for Vets Now article on dog eating hot cross bun
Ralph and his owners

Within a couple of hours, Ralph was on his way back to the cottage, unphased by all the fuss and with a prescription of activated charcoal to clean out his stomach.

Laura Playforth, Vets Now’s professional standards 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 can kill a susceptible dog so real caution should be taken with foods, like hot cross buns, that contain them. It’s also worth bearing in mind that inducing vomiting doesn’t clear 100% of the contents of a dog’s stomach so there’s no guarantee this form of treatment will always be successful.”

The drama happened last Easter and Keith has shared Ralph’s story now to raise awareness of the danger to dogs from raisins ahead of the usual Easter frenzy of buns and treats.

Retired IT specialist Keith, 65, said: “We certainly didn’t expect to find ourselves scrabbling around to find an emergency vet eight hours drive from home – but I’m glad we did what we did and I’m very glad Vets Now was open in the middle of the night.”

Image of Ralph the labradoodle for Vets Now article on dog eating hot cross bun
Ralph's story highlights the dangers that raisins pose to dogs around Easter time

Laura Playforth added: “The good news for dogs like Ralph 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.”

Vets Now, 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.

The Vets Now clinic in Edinburgh – where Ralph 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 a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals 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 out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.