Vets warn raisins in festive sweet treats can cause renal failure

Labrador Ozzie was rushed into emergency care after wolfing down a whole Christmas pudding AND the cardboard box it came in.

Greedy Ozzie got hold of the Tesco Finest luxury pudding for four while owner Jade Edwards and her family were at work.

The two-year-old had so much fun scoffing the pudding – soaked in mulled wine – that he even polished off the box it was wrapped in.

Jade realised something was wrong when she got in from work to be asked by her daughter: “Mum, didn’t we have a Christmas pudding in the house?”

Image of Ozzie the black labrador for Vets Now article on dog ate christmas pudding
Ozzie scoffed a luxury Christmas pudding and the box it came in (©Vets Now)

Jade said: “I’d had quite a long day and I thought to myself: ‘Ok, where’s this going exactly?’

“Then I saw a tiny piece of the box – about the size of a 5p coin – on the floor and began to realise what had happened.

“That bit of cardboard was literally all that was left of either the pudding or the box. Ozzie had eaten the whole lot!

“Like most dogs, he can be pretty greedy – but he’d never before got anything down from the worktop, which is where I’d left the pudding assuming it would be safe.

“But the smell must just have been too tempting for him. He obviously got up on his hind legs and used his front paw to knock the pudding down to the ground and then he’s just demolished the whole thing.”

Both alcohol and raisins are toxic to dogs – and even relatively small amounts of raisins can lead to organ failure in some dogs, as Jade discovered when she started searching online.

“I felt awful,” Jade said: “Ozzie was acting a bit sheepish as though he knew he’d been really naughty but apart from that he seemed fine in himself.

“But I just had a bad feeling about it. The more I thought about it, the more worried I got.”

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Image of Ozzie the black labrador for Vets Now article on dog ate christmas pudding
Ozzie's owner Jade saw the remnants of the box and realised what had happened (©Vets Now)

Jade, from Uttoxeter, Staffs, rang Vets Now’s pet emergency clinic in Stoke, where staff arranged for Ozzie to be brought in straight away.

After extensive checks and tests, Ozzie was given activated charcoal to absorb the toxins in his tummy.

Jade sat up with Ozzie all night to make sure he took in enough of the medicine – and because she was so worried she wouldn’t have slept anyway.

“There was no point me going to bed,” Jade said: “So I sat wide awake while he dozed like nothing had happened!

“The next day he was a bit lethargic as you might imagine but he was soon back to normal, charging round the house and playing with his basketball – which is the one ball he hasn’t been able to burst because it’s too big for him to get his jaws around it.”

It’s unclear exactly what causes the toxic effects of raisins in dogs but even one can be potentially dangerous so caution should be taken with foods that contain them.

Alcohol is also poisonous to pets and large enough amounts can cause drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature.

Staff at Vets Now's Stoke clinic gave Ozzie activated charcoal to absorb the toxins in his tummy (©Vets Now)

Laura Playforth, professional standards director at Vets Now, said: “We see a big rise in poisoning cases involving raisins and alcohol at this time of year, largely due to dogs eating things like mince pies, Christmas puddings and fruitcake.

“Packaging and even things like wrapping paper can also cause problems if swallowed, particularly when foil is involved.

“The good news is the 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.”

Jade added: “My dad is coming to Christmas dinner and is asking about what Christmas pudding he’s going to get.

“But after what happened I really don’t think I can cope with having another one in the house – so he’s probably going to have to bring his own!”

Vets Now’s pet emergency clinic in Stoke is one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and hospitals open through the night, seven days a week, and day and night at weekends and bank holidays, including Christmas and New Year.

All of Vets Now’s out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and a veterinary nurse on-site at all times.