Timmy, Sydney and Hetty all needed emergency treatment

An early Easter treat saw a pair of hungry hounds rushed for treatment after scoffing a packet of hot cross buns.

With the raisins in them potentially toxic, owner Nicole Hellyer faced a panicked dash to Vets Now with doggy duo Timmy and Sydney.

Millions of dogs are now spending more time than ever at home because of the coronavirus restrictions on how often owners can exercise.

Now Nicole is urging owners to avoid Easter agonies by keeping the buns well away from pets who run the risk of kidney failure and even death.

Nicole Hellyer had to rush both her dogs to the vet after they scoffed a pack of hot cross buns

Timmy is a four-year-old Labrador-cockapoo cross and five-year-old Sydney is a Jack Russell. Both had just returned to the family home in Camberley, Surrey when they had their fateful feast.

“Timmy is the one who is most prone to eating things he shouldn’t, getting up on counters, so we do always try and keep things out of reach,” said Nicole, 35.

“The dog walkers had brought them home and didn’t lock them in the lounge as they were supposed to. Although we have a stair gate on the kitchen, they got in there and Timmy obviously decided to do a bit of counter surfing and helped himself.

“When I got in the floor was covered in mess and when I walked into the bedroom, I found empty wrappers from the hot cross buns.

“We think Timmy had the lion’s share of them, Sydney not so much.

“My heart sank right away because I knew raisins were bad for dogs. I knew I had to get hold of the vets and find out what I needed to do next.”

Image of hot cross buns for Vets Now article on hot cross buns and dogs
Hot cross buns contain raisins which are potentially toxic to dogs

With her own vets’ practice closed for the evening, an anxious Nicole put a call in straight away to the Vets Now pet emergency clinic in Farnham.

Like all Vets Now clinics and hospitals, it’s open through the night and at weekends and bank holidays,to treat any pet emergencies that might occur.

“It was so stressful,” said Nicole. “It was a real shock and I was panicking.

“I got them straight in the car but although the dogs seemed fine – Timmy seemed full of beans, Sydney was just a little more worse for wear – I was so worried on the drive there.

“I was just thinking, thank goodness there was someone there to look after them.”

The dogs were given an injection to make them sick and, thanks to the speedy intervention, both were soon well enough for a hugely relieved Nicole to be able to take them home after discussion of the options.

“It’s a real wake-up call as to what can happen, especially as Timmy is a crafty one,” said Nicole.

“I’d warn other owners not to leave them around at any time.”

Image of a golden labrador for Vets Now article on dog eating hot cross buns
Labrador Hetty also needed treatement after tucking into three hot cross buns

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The frightening speed with which emergencies can arise with hot cross buns at this time of the year was echoed by Labrador owner Amy James-Moore.

Her family had just come back from a weekend away when disaster struck with 18-month-old Hetty.

“The children had a pack of six hot cross buns in the back of the car and I shoved the open packet, with three still in it, into my bag as I got things into my house,” said Amy, 41, from Winchester.

“In the time it took to unpack the car I spotted the bag was empty and the children promised they hadn’t eaten them. I knew right away it was bad news as raisins and grapes were poisonous, so I called Vets Now.”

Amy took Hetty straight to Vets Now in Winchester.

“The vet made her sick and you could see a huge amount of raisins coming up,” said Amy. “She was feeling a bit sorry for herself and it was so scary as you just don’t know what might happen.”

With Hetty having got hold of a small Easter egg as a pup last year and now the hot cross buns, Amy is being ultra-cautious at this time of year.

“I don’t ever want to go through that again,” said Amy.

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 because of dogs pinching hot cross buns.

The raisins, currants and sultanas in the sweet treats are highly toxic to dogs and nutmeg, which is also a common ingredient, is potentially dangerous due to it containing a hallucinogenic toxin called myristicin.

"The prognosis for grape and raisin toxicity is generally good if treated early and there’s been no kidney damage."

Dr Laura Playforth Professional standards director

Dr Laura Playforth, Vets Now’s professional standards director, said: “It’s unclear exactly what causes the toxic effects of raisins 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.”

She added: “The good news for dogs like Timmy, Sydney and Hetty 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.”

Under the UK government’s coronavirus restrictions, veterinary practices have been confirmed as essential services and vets have been added to the list of key workers.

However, while clinics and hospitals are allowed to stay open, face-to-face contact has been reduced and guidance from the veterinary surgeons’ regulatory body, the RCVS, has largely reduced veterinary care to urgent illness and injury only.

To find out what constitutes a pet emergency click here.