Published: 21 Dec 2016 | Last Updated: 10 Aug 2023 11:27:03

It is well known that dog owners shouldn’t feed their dogs chocolate. However, raisins, sultanas and grapes, key ingredients to many of our favourite Christmas dishes, can also be deadly if eaten by our four legged friends.

If eaten by dogs, sultanas, raisins, and grapes can cause acute kidney injury, which can lead to kidney failure. RVC vets are warning dog owners to keep an eye on their mince pies, Christmas cakes and puddings, fruit cakes, bread and butter puddings, and panettones in the run up to Christmas.

Recently, one dog owner had a nasty shock after their dog ate 500 grams of sultanas. Claudia Goldstein, who had been making Christmas cake for her family left the sultanas out on the side overnight, only for her husband to come down the next morning to find an empty packet on the floor and their sheepish looking Flat-Coated Retriever, Milo, next to it. Mr Goldstein was unaware of the dangers of raisins but when six-year-old Milo became unwell, and Mrs Goldstein became aware of the previous night’s events they took him straight to their vet.

Milo did not respond to initial treatment and was referred to the Royal Veterinary College’s Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (QMHA) for dialysis. This involved passing Milo’s blood through a dialysis machine to remove the potassium, toxins and fluids that his kidneys were unable to process. Following two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit, Milo made an excellent recovery, and one and a half months on is looking forward to spending Christmas at home.

dog with owner and vet outside RVC hospital
Milo with his owner Mrs Goldstein and veterinary specialist-in-training Rebekah Donaldson who was part of the team who treated Milo

Ms Karen Humm, Senior Lecturer in Emergency and Critical Care, the vet who treated Milo after his ordeal, said Milo is doing better than they could have expected and warned against leaving Christmas food in reach of pets. She said: “Milo was extremely unwell and unable to produce urine when he came to the QMHA, so he was in a critical condition. Luckily, as the only animal hospital in the UK which provides this type of dialysis for dogs, we could treat his condition and monitor his recovery over a two-week period. Although he has made an excellent recovery, he may still have lifelong kidney damage. That’s why it’s so important dog owners are aware of the dangers many dogs face from their favourite Christmas treats.”

dog wearing Pets as Therapy jacket
Milo returns to work with Pets as Therapy

Mrs Goldstein has owned Milo since he was just eight weeks old, and she is delighted with the pace of his recovery. She said: “Milo has always been a fan of Christmas and joins in with the festive spirit. He overdid it this year though by helping himself to some sultanas which resulted in two weeks at the RVC. We were delighted with the care that he received and have gone back recently for a final check-up. Thankfully Milo is much better than he was and we look forward to having him at home for Christmas this year.”

One and a half months on, Milo is now able to return to his normal life. He is actively involved with Pets at Therapy (PAT) where he works with a Special Needs department in a local primary school and inmates at the Wormwood Scrubs Prison in London. He now knows not to help himself to sultanas!

Other foods to avoid feeding dogs this Christmas, include:

  • sugar-free diabetic sweeteners (xylitol)
  • bones
  • very fatty Christmas trimmings
  • appetizers/ hors d'oeuvre on cocktail sticks

Press Office Contact

Uche Graves / Zoe White
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Notes to Editors

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a constituent College of the University of London. The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences, being ranked in the top 10 universities nationally for biosciences degrees.  It is currently the only veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.

A research-led institution, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) the RVC maintained its position as the top HEFCE funded veterinary focused research institution.

The RVC also provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals; the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in central London, the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (Europe's largest small animal referral centre), the Equine Referral Hospital, and the Farm Animal Clinical Centre located at the Hertfordshire campus.

RVC Press Release 21 December 2016

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