A VET has issued a festive warning to keep Christmas treats out of pets' reach, after a golden retriever ate a whole bag of sultanas which could have killed him.

Emily Guest, of Willows Veterinary Group, said that sultanas and raisins – a key ingredient in mince pies and Christmas cake – can cause fatal kidney failure in dogs.

Her warning to be extra vigilant was backed up by dog owners Roger and Rosie Wood after one of their golden retrievers, Oliver Louie, had to have an injection to make him sick after eating a pound of sultanas.

Emily said that although not all dogs are susceptible to sultana, raisin or grape poisoning, it was impossible to know which animals might be affected – and how little can cause potentially fatal renal failure.

“Just four grapes have been known to kill a four-kilo dog so the risk is real,” she said, “And it doesn’t matter how big your dog is, large or small.

“Oliver Louie was fortunate as his owner knew of the dangers and knew what to do. But in the run up to Christmas it’s about prevention as much as treatment.

“Grapes, sultanas, raisins, chocolate, onions, garlic, Ibuprofen - these are all things you may have around the home over the festive period that can be poisonous to your pet.

“Keep them out of harm’s way and if you suspect your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t, don’t wait but contact your local veterinary centre as soon as you can for advice.”

Roger, 59, was already aware of the potentially fatal consequences so, when he suspected Oliver of eating the bag of sultanas, he knew he had to get immediate help.

After receiving urgent treatment from Emily and her team, eight-year-old Oliver has since been given a clean bill of health.

Dad-of-two Roger said: “Fortunately, I was aware that these products were dangerous but I’m sure lots of other pet owners don’t know.

"Many of the people I have spoken to since who own a dog said they didn’t realise they were poisonous."

The pet drama unfolded after Roger had put some sultanas in his breakfast porridge and inadvertently left the bag on the kitchen top.

When the couple returned home from an evening out, they found two sheepish-looking retrievers and an empty sultana packet.

At that point they weren’t showing any signs of illness, and Roger took both of them straight to see Emily at Beech House Vets which runs a 24/7 emergency service.

They were given an injection to induce vomiting, and Beech House veterinary nurse Izzy Roberts said the fact that Roger had got his pets to the surgery within a few hours of the sultanas being eaten made all the difference in Oliver’s recovery.