PET owners are being warned to keep mince pies away from their dogs this Christmas.

Last Christmas, cocker spaniel Dewi managed to stretch up to a mantelpiece to pilfer a home-made mince pie baked for Santa by his owner Bev Searle’s two grandchildren.

The raisins in the sweet treats are poisonous to dogs and eating them can lead to sickness and diarrhoea – and potentially even fatal kidney failure.

Bev’s six-year-old grandson Alexander raised the alarm.

She said: “Alexander saw what was happening and tried to get the pie back – but there was no way Dewi was giving it up. Alexander is mad on animals and is always finding out facts about them – so, very luckily for us, he knew raisins were really bad for dogs and shouted on my daughter and I to come running to help.

"If Alexander hadn’t been in the living room, we would never have known what had happened until, quite possibly, it was too late. I really do think Dewi would have died if it hadn’t been for Alexander being so quick-thinking.”

A quarter of an hour later, Dewi was admitted by the Vets Now Salisbury team.

The emergency team were so worried that Dewi might suffer a bad reaction they kept him under observation for 48 hours. They also administered charcoal to clean out his tummy.

After being given the all clear he was able to go home on Boxing Day.

Bev said: “The clinic staff were so kind and caring – you really couldn’t have asked for nicer people to look after your pet and Dewi was totally fine when we got him back.”

Bev lives in Ferryside, Carmarthenshire, and was visiting her daughter Emma for Christmas.

Bev said: “It was certainly a Christmas none of us are ever going to forget — and Alexander was the hero of the hour. Alexander was so worried about Dewi that he was waiting up for us when we got back from the clinic on Christmas Eve because he couldn’t go to sleep without knowing Dewi was okay. We really are so lucky Alexander was there just when Dewi needed him.”

Vets Now says it is inundated with mince pie-eating dogs on Christmas Eve and into Christmas morning. In 2019, its vets treated almost 130 dogs who had eaten mince pies on Christmas Eve — up from an average of 14 cases during the rest of December.

Dogs of any age, breed or gender can be affected by raisin and grape toxicity.

Dave Leicester, head of telehealth at Vets Now, said: “We see more cases of raisin toxicity on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day than we do in an average month and that’s why we want to raise awareness of the threat they can pose to dogs.

“It’s unclear exactly what causes the toxic effects, but we do know that there is no safe quantity of grapes, raisins, currants or sultanas which may be eaten. Even tiny amounts can be toxic in individual animals and the effects cannot be predicted, so real caution must be taken with foods that contain them, including mince pies and Christmas pudding.”

Owners who suspect their pet has eaten grapes or raisins are urged to contact a vet to ensure treatment can be given before the toxins in the fruit can be absorbed.

He added: “The good news is the prognosis for grape and raisin toxicity is generally good if treated early and there’s been no kidney injury. 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. Never assume that a small quantity will be fine.”