Pet owners questions answered by PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing

Dear PDSA Vet: I want to give my dog a treat at Christmas and was thinking he might enjoy a mince pie, but I have been told dogs can’t eat them. Is this true? Alan

It’s true that you shouldn’t feed your pooch mince pies. The mincemeat in this festive favourite usually contains raisins, currants and sultanas, which are all toxic to our furry friends. When eaten by dogs – even in small amounts – they can cause gut upsets and put pets at risk of kidney problems, which can be life threatening. Symptoms can vary and may not show straight away, but instead appearing days afterwards, so if you think your dog has eaten raisins, contact your vet straight away – don’t wait for any signs. A pet-safe alternative to mince pies are these gingerbread dog biscuits which you can make yourself at home. For more information on raisin poisoning in dogs, you can visit

Dear PDSA Vet: Our dog, Duke, cut his paw pad on a walk yesterday. It didn’t bleed much and we cleaned it up with water, but overnight the wound seems to have opened up more. Should we give it some time to heal, or do we need to take him to see a vet? Annabel

Small wounds can heal naturally - keep it clean, and stop Duke from licking or biting the area, which can cause further damage and infection - use a cone collar if needed. Bathe the wound twice daily with salt water; 1 tsp salt in a pint of cool (previously boiled) water, and cover with a clean dressing. Watch out for signs of infection, such as swelling, heat, discharge or smell. A non-infected wound should heal fairly quickly. Contact your vet with any concerns, or if the cut doesn’t seem to be healing. For information on first aid for cuts and grazes, visit

Dear PDSA Vet: My hamster, Humphrey, has a lump that makes his cheek look full all the time, and it seems to be affecting his eating. What could it be? Leila

Hamsters have a pouch in their cheeks that can look like a lump when filled with food, but if Humphrey’s lump is there all the time, and affecting his eating, there could be another cause so it’s important to take him to see a vet as soon as possible. Remember, not all lumps and bumps are sinister, but they need investigating especially if he’s struggling to eat, as this will impact his health and happiness. Monitor Humphrey for any other symptoms, such as lack of energy, or changes in food choices like eating softer foods rather than harder pellets. Any information you can provide your vet will be helpful in working out a diagnosis.

Dear PDSA Vet: My cat, Pixie, has been diagnosed with stress cystitis. What can I do to prevent any future flare-ups? Danny

Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) is the most common type of cystitis (bladder inflammation) in cats and is often triggered by stress. Cats with FIC get stressed by things that might seem minor to us or another cat, so try to keep a calm atmosphere at home. Have lots of safe hiding places around the house, stick to a daily routine and make any changes to your home slowly. Pheromone diffusers can also be useful in reducing stress levels. Pixie’s litter trays should be placed somewhere where she won’t be disturbed by people or other cats. Encourage her to drink more - provide multiple ceramic bowls with fresh water, changed at least daily, around the house, you could also introduce wet food to increase her fluid intake. For more information on reducing your cat’s stress, visit

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