Pet subjects: Should I give my rats a traditional Christmas dinner?

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 20, 2015 in Rat News | Subscribe

Should rats be allowed to join in the Christmas feast?

Q.  Every Christmas, I give my pet rats a special meal,
including turkey, then Christmas
and cake. Now I’ve heard that the raisins could poison
them. Is this true?

RB, Liverpool

Pete Wedderburn: Grapes – and raisins – are known to cause kidney
failure in dogs, cats and ferrets, so should be avoided in these species.

Santa rat #ratchristmas #rats #ratlove #ratsofinstagram

A photo posted by @hoopkitty87 on Dec 10, 2015 at 5:51pm PST

The toxic agent is still a mystery but it’s suspected to be
mycotoxin, produced by fungal growth on grapes. While rats have not
been identified as susceptible to this, I wouldn’t take a chance.

Small pieces of turkey bone would be a better “dessert” for rats:
they enjoy crunching them up and extracting the marrow.

Why is my greyhound biting herself?

Q. Our nine-year-old greyhound loves to be stroked. But
recently, when we pet her, we’ve noticed that her back leg starts
bicycling like fury, and she turns her head back to nip at herself.
Should we worry?

AB, Kent 

Pete: This is a phenomenon known as the “scratch reflex”. It’s an
involuntary reaction which happens when you stimulate sensory nerves
in her skin as you pet her.

A greyhound running at full speed during a race


The nerves send an impulse to the spinal cord which sends a message
back to the back leg to kick and scratch at the area that you’ve tickled.

It’s an effective normal reflex to remove insects or irritants from
the skin. If a dog suddenly develops an exaggerated scratch reflex,
you should check carefully for parasites such as fleas.

Is it a good idea to put cat bowls in the dishwasher?

Q. I wouldn’t dream of washing my cat bowls by hand along with
my own dishes, but I happily put them into the dishwasher with my
dinner plates. Is this hygienic?

LC, Herne Bay

Pete: As long as you use the setting that takes the temperature to
65C, a dishwasher is the ideal way to clean your pets’ dishes.

#catoftheday #instacat #catsofinstagram #cat #catsagram #cats #catlover #chat #instachatsgram #instachats #dailycats #catsmodels #diswasher #tally #cutecat #catloversofinstagram #catloversworld #chairmanmeow #catdishwasher

A photo posted by Claude Benatar (@poisson_pisces) on Sep 17, 2015 at 12:36am PDT

While pet food bowls may carry a film of food and germs, the high
temperatures (55C-75C) in a dishwasher are effective at killing any
bacteria and parasites.

Most people feel uncomfortable with temperatures over 40C when
washing dishes, with a significant number of dish sponges and cloths
harbouring bacteria.

  A virtual vet for Christmas?

Pawsquad is
a new app that offers online RCVS registered vets for video
consultations at £15 for 15 minutes, 6am to midnight, every day,
even over the holidays.

Send pet problems to or send a
tweet to @petethevet

To comment, visit Pete’s Facebook page: Pete
the Vet

All sick animals should, of course, be taken to a vet

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