Ask a vet – things to note during the festive season

Have a question or two about your furry pals? Pets Central’s veterinarian Dr. Pauline Taylor answers your questions.

Q. “As a pet owner, what should I be careful of during this festive season?” 

Festive periods present many potential hazards for our pets. Most visits to emergency veterinary treatment clinics are caused by things dogs or cats eat.


Holiday goodies include foods with high fat content, excellent at causing upset tummies. Raisins, grapes and onions are toxic to our small pets leading to blood abnormalities and renal failure.   

Sweet items that contain artificial sweeteners can be toxic, and chocolate leads to seizures and heart problems.


Flowers and plants are also dangerous to our pets. Lilies—all parts of them—are fatal to cats, causing renal failure; mistletoe causes diarrhoea; and the poinsettia—often in abundance around this time—can cause mild irritation to lips and mucous membranes in addition to gastroenteritis.

Anxious animals perhaps upset by the “going-ons” around them may turn to objects to chew to release their stress. These objects can include cables and cords of festive lights or lanterns, paper and candles.


When strangers come around, and in particular if your dog or cat isn’t used to visitors, it is a good idea to shut your pet away in a safe room, cage or basket. They will be much happier and you can relax too.


And remember, as the weather gets colder our pets feel the difference in temperature too. They can get hypothermia so they need warm shelters at all times and fresh clean water every day. Finally, be sensible letting pets access other potential poisons, cleaning detergents and chemicals you may use. The classic one—uncommon, I’m pleased to say, in Hong Kong—is anti-freeze, which attracts animals to lick it leading again to renal failure.

Hopefully, if you keep these hazards in mind and away from your pets, you will all have a great holiday season.

Got a question for Dr. Pauline? Email