By now, many of us are aware that each new season, event, or holiday comes with a list of potential risks to our pets. The start of a new school year is no different, and being alert to the very real threat of backpack and lunchbox pet toxins is the first step toward protecting our four-legged family members.
Lunchbox Pet Toxins?
Yes, you read that right. While we would certainly never pack our children’s lunchboxes full of toxic foods for them to eat, that doesn’t mean that some of the most common lunch items aren’t poisonous to our pets. Take the following, for example:
- Chocolate – Chocolate is toxic for both dogs and cats due to the chemical theobromine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, hyperactivity, tremors, and seizures
- Xylitol – This artificial sweetener can be found in sugar-free gum, peanut butter, candy, and baked goods and is extremely toxic to dogs and can result in a dangerous drop in blood sugar and liver failure in high enough doses.
- Grapes/raisins – Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes or raisins can result in vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and acute liver failure.
- Macadamia nuts – May cause severe lethargy, fever, vomiting, tremors, and joint stiffness if consumed by a pet
- Processed/fatty foods – While not necessarily poisonous, processed and/or fatty foods can still be damaging to pets. Besides being pretty unhealthy overall, some types of processed foods can lead to a dangerous inflammatory condition known as pancreatitis in pets.
Even if your child regularly eats all of their lunch and snacks, leftover plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or food packaging can also be irresistible to pets. These non-edible items can cause a life-threatening intestinal blockage, bowel perforation, or other medical issue if consumed.
Besides your child’s lunchbox, his or her backpack or coat may be hiding other potential pet toxins, such as:
- Human medications
- Hand sanitizer
- Asthma inhalers
- Nicotine and vaping products
Staying On Top Of It
Forbidding your child to eat grapes or chocolate, or taking away their prescription medication, gum, or hand sanitizer is clearly not the answer to protecting your pet from an accidental poisoning.
Instead, make it a family rule that all backpacks, coats, and lunchboxes must be hung up / put away out of the reach of pets as soon as they walk in the door. Let your kids know why, and follow through on the rule, double-checking each day to make sure it’s done right. Your pet’s health and safety is depending on it!
In Case Of Emergency
Despite our most diligent efforts, a pet poisoning can still occur. Keep Carriage Hills Animal Hospital’s number along with the ASPCA Pet Poison Helpline programmed into your phone or in an easily accessible location, and don’t hesitate to call if you know or suspect that your pet has eaten something he or she shouldn’t have.