Each fall, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center notes a surge of back-to-school related pet poisonings, many of which involve kids’ backpacks and lunchboxes.

Some dogs are very good at unzipping backpacks and lunchboxes and helping themselves to the contents inside. And after a long school day, many kids dump their stuff on the floor when they return home, creating a nearly irresistible target.

Urge your clients to designate an area in their homes for backpacks and lunchboxes so they’re out of the reach of pets. For really persistent dogs, this may mean items are kept behind a closed door.

If that’s not possible, all leftover food should be discarded before the children return home, and parents should be careful about what they pack in the first place.

Top Lunchbox Toxins

  • Gum (which can contain xylitol)
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Onions
  • Moldy food
  • Cold packs used to keep food cool
  • ADHD medications
  • Albuterol inhalers
  • OTC medications such as NSAIDs and acetaminophen
  • Illicit drugs and synthetic marijuana

What’s in That Colored Pencil?

Did you know that by law all art materials need to be reviewed to determine if they are hazardous? If a pet gets into a backpack and pulls out art materials, a good place to start in assessing risk is to ask the owners about an ACMI seal. These seals will typically either read AP (approved product) or CL (cautionary label).

If a product carries an AP seal, it is non-toxic and there are no concerns for toxic effects, though it would still be prudent to assess if the pet is at risk for a foreign body obstruction.

A few art products that are intended for use by adults (and none of the children’s products) may carry a CL seal. Products with CL may present a toxic risk and some may contain heavy metals or other dangers, so additional information will be needed to assess risk.