The new school year is just around the corner, and you are responsible for preparing the family—including your pet—for the transition ahead. The new school year is a time of adjustment for the entire family, and the changes in routine can pose hazards to your pet. To keep your furry pal out of trouble, follow our Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital team’s back-to-school safety tips.

#1: Unpack lunch-box leftovers immediately

Although it can be easy to toss lunch boxes on the kitchen counter and forget about them until the next morning’s mad rush for school, ensure your children empty all lunch-box leftovers in the trash as soon as they return home. Pets are skilled at nosing into zippered lunch boxes, especially if they smell something tasty. Another strategy to keep your pet away from uneaten lunch-box food is to designate an out-of-reach spot in your home where your children can put their lunch boxes when they return from school, and you should empty them as soon as possible after you get home from work. Foods that are toxic to your pet include:

  • Gum (which may contain xylitol)
  • Grapes  
  • Raisins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Moldy foods
  • Ice packs

Avoid rushing when making your family’s lunches each morning to ensure you do not inadvertently pack a food that is toxic to your pet. Stay calm and focused to avoid dropping a few raisins from the trail mix, leaving open the the jar of xylitol-containing peanut butter, or forgetting to pack an errant chocolate bar, which if ingested, will sicken your pet. So, mindfully pack your family’s lunch boxes to avoid leaving out a pet-toxic lunch food your pet could snatch from the kitchen counter while you are dropping off your kids at school. 

#2: Keep your child’s medication out of your pet’s reach

If your child takes medication with them to school, ensure your pet cannot access it from a backpack that is within their reach at home. Your child’s ADHD medication or albuterol inhaler is toxic to your pet. Always ensure your child’s medications—including vitamins and supplements—are well out of paw’s reach.

#3: Prevent your pet from rushing to meet the school bus

Although the sight of your furry pal running to greet your child as they disembark the school bus is adorable, do not allow this behavior, which can lead to a dangerous, potentially deadly, situation. Always leash your pet when you walk to and from the school bus stop to prevent them from running into traffic, and enjoy the gleeful child-and-pet reunion amidst your home’s safety.

#4: Pet-proof your home

When school begins, your pet will likely be alone more often, giving them ample time to resort to mischief. If your four-legged friend chews household items, or demonstrates destructive behavior when home alone, pet-proof your home before the summer ends. Block your pet’s access to the kitchen and trash can, hide electrical cords, and put away small toys and items that may appeal to your bored pet. 

#5: Place backpacks out of your pet’s reach

If your child typically tosses their backpack to the floor as they rush in the door after a long school day, your inquisitive pet may snuffle into the half-zipped bag to find something interesting. However, remember, these items may be dangerous to your pet. Give your child a spot for their backpack that is out of your pet’s reach to ensure your furry pal cannot access the following objects:

  • Small items — Do not allow your curious pet to investigate your child’s backpack or pencil case, which often holds small objects that are choking hazards. Erasers, pen caps, paper clips, rubber bands, stickers, and other school supplies can become lodged in your pet’s stomach or intestines if swallowed.
  • Electronics — All your kid’s school electronic gear poses a risk to your pet. Whether a plugged-in laptop or tablet, or a scientific calculator battery, electrical devices’ power sources can injure your pet. Your pet can be severely burned if they chew electrical cords or batteries, so keep these items out of your pet’s reach.
  • Science experiments — Science experiments—such as the popular baking soda volcano—can pose a hazard to your pet. In addition, if your child makes homemade modeling dough or slime, ensure your pet cannot reach the goop, and prevent them from ingesting these gooey substances, which can be toxic, containing large quantities of salt.
  • Pencils — If your pet chews a wooden pencil, the wood splinters may lodge in their mouth, throat, and intestinal tract. In addition, if your pet eats an entire pencil, they can experience a life-threatening intestinal blockage.
  • Glue — While standard school glues are not as dangerous to your pet as a polyurethane-based adhesive (e.g., Gorilla Glue), regular glue can still stick to your pet’s sensitive body areas such as the eyelids and lips. In addition, standard school glues can mat your pet’s fur. Keep all glues out of your pet’s reach to prevent them from getting into sticky situations.

The new school year is a hectic time for people and pets alike. Ensure your pet stays safe and out of trouble by following our back-to-school safety tips, and if your furry pal gets into mischief, contact our Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital team.