This time of year can get quite busy for families preparing to send their children back to school. There are school supplies to buy, back-to-school nights to attend, and, of course, a new routine to adjust to. As you dive into a new school year, our Pioneer Animal Hospital Team wants to help you avoid a pet emergency. We have five simple tips to help you keep your pet safe when the kids head back to school. 

#1: Keep your pet safe at school dropoff and pickup

If you bring your pet with you when you take your children to school in the morning or pick them up in the afternoon,  ensure your furry friend is secure in the car. Unrestrained pets can distract the driver and are more likely to be injured in an accident. They also can be injured if the airbag deploys, so placing them in the back of the vehicle with a pet barrier and restraining them with a car seat, crate, or pet seat belt is safest. Securing your pet also will keep them from jumping out when your kids open the car door. In addition, do not leave your pet alone in the car as the temperatures inside can reach dangerously high levels in just minutes, even when parked in the shade with the windows rolled down. Leave your pet at home if you plan on going inside the school or running any errands after pickup or dropoff. 

#2: Avoid school snacks that are toxic for pets

As you stock up on food for your children’s lunch and school snacks, try to avoid buying items that can be toxic for your pet, such as:

  • Sugar-free gums and candy 
  • Chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Caffeinated foods and drinks 
  • Foods that are expired or moldy

Ensure your children’s lunch bags are kept out of your pet’s reach, and remind your kids to empty their lunchboxes promptly when they get home to avoid a curious pet getting into them. Talk to your children about what foods are harmful to your pet and why they shouldn’t share these items with them. 

#3: Purchase non-toxic school supplies

School supplies like colored pencils, crayons, and glue sticks can be tempting chew toys for a pet if they are left out. When buying school supplies, look for the letters AP (approved product) on the package, to ensure they are non-toxic. Most products intended for children have this seal and are non-toxic for both kids and pets. Ingesting a foreign object is never safe for a pet, so remind your children to put away their school supplies when they are not using them.

#4: Pet-proof your home

A pet who is home alone during the day can get themselves into trouble, so it is important to keep any potentially dangerous items secure and out of reach. 

  • Store cleaning products — Keep cleaning products in high cabinets with childproof locks.
  • Put away cords and electronics — Make sure all electrical cords are put away as pets can chew on them. 
  • Close toilet lids — To a pet, the toilet can look like a giant water bowl, but drinking from it is unsanitary and could make them sick. 
  • Keep medicine in cabinets — Medicines for people can make pets sick, so ensure these are kept secured in cabinets where pets can’t get to them. 
  • Remove toxic plants — Flowers and plants that are toxic to pets may be lurking in your home. Common plants that can be toxic include
  • Lilies  — There are many different types of lilies, and some of them can be toxic and even fatal for pets. 
  • Aloe vera — While aloe is great for humans, the plant can be harmful to a pet’s digestive system if ingested. 
  • Emerald fern — Sometimes called asparagus fern, this plant contains a toxin called Sapogenin, and, if the berries are ingested, it can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and inflammation of the skin.

#5: Keep your pet busy and out of trouble

The best way to prevent your pet from getting into something they shouldn’t is to keep them engaged while you are away. Fill a Kong with peanut butter and freeze it overnight for a treat that will keep your pet entertained for hours the next day. Place your pet’s favorite toys around the house for them to find. Leave the television on for some background noise. Remember that any pet left alone for too long may engage in destructive behavior, so if you are going to be out of the house for longer than six hours, consider taking your pet to day care or hiring a pet sitter. 

Your pet’s health and safety are our top priorities, and we hope these tips help you avoid a back-to-school pet emergency. We know that despite our best efforts, accidents can happen, and If your pet is experiencing an emergency—or you just want more back-to-school safety tips—contact our Pioneer Animal Hospital team.