Back to school is a time of transition for the whole family, as parents and children begin to adjust to a new routine. But as ASPCA reports, it’s also a difficult time for pets, who have grown accustomed to some extra attention during summer vacations and excursions to parks and beaches.
It’s not an uncommon problem- after all, cats and dogs are particularly vulnerable to any change in their schedules, and they thrive on stimulation. With nothing to do, pets are forced to entertain themselves, which may include excessive barking or meowing, gnawing on shoes, raiding the garbage, eating houseplants and scratching furniture.
The best strategy is to avoid an abrupt change in schedule, and in the weeks before school gradually introduce your pet to short periods of separation.
After a long day being home alone, your pet may be very interested in inspecting your kids coming from the school with an array of new smells and a particularly tantalizing lunch box.
Some pets become little Houdinis, performing skilled maneuvers to get into backpacks and lunch boxes.
We urge you to designate an area in your home 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.
Each fall, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center notes a surge of back-to-school related pet poisonings.
Top Lunchbox Toxins
- Gum (which can contain xylitol)
- Grapes and raisins
- Macadamia nuts
- Moldy food
- Cold packs used to keep food cool
- ADHD medications
- Albuterol inhalers
- OTC medications such as NSAIDs and acetaminophen
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 look for 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.
Let’s beat the Back to School Blues and enjoy all the new learning opportunities coming ahead!