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The Dog Ate My Homework: Is It a Pet Emergency?


When it comes to back to school time with the kiddos, there is often chaos to be found. From shopping for school supplies, to packing up lunches and after school activities, there is seemingly no rest for the season of schoolwork. But, where does the family pet factor in?

Along with all of the hub-bub, your curious pet can take advantage of this busy-ness by sneaking a peek at backpacks and lunches. After a race to the kitchen for some snacks, or to another activity, backpacks, sacks, and other items are often discarded on the floor by day’s end.

To keep your fur friend away from these pet emergency dangers, let’s take a look at the risks found in your student’s satchel and how to prevent them from coming into contact with your pet.

Pet Emergency: Ingesting Foreign Bodies

With the invention of online homework, it may be less likely that your dog has munched on your student’s math test, but there are other things that can entice a pet prowler from feasting something inedible. Take a look at any backpack or purse, and you will often find a cornucopia of items that Spot can spot!


Some of these can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction or pet poisoning:

  • E-cigarettes, nicotine gum, cigarettes
  • Medications, including antidepressants, ADHD pills, and over-the-counter painkillers
  • Albuterol or steroid inhalers (which could be punctured)
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Gum
  • Plastic food wrapping
  • Small school supplies that can be ingested (rubber bands, paper clips, eraser tips, etc.)

When it comes our furry friends and the things to get into, all bets are off – even when it comes to some of the items you would think unsavory, such as  glue sticks. Unfortunately, not only are some of these items toxic they can also cause obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract, which can result in an emergency and possible surgery.

Toxic Treats

Like most pets (especially dogs), there is nothing as delicious as a tasty treat hidden away in a kid’s lunch bag. Even when snacks are concealed by foil, packaging, or plastic wrap, your four-legged pal has no problem investigating all of these things.

Some of the most noxious of treats include:

  • Grapes and raisins
  • Xylitol (a sugar-free chemical found in snacks, gum, and sometimes peanut butter)
  • Onions and garlic
  • Molded foods like cheese (and also those old ‘mystery’ lunches that have not been thrown away)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine

Along with poisonous substances, rich or sugary items can create stomach upset and/or diarrhea, and in some cases, can result in pancreatitis, a serious inflammation of the pancreas. When in doubt, steer clear of people food and teach your children not to indulge in any snacks or treats with the family pet.

Top of the Class

Now that you have aced our review some of the risks found in backpacks and purses, what can you do to protect your pet?

First, get in the habit of stowing all bags as soon as family members come home. You can install hooks that are out of the way or put purses and bags inside a closet. Along with this, carry all garbage from lunches and snacks to the kitchen and dispose of them as soon as possible. This is a routine you can get all members of the family to embrace, including adults.

Second, educate yourself about possible poisons in pets and other emergency symptoms – and how to respond quickly. Your friends at Heart of Texas are always here to give you information about these issues and more. Please give us a call!

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Heart of Texas Veterinary Specialty Center & 24 Hour Emergency Center


115 E Old Settlers Blvd Round Rock, TX 78664

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