The Battle of the Backpack: Back-to-School Safety Tips for Pets!

Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 1:45pm
Chihuahua peeking out of a boy's backpack

Believe it or not, back-to-school time can be dangerous for your pets! Every September our amazing team at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) sees an increase in calls related to pets getting into backpacks.

Why should you keep your pets away from your kids’ backpacks?

Well, backpacks often contain items that can spell big trouble for the health of your furry family members, such as gum (which may contain xylitol), medications and inhalers.

Also, since no pet can resist the alluring smell of a freshly packed lunch, lunch boxes can pose big problems. School lunch staples like grapes, raisins and chocolate can make pets sick—see which other people-foods you should avoid feeding to your pets.

So as your kids head back to school, please be sure to stash backpacks and lunch boxes out of your pets’ reach. And since we can’t watch our pets ALL the time, remember that the APCC is available 24/7/365 at (888) 426-4435. Keep that number handy by requesting a free ASPCA Pet Safety Pack, which contains a refrigerator magnet with the APCC's contact info!

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Brittany Madden

Backpacks also suffocate the animal not allowing it to breathe properly with the air it is not getting. A dog would have to eat twenty times its weight in chocolate if it was going to hurt the dog in anyway. There are also notebooks with sharp edges you should watch out for along with folders, and any other utensil, pens, pencils, highlighters. All this can harm an animal as well. Not just the food.


Your statistic about chocolate vs weight is extremely inaccurate. There is NO correlation between weight and chocolate. A pet who is 60 pounds could eat three pieces of dark chocolate and become seriously ill while a small pet could eat the same amount and be fine.

Also, there is a significant difference in theobromine amount between the different types of chocolate - milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate. Usually the darker the chocolate (more cocoa percentage) the more dangerous to the pet. Do not take any chances. Call your vet if you are concerned.