Pet Poisons that Could Be Lurking in Your Purse or Bag

October 11, 2018

a cat on shoes

Now that back-to-school season is in full swing, it’s a busy time of year. And it’s important to be vigilant about curious pets getting into kids’ backpacks and finding items that are good for kids but potentially bad for pets. But did you know that there are just as many potential pet dangers that can be found in a purse or bag? The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) gets frequent calls about curious pets getting into everyday items that you may carry with you on the go, and they want you to be prepared. Here are some examples of things pets can be exposed to if they are able to successfully get into a purse or bag left within their reach:

  • Medications: These can range from over-the-counter meds, to prescriptions, to vitamins and supplements. Sometimes medications are combined into one container or pill-minder to save space, but that can make it difficult to remember how many of each were in the container and what medications were in there to begin with. And if your pet does get into any medications, it is important to know (or be able to estimate) how much they ingested. It is always safest to keep medications and supplements in separate child-proof containers and out of reach of our furry friends.
  • Sugar-free gum or candy: These candies and gums can be toxic to dogs because many of these products contain the sweetener xylitol, which can cause low blood sugar and liver failure if enough is ingested. Be sure to check the ingredients on any sugary products and keep away from curious pets.
  • Chocolate: This one should be a no brainer. Risks in pets from chocolate ingestion can range from stomach upset to an increase in heart rate and effects to the nervous system, depending on how much was ingested and what type of chocolate was consumed. Always remember the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. 
  • Make-up: Depending on what country it was manufactured in, some cosmetics may contain lead which could be harmful to pets if ingested. 
  • Albuterol inhalers: If pets are able to puncture an inhaler, symptoms can include lethargy, an increase in heart rate and changes to their potassium level. 
  • Eye drops: Naphazoline, an ingredient found in most redness relief formulas, and brimonidine, found in eye drops for glaucoma, can both cause a serious drop in heart rate and blood pressure, even if small amounts are ingested.
  • Coins: Pennies contain zinc and can cause zinc toxicity. Too much zinc will cause severe stomach upset, anemia, kidney injury and inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Illicit drugs: Any exposure is considered life-threatening with drugs such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines. Marijuana or THC can also be potentially hazardous and can be found in things like edibles, homemade desserts or gummies. 

The best way to prevent any exposure to toxins or poisons is to make sure that your personal items and bags are kept up and away from paws’ reach or locked in an area that your pets don’t have access to. The best practice to ensure your pet’s safety and avoid a life-threatening situation is always prevention.

If you think your pet has been exposed to a toxic substance, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888)-426-4435 immediately.