Back to School Dangers

Amidst the bustle of getting ready to start the school year, potential pet toxins probably aren’t foremost in our minds, but they should be! The risks associated with seemingly harmless items are a very real threat to our pets, and here are a few important toxins to keep in mind.


Common snacks like grapes and raisins can cause severe renal failure in pets, even in small amounts, and chocolate is always a major risk. Keep lunch boxes out of reach, both before and after school, and watch your pet for vomiting or diarrhea, which may provide a clue they ingested something they shouldn’t have.


The sugar alcohol, xylitol (also marketed as “birch sugar”), is extremely toxic to dogs and can be found in gum, sugar-free candies, peanut butter, weight loss products and baked goods. Pets that ingest this end up with dangerously low blood sugar, and possible liver failure, both of which can be fatal.

Science Projects

Science is cool, eating science supplies is not! Volcanos use baking soda, ingestion of large amounts of which can lead to bloat, electrolyte abnormalities, vomiting and diarrhea. Electrical cords, alkaline batteries and other electronic bits can cause electrical burns to your pet’s mouth and throat.

Craft supplies

Homemade playdough, as well as salt dough ornaments can have toxic levels of sodium in them, which can cause tremors and seizures in your pet at high amounts. Boric acid, magnets, hydrogen peroxide or Alka seltzer can all cause diarrhea and vomiting, and general craft supplies like erasers and pen caps can obstruct your pets bowel, leading to possible surgical intervention. Keep backpacks off the floor and safely zipped up.


As we go back to school, stay informed to keep your pet safe. If you think your pet has ingested something poisonous, get help sooner than later. It’s always easier, less expensive, and safer for your pet to be treated earlier. Contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately at 855-764-7661.


Written by:

Joshua Place, DVM student extern

Oklahoma State University, Class of 2023