Column: Back-to-school dangers for your pet

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Commentary by Dr. Michael Graves

Every year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Poison Control Center notes an increase in back-to-school-related pet poisonings. If you’re a pet owner, some items on the school supply list can pose serious health risks to your furry family members.

Art supplies – Check for the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) seal. Most art supplies carry the approved product (AP) seal. In general, chalks, pen inks and erasers are considered non-toxic. Stay clear of those with the cautionary label (CL).

Adhesives and glues – Pets can be attracted to the smell of adhesives and glues. Elmer’s glue is relatively safe, but large quantities can still cause gastrointestinal upset and possible obstruction. On the other hand, certain types of high-strength glues, like the popular Gorilla Glue, can pose a large poisoning risk when ingested.

PVC and lead – A large number of school supplies are still manufactured with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), including backpacks, binders and organizers. PVC can contain toxic chemicals such as phthalates and lead. Avoid buying items that have the recycling symbol with the number “3” or words “PVC” or “vinyl” on them.

Choking hazards – Since many school supplies are “bite-sized,” they often prove tempting to our pets. Some of the most common choking hazards include erasers, glue sticks, crayons, markers, pencils, pens, pen caps and paperclips.

Always contact your local veterinarian if you suspect your pet has been exposed to anything hazardous.

Dr. Michael Graves, founder and chief executive officer of Pet Wellness Clinics, graduated from the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982. He has been active in small animal medicine for more than 37 years and has owned and operated more than 20 small animal practices in his veterinary medical career in addition to managing and consulting with another 54 hospitals nationwide.


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