5 Pet Poisons Hiding in your Purse, Work Bag, or Backpack

According to the folks at PET POISON HELPLINE, they talk frequently to terrified pet owners whose dog or cat found an enticing “treat” in a purse or backpack and gobble it up.

Since during the winter months pets tend to be indoors more, a handbag or similar item lying open with contents exposed, can prove an irresistible temptation to a confined and perhaps slightly bored pet.

Top 5 Most Common Purse Items that Poison Pets

'Lily' Beagle/Shar Pei

'Lily' Beagle/Shar Pei

1. Human medications. About half the yearly calls to the Pet Poison Helpline are because     someone’s pet ingested a medication found in a handbag, book bag, duffel bag, etc.

Human pills come in bottles and make the sound of a rattling pill bottle is very similar to the noise some dog toys make.

Both over the counter and prescription drugs can be a problem.

Very common OTC painkillers like Advil, Motrin, and Tylenol, and human doses of prescription drugs for depression like Prozac and Effexor can e toxic to pets.

 Just one (1) Tylenol can be fatal to cats, and larger amounts can cause liver damage in a dog.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, (NSAIDS) like Advil, Motrin and Aleve can cause GI ulcers and kidney failure and are especially dangerous for cats.
Anti depressants are the number one cause of calls to the Pet Poison Helpline. Signs a pet has ingested one of these drugs include, but are not limited to sedation, loss of coordination, agitation, trembling and seizures.


2. Asthma inhalers, if your dog bites into an inhaler, it has the potential to result in acute, life-threatening poisoning. Inhalers contain highly concentrated doses of drugs like Albuteral ( a Beta-Agonist ) and Fluticasone ( a Steroid )

If a dog punctures an inhaler by biting or gnawing it, they can be exposed to a massive single dose of a powerful drug which can bring on vomiting, agitation, heart arrhythmia and ultimately death.

3. Artificially sweetened gum and mints. Many “sugarless” gums and mints contain xylitol- a sugar substitute highly toxic to dogs. Even a small amount can result in a dangerous blood sugar crash in dogs and larger amounts can lead to liver failure.

Symptoms of xylitol  poisoning include vomiting, weakness, collapse, shaking and seizures.

In addition to gum and mints and other sugarless candy, xylitol is commonly found in chewable vitamins, dental hygiene products, nicotine gum and baked goods, and certain prescription drugs.

'Lucy' Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

'Lucy' Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

4. Cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and other products containing nicotine. Did you know a small dog can die from ingesting just 3 cigarettes, depending on the brand? Chewing tobacco is also toxic to dogs and cats and so are stop smoking products like nicotine gum.

Signs of nicotine poisoning come on quickly and include elevated heart and respiratory rates, neurological symptoms, loss of bladder or bowel control, tremors, seizures, paralysis and death.

5. Hand Sanitizers. Small bottles of hand sanitizer have become commonplace in purses, briefcases and backpacks. These products, which are used to kill germs contain lots of alcohol. Alcohol ( Ethanol ), is the germ killing agent in these gels and liquids.

If your dog were to ingest a small bottle of hand sanitizer, it would be equal to a shot of hard liquor. This could cause a severe drop in your pets blood sugar, loss of coordination, loss of body temperature, nervous system depression, coma and death.

An Ounce of Prevention...

If your family is like most, chances are you can find an open handbag or other carryall bag within reach of your pet right now.

If so, you might want to designate a common surface in your home - close to the door- as the “bag drop off area”. It should be high enough that its contents don’t draw your pets attention.

If you have a curious cat, then the requirement should be that all bags are zippered or snapped closed before leaving them in the “ bag drop off area”

Another option would be to create a “bag hanging area” by installing pegs, coat hooks or similar heavy duty hangers close to the front door and assigning one to each member of the family.

Posted on March 29, 2013 .