The NZ Veterinary Association (NZVA) has partnered with Southern Cross Pet Insurance (SCPI) to launch a warning symbol for food and drinks.

Paws Off! is a warning symbol that food and drink manufacturers can download for free and use on their packaging to let consumers know what products are not safe to share with their pet.

Bridgette Muir, Head of Product and Marketing for SCPI, said Paws Off! is a simple international symbol to let humans know in an instant when a product they love to eat is not safe for their pets.

“The real power of Paws Off! will be realised when food and beverage companies who are as passionate as we are about protecting our pets get involved. So, we’re laying down the challenge for these companies to add Paws Off! to their packs. We’re also inviting consumers to campaign for their favourite brands to take part.”

The decision comes following research by SCPI that showed that 40 per cent of New Zealanders do not know raisins, currants, and sultanas are unsafe, and that over 50 per cent did not know avocados also pose a threat.

“Our mission at Southern Cross Pet Insurance is to help pets live their best lives for longer, so we focused on finding a way to educate New Zealanders about food safety easily and effectively. Then we thought, why stop at Aotearoa? Let’s change the way the world looks after their pets.”

Sally Cory, from the NZVA, said knowing what’s safe and not safe is super important.

“Our goal at the NZVA is to educate pet owners to reduce avoidable and sometimes fatal illnesses. Paws Off! is a great initiative and even more relevant as Easter approaches with chocolate treats and hot cross buns galore. 

“New Zealanders need to be sure they don’t let these products end up in pets’ mouths. Southern Cross Pet Insurance has shared some big numbers with us, with more than $268,000 in claims paid out for pet’s consumption of chocolate, raisins, and other harmful foods over the last 12 months. The road to recovery can involve significant costs, especially if you don’t have pet insurance to help foot the bill for treatment.”

The symbol and instructions for how Paws Off! should be used can be downloaded for free from and are available globally to food and beverage brands, veterinarians, pet hotels, dogwalkers, puppy schools, and any other organisation.

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