Pet Suffocation Risks

Apr 22, 2019   Tracey Aston   Pet Safety

Looking around the home, there are many items that may seem innocuous but can actually pose a potentially fatal risk to pets.  The most common items that pet parents don't realize can harm - or even kill - their pets are bags, metal cans and jars. 

Our pets live by their noses and are inundated with yummy household smells all day long. A sneaky pet thinking they can get the last bit of chip dust, or dog food or peanut butter can quickly turn horribly wrong.  A pet will put their head inside the bag and quickly realize they can't get their head back out. As the pet inhales to breathe, the bag tightens, causing them distress and therefore inhale more rapidly. Pet suffocation from a plastic bag can happen in less than five minutes! Even if a pet parent is in the home at the time a pet attempts to put their head in the bag, unless they are sitting in the same room as the pet, it could still have dire consequences for the pet. 

The most common culprits of pet suffocation are collapsible, plastic bags such as snack bags, cereal bags, pet food and pet snack bags, grocery bags and even resealable sandwich bags.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “72 percent of dogs or cats suffocated in chip or snack bags, 11 percent in bags for pet food or treats, 6 percent in liners for cereal boxes, and 11 percent in bread bags, plastic containers, or something else. About 25 percent of the bags or containers had been in or near the garbage, 22 percent on a coffee or side table, 13 percent on the counter, 6 percent outside, 6 percent on the kitchen or dining table, 3 percent in or near the recycling bin, 20 percent in other known locations, and 5 percent in unknown locations. Thirty-nine percent of respondents were home when the pet suffocated. Of those who were out, 18 percent were gone for less than 15 minutes.”

A pet parent may think this is a rare occurrence but an article written by Preventive Vet on pet suffocation,  states “at least 2-3 pets are lost each week in the U.S. to chip and other snack bag suffocation – and these are just the ones that get reported!” 

The best way to protect your pet is to always cut all chip, dog food, and plastic bags before throwing them away. Two cuts are best – one across the bottom of the bag and one up the side, so the bag opens like a large piece. This way even if your pet does get into the garage can, they won't run the risk of getting a bag stuck on their head. 

Plastic bags aren't the only item around the home that can lead to pet suffocation. Metal cans, glass jars and even Pringles tube containers can pose the same threat to a pet. Tasty smells linger and a cat or small dog may try to put their head in to lick the leftovers and easily become stuck.  Remember to always rinse out and dispose of all cans and jars in a closed trash can or closed recycle bin.

The devastation of pet suffocation can be greatly reduced by remembering to never leave plastic type chip, cereal or food bags lying where your pet could get into them. Always cut and throw away all bags and rinse out all cans and jars and place them in an inaccessible, closed trash bin or recyclables container. Taking a few minute to properly dispose of these items can save you a lifetime of guilt. 

For information visit Prevent Pet

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