Living indoors with our furry family members has its many rewards. Noggin pets, play time and naps can happen any time. But pet parents need a warning about a hidden danger in our homes: Pet suffocation from snack bags, pet food bags, cereal bags, garbage bags, and resealable bags.
If you didn’t know about the suffocation hazard to your pet, you are not alone. Sadly, pet suffocation happens when we’re at home or away. One source noted three to five pet suffocation accidents reported weekly. And 41% of those accidents happen when the pet parent is in the next room.
How does it happen? Your pet finds a snack bag or a treat tidbit in a bag. It only takes three minutes for their oxygen to drop to fatal levels. And 90 percent of those who lost a pet didn’t know about the danger of pet suffocation until it happened to them.
I want to make pet parents aware of this hidden danger in their homes. All kinds of pets, cats and dogs, dig snack bags out of the trash. Sometimes pets are curious or just looking for a treat. But a potato chip bag can suffocate your pet in less than five minutes.
Here are some myths that keep pet parents in denial about pet suffocation:
- Myth #1: It only happens to dogs. Truth: Suffocation does happen more often to dogs. But suffocation happens to cats as well.
- Myth #2: My dog is too big for this to happen. Truth: The size of your dog is irrelevant. Don’t fool yourself. Large and giant breed dogs suffocate from chip and other bags. No dog, regardless of their size or strength, is a match for a lack of oxygen.
- Myth #3: My dog wouldn’t do this. Truth: You never really know until you know. There’s a first time for everything and you don’t want it to be your pet’s last time.
- Myth #4: Warning labels aren’t necessary, this is common sense. Truth: The vast number of pet suffocation cases would suggest otherwise. But “common sense” is not so common. It requires that most people are aware of something, in this case the danger and even the possibility of pet suffocation. Unfortunately, awareness is not the case with pet suffocation. Warning labels are clearly needed to warn people about this hazard.
Think Pet Safety
You can take steps to keep your pet safe and alive.
- Put snack, cereal, and dry pet foods into resealable hard containers.
- Avoid giving your pet human treats from your chip bags.
- Open both ends of the snack bag. Or tear or cut all chip and food storage bags before discarding. Cut one across the bottom of the bag and one up the side.
- Throw bags into a sturdy covered trashcan or behind a cabinet door.
- Put your snacks in a bowl. When you’re outside, on the couch or anywhere, keep snacks in a bowl, not the original bag. If you fall asleep, you won’t notice your pet eating your snack. Be pet safe. Keep snacks in a bowl to prevent pet suffocation.
- Take notice at high-risk events and celebrations during the year. If you’re entertaining at home or outdoors, be aware of open snack bags – put snacks in bowls or hard containers.
Here’s a helpful infographic about the “Journey of the Chip Bag”:
National Pet Suffocation Awareness Week is Dec 6-12, 2020. But keep pet awareness on your radar all year round.
It’s hard enough writing about losing a pet. Do your pet a favor. Do your heart a favor. Cut up all your chip bags and save your pet’s life.
Thanks for caring about your pets…
Dr. Pet Mom
“Did you know that there are over 300 words for love in canine?”
“Dogs are my favorite people.”
–Richard Dean Anderson