It is a staggering and sad fact that 2 – 3 reported pets are lost each week in the US to chip and other snack bag suffocation. Both dogs and cats, small and large, are equally at risk, even if they are not known to get into the garbage. It can take as little as 3 – 5 minutes for a pet to die from suffocation with these types of bags. You do not need to be away from home for this to happen as 39% of people were home when it happened.
The bags to be aware of are any soft, collapsible, crinkly plastic or mylar-type bags that contain (or have contained) salty, sugary or fatty snacks and foods. These include snack bags, cereal bags, pet food and treat bags, and resealable bags such as Ziploc. But, bags are not the only food container that poses a threat, Pringles tubes and hard plastic containers with narrow openings have also suffocated pets.
To minimize the number of food bags in your house, it is recommended to keep your snacks, cereals, and other food items in resealable food storage containers. When getting yourself a snack, leave the bag somewhere safe and dispense your snacks into a bowl. Before throwing away snack bags, cut them across the bottom and side to ensure they are harmless. Be mindful of large gatherings and parties where an unusual amount of bags may be used. Whenever your pet is left alone or unsupervised, do not allow them access to the kitchen. Finally, train your pets with dog treats and not human snacks so there is less of a motivation to go after a snack bag.
Should you discover your pet suffocating with a bag over his or her head, remain calm and immediately remove the bag from the head. If your pet’s breathing does not appear normal or is absent, perform pet CPR if trained or rush to the nearest animal hospital as time is of the essence.
This article was written in memory of my friend’s dog Cesar (pictured on left), who tragically lost his life from snack bag suffocation on August 30th, 2018.