It’s every dog owner’s nightmare: coming home and expecting to be greeted by an overjoyed pooch, but instead finding the dog lifeless on the floor. In a viral Facebook post, Christina Young recounts her story about the death of her beloved pup Petey and warns other dog parents to be aware of an unknown danger to pets: suffocation.
“One week ago I kissed my baby boy goodbye on my way out for work. But I had no idea it would be for the last time,” she begins in the post. She writes that her partner arrived home before her, and was surprised when Petey wasn’t at the door to greet him. “As he walked in further, he saw our sweet boy laying lifeless with a stupid chip bag over his head,” she writes. “[Petey] was able to get [it] off the counter that we will forever blame ourselves for leaving out. He ate every chip out, but of course went back for crumbs. With there being nothing left inside, every time he would go for more, he would inhale making the bag tighter and tighter around his head… ultimately resulting in suffocation.”
As tragic as her story is, pets suffocating on bags isn’t uncommon. Jason Nicholas, DVM, president and chief medical officer of Preventive Vet, writes that it takes just three to five minutes for a pet to asphyxiate on a bag. “It can happen to any pet, regardless of their size, age, or strength. “It can, and has, happened even when the pet owners are in the same home, [or] maybe even in the next room over,” he writes on the Preventive Vet website. And it’s not a lack of love or attention that leads to these tragic outcomes. Dr. Nicholas reports that 90 percent of people are unaware that snack bags pose a risk of asphyxiation until after it happens.
Being aware of the danger is just a part of the battle to preventing pet suffocation. Prevent Pet Suffocation, Inc., is a non-profit organization that educates the public to prevent these types of accidents. Bonnie Harlan founded the organization in 2012 after her four-year-old rescue dog, Blue, suffocated on a chip bag in 2011. According to the Prevent Pet Suffocation website, Bonnie hears from three to four dog owners per week whose pets asphyxiated.
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In Young’s Facebook post, she writes that she didn’t understand how this could happen to her dog because he was smart — but the reality is that even the most skilled dogs would be unable to remove or tear through a chip bag. “Once the bag starts to seal around the dog’s neck, it’s extremely difficult to break the suction of the seal,” the Prevent Pet Suffocation website states. According to the organization, there are active steps to take to prevent this from ever happening from your beloved animal:
Keep all food bags stored safely away from your pet.
Tear or cut up food bags after use.
Serve snacks in bowls or other containers instead of in bags.
Keep trash cans tightly sealed.
Learn how to do CPR on animals.
What happened to Petey and Blue is devastating, but by being aware of the risks and taking preventive measures, your pet can stay healthy and safe.