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The Dangers of Pet Suffocation by Heather Redmon, DVM

Dogs and cats, as members of our households, lead very pampered lives.  Owners are careful to feed appropriate diets, provide plenty of toys, and try to prevent access to anything that may be toxic or harmful to their pets.  However, there is one ubiquitous item that at first may not seem dangerous.  That is the chip bag.

Animals are naturally curious and love to scavenge anything food-related.  An open chip bag is tempting for a dog to stick its snout in to eat the contents. Tragically, hundreds of dogs have suffocated doing just this.  Although it seems like they could just push the bag off of their face with their paws, they are unable to do so.  They do not have the coordination and they can pass out quickly from a lack of oxygen. Suffocation in this manner can happen in a few unsupervised minutes.  Chip bags are not the only offenders.  Dogs and cats have also become trapped in popcorn, treat, and other food bags.

Since dogs also raid trash cans, one way to prevent problems is to cut the bags along one side before throwing them out.  This opens the bag so it cannot become a deadly trap.  It is important to remind all members of the family (including teenagers) to keep all food bags out of reach and away from the pets.

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