Who could fathom that something as innocuous as a simple chip bag would have the power to suffocate a Great Dane within minutes? This is exactly what Kaitlyn and AJ found when they returned home from dinner one evening only to find their beloved Great Dane, Lola (pictured right), dead after suffocating in a Doritos bag left on an end table. Kaitlyn, a veterinary technician, performed CPR on Lola for thirty minutes to no avail. It was too late.
As the Founder of Prevent Pet Suffocation, I frequently hear sad, heartbreaking stories like Kaitlyn and AJ’s from devastated families who have just lost their family dog to pet suffocation, usually from a chip bag. The most-recurring comment they say is, “I’ve never even heard of this!” or “If only I had known about it ….” Unfortunately, they are not alone, as most people have never heard of pet suffocation – until it happens to their pets.
I, too, was one of the uninformed when I arrived home after errands on December 15, 2011, to find my beautiful rescue dog Blue lying lifeless with a Cheetos bag over his head. It is a horrific sight to come upon. Shortly thereafter, I founded Prevent Pet Suffocation to educate the public on the suffocation risks from chip bags and other food packaging.
Many people erroneously believe that a dog can simply remove a chip bag with his front paws or tear through it with his claws. That is just not the case. Once a dog puts his head into one of these Mylar-type bags, it almost immediately creates a vacuum-like seal around the dog's neck. As the dog tries to breathe, the bag tightens around his neck, cutting off the oxygen. When a dog cannot remove the bag from his head, he will usually start to panic, stumbling around disoriented until he collapses and dies from asphyxiation, often losing control of his bowels as well. This can happen in less than five minutes. I have had men tell me that they were barely able to remove the bag from their dog’s head because the seal was so tight.
All dogs are vulnerable to pet suffocation – no matter their size, breed, or age. No dog, from a tiny teacup Poodle to a huge Great Dane, can win a fight with a chip bag once it begins to seal and the lack of oxygen starts to occur.
In 2015 alone, I documented 95 dogs that died from pet suffocation – 63 of them from chip bags. An additional ten dogs were saved in time by their pet parents. More importantly, these numbers are only from the people who have reached out to me. I am certain the actual number of pet suffocation is much higher. Chip bags are not the only culprit for pet suffocation – they are just the most common. Dogs are also suffocating in snack bags, pet food bags, cereal bag liners, plastic bags, and food containers.
How Can You Protect Your Pets?
Become aware! Be vigilant and follow the tips below:
- Store all chip and food bags safely away from your pet’s reach.
- Tear or cut up all food bags after use.
- Keep all trash can lids tightly fastened, locked, or behind a cabinet, especially in the kitchen.
- Keep the kitchen pantry door closed.
- Make sure all family members are aware of this.
- Learn CPR and first aid for pets.
For more information on how to protect your pets at home by properly storing and disposing of chip bags and other suffocation hazards, click here