A dog finding a bag of chips can lead to an owner’s worst nightmare in a matter of minutes.
Doctors and personal trainers tell us to avoid potato chips – they are full of fat and salt, but did you know that Canada’s favourite snack also presents an enormous danger to your four legged buddy?
Picture this scenario: you come home after a long day of work and plant yourself on the couch with a cold beverage and a bag of chips to watch Netflix with your best friend. After consuming a portion you won’t be bragging about on social media, you toss the bag on your coffee table and eventually you doze off on the couch next to your pup. We’ve all done it, but it’s not the chip portioning we need to worry about in this scenario – it’s your dog’s life.
Where’s the risk?
Chip, cereal and even dog treat bags are made of a plastic called oriented polypropylene. To further strengthen the material, many chip bags have a thin aluminum coating on the inside. When left unattended, a dog’s natural hunger and curiosity will bring his head into the open chip bag. Once he finishes eating the chips, he begins to get at the leftover crumbs on the packaging. As he licks, he inhales and the bag creates a vacuum-like seal around the dog’s head. Unable to see or breathe, he panics as he walks around blind and scared until he eventually is suffocated. This asphyxiation usually takes only 3 to 5 minutes.
That Doesn’t Actually Happen…. Does it?!
An organization called Prevent Pet Suffocation has made it their mission to educate people about the frequency of pet suffocation. Their Facebook page features dozens of pictures of beautiful dogs gone way too soon due to suffocation from chip, cereal and other food bags. According to PreventativeVet.com, 2-3 dogs lose their lives every day to suffocation in the United States. (Numbers not available for Canada.)
How can we prevent this tragedy?
Almost all of the people who lost or almost lost a pet to suffocation were unaware of or had never realized the possibility that their pet could suffocate in a chip, snack, cereal, or other food bag until it happened. Becoming aware of the danger these bags present and being mindful of these risks is a huge step we can all take towards saving our dogs.
Storage is Key.
Enjoy your chips in a bowl instead of out of the bag. If your dog is large and /or clever enough to counter surf, be sure to put chip bags away in a spot where they cannot reach them. If your dog can open cupboards, you may want to install safety latches like the ones that parents get while baby proofing. How you store items like cereal, chips and dog treats can prevent a tragedy – try transferring these items into plastic or glass containers so you can discard the packaging.
According to research by Preventative Vet, 32% of dogs who suffered suffocation by a chip bag found the bag in or around the garbage.*
How you discard of these packages is crucial in protecting your dogs from this tragedy. First you should make sure all your garbage cans have secure lids on them that your dog can’t pop off. Again, safety latches you would use for baby proofing are great for securing garbage cans in cupboards beneath the kitchen sink etc.
Remember in the 80s how they taught us all to cut the plastic rings that hold six packs of cans together? This was so that wildlife wouldn’t suffer having rings caught around their necks or muzzles. We now need to educate ourselves and everyone we know to cut (or tear if scissors aren’t available) down length wise and across the width of the bag. For maximum safety and assurance the bag needs to be cut or ripped along the edges, so it’s flat as seen this depicted in the image below thanks to Preventative Vet. The goal is to eliminate the possibility of an animal getting their head sealed in the packing.
Following these simple steps of storing these products safely and discarding of them properly can save lives. Many believe that the manufacturers of these products ought to put a simple warning on the packing explaining the hazard and how to dispose of them safely. If you feel passionate about this then you may want to reach out to companies via email or social media or sign PreventPetSuffocation.com’s petition to have warning labels put on Frito Lay chip bags. Share this information with your fellow dog lovers to spread awareness of this danger and help save the lives of our beloved dogs.