Pet owners are being urged to be aware of a common household danger responsible for killing thousands of furry friends each year.
Food bags such as chips and pet food pose a dangerous suffocation hazard, vets and safety advocates warn.
“Empty bags are attractive to dogs and cats because they retain the smells and tastes of food residues,” RSPCA NSW chief veterinarian Dr Liz Arnott told 7NEWS.com.au.
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“Once the animal’s head is inside the bag, inhalation can cause the bag to seal around their nose and mouth leading to suffocation.”
Eleven-year-old jack russell terrier Alfie suffocated in a chip bag in the US late last month.
“You think your dog is safe at home … but on Sunday, October 29 I came home from shopping to a total tragic accident,” owner Jess Godsmark said.
“My beautiful baby boy I found with a bag of crisps over his head that one of my other dogs had managed to get off the kitchen table, as he never got on the chairs.
“I’m absolutely devastated. I feel broken, numb and totally empty.”
Godsmark shared her story with advocacy organisation Prevent Pet Suffocation hoping to spread awareness about the common but little known danger.
The Gonzales family’s three-year-old pyrenees pit pup Stella suffocated in a Cheetos bag.
Owner Mike said the family was “devastated beyond belief” to find Stella dead on the dining room floor after getting stuck inside the chip bag.
“In a short hour’s time when we were gone, our dog got into the trash and pulled out a chip bag. She suffocated in it,” he said.
“She had gotten the chip bag all the way up to her ears and when they inhale the bag forms a vacuum seal that suffocates them in minutes.”
At least two to three pets are lost each week in the US to food bag suffocation, Prevent Pet Suffocation warns.
Closer to home, Australian veterinarians say they have seen cases involving chip or snack bags, cereal box liners and even bread bags.
Victoria RSPCA chief vet Dr Bronwyn Oke said animals went into a fight response when they became trapped.
“There’s a panic, and they’re not thinking … they’re not thinking logically about how to get the bag off their head,” Oke said.
“And they start breathing faster and faster, and they pull in the plastic closer to their mouth and all the actual oxygen becomes absorbed and they can suffocate that way.”
Prevent Pet Suffocation suggests owners serve snacks in a bowl and store food in containers rather than bags.
It also says to cut or tear up all bags after use and to secure kitchen rubbish away from the reach of curious pets.
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