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Bag It! Protect Pets From Choking Hazard

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This doesn’t happen every day, but it does happen, and some pet parents are unaware of the danger presented by plastic bags to companion animals, from curious ferrets to dogs and cats.

Veterinarians are busier removing dog toys or rubber bands from all-too-curious dogs, cats, and ferrets who have ingested them compared to dealing with pets who have swallowed a part of a plastic bag, but it does happen. Even more an issue is the potential choking hazard when an unsupervised pet gets caught up in the bag handle.

If you think about it, the allure isn’t surprising; the bags make a crinkly sound and move with the slightest breeze. Many bags smell like food. And some plastic bags are made with fish oil products, hence the fascination of some cats.

Aside from ensuring safety for your pets, you’ll be doing the environment a favor as well. So, when you’re asked “paper or plastic,” consider opting for paper (though some of those bags have handles too). Paper bags can be great fun for cats, puppies, or ferrets to jump in and out of, so adult supervision is always best.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.

Steve Dale, CABC (certified animal behavior consultant), hosts two national pet radio shows and is on WGN Radio, Chicago. He’s a regular contributor/columnist for many publications, including CATSTER, Veterinary Practice News, and the Journal of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. He’s appeared on dozens of TV shows, including Oprah, many Animal Planet Programs, and National Geographic Explorer. He has contributed to or authored many pet books and veterinary textbooks such as “The Cat: Clinical Medicine and Management” and co-edited Decoding Your Dog, by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. He speaks at conferences around the world.

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