Dangerous Snacking: All That and a Bag of Chips


A looming snack crisis of epidemic proportions was called to my attention recently when a two-year-old young Corgi was transferred to our hospital for overnight monitoring.  The young lad had nearly asphyxiated when he sought the last tasty morsels from the bottom of an empty cheddar chip bag.  His owners had come home and found Trevor nonresponsive on the kitchen floor with the snack bag over his head.  Adding insult to injury, it seems as though he had lost control of his bowels and bladder while trying to free himself from the delicious but deadly clutches of crumb-encrusted Mylar™. His owner scooped up his lifeless body, and with his pooch’s head flopped over his arms in the classic “damsel in distress” pose, he rushed through the clinic doors. 

His veterinarian heard the words “chip bag,” detected a pulse, and required no further input before whisking the dog off to treat for respiratory arrest.  The Corgi’s breathing returned; however, as this teenager had just narrowly escaped checking into the big kennel in the sky, he was transferred for monitoring overnight in our ICU.

On admit to our critical care wards, the dog was weak and quiet but mentally appropriate (or as appropriate as a dog could be that just risked his life for crumbs of a synthetically-derived, artificially-colored, extruded cheese-product—but I digress). He was hospitalized overnight for supportive care and to watch for any potential respiratory complications that can occur after near-suffocation.  He became brighter, his blood pressure returned to normal, and he was discharged the next day, going home to tell his buddies the tale of “the chip that got away.”.

While I am thrilled that our incorrigible Corgi made it through his struggle with the snack bag, many other situations of dogs with chip bags stuck on their heads have ended in tragedy.  All pet owners should be alerted to the hazards of unattended chip, cereal, and cracker bags and add plastic, Mylar™, and foil-lined paper bags to the growing list of potential hazards for pets.  While our high-tech society has made great gains in terms of handiness and packaging in the snack department, it has also created new-fangled problems for our pets.  Remember the days in the late 1970s and early ‘80s when we were urged to cut apart the plastic rings that yoked together six-packs of soda?  Marine wildlife was at stake then—becoming entangled and either strangling to death or slowly losing body parts. Once again we need to protect animals from the dangerous eating habits of humans so that our lust for sweet sodas and savory snacks only harms our waistlines and not the lives of our beloved companions.  It is once again a call to arms (and hands) to rip up the evidence of our gluttony (this time the seams and sides of cereal, chip, and cracker bags) for the good of the animals that share our world!

Learn more about VCA-Northwest Veterinary Specialists at www.vcaspecialtyvets.com