Photo courtesy of Depositphotos
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some of us are not only fortunate enough to be employed still, but are even more fortunate to be working from home. Our “coworkers” are now family members and pets (for better or for worse), and our home offices provide us everything we need without the commute: a computer, a printer, an easily accessible “office kitchen” (sometimes too easily accessible), and a paper shredder.
It’s that last one that we need to talk about.
Where do you keep your paper shredder? Is it within easy reach? On the floor next to the dog bed? On the shelf where the cat likes to lie in the afternoon sun? Is it always plugged in? Always turned to the Auto/On position so that at any time all you have to do is insert an unwanted piece of paper?
If so, then stop reading this immediately and go unplug it. I’ll wait.
Now let’s talk about why you just did that. It’s not just a gruesome rumor on social media. Cats and dogs (well, dogs more than cats) can be harmed by paper shredders. In the worst cases, they must be euthanized.
Dogs will sometimes get their tongues caught in the shredder. If the damage is severe enough, they may be euthanized, either due to the costs of needed surgery and care or due to a poor prognosis if the damage is severe enough. Why would a dog lick a shredder? Maybe, like babies and toddlers, they’re prone to exploring all new things with their mouths. Maybe the last thing shredded was right after lunch and the paper was handled with the same fingers that had handled bacon only moments before. Whatever the reason dogs get their tongues into paper shredders, the damage is done.
Amazingly, it’s not just tongues that can get caught. Both cats and dogs have had other body parts shredded. Sometimes it’s due to long hair getting pulled into the shredder and the skin goes with it. Sometimes it’s a paw that is exploring the opening and gets pulled in. Occasionally, it’s a long ear flap or tail that drops into the opening. Perhaps it’s a cat that sleeps on the shredder and accidentally turns it on when shifting positions. Whatever the case, it happens.
The best way to prevent these horrific accidents is to keep the shredder in an inaccessible location, like a closet or pantry that pets can’t get to. The other alternative is to leave it unplugged and plug it in only when you are actively shredding paper and supervising the pets. Once completed, unplug it again. Regardless of the solution that works in your home, be sure to find one. Keeping pets safe from paper shredders is much less of a hassle than an emergency trip to the veterinary hospital, especially during a pandemic.
November 19, 2020
VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.