Last updated on January 24, 2019
Americans love their pets! So, in honor of National Spay/Neuter Awareness Month and World Spay Day (February 27), we’re spending the month highlighting a specific segment of medical waste generators – veterinary hospitals and pet owners. Our pets are living longer, so pet owners need to be knowledgeable about safety issues around home medical care for diseases related to obesity and aging – specifically safe disposal of syringes and unused medications.
The American Pet Products Association’s 2017/2018 annual survey of pet ownership found that approximately 47 million households in the U.S. have at least one cat and 60 million households have at least one dog. As the United States population ages, our pets are aging right along with us and are subject to many of the same diseases of aging – and often the same treatments. Many pet owners now give regular in-home injections to their pets and must deal with how to safely dispose of the syringes.
Aging Pets Are More Susceptible to Chronic Diseases & Health Problems
Part of the average lifespan increase of our pets is due to advances in veterinary medicine, but also because families are willing to spend more money for better care. Average medical costs for dogs can reach $700 annually – and go higher if the animal is injured or suffers from chronic diseases.
A triple-digit increase in overweight and obese pets has been seen in the last decade, resulting in higher medical costs for pet owners. Obesity is a risk factor for many health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes mellitus. According to a Banfield Pet Hospital 2016 report, “Canine diabetes has increased by 79.7 percent since 2006, while in felines, the prevalence of diabetes has increased 18.1 percent over the same time frame.” Diabetes is a serious illness, and if diet and exercise adjustments aren’t effective, many pet owners must inject their pets with insulin at home. According to the American Kennel Club:
“Most diabetic dogs will require daily shots of insulin under the skin, something that the owner will have to learn to do. Although it’s understandable to be apprehensive about doing this, it’s not as hard as it might sound. It can become a quick and easy daily routine that isn’t traumatic at all for either dog or owner.”
Disposal of Pet Syringes in the Home
Proper disposal of syringes used to treat feline or canine diabetes, allergies, and other conditions in the home is not only recommended by regulatory agencies but is crucial to protecting the community. If syringes are placed into the regular trash and someone is stuck with the needle, no one knows whether the syringe came from a diabetic pet or a human with an infectious disease, such as hepatitis or HIV/AIDS. Safe disposal methods, available from veterinarians or online, can be used to properly contain, package, and mail the syringes for proper disposal right from the home – an excellent way to solve a serious dilemma. Individual states provide guidance for home injectors, and the FDA advises:
“Pet owners who use needles to give medicine to their pets should follow the same sharps disposal guidelines used for humans.”
Disposal of Unused Pet Medications in the Home
In addition to injectable pet medications, many more pets take oral pharmaceuticals. When it comes to protecting the environment, humans, and pets, disposal of medication down the drain or into the trash is not a safe practice. There are several safer disposal options available to pet owners for not only their pets’ but also their own unused medications.
Contact us to learn more about how using our disposal systems for the home can help protect pets, pet owners, and communities, as well as how our medical waste management systems can reduce liability in veterinary practices.