Do you give your cat or dog injectable medication? Here’s how to handle at-home sharps waste.
In a hospital or other medical facility, sharps waste is a common byproduct of care for patients. This includes needles, lancets, and scalpels contaminated with human or animal blood or tissue. For a pet owner in a home setting, sharps most often refer to needles and syringes used for injecting medication, and this is more common than you think.
Pet owners with diabetic cats or dogs give daily injections. They accumulate used needles and syringes quickly and should not just toss them in the trash, which can put other people at risk.
According to the CDC, over 600,000 people are injured annually by improperly discarded needles.
Many communities have strict rules about disposal of medical waste material so don’t throw the needle and syringe into the trash. Improperly discarded needles pose serious health risks to workers who collect and sort waste. Gloves are not sufficient to protect waste workers from accidental needle sticks, as needles are able to pierce the material. Even the smallest needles can pierce heavy garments and puncture skin. Accidental needle stick injuries can put the victim at risk for HIV, hepatitis or tetanus that could lead to life-threatening or long-term chronic disease.
So how do you dispose of your pet’s used needles?
Place needles, syringes, lancets and other contaminated sharps in any puncture-resistant, resealable, disposable household container, such as an empty bleach bottle, laundry detergent bottle or metal coffee can. Be sure to mark the container “BIOHAZARD” in red so that it is evident that its contents are hazardous.
It is usually preferable to take the used needles and syringes to your veterinary clinic or local pharmacy for disposal if you are able, as these facilities have sharps disposal practices already in place.
Alternately, you can purchase an at-home sharps container for pet-related sharps waste and use a service specifically designed for pet care waste at home.
Always be sure to check with your local and federal laws about sharps waste at home for your safety and the safety of your community.
You Might Also Like:
- Getting to Know the Common Medical Waste Agencies and Their Roles: CDC, EPA, DOT, OSHA
- Why States Have Different Medical Waste Laws (and Why You Should Know The Differences)
- Sharps Fact Sheet