Dogs and especially puppies are curious pets that love to play. However, they are mostly guilty of munching on things they shouldn’t, and this can lead to serious health complications. Dogs often explore new objects with their mouth and nose, so if your dog ate silica gel, you aren’t alone!
Silica gel packets are those tiny sachets that come inside various items from clothes to food and drugs that are labeled “Do not eat.”
You’ve come home to Chewy tearing sachets of silica gel and snacking on the balls, and you’re thinking, is silica gel toxic to dogs?
In this article, we explore what can happen when your puppy eats these packets of freshness and when you need to worry and contact your veterinarian.
Let’s jump right in!
What is Silica Gel?
Silica gel is a desiccant wrapped in small packets by manufacturers to keep moisture from damaging certain products and foods. You may have seen the little sachets in a new bag, TV bubble wrap, or beef jerky boxes.
The gel is made from silicon dioxide, a natural component in sand, and is a mix of silica and water. It comes in tiny particles that can absorb a significant amount of moisture to maintain the ideal humidity levels.
Each sachet can hold up to 40 percent moisture. Silica gel comes either in small, clear rocks or tiny, round beads. The gel-like bentonite clay acts as a drying agent and sucks in water from the air to reduce the likelihood of dampness and mold damage to products.
Silica gel is usually transparent and white. But, if mixed with a moisture indicator, you’ll notice a pink, blue, orange, or green color.
You can find silica gel in particular medication and supplements, museum display cases, pockets of clothes, shoes, purses, cameras, and cellphone boxes. While silica gel is often non-toxic, it can cause choking when ingested and obstruction if the entire packet is swallowed. For this reason, the packs are labeled with a “Do not eat” warning.
Why My Dog Ate Silica Gel
Dogs have a sharp sense of smell and often sniff out and explore their surroundings with their mouth. No wonder you’ll find your pup chowing down the most bizarre items which aren’t edible or safe. Silica gel is one of those items that your Fido commonly ingests because the gel tends to smell like the tasty product it was packaged with, like chocolate brownies.
But, sometimes your dog will munch on silica gel balls for no reason- simply out of boredom or curiosity. If you have a puppy that’s teething, they are likely to chew on all kinds of inedible items for pain relief.
Also, Fido can mistake the packets for food and munch on the silica gel and even the packaging. Silica gel is chemically inert, meaning it won’t break down in the body to produce toxins, but it can cause choking.
Is Silica Gel Harmful to Dogs?
Most often, when your dog eats silica gel, they won’t get sick. The product will pass through their digestive tract and be expelled without causing any harmful effects. But a tummy upset is a guarantee if too much is consumed.
If your pup ingests too many silica gel beads, they could have a gut obstruction, especially if they also swallowed the packet. Bowel obstruction can occur anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach, intestines, and esophagus.
Bowel obstruction can quickly become life-threatening, so if you suspect your pup has ingested too many packets, you should call your vet. Symptoms you’ll notice include vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, dry gums, and loss of skin elasticity.
Also, intoxication can occur from the product packed with silica gel. Dyes primarily used in silica gel are methyl violet and cobalt chloride which can cause allergic reactions, dermatitis, and intoxication. Symptoms include:
It’s best to contact your vet for guidance if your canine companion has eaten something they shouldn’t or you’re uncertain about their safety.
Your Dog Ate Silica Gel- What Next?
So, your four-legged companion ate silica gel; what next? If you suspect your pup has wolfed down silica gel packets, do not panic and follow these steps:
1. Clean up the site
Place your pup in a separate room away from the site, and then clean up all traces of silica gel and the packets. Try to remove any product from your dog’s paws and dislodge the package from their throat but only if you can safely do so without making your dog aggressive. This will prevent the situation from worsening.
Alternatively, perform the Heimlich maneuver and use gentle force on puppies and small dogs. Do not try to induce vomiting. This can be dangerous to your dog’s health as it could irritate your dog’s esophagus and mouth. Instead, provide plenty of clean water to help the gel pass through the tummy.
2. Figure out how much was consumed
Try to work out how much silica gel your dog might have consumed and save the sachets with the ingredient list and the packaging for later inspection. This information will come in handy when consulting your vet on what actions to take.
3. Contact your Vet
If your dog has eaten silica gel and can’t keep anything down or is vomiting several times, you need to rush them to the vet clinic. You should also call your vet if your pup has severe tummy pains, their abdomen appears swollen or they are having difficulty passing stool.
The vet will then administer a treatment plan for your pup. Depending on the number of silica gel packs consumed and the size of your Fido, your vet may induce vomiting. If there’s an obstruction, the vet can perform an x-ray and surgery in the worst-case scenario.
4. Follow your vet’s advice
Your vet may suggest close monitoring of your dog’s condition at home. Ensure you adhere to the instructions and call your vet if the symptoms worsen.
How to Prevent Dogs from Eating Silica Gel
It’s always best to err on the side of caution. We all know prevention will save you a lot of stress in the long run. Responsible dog parents should keep potentially hazardous items away from their pups.
When opening food or packaging with silica gel packs, place them out of your dog’s reach. Discard the packets safely in sealed trash bags to curb their scavenging behavior. And if you decide to keep the packs for future use, store them in a sealed container out of reach.
Consider giving your pup a variety of safe chews and toys to prevent boredom. However, if your Fido is regularly munching on non-food items, you may need to take them to the animal clinic. Your vet will investigate any underlying behavioral or medical conditions.
Although silica gel has some scary warnings on the label, it is ideally non-toxic unless you consume too much of it or the packet contains a dye. The silica gel absorbs harmful substances from the product in the packaging.
Since it offers no nutritional value to your four-legged best friend and is a choking hazard, it’s best to dispose of it safely away from your dog. While it’s not fun worrying about your dog accidentally ingesting silica gel, know that it can happen, and your dog will be okay by all indications.
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