You’ve seen the warnings when you pull the silica packets out of something saying do not eat silica gel, and you might be wondering, ‘is silica gel toxic’? Or perhaps, your dogs eat silica gel, and you want to know if they will be harmed?
Thankfully, silica gel itself isn’t toxic. So if your dog ate silica gel, you don’t have to worry too much. However, there are some other problems with eating silica gel, such as dehydration, intoxication from other chemicals that may be present, and GI obstruction.
Keep reading to learn more about silica gel, and what to do if your dog ate silica gel when you weren’t paying attention.
What are Silica Gel Beads?
Silica gel absorbs moisture. The official term is desiccant (Meaning used to keep things dry). They are used for anything that can be damaged from getting too much moisture in it. In fact, a majority of items you use daily probably originally had silica gel pouches in them.
They are made from silicic acid or silica gel. They are usually contained in a little packet made from cloth or paper.
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What Products Use a Silica Gel Packet?
Since it is a product that helps keep moisture out, silica gel is in almost any product that needs to stay dry.
This can be anything from food to handbags.
Some examples of where you might expect to see toothpaste tablets are:
- Jacket pockets
- Pizza crusts
- Toothpaste Tablets
- Beef Jerky
Are Silica Gel Beads Toxic?
You’ve probably seen the warning printed across the silica gel packets. warning you not to eat. But are they toxic?
The answer is no. Not only are they okay for humans, but they aren’t toxic to dogs either.
So why do they say do not eat? Well, for a variety of reasons.
The biggest issue is that the packet itself is a huge choking hazard. For children or dogs, it presents a serious risk.
Then, there is the fact that while it might not be toxic, especially in low doses, it isn’t necessarily good for you. It can cause dehydration.
Also, while most silica packets are just silica, some of them use other chemicals that can be toxic.
Chemicals Used in Silica Gel Packets
There are two main chemicals used in Silica beads. These are Cobalt (II) Chloride and Methyl Violet. While not every silica gel uses them, some do and they can be toxic if consumed.
These are usually colored, looking pink instead of clear, so you can try and identify what packets you have.
If you aren’t sure what your silica gel contains, it may be best to take your dog to a vet, especially if they start showing unusual symptoms that are signs of poisoning in dogs.
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Symptoms of Ingesting Silica Gel Packets?
If you think your dog ate silica gel, there are some signs you can look four.
Though they may be fine, there are three major dangers when a dog eats silica gel.
These are intoxication, dehydration, and GI obstruction.
As the name suggests, intoxication symptoms are ones that make one appear drunk. When a dog eats silica beads that contain the chemicals above, they are ingesting a toxin, and are behaving as such.
Some symptoms include:
- Yellow gums
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Drooling in excess
If you start to see these symptoms in your pet and know your dog ate silica gel, it is best to take them to a vet as soon as you can.
Though we know that the answer to ‘is silica gel poisonous’ is no, the other chemicals that may be present can be, and it is best to just act like they are.
If your dog eats silica gel in excess, dehydration is another common symptom. This is because the silica packets can pull out moisture, leaving the dog feeling sick.
Even though we know that silica gel isn’t toxic to dogs, in large quantities, it can cause serious problems in your pet. If you can, you want to keep all silica gel beads out of your pet’s reach.
Some symptoms of dehydration in your dog include:
- Dryness in the eyes and nose
- Dryness of the mouth
- General weakness
- Heavy breathing
- Gum bleeding
- High, abnormal heartbeat
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Though silica gel isn’t toxic to dogs, it can lead to other issues. If you are concerned that your dog ate silica gel and start to see worrying symptoms, it is best to seek veterinary guidance.
GI obstruction is a blockage in the gastrointestinal tract. Small packets are easily swallowable but can cause blockages. It is actually a common occurrence in a child or pet, which is one of the main reasons for the warning on the label.
If left untreated, your pet can face a lot of problems from eating a silica packet, even if it isn’t in large quantities.
Signs of GI blockage in dogs:
- Abdominal pain
- Upset stomach
- Swollen abdomen
- Little to no waste
- Blood in the stool
If your dog ate a large amount of the packaging, this is a very common problem and it may be a good idea to seek a veterinarian to see if they can help your dog’s body naturally pass the packet.
What Happens if a Dog Eats a Silica Packet?
While the silica gel isn’t inherently harmful, there are other problems that can occur.
Even those little packets can cause injury via internal blockage or toxicity from other ingredients. A small dog is most at risk from even little packets, but even a larger dog can be at risk.
It is best to prevent dogs from getting to silica packets at all possible, but when that isn’t possible, keep a close eye on your dog and be ready to call a veterinarian if needed.
What Are the Biggest Dangers of a Dog Eating Silica Gel?
Where the Packet Came From
The item the silica gel was in can be a bigger issue than the gel itself. While certain foods aren’t a big deal, if the silica gel was inside a pill or medicine bottle, the ingredients in the bottle can be a bigger danger.
Make sure that your dog didn’t eat anything else from the bottle or packet than the gel.
Even if the item itself isn’t poisonous, they might have swallowed sharp plastic or other plastic that can cause more blockage that will need a veterinarian to help safely pass.
If the Silica Gel Beads Get Stuck
While it isn’t always easy to tell with dogs, there are symptoms even in the early stages of a blockage due to ingested silica gel.
For example, your dog may have an upset stomach or abdominal pain and have problems eating.
A lot of silica gel pouches are made from cloth now, which allows them to be more pliable than traditional paper packages. This reduces the chance of a blockage from the pouch, but there is still a chance.
If your dog is showing signs of a blockage or appears to be in pain, it is a good idea to seek help to make sure it can pass through as it should.
If the Dog Ate Too Many Beads
In large amounts, silica gel can cause a lot of issues. Even though they aren’t dangerous in small quantities, smaller dogs might become by even one packet, while a lot of pouches can make even a large dog sick.
Make sure your dog can drink a lot of water and check your beads to make sure they have nothing toxic to dogs in there.
Silica Gel Packet vs Freshness Packet?
Silica gel isn’t the only thing used in products that come in little pouches. Things like oxygen absorbers/freshness packets are also often used in the food you commonly eat.
It is important to make sure you know for sure that your dog has eaten a silica gel pouch and not these other two, as even small amounts of freshness absorbers can be harmful.
What’s in an Oxygen Absorber?
Oxygen absorbers and freshness packets are the same things. They contain iron.
An oxygen absorber stops the process of oxidation and is often used by chefs and bakers.
These can be very toxic, especially to smaller dogs. Even one packet can cause severe iron poisoning in small dogs under 15 pounds.
While larger dogs can usually survive only eating one pouch of iron, they may still see some of the less harmful symptoms.
Is an Oxygen Absorber Safe for Dogs?
No, oxygen absorbers are absolutely not safe for dogs. While silica gel can be ingested with only minor problems, even one oxygen absorber can cause injury.
It can cause irritation if a dog ate one to the GI tract and can also have corrosive effects.
Generally, if a dog ingests dangerous levels of iron, it will start vomiting. If your dog does not vomit, it is very likely that it did not eat at dangerous levels.
If you aren’t sure if your dog ate a packet filled with silica or iron, the easiest way to tell is to see if the packet or another packet in the container is magnetic.
If your dog ate the whole packet and there are no others that you can check to see what was in them, it may be best to go to a vet as soon as possible
Even if your dog is showing no symptoms, it might be a good idea to go to a vet, just to make sure everything passes safely.
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Silica gel may seem like a scary thing for your dog to ingest, but it can actually be a fairly safe option. Despite the “Do not eat” warnings along with the packet, there aren’t poisonous or toxic, even to dogs.
The biggest danger is in other chemicals that might be present in the package and GI problems due to the packet getting stuck. While new packets are generally more pliable to prevent the package from getting stuck, it is still a possibility.
If you aren’t sure what your dog ate, or what chemicals the silica gel may contain, it is best to seek professional help as soon as possible.