When you purchase items like shoes, medicine, or electronics, you may notice little silica gel pods in the packaging, inviting your dog to make a snack out of them.
Consuming the amount of silica typically found in a small (1-2-inch packet) probably won’t do your canine much harm besides possibly causing minor digestive upset. If you have a small dog or your pup has consumed a large amount of the stuff, consult your veterinarian.
You may be wondering what happens when your dog swallows a packet of silica gel or consumes the iron or charcoal granules commonly found in many pre-packaged items.
Q: Why is it labeled “do not eat”? A: Silica gel is not intended for consumption and therefor receives the label “do not eat”. The dust from the processing and creation of silica is irritating to the skin, respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract. In people who are chronically exposed to/inhaling silica, such as a employee in a mine or factory, a progressive debilitating disease called silicosis can develop. Fortunately, silica dust is rarely encountered by our furry friends. Some silica products are mixed with a moisture indicator, these indicators may be toxic in large doses. If a dye is present, the silica gel will no longer be a clear to white but instead bright orange, blue, pink or green.
Q: Why is it labeled “do not eat”? A: Elemental iron can cause severe poisoning, even in the small amounts contained in one oxygen absorber packet.2 It is very irritating to the GI tract and has direct corrosive effects. After ingestion, vomiting (with or without blood) is one of the first signs of poisoning. In fact, vomiting is such a common finding that if a dog does not vomit, it’s probable that a toxic dose was not ingested. If the dose is large enough to cause poisoning, severe metabolic acidosis, shock and hepatic toxicity can develop 1 -5 days after the exposure. At Pet Poison Helpline, the most severe cases of iron poisoning from oxygen absorbers have occurred in small dogs (<15 pounds). Unless a large dog ingested several oxygen absorbers or ingested unusually large ones, poisoning is much less likely.
Most owners will call to report that their dog ingested the packet inside of a container. First ask how much was ingested and if there is any left. If there is, see if the packet is labeled, what color the contents are and if the contents can be picked up with a magnet. If it was ingested whole the owner should be asked if there is another package in the home so a duplicate of the product can be evaluated.
Q: What is it? A: A specific type of prepared charcoal (similar to activated charcoal used in veterinary hospitals) is found in white plastic cylinders inside bags of prepared foodstuffs like dog treats, chews and jerky. If broken open the small black granules are visible. These granules are not magnetic (as compared to iron).
Q: Why is it labeled “do not eat”? A: The charcoal is not intended to be consumed and therefor labeled “do not eat”.
What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Silica Gel?
Is Silica Gel Toxic To Dogs?
Whilst the silica gel itself is not toxic to dogs, ingestion of significant quantities may result in an upset stomach. If your dog eats large quantities of silica gel this may result in a blockage within the gut. It is also important to consider whether your dog has ingested additional items, such as the item that contained the silica gel packet, since this may lead to additional varied symptoms. It is best to contact your veterinarian for advice when your dog has eaten something that they shouldn’t have or if you are uncertain about the safety of the ingested item. Symptoms you might notice after your dog eats silica gel include:
Are silicone balls poisonous to dogs?
Are silicone balls toxic?
Is silica gel harmful to pets?
What happens if you eat a silicon ball?