Dogs are notorious for sniffing out non-edible items and even taking a bite out of things they really shouldn’t. Since silica gel beads are a common household item, chances are that our curious canines will attempt to tear the bag and sample the contents.
Unfortunately, it’s toxic to pets and can very well harm your dog. As a pet owner, what should you do when your dog has eaten silica gel? In this article, learn how silica gel can affect your pet and the measures you need to take.
Is Silica Gel Toxic to Dogs?
Yes, silica gel can be toxic to dogs. But the toxicity doesn’t come from the gel; it comes from the packet that contains the beads. Silica gel only poses a threat to pets when consumed in high concentrations.
Silica gel beads come in small bags, usually the same size as sugar packets. You’ll find them in multiple everyday household items like shoes, coats, electronics, bags, etc.
Silica gel is also known as silicon dioxide, which has applications in glass and quartz production. At times, silica gel is also useful as an anti-caking agent in food seasoning jars.
More commonly, silica gel beads are added to specific products as a drying agent or desiccant. They retain moisture and hence prevent moisture damage. For example, shoes, bags, and electronics are all susceptible to water damage. The silica gel pouch will absorb about 30% of its weight in water.
The gel’s porous packet is more poisonous than the gel itself. If your dog chews the pack, it may absorb some of the unhealthy chemicals that the packet contains. The canine may feel sick and develop several complications.
Symptoms of Silica Gel Toxicity in Dogs
The main symptom you’ll notice when dogs ingest a silica gel packet is an abdominal discomfort. They’ll express this by either moving around without being able to settle, attempting to go to the bathroom often or perhaps even sleeping in one corner for an extended period.
They will also lose their appetite for food and become more lethargic and unwilling to engage in physical activities.
This abdominal discomfort is mainly due to an intestinal blockage. The dog will find it harder to take in any food or water as long as the silica gel packets’ contaminants are in the stomach.
In severe cases, this will lead to diarrhea and vomiting. The dog will also become weak over time.
The time frame for these symptoms to develop depends on the amount of silica gel beads. If consumed in high amounts, then the symptoms may show up within an hour of eating the gel. Smaller amounts could take 2 or 3 hours to manifest any symptoms.
What to Do After A Dog Eats Silica Gel
The average silica gel packet is relatively small. So it’s improbable that your dog will develop any complications from just one pack.
It might also be the case that your dog chewed tore the packet and only consumed the silica gel. Your dog will not face any complications as long as the silica was pure and not dyed.
Find the packet that you think your dog might have chewed. Then inspect it to see whether your pet has chewed the pack or consumed the gel. Check if the bag is dyed. Dyes can cause allergic reactions and intoxication.
There’s also a chance that the packet might have come in contact with any other toxic substances. Take your pet to the vet if you see any symptoms including vomiting, pale gums, diarrhea, increased temperature and heart rate, lethargy, and seizures.
The dog may also suffer from dehydration. So in such cases, you need to provide an ample amount of drinking water to your dog. Some owners also recommend feeding chicken breasts to the dog but check with your vet to see if this is okay.
To treat GI obstruction, the vet may induce vomiting. Depending on the specific case, the vet may also go for endoscopy or medical surgery to remove the stomach’s toxic substances. But such cases are rare.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t fret if your dog consumes a packet of silica gel. The silica gel beads are inert and non-toxic to humans and dogs. So it isn’t likely to cause any complications.
But it’s recommended that you consult with a vet at the earliest and discuss the matter with them just to stay on the safe side of things.
How to Prevent Dogs from Eating Silica Gel
Silica gels aren’t generally harmful, but it’s not safe for consumption either. On the label, you’ll find a warning that reads “Silica Gel Do Not Eat.” The main reason for this label is that this gel often reacts adversely with other chemicals that the food might contain and this can make it dangerous to ingest.
The fun paper (dogs like to tear things, after all) and the pleasant smell can trick your dog into consuming it. Therefore, you need to take specific measures to keep such packets away from your dog.
The first thing you can do is collect all the silica gel packets that come with the products like shoes and bags. You don’t want them scattered on the floor or sitting on a bedside table.
Collect them and keep them in a safe place. Take them out only when you need them and apply them directly to the items.
Also, when discarding the packets, throw them directly in the trash can and make sure that the can is pet-proof!
A Quick Summary
Silica gel beads aren’t harmful to dogs, per se. But as a pet owner, you should take preventative measures to ensure that they never eat these packets as symptoms can become quite severe in some cases. If your dog consumes a packet, consult with your vet at the earliest for the necessary treatment options.