Many packaged products — from shoes and electronics to food — come with a little packet designed to keep them dry called a silica packet. And, they often are labeled with a “do not eat.”
Of course, our pets often ignore such things and might eat these packets anyway. Fortunately, silica is not toxic for dogs, but there are still some risks.
Dr. Elaine Martinez, medical director for VCA’s new Santa Monica Main Street Hospital, says that while the silica itself is not a serious issue, the packet can cause an intestinal blockage, which can be very dangerous.
What to do if your dog eats a silica packet
Dr. Tina Wismer, senior director at ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, says if your dog eats a silica packet to monitor him for vomiting and abdominal discomfort. Smaller dogs or cats are most at risk of having an issue from ingesting it.
She says to call your veterinarian for advice, but you generally don’t need to rush into an emergency veterinarian right away.
“If the packaging, or another dangerous food — such as chocolate or raisins — was ingested along with the silica packet, then a vet would likely induce vomiting,” Dr. Martinez says.
She says to go to a vet to have them safely induce vomiting rather than try to do it at home.
Silica gel, desiccant and oxygen absorber packets can be found in shoe boxes and handbags as well as things made of leather to keep them dry while they are packaged. Desiccants can be found in packages of jerky and pill bottles.
“If a pet gets into and ingests a silica gel packet, an oxygen absorber or a desiccant, mild stomach upset is all that is typically seen,” says Dr. Wismer. “If your pet is small and the packet is plastic and on the larger size, there is a small risk that it could get stuck in their stomach or intestines and cause a blockage, however this is not very common.”
Dr. Wismer says while these products aren’t too much of a cause for concern, any incident should be looked at on a case-by-case basis. If your pet has ingested something foreign, you should contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for further guidance and assistance.
How to keep dogs from eating silica packets
Dr. Martinez says the packets found in food are the ones that a dog would most likely eat. Watch out for these packets and throw them away in a covered trash can.
Dog-specific foods and treats, like freeze-dried and dehydrated kinds, can have them too. Check what you’re pouring out before feeding it directly to your dog.
Dr. Martinez says that dogs eating silica packets is actually not very common considering how many products have silica gel packets in them. But of course, it’s better to handle these kinds of packages with care and keep them away from your pets.