14 January 2013

Silica Gel Packets - Poisonous To Dogs and Cats?

A very common question that small animal vets get  is “ My dog has swallowed or chewed a Silica Gel sachet is this poisonous or toxic in any way to dogs.” I have had many urgent requests for advice in the past on this topic. Owners are concerned because these silica gel desiccant packs are usually marked " Do not eat " or some other such wording.

silica gel packet sachet

1. The good news is that these silica sachets and their contents are completely inert and non toxic and in themselves are no problem, most dogs will get away with this and you will see no symptoms.
This is a common event as such packets are in beef jerky and other items about the house.

2. However it would be only wise to keep an eye on your dog and if any odd symptoms arise you should contact your vet without delay. However this would be very unlikely indeed in relation to a silica gel sachet.

These silica gel sachets are commonly marked that they are not to be eaten so people tend to think they might be toxic but in fact in almost all cases they are completely harmless.You see them everywhere, in food packs such as beef jerky, shoe boxes, bottles of various drugs and many more places. Their function is to absorb moisture, and prevent the products deteriorating, but it is surprising how many of these sachets are chewed or swallowed by dogs, cats usually have more sense by the way!

Silica gel is considered biologically inert so when swallowed either by animals or people in most cases no symptoms would be seen. However there are three potentially more serious scenarios as far as silica gel sachets goes. { I personally have never seen such problems }

A. The animal swallows so many of the sachets or granules that an intestinal tract obstruction occurs.

B. Where the sachets have been in drug containers they have absorbed not only the moisture but some active element of the drug as well and with very toxic drugs this could be a problem.

C. Some dogs have suffered a gastro-enteritis after swallowing the granules but this likely to be transient and minor.

The bottom line here is if you think your dog is showing any odd symptoms after swallowing or being exposed to these granules you should have your vet check your dog over without delay, better safe than sorry. However I can tell you that over a close to a thirty year period I have advised on this many times and and have never really recall experience any animal any experiencing serious problems from these sachets.