Dog Health

Are Silica Gel Packets Toxic to Dogs?

April 9, 2021

What happens if dogs eat silica gel packets?  Are they actually toxic to dogs?  Now that my dogs are older, 12 and 5, you would think they’d be past the “eating things they’re not supposed too” stage.  You’d be wrong, at least when it comes to Fenrir.  He doesn’t so much eat things he’s not supposed too, to be fair.  He mostly just chews up, or otherwise destroys things.

Earlier this week, if you can’t already tell by my blog title, Fen’s latest victim was a silica gel packet.  You know, those little packets that come inside things you buy that are clearly labeled “Do not eat”.

Well, Dogs Can’t Read.

silica gel packet We had purchased some new pillows that were sealed up in plastic with silica packets inside the packaging.  I didn’t notice that one of the silica packets had fallen down in between our couch and the computer desk.  Fen didn’t have any trouble finding it, though.

I heard my partner calling me from the other room.  I found him down on the floor, picking tiny little balls up off the rug.  Oh no…what did Fen get into now!?  Luckily silica packets are usually pretty clearly labeled, and Fen didn’t actually eat the packet, he just ripped it open.

Your dog possibly eating something with a bold label stating “Do not eat” is pretty concerning.  Fen is just a little thing too.  It would take less of a toxic substance to affect him than it would a much bigger dog.  Knowing Fen, I was pretty sure his intentions were to destroy the packet and not to actually eat it.  But there was no way for me to know for sure whether he had accidentally ingested any of the little silica balls or not.

What, Exactly, Is Inside Those Silica Packets?

Silica gel, in the form of little balls or beads inside silica packets, is silicon dioxide.  Silicon dioxide in nature can be found in sand, glass, and quartz.  Silica beads are usually clear or white.  However, it’s common for the silicon dioxide to be mixed with a moisture indicator that may make the silica appear to be blue, pink, green, or orange.

Silica is commonly used inside product packaging because of its ability to absorb moisture.  Each little bead can absorb about 30 percent of its weight in water, essentially helping to protect products from excess moisture and humidity.

Are Silica Packets Toxic?

Good news – silica itself is inert and non-toxic.  You can basically think of it as man made sand.  Silica absorbs moisture but the beads do not expand in size.

However, that’s not to say silica packets are 100% harmless. If the silica was mixed with a moisture indicator (typically cobalt (II) chloride or Methyl Violet), these ingredients can be problematic in large doses.  You also have to pay attention to what type of product the silica packet was inside.  If it was something harmless, such as pillows, then you generally don’t have much to worry about.  However, if it came into contact with a non-pet friendly item, such as medication, chemicals, toxic food items, etc, then that’s cause for more concern; not because of the silica itself, but because the ingested silica may have contained trace amounts of the product it was packaged with.

In addition, the more silica that was ingested the higher the chance you’ll run into complications.  It will heighten your pets exposure to potential toxins contained in the silica (moisture indicators), and potentially dangerous products the silica was packaged with.  In large amounts silica can lead to dehydration.  Large quantities of ingested foreign objects can also cause obstructions.

Believe It Or Not, It’s Not Usually The Silica Beads Themselves That Cause Problems.  It’s The Packets They Come In.

Ingesting the porous packets that contain the silica beads can cause choking, or a blockage of the intestinal tract.  Again, the risk level increases if larger amounts of a foreign material are ingested.  Generally a single, small silica packet won’t do any major damage to your dog.  But if they somehow gets more than one packet, the likelihood of negative symptoms increases.

Watch Out For Potential Symptoms.

Mild GI upset after consuming silica packets is not rare.  However, it’s important to monitor your pet.  Watch out specifically for symptoms of dehydration and/or intestinal obstructions.  These include things like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, excess panting, sunken or dry looking eyes, dry gums, and loss of skin elasticity.

It’s important to contact your veterinarian if your dog has eaten a silica packet and displays any symptoms of distress, if the silica gel in question is colored (indicating that it’s not pure silicon dioxide and may contain toxins), or if the silica was packaged inside a potentially dangerous product such as medication.

Fen Is Just Fine After His Silica Mishap!

Silica gel packets are labeled “Do not eat” because they are often included inside food and pill packages.  While silicon dioxide itself is not toxic, that doesn’t mean that consuming silica packets is without risks for our pets.  It’s important to be vigilant and keep foreign objects away from curious pets.

This is a do as I say, not as I do, type of situation.  I’m not convinced that Fenrir ate any of the silica beads he got into.  I found the packet torn up on the living room rug.  I think he just ripped the packet open.  He really enjoys destroying things!  Luckily Mr. Fen experienced no ill effects from his escapades.  Going forward, I’ll be even more careful to ensure that all packaging makes it to the trash before my little trouble maker gets to it.

Accidents can happen to anyone, though.  In the case of any potential medical emergencies, it’s important to stay as calm as possible.  If your pet ingests a foreign material and you’re not sure whether or not it’s toxic, call your vet or the Animal Poison Control Hotline as soon as possible.  While some commonly ingested foreign objects, like silica, are generally pretty harmless, others can be deadly.  How quickly you get your pet the proper treatment can make all the difference.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply greyzoned at Angels Bark Blog May 11, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I’m so glad you did a post about this! I never really investigated whether or not the silica packets were toxic to dogs; I just acted as if they were. Whenever I get a package or medication bottle with those little packets in, I gather them up and throw them in the trash immediately, making sure they are going into a trash can that can’t be accessed by the dogs. I freaked out recently when I ordered several pair of shoes and each box had 3 silica packets in it. When I was gathering them up, I found that one of the packets was missing. Did one of the boxes only have two silica packets? If not, where is that missing packet? I tore the boxes and the plastic bags apart and searched the couch cushions. I finally found it, much to my relief. But I would’ve probably been in panic mode had I not found that one. Glad to know I won’t have to panic quite so much next time…but I’m pretty sure there won’t be a next time. That was stressful!
    Thanks again for the education. Great post!

    Michele at Angels Bark

    • Reply Melissa Clancy July 20, 2020 at 10:12 pm

      They are our best friends and the whole situation is so scary.

  • Reply Cathy Armato May 11, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I have so often wondered about this, thanks so much for clarifying that. Definitely good information to have. I’m glad they’re not as horribly dangerous as I suspected but still can be a hazard.

  • Reply Heather Wallace May 11, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Uh oh, I have a naughty boy as well but he does actually swallow! We try our best to keep him away but he finds a way. Luckily he is so large he usually passes it without a problem, and so we haven’t had to force him to vomit as yet. Great information as I always wondered about those silica packets!

  • Reply jana rade May 11, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    You never know what scare your babies cook up for you, do you? Just today a friend had a dog thinking chewing on disposable razor was a good idea.

  • Reply Rebecca M. Sanchez May 11, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Whew – what a close one! I would have thought that they do expand – but luckily they do not! It’s always amazing what dogs can get into, isn’t it!

  • Reply Kamira G. May 11, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Whew! Reading your post I was relieve to know your dog is okay. Thanks for sharing this cautionary tale!

  • Reply Ruth Epstein May 11, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I am so happy that he is ok and thanks for the great information on them.

  • Reply Holly May 11, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Glad you don’t have a big vet bill to remember this event by. Critters will find stuff you KNOW you put away or got rid of. Around here it is Mocha that causes that kind of issue. I can totally see her having a ball tearing up a silica packet – they even look like cat toys.

  • Reply Dash Kitten in NZ May 11, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I love the little packets are the trouble part! How true. Silica is sand is silica but the packed can be man made or not and catch in the windpipe or clog heaven knows where!

  • Reply Sweet Purrfections May 11, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I watch things like a hawk when opening packages because plastic is like a magnet to Truffle. She has gotten corners of plastic envelopes caught in her throat. I’m always afraid I’m going to drop something like one of those silica gel packets and she will get into it.

  • Reply fivesibes May 11, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Those darn packets are in everything! With four Huskies and a 2-year-old grandson, I am constantly picking them up from falling out of purchased items. Excellent post! I’m so glad your Fen is fine! I firmly believe by now that if there is something they should not get in to, they will find it!

  • Leave a Reply