My Dog Ate Silica Gel and Seems Fine – What Should I Do?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Silica gel is not toxic to dogs but it is still dangerous for them to eat it.
  • Dogs can’t digest silica gel, so the material can collect and obstruct the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Silica gel usually comes in small packets that can lodge in the throat and obstruct the airway.
  • If your dog ingests silica gel, you should report the incident to your vet and follow his instructions.


You opened a package of beef jerky and the silica packet that was inside tumbled on the floor. Before you could pick it up, your four-footed friend rushed over to investigate. Naturally, Fido found the scent of meat irresistible, so he gobbled the package up. Should you be concerned?

Fortunately, silica isn’t toxic to dogs, but some of the dye indicators that may be in the packet can be poisonous. The packets can also irritate your dog’s gut and make him sick. They can also cause choking or obstruction. 

If your dog swallows silica gel, you should contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center and follow their instructions.

How Much Silica Gel Is Toxic to Dogs?

Silica gel is not toxic to dogs, and your pooch will probably be fine if he eats one small packet. But, if you have a smaller-breed dog, or if your furbaby ingested lots of silica gel, the material can make him extremely ill.

Large quantities of gel or packets that are too large obstruct the airway or digestive tract. Either condition is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention. The other risk occurs if the silica gel includes indicator dyes. Some of the chemicals can trigger allergic reactions or have toxic effects on your dog. In these cases, one packet may be enough to cause significant trouble. If your dog ingests silica gel, immediately report the incident to your veterinarian.

Silica gel isn’t toxic to dogs, but the material can still cause serious illness if your pooch swallows some. In larger quantities, the gel can cause obstructions. If the desiccant includes an indicator dye, the added chemical may trigger allergies or cause toxic reactions.

What Should I Do if My Dog Ate Silica Gel?

If your dog ate silica gel you don’t need to panic. Unless you notice signs that your dog is in distress, you can follow the steps below.

  • Remain calm and assess the situation. Determine how much he ate and note any symptoms of illness.
  • Check your dog’s mouth and throat for evidence of gel packets.
  • Prevent your pooch from swallowing any more gel by removing the remaining materials from his reach. 
  • Call your veterinarian and report your findings.
  • DO NOT attempt to make your dog vomit unless the doctor advises you to do it.
  • Monitor your dog for the next few days for signs of trouble.

As long as your dog isn’t distressed, there’s no need to panic. Take time to assess the situation and remove the gel from your dog’s reach. Then report your the incident, your findings, and any symptoms of illness to your veterinarian.

When Should I Take My Dog To the Vet?

Many times, you may be able to observe your dog and care for him at home after he eats silica gel. However, there are circumstances when you should take your pooch to the vet immediately. 

  • Choking – If your dog shows symptoms of choking like pawing at the face, gagging, anxiety, or respiratory distress, you should take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • Toxicity – When indicator dyes trigger a toxic reaction, your dog may have vomiting and diarrhea, pale gums, drooling, an increased heart rate, seizures, and collapse.
  • Obstruction – After the silica gel enters the gastrointestinal system, you may notice signs of an obstruction such as vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and abdominal pain.

Signs of the above conditions indicate an emergency. You should take your dog to the clinic for treatment immediately.

Usually you can observe your dog at home after he eats silica gel. However, if he shows signs of choking, toxicity, or obstruction, you should take him to your vet or an emergency clinic for treatment.

What If My Dog Ate Plenty of Silica Gel But Seems Fine?

If your dog eats a lot of silica gel, you may not notice signs of problems immediately. As long as the packet or gel beads don’t lodge in the throat, the materials will enter the stomach. There, the desiccant will absorb liquid and can cause an upset stomach within a few hours. At this point, you may notice vomiting and diarrhea, drooling, lethargy, and a loss of appetite. 

In some larger dogs, the gel may not irritate the stomach. However, the materials are not digestible. If they slump together, the blob of gel can obstruct the intestines. This process takes 6-24 hours, so you probably won’t see symptoms until 12 or more hours after Fido ingests the packets.

If the gel packet contained the indicator dye methyl violet, your dog may also experience toxic effects. This chemical causes pulmonary thrombosis in some dogs when injected intravenously. The symptoms of toxicity usually take 12-24 hours to develop, and it can cause death. 

As long as the silica gel or packets make it to the stomach, you may not immediately notice signs of trouble. Depending on how the materials affect your pooch and whether it contains a harmful indicator dye, it can take a few hours to a day or more to notice symptoms.

Signs That My Dog Became Seriously Ill After Eating Silica Gel

The symptoms of illness in your pooch will depend on how the silica gel affects him. 

Signs of choking

If the packet is large enough to lodge in the throat, you may notice:

  • Pawing at the face
  • Gagging
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Restlessness

Signs of digestive upset

If the gel irritates the stomach lining, you may notice:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

Signs of obstruction

When the gel makes it through the stomach and blocks the intestines, signs may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea at first followed by constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy and depression

Signs of methyl violet toxicity

If the gel packet includes the indicator methyl violet, you may see symptoms of pulmonary embolism, including:

  • Sudden respiratory difficulty with rapid breathing
  • Vomiting blood
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pale gums
  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Weakness and lethargy

The symptoms you notice after your dog ingests silica gel varies depending on how it affects him. If the packet lodges in the throat, you will see signs of choking. Otherwise, you may see signs that point to an upset stomach, obstruction, or indicator dye toxicity.

What Happens to Dogs That Eat Silica Gel?

Silica gel, or silicon dioxide, is a man-made substance that many manufacturers include in packaged products to absorb moisture and prevent spoilage. Usually contained in packets, the gel beads can lodge in the throat or esophagus if your dog swallows a whole packet. Otherwise, the product will continue down to the stomach. 

Although the material isn’t toxic to dogs, it’s also not digestible. The coarse, sand-like material can irritate the stomach lining and cause an upset stomach. If the packet is intact or the beads collect into a ball, the bolus may lodge in the intestines creating an obstruction. 

If the gel packet contains methyl violet, the chemical can cause pulmonary emboli that clog blood vessels in the lungs and cause respiratory distress and eventual failure. 

Choking, obstructions, and methyl violet toxicity are always emergencies that require immediate veterinary care. 

Silica gel is a man-made substance that dogs can’t digest. The material may irritate the stomach lining or block the throat, esophagus, or intestines. When the package includes a toxic indicator dye, it can also cause blood clots to form in the lungs.

Why Is Silica Gel Dangerous To Dogs?

There are several reasons that silica gel is not safe for your dog to eat. 

  1. First, it’s usually contained in small packets that can get stuck in the throat and block the airway. 
  2. Because dogs cannot digest silica gel, it has the potential to accumulate and cause gastrointestinal obstructions. 
  3. The material is also similar to fine sand particles that can irritate the lining of the digestive tract resulting in inflammation and illness. 
  4. When an indcator dye such as methyl violet is included in the silica gel pouch, your dog can also suffer toxic effects. 

Three out of the four scenarios are life-threatening emergencies. Additionally, dogs that suffer prolonged digestive upset with vomiting and diarrhea can become dehydrated. If dehydration is severe, it can become an emergency.

Silica gel is not safe for dogs to eat because the packages can get stuck in the throat or gastrointestinal tract. The material is also coarse and irritating to the gut lining, so it can cause inflammation. Finally, toxic dyes may be included in the packaging.

How Do Vets Treat Dogs That Eat Silica Gel?

The treatment your dog receives at the vet will depend on how much gel your dog ingested, whether the packets included harmful dyes, and how the materials are affecting your pooch. When you bring your furbaby in to the clinic, your veterinarian will examine him and get a complete history of events and symptoms from you. 

Depending on how long ago he ate the gel, the doctor may: 

  • Perform an oral exam 
  • Palpate your dog’s abdomen for signs of obstructions or pain
  • Take an X-ray or ultrasound of your dog
  • Perform endoscopy if the packets are in the stomach
  • Run blood work

Based on his findings, your vet may:

  • Sedate your pooch to remove obstructions from the throat
  • Administer oxygen if needed
  • Give your pup IV fluids for dehydration
  • Induce vomiting if your dog ingested the silica gel in the past few hours
  • Surgically remove obstructions and prescribe painkillers
  • Administer anti-inflammatory medications
  • Recommend a 1-2 meal fast followed by a bland diet for several days to rest the gut
  • Treat your pooch with warfarin or another anticoagulant medicine to dissolve the blood clots

Your veterinarian will examine your dog to determine the effects of the silica gel. He will treat your furbaby based on his diagnosis and findings. Treatment varies but may include oxygen and fluid therapy, surgery, or medical management of the symptoms.

How long is the recovery?

Similar to treatment, your dog’s recovery period will vary depending on how the silica gel affects him. Generally, it will take a day or two to recover from the effects of choking. Mild digestive upset should also resolve in a few days. You can help your pooch by providing plenty of water and feeding a bland diet. If the silica gel causes an obstruction that requires surgery, it will take a few weeks for your furbaby to bounce back to normal. Dogs that suffer pulmonary emoboli have a guarded prognosis and may not recover. However, early treatment improves his chances. Treatment and monitoring may take several months.

The recovery period for your dog depends on how the silica gel affects him. It may take a few days to recover from choking or gastric upset. If your pooch needs surgery, his recovery will probably take a few weeks. Dogs that develop pulmonary emboli have a guarded prognosis.

The Final Woof

While silica gel isn’t toxic to dogs, it’s not safe to eat. The man-made desiccant is not digestible, and it can irritate or obstruct the gastrointestinal tract. Silca gel usually comes in small pouches that may be large enough to block the throat causing your dog to choke. Some of the packages also have dye indicators that can poison your pooch. 

If your dog ingests silica gel, you usually don’t need to panic. However, you should contact your veterinarian and let him know what happened then observe your furbaby for the next few days. Signs of obstruction or toxicity may not surface immediately after your dog swallows the packets. If you need to bring pooch to the vet, he’ll examine and treat him based on his findings. The recovery for dogs that eat silica gel can take anywhere from a few days to several months depending on how the product affected your pup.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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