What Happens if a Dog Eats Silica Beads?

by Deborah Lundin
    Many brands of cat litter contain silica gel beads to absorb urine.

    Many brands of cat litter contain silica gel beads to absorb urine.

    Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

    Whether in a bag of beef jerky or a bottle of vitamins, you have probably seen the little white moisture-absorbing packets filled with silica beads inside. On the outside of most packages, the label reads not to consume the contents. Luckily, if your pooch consumes them, those silica beads are unlikely to cause him trouble.

    While these little packets of silica gel beads are labeled not for consumption, they are actually harmless if eaten. Their purpose is to absorb moisture, keeping the products they're packaged with fresh. Because of their labeling, many people assume they are toxic. Silica gel bead ingestion is among the top 10 reasons for calls to the Pet Poison Helpline.

    While silica beads are inert and nontoxic, your pup may experience mild gastrointestinal upset after ingestion. The main complication is the packet, not the beads. The packet can cause intestinal blockage, especially in smaller dogs. A package from inside a medicine bottles may have absorbed some medication, which may be toxic. If your dog ingests silica bead packets, monitor him for signs of intestinal obstruction. These include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and loss of appetite. Consult your veterinarian if any of these symptoms occur after ingestion.

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    About the Author

    Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.

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