What Happens if a Dog Eats a Gel Packet From Clothes?

Buster probably won't notice any effects from eating one gel packet.
Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Buster ate the gel packet in your blazer pocket -- even though it clearly states "do not eat." Don't worry if he overlooked that warning. The label makes the stuff seem ominous and toxic, but the silicone gel packet found in some clothing new from the store, as well as in shoeboxes, medication containers and other consumer products, is basically harmless to your pup.

Silicone Dessicants and Your Dog

Those little gel packets you come across in your new-clothes pockets, shoeboxes and your vitamins make it clear with labels that they aren't to be ingested. They're filled with silica gel, used to absorb moisture in products, and aren't meant to be ingested by you or your pets. Despite the warning, silica gel is basically harmless, so it's safe even when you find the packets in food. The warnings are a legal precaution because the packets may appear to be little pouches of candy. If your pup gets into your beef jerky and decides he wants to sample one of those desiccant packs, he may experience some mild stomach upset that will usually resolve on its own.

Proceed With Caution

While one gel packet is nothing to worry about, large amounts of silica gel -- from multiple packets -- can cause intestinal tract obstruction. As well, if the packet was in a drug container, there's potential it absorbed some active element of the medication, a potential problem if the drug was toxic for dogs. The best thing to do is keep a close eye on your dog if you've caught him eating a silica gel packet. Chances are he'll be fine. But if he displays any unusual behavior or symptoms after swallowing a packet, get him to the vet to ensure he's okay.