If you’re concerned
If you think your child consumed an excessive amount of silica gel or you need some peace of mind, contact your local Poison Control Center.
They can help you determine if the silica gel could be coated in cobalt chloride or if you need to take any other steps.
Moving forward, you can talk to your child about how the packets aren’t for eating. You can encourage them to bring any packets they see to you to throw away.
You can also throw away any silica packets you come across so your pets and little ones are less likely to find them.
You can also contact your pet’s veterinarian if you suspect they ate one or more silica gel packets. Your vet can give you further advice considering what kind of dog you have and their overall health.
What it’s used for
Silica gel is made from silicon dioxide, which is a component naturally found in sand. It has small particles that can absorb significant amounts of water.
Silica gel will either appear as small, clear, round beads or as small, clear rocks. The gel acts as a desiccant, which means that it pulls water out of the air to reduce the likelihood that moisture and mold will damage an item.
Silica gel packets can often be found in the following:
- in bottles of medications and vitamins
- in jacket coat pockets
- in museum display cases to preserve the contents
- in new cellphone and camera boxes
- with shoes and purses
Manufacturers started labeling silica gel packets with more alarming language — some even have a skull and crossbones — because the Poison Control Centers started to report more incidences of people swallowing the packets on accident. Most of the cases involved children under 6.
When to see a doctor
If your child has eaten a silica gel packet and vomits several times or can’t keep anything down, seek emergency medical attention.
You should also seek emergency attention if your child has severe stomach pain or can’t pass gas or stool. These symptoms could indicate your child has an intestinal obstruction from the silica gel packet.
If you have a pet that has eaten a silica gel packet, take them to the veterinarian if they’re not passing stool as you’d expect, they vomit up any food they eat, or if their abdomen appears swollen.
The bottom line
While silica gel may have some scary warnings on its label, the gel is nontoxic unless you eat a lot of it. Because it’s a choking hazard and has no nutritious value, it’s best to throw away the packets away if you see them.
While it’s not fun to worry about accidentally ingesting silica gel, know that it does happen and by all indications, you, your child, or pet will be OK.