Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
13 December 2000

Companion Animal Hazard Alert
Source - [email protected]

You know not to eat those paper or plastic packets often found in shoe boxes, bottles of medication and vitamins and some food items -- but your pet doesn't.

Used to absorb moisture, the packets contain silica gel, which is considered chemically and biologically inert upon ingestion. However, reports Jill A. Richardson, DVM, of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), gastrointestinal upset *has* been seen in dogs and cats who have accidentally eaten one of these packets. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and lack of appetite.

There can be additional harmful effects, particularly if the packet was used for medication. "Silica acts as a dessicant and can absorb qualities of a medicine when it's in a medicine bottle," explains Richardson. "So, for example, if your dog ate a silica gel pack that came out of your heart medication, the silica could absorb the qualities of the heart medication and cause similar adverse effects." Companion animal caretakers should be extra careful to keep these packets out of their pet's reach.

In addition to offering poison/first aid information online at, the APCC also runs an emergency hotline --
1-888-4-ANI-HELP--that provides round-the-clock telephone assistance.

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