Some time ago, my neighbor friend Kevin came to me with a scared look on his face. As it turned out, his kid was playing with some gel blaster balls when his curious dog rushed over to try the “colorful treats”. Before either of them could stop her, she had already gobbled down several beads.
Knowing that I’m sort of a nerd when it comes to gel guns and gellets, he figured that it would be best to ask me if his dog was going to be in danger. Thankfully, those squishy balls are non-toxic, and I assured him that his four-legged friend wasn’t going to be sick. “However, you should still take her to the vet in case the gel balls block her digestive tract”, I advised him.
While everything turned out fine for his dog, I figured that other pet parents might find themselves in a similar situation. So, here’s everything you need to know about the potential dangers of your dog or cat eating gel blaster balls.
Can Your Dog Eat Gel Balls?
While soft and water-filled gel blaster balls are not edible, dogs can easily chew or simply swallow them. Now, as technically dogs CAN eat gel balls, it doesn’t mean they SHOULD. The water beads may seem edible to your dog, but consuming them can still be dangerous.
To prevent your four-legged friend from eating gel balls, you shouldn’t even leave any gellets lying around in places that the dog can access. I am going to discuss it in detail later in this article. Now, let’s explore more about the material of those gel beads.
What Are Gel Blaster Balls Made Of?
Gel blaster balls are made of super-absorbent polymer, a material that expands and gains a soft gel-like consistency when hydrated (similar to Orbeez). Both natural and synthetic super-absorbent polymers can absorb large volumes of water, which is how they expand so easily.
The material of those gel balls is 100% biodegradable, which makes disposal pretty easy. In fact, one of the best ways to get rid of the beads is to put them in the soil. While they are environment-friendly, a question arises when it comes to safety for the pets.
Are Gel Blaster Balls Toxic To Dogs?
Since gel blaster balls, splat balls, and Orbeez are primarily designed for kids and adults to play with, they are completely non-toxic. Thankfully, this also means that you need not worry about toxicity in case your pet consumes a handful of gellets.
However, if not checked, gel balls can harm your dogs in other ways. Dogs, after all, are very likely to confuse such soft, round, and colorful stuff for delicious treats or toys and pop them into their mouths.
What Happens If Your Dog Eats Orbeez?
Although Orbeez balls are not poisonous, there’s a chance that your dog might end up with a blocked digestive tract upon eating them. Kevin was lucky that his dog was a large Labrador – the gel balls passed through the tract without any issues.
However, small dog breeds have narrower digestive tracts and may choke on medium-sized gel blaster balls, which are about 7.5 mm in diameter. They might also suffer an intestinal blockage – a severe condition that can potentially prove fatal unless addressed immediately.
Now, what would happen if your dog ate up dry gel beads?
While the Orbeez beads are tiny when dry and won’t get stuck in the digestive tract immediately, they can absorb liquids and expand once inside the stomach. This can lead to a blockage later on, besides potentially dehydrating the dog by absorbing all the water it drinks.
Regardless of the size of the gellets or the dog breed, the risk of aspiration is always there. The water beads might cause severe respiratory issues if they accidentally eat the tiny balls. So, take your dog to the vet immediately.
Also Read: Can Orbeez Kill You?
How To Know If Your Dog Has Eaten A Gel Ball?
If you suspect that your dog may have eaten a gel blaster ball, look out for unusual behavior and symptoms. Choking is one of the more obvious signs that the dog ingested something it wasn’t supposed to, but here are some of the other symptoms the veterinary doctor informed Kevin.
- Dehydration (constant thirst)
- A loss of appetite
- Weakness and lethargy
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Orbeez?
If your dog ingests Orbeez, stay calm and act promptly. Evaluate the situation, reach out to your vet, and follow their advice. Keep a close eye on your dog’s behavior for any concerning signs. Conducting an X-ray or Ultrasound scan can help ascertain if your cat or dog really ate a gel ball. Remember, immediate veterinary consultation is crucial in this case. Prioritize your dog’s safety through proactive measures and timely intervention.
BUT, DO NOT WAIT FOR THE SYMPTOMS TO INTENSIFY!
Spending some money on veterinary fees and tests is far better than potentially losing your pet forever. Get your dog to the vet immediately before its condition worsens. An immediate visit to the vet can also save you a lot of hassle because a severe intestinal blockage by Orbeez might call for surgical treatment.
How To Prevent Your Dog From Eating Gellets?
So, can you stop your dog from eating gel balls, especially if you have them lying around your home? Well, it’s pretty simple – you need to keep them out of the dog’s reach. Also, store away dry gellets somewhere secure, out of your dog’s reach.
If you plan to use gellets for decorative purposes, hiding them away won’t make sense. However, I’d recommend placing them in a closed bottle or container rather than simply leaving them in an open bowl. This way, your pet can’t ingest the gellets even if they manage to get their paws on the decorations.
Most importantly, don’t make the same mistake my friend did – allowing the dog to be around while his son was playing with a gel blaster gun. No matter how careful you are, there’s no telling when something will distract you. Look away for even a few seconds, and you might find your pet gobbling on gellets.
Additional Tip: Should You Dry Gel Blaster Balls Before Use?
Tips For Using Gel Blaster Balls With Your Pet Around
If you don’t really have a choice but to use gel balls in your gel blaster with your dog around, here are some tips on how you can prevent it from ingesting the beads.
1. Keep Your Dog Busy
The simplest and smartest solution is to give your dog toys to keep it busy while you handle the gel balls. Since dogs are particularly fond of chewing on stuff, giving them chewy toys is very effective at keeping their attention off your Orbeez.
2. Train Your Dog
As you know, dogs can be trained to act in specific ways. You could train your four-legged friend to leave your gel blaster balls alone rather than follow their instinct and try to taste them. If necessary, seek guidance from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.
3. Avoid Leaving The Gel Balls In The Open
While I understand that it’s impossible not to leave any gel balls in the open at all while they’re in use, at least try your best to keep it that way. Close/cover the containers with Orbeez in them so that your dog or cat can’t start eating them when you aren’t looking.
4. Avoid Using Colors
Soaking gel beads in colored water is a common practice, especially when using water beads for art and décor. Now, while the gel balls are non-toxic, the same can’t always be said about dyes. Avoid adding any color to your gellets if your dog is going to be around them, or at least make sure to use pet-safe dyes. The easiest solution, of course, would be to buy colored gel beads in the first place.
5. Be Vigilant
Lastly, don’t forget to stay vigilant throughout the time you use gel balls with a dog around. Keep an eye on your pet and make sure it keeps away from the Orbeez. If the dog shows even the slightest interest in your gel blaster beads, do something to distract it. You may even put away the water beads for a few minutes until the dog gets bored and turns its attention to something else.
Conclusion: Key Takeaways And Remarks
To ensure the safety of your beloved cat or dog, it is imperative to strictly prohibit their access to gel blaster balls, even though these balls are not inherently toxic. Just like a curious toddler ingesting something inedible, the consequences for pets can be equally dangerous, if not fatal, especially for smaller breeds.
If, unfortunately, your dog does happen to ingest gel balls, it is vital to prioritize their well-being by promptly seeking veterinary assistance. While larger dogs may be more resilient, it is still crucial to exercise caution and monitor their condition closely.
While I sincerely hope you never have to face a situation like Kevin’s, it is essential to remain calm and approach the situation with a clear mind. Taking swift and appropriate action is crucial for the well-being of your furry companion.