I have a condition called Raynaud’s Disease. It’s a disorder that affects blood vessels in the toes and fingers. During an attack, the blood vessels narrow when you become cold and your fingers and toes turn white, red or blue. Then also go numb. When an attack is over and the blood vessels begin to return to normal, your fingers tingle and throb. In severe cases, when you can’t get your fingers or toes to warm back up you can experience frostbite and risk losing a digit. It’s a painful condition and it sucks.
I’ve had the condition for a little over 3 years now and each year it gets a little worse. Basically, when my hands are exposed to cold temperatures under 30 degrees, I get it. Sometimes I even get it in the frozen food section of the grocery store. I’ve yet to find any type of glove or warmer that protects me but I do use hand warmers almost daily during the Winter.
I crack them open in the morning and put them in one of my pockets, usually my front sweatshirt pocket.
I have several different hand warmers but the disposable air-activated ones are my favorite because they last the longest.
The problem I have with the hand warmers is that I sometimes forget that they’re in my pockets and on more than one occasion they’ve fallen out onto the floor. Luckily Leroy hasn’t been interested in eating them but I don’t put anything past him at this stage in the game so I checked into what exactly was in these hand warmers and if I should be worried if he got his mouth on one.
First, we have to break down what’s actually in hand warmers.
The hand warmers that I have contain:
Iron powder. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, iron can be toxic to dogs when ingested in high amounts. Iron poisoning in dogs can range in severity of signs from vomiting, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, and abdominal pain to more severe signs of shock, tremors, and potential cardiac and liver effects. I don’t know how much iron is actually in these hand warmers because it’s not stated on the package.
Water. I think it’s pretty safe to say that water, in this case, would not be considered toxic to dogs.
Vermiculite. Vermiculite is a hydrated magnesium aluminum silicate mineral. Vermiculite, when subjected to heat, exfoliates to form elongated concertina-like particles which are lightweight, incombustible, compressible, highly absorbent, and non-reactive. Providing the vermiculite is used and handled in accordance with the suppliers’ recommendations, it can be used in a safe and environmentally friendly way. Vermiculite has a long history of use in gardening, commercial horticultural uses, and construction. I couldn’t find any information on Vermiculite at the Pet Poison Helpline site but Wikipedia states that “Pure vermiculite does not contain asbestos and is non-toxic.”
Activated carbon. A specific type of prepared charcoal is found in white plastic cylinders inside bags of prepared foodstuffs like dog treats, chews and jerky. If broken open the small black granules are visible. These granules are not magnetic. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, it is not toxic.
Salt. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, salt, while commonly used for cooking in the kitchen, is quite poisonous to dogs and cats. Salt poisoning in dogs and cats results in clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, lethargy, walking drunk, abnormal fluid accumulation within the body, excessive thirst or urination, potential injury to the kidneys, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death when untreated.
Based on researching and finding the results of people who asked about a hand warmer that their dog ingested it appears that it would depend on the size of the dog how toxic it would be. Iron toxicity is the biggest concern.
I would also be concerned of intestinal blockage if a small dog swallowed a whole packet though. I did find this case series on hand warmer ingestion that suggests that large amounts of iron need to be ingested for hand warmers to be toxic and there’s probably not that much iron in one warmer that would be toxic to a dog the size of a Newfoundland, however, I would make a call to my veterinarian just to be sure If Leroy ever ate one.
So if your reading this because your dog ingested a hand warmer or the contents of a hand warmer, I would definitely contact your veterinarian or call the Pet Poison Helpline to determine what course of action you should take. It clearly states on most hand warmer products to keep out of reach of children or pets.
Looking for a safer alternative for hand warmers such as ones that are reusable? You can make your own out of rice!
I do have multiple sets of gel hand warmers but the gel seems to get really hard after multiple uses.
**This post is not meant to replace veterinarian advice.
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