Polyurethane glues, also known by brand names such as Gorilla Glue®, Probond®, Titebond®, Ultimate Polurethane Glue®, Excel glue product®, as well as many other glue products, are water-activated expanding adhesives commonly used for home improvement and repair projects. A common active ingredient is diphenylmethane diisocyanate, or 4,4' diphenylmethane diisocyanate, which may not always be listed on the label. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), there has been over a 300% increase in this polyurethane glue ingestion since 2002. Any ingestion of expandable glue can be fatal and should be immediately reported to your veterinarian.
The most common exposure is from dogs chewing on a bottle and subsequently ingesting glue. After ingestion, the glue expands and hardens. This process prevents vomiting of the product. The glue can expand to the entire shape and size of the stomach causing gastrointestinal obstruction. This hard material can rub the lining of the stomach causing severe irritation and ulceration.
There are several types of glue including white glue, superglue and expandable glues. For more information on super glue ingestion or toxicity, click here
Dogs and cats of all age, breed and sex can be exposed. Cats are more frequently exposed by getting glue on their fur and subsequently oral exposure from grooming. What to Watch For
Signs may vary depending on exposure to polyurethane glue. The most common exposure is ingestion and signs may include: Drooling
Pawing at mouth
Lack of appetite (anorexia)
Abdominal pain or discomfort
Diagnosing polyurethane glue ingestion can be difficult unless the owner witnessed the ingestion or exposure. If the animal vomits, the vomitus may not contain any glue as it hardens, expands and lumps together in the stomach and is cannot be vomited up.
Physical examination may reveal chemical odor to the breath or to the skin or the presence of glue on the fur. The abdomen may be painful and feel distended.
Radiographs by reveal an large mass in the stomach. Blood work including a complete blood count and biochemical profile may be recommended in patients that are depressed and vomiting.
Treatment and recommendations will depend on area of exposure. Treatment of ingestion of glue requires surgical removal of the glue ball from the stomach.
Eye exposure – care may include rinsing the eye with saline or water continuously for 15 minutes. If the lashes are adhered to the skin and causing irritation to the eye, separation may be needed under sedation. Damage to the cornea (corneal ulcerations) is treated with topical medications. Call your veterinarian immediately if polyurethane glue has gotten in or around your dogs eye.
Skin exposure – care may include clipping of the hair with grooming clippers to remove glue. Wash skin and hair area with warm soapy water.
Inhalation exposure - can have a strong odor but does not bother most pets or people. If your pet seems disturbed by inhalation of the glue odor, move your pet to breath fresh air. If irritation or problems persist, see your veterinarian immediately.
Ear exposure - exposure in the ear can be problematic as glue can expand within the ear. The glue bond can sometimes be loosened by gently applying 3% hydrogen peroxide or acetone with a cotton ball or cotton swab. This should be followed by flushing the ear with sterile water or saline.
Ingestion – after ingestion, the glue expands and hardens and often expands to the entire shape and size of the stomach causing gastrointestinal obstruction. This hard material can rub the lining of the stomach causing severe irritation and ulceration. Vomiting is not induced. Activated charcoal is also not recommended due to risk of aspiration. The glue mass is considered a gastrointestinal foreign body at this point and treatment is surgical removal of the hardened glue mass. For more information on treatment and surgery, go to Gastrointestinal Foreign Bodies in Dogs.
Treatment may also include gastrointestinal protectants such as Sucralfate (Carafate®), Famotidine (Pepcid®) and/or Cimetidine HCl (Tagamet®).
Antibiotics may be administered if risk of perforation or infection is present. Common antibiotics used may include Enrofloxacin (Baytril®) or Ampicillin (Polyflex®).
Pain medications may be used to control discomfort.
Most adhered tissues separate in about 1 to 3 ½ days. Margarine, petroleum jelly and/or mineral oil can be used to help separate tissue and loosen glue. Apply these products and wait 20 to 30 minutes. Gently massage the area and gently peel or separate the tissues. Do not force tissues apart. Tissues may be separated under sedation if necessary.
The prognosis after ingestion of glue with prompt diagnosis and surgical treatment is good. Delayed treatment or no treatment can be fatal.
Home Care and Prevention
There is no home care for ingested polyurethane products; call your veterinarian immediately if your pet is acting symptomatic. Do not induce vomiting. Do not feed your pet.
To prevent toxicity, keep all adhesives from pet exposure.