Pets, especially dogs, will eat the strangest things. The consequences of their bizarre appetites range from minor reactions such as an upset stomach and short-term diarrhea to the more serious such as inappetance, lethargy, vomiting, hospitalization and even surgery. Foreign body surgeries are on one of our more common procedures – it seems like every week we are removing something that has caused an intestinal obstruction in a dog or cat. Often these foreign body removals consist of common household objects. Last month alone we performed surgery on two dogs from different families who had eaten small bottles of Gorilla Glue. That’s right Gorilla Glue – and this is a pretty common thing!
What is it?
Gorilla Glue is a popular waterproof, all-purpose glue. The active ingredient in it is diphenylmethane diisocyanate, now that’s a mouthful! The glue foams, expands and hardens three to four times the size of what is swallowed.
How does it affect my pet?
Once a pet has ingested the glue and it encounters liquid in the stomach, the glue begins to foam and expand; filling up and conforming to the shape of the stomach. Essentially, a stomach shaped glue ball is formed. The stomach ball of glue is an obstruction – food can no longer pass through your pet’s system. You can see how this might create some serious problems for your pet.
Remember, the glue expands three to four times its original quantity meaning even a small amount can lead to a large foreign body obstruction. If enough glue has been ingested the only treatment is surgery in order to remove the obstructing glue.
What are the signs?
If you catch your pet in the act of consuming Gorilla Glue, see your veterinarian for an immediate evaluation. If you did not catch them in the act then signs to watch out for are drooling, vomiting, inappetance, lethargy, and abdominal pain. Call your veterinarian immediately if you notice these signs. The sooner treatment is started the better. X-rays will be taken to confirm the ingestion and obstruction.
Surgery is not without its risks and we take the procedure and post operative recovery very seriously. The good news is that recovery is typically pretty quick! Patients are generally in the hospital for 24 to 48 hours. Sometimes they continue to have some stomach upset after surgery; in which case they are treated with stomach protectants post operatively for about a week. One thing that we discuss with pet owners is the possibility of dehiscence of the internal sutures. This is when the sutures rupture and the surgical site reopens internally. It is important to follow post operative instructions when you bring your pet home and to monitor them closely for any signs that dehiscence has occurred. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, inappetance, and diarrhea. If any of these symptoms are observed it is absolutely essential to bring your pet back to the veterinarian immediately. In the majority of cases recovery goes well and pets are back to their eager, happy selves in a couple of weeks. Both of the dogs we performed surgery on last month for ingesting Gorilla Glue are doing great now!
Prevention requires vigilance and making sure items such as Gorilla Glue are always kept safely out of reach of your pets. When you are using Gorilla Glue make sure your pet is not in the same room as you and when you are finished using it put it away in an out of reach place without delay. Of course, life is full of the unexpected and even the most cautious pet parents can become distracted. When you have dogs and cats you know that things rarely go as planned so being prepared, knowing the signs of illness, and acting quickly are the best ways to protect them and place them on a road to speedy recovery.
Erin Selby is the Communications Coordinator and Social Media Director at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon, CA. A lover of all animals great and small, she is especially fond of the mysterious yet cuddly feline. =^.^=
Dr. Kristi Peterson is a graduate of the Veterinary School at the University of California, Davis. She completed a small animal rotating internship at the Veterinary Specialty Hospital of San Diego. Her special interests include emergency and critical care medicine, surgery, and ultrasonography. She is a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and also has a special interest in feline medicine. She lives in Berkeley with her one eyed Jack Russell mix, Sheldon, and her cat Wilson.