Adhesives and glues may not seem like appealing substances to us, but our pets may be attracted to their smell. They might sniff out an open tube or a spill and take a lick or swallow. Animals may accidentally knock over packaging that contains an adhesive and then walk through it. In these cases they will often try to groom themselves to remove the glue and inadvertently ingest it. In some cases, dogs may ingest large quantities of glue or swallow an entire tube. The risk to pets who have come into contact with adhesives is highly variable and depends on the type of glue and the amount they have been exposed to. Some products, such as isocyanate adhesives (Gorilla glue as an example) carry a high risk with relatively small infections.
Why is it such a danger if my dog ate Gorilla glue?
Whilst isocyanate adhesives aren’t particularly toxic, as they expand and harden they can result in a complete obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. This can result in signs such as abdominal pain, decreased appetite, salivating, retching, vomiting and in severe cases breathing difficulties. Once expanded, these glues often fill the entire capacity of the stomach and cannot be passed. Often the only treatment for this is surgical removal of the mass. All ingestions of these types of expanding glues should therefore be considered potentially serious.
What about other types of glues and adhesives?
Super glue, or cyanoacrylate based glues tend to harden rapidly when they come into contact with saliva. This means that the glue usually adheres to the tongue, gums and hard palate but often dries before it is able to be swallowed. These adhesions may appear grey or white, and will typically detach over a day or two. Whilst you can attempt to gently wipe away these adhesions, they are not toxic if swallowed and vigorous removal is not recommended as it can damage the underlying tissue. Large ingestions of cyanoacrylate glues may carry higher risk as the glue solidifies in the throat and can potentially cause problems with swallowing and even breathing.
Epoxy resin products such as Araldite can be very irritating or even corrosive to the gastrointestinal tract. If large quantities are ingested, symptoms such as sedation, dizziness, depression of the breathing and even coma are possible.
Other glues such as PVA glues, craft glues and silicone adhesive are typically low toxicity. They can result in gastrointestinal upset and possibly obstruction if large quantities are ingested or they are in a solid/semi-solid preparation such as a glue-stick.
All types of glue and adhesives can become stuck in the hair and may cause varying levels of irritation with skin contact. Often these can be washed off with soap and water but you should call the Animal Poisons Centre if this is not effective. Eye exposures can potentially be serious and depending on the type of adhesive, may result in the eyelids being stuck together and/or injury to the eye.
What should you do if you think that your dog or cat has been exposed to glue?
The risk to your pet and treatment recommendations will vary considerably depending on the type of adhesive and how your pet has been exposed. It is always best to contact the Animal Poisons Centre for a free risk assessment and treatment advice.
Prevention is better than cure
Preventing exposure to any of these adhesives is of course better than dealing with the aftermath. Storing adhesives out of reach of curious cats and dogs is highly recommended. Be particularly mindful in your shed/workshop or in times of renovation or moving house, when larger quantities of these products are likely accessible to your pet. In the event of an adhesive spill, clean up or restrict access to the area as soon as possible.
Get in touch with us
If you believe that your pet has been exposed to any adhesive, you can call the Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738 (AU) or 0800 869 738 (NZ) for advice. Our service is free for all pet owners.
Some adhesives dry hard, others stay flexible and some even expand. For example, ingestion of isocyanate polyurethane adhesives (Sika, Selleys, Gorilla glue and others) can result in serious gastric complications in dogs. If swallowed, these glues can expand to a size that may cause an obstruction of your dog’s stomach, emergency surgery may be necessary.