A closer look: Super Glue Toxicosis in Cats
Glue toxicosis varies in severity based on the kind of adhesive ingested.
Animals that ingest superglues do not tend to develop severe symptoms, as most glues tend not to cause systemic toxicosis.
Animals that ingest expandable polyurethane glues, commercially known as Gorilla Glue, require immediate medical attention as these kinds of adhesives have expanding properties and can cause life-threatening GI obstructions, stomach rapture, and peritonitis.
While toxicosis is caused by the ingestion of adhesive products, animals can also suffer from external complications due to dermal, ocular, or aural contact.
If the glue enters into contact with the animal’s eyes, it can cause corneal damage and secondary bacterial eye infections that put the animal's eyesight at risk.
Glue toxicosis is caused by the ingestion of adhesive products. Adhesives are substances that are able to bind separate items together. Several kinds of adhesives can be found in regular households; these cause differing degrees of toxicosis in animals.
Super glues: contain Ethyl cyanoacrylate (ECA) and Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA). While the ingestion of superglues can cause problems, this generally does not cause emergency status as they do not cause systemic toxicity.
Expandable polyurethane glue (Gorilla Glue): expandable glues contain polyphenyl isocyanate and diphenylmethane diisocyanate. Ingestion of these kinds of adhesives is an emergency as, once ingested, they tend to expand and occupy empty spaces in the animal's system, potentially causing intestinal obstructions.
**Even when not ingested, glues can cause a number of complications due to ocular, aural, or dermal contact. **
Testing and diagnosis
Diagnosis of glue toxicosis is generally straightforward, as even when not witnessed, it leaves signs such as the presence of glue on skin, paws, and teeth. Cats presenting symptoms of glue toxicosis undergo the following diagnostic tools to determine the severity of the condition:
- Physical examination
- Abdominal diagnostic imaging: to confirm the presence of solidified glue in the animal's stomach
- Endoscopy: to confirm the presence of solidified glue in the animal's stomach
In cases where glue ingestion is witnessed, showing the container to the veterinarian or taking a photo of the glue's ingredients helps reduce the time needed for identification.
Steps to Recovery
Once diagnosed, treatment is based on the kind of glue, method of contact, and severity of symptoms.
Glue ingestion If an animal ingests adhesives, treatment is focused on decontamination, prevention of secondary conditions, and supportive care.
Note: Induction of vomiting or administration of activated charcoal should only be performed by a veterinarian. There is no safe way to induce vomiting or administer activated charcoal at home.
General treatment options include:
- Food and water restriction
- IV fluid therapy
- Pain medications
- GI protectant drugs
- Dietary changes: diets high in fiber can help the expulsion of dried glue from the animal's digestive tract
- Separation of oral tissue: tissue generally separates spontaneously, but it may take up to four days; separation must be performed under general anesthesia and involves the application of lubricants (e.g., petroleum jelly and mineral oil).
- Supportive care
Note: never pull glued tissue apart at home.
Treatment of expandable polyurethane glue ingestion (Gorilla Glue)
- Removal of glue from the oral cavity
- Gastrostomy: surgery is often required to remove the glue mass
- Supportive care
- Gently washing eyes with a saline water solution
- If the glue has entered into contact with the cornea, general anesthesia is needed to surgically remove the glue from the eye surface
- Ophthalmic antibiotics: antibiotics are used to prevent secondary eye infections
Aural or skin contact
- Hydrogen peroxide: the application of hydrogen peroxide to the affected area is used to weaken the glue's bond
- External washing of the animal's skin
Superglue and white glue ingestion typically cause only mild symptoms, and affected animals have a good prognosis. Ocular exposure can cause corneal damage and secondary eye infections that, if left untreated, can lead to blindness.
Ingestion of polyurethane glue is potentially life-threatening, and untreated animals may die due to stomach rapture or peritonitis. If promptly treated and the glue mass is removed surgically, prognosis is good.
Glue toxicosis is easily and entirely preventable by ensuring that pets never enter into contact with any kind of glue or adhesive. Prevention strategies include:
- Diligent storage of glue products
- Keeping freshly glued objects out of reach of pets and children
- Diligent discarding of glue containers
Is Super Glue Toxicosis in Cats common?
Super glue toxicosis is a rare condition in cats.
- GI protectants
- Pain medication
- Washing eyes with saline water
- IV fluid therapy