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MJ Wixsom: Gorilla Glue attracts dogs, can have fatal results

Felix is a cute, almost two-year-old small border collie mix. He was in for annual vaccinations, when his mom mentioned that, four days ago, he got into Gorilla Glue.

I put the vaccines back in my pocket and looked closer at this black and white tail wagger. He looked good. When asked, his mom did say that he had been vomiting.

I quickly realized the vaccines would not be used that day.

All of the isocyanate polyurethane adhesives are dangerous, but Gorilla Glue is the most common because of its popularity.

The polyurethane tastes (and smells) sweet, so dogs are attracted to it.

Once they start eating it, the problem begins. In the presence of water, the Gorilla Glue swells up and then hardens. This often means emergency surgery.

Felix had gotten into it four days ago, so the owner and I hoped it was something else.

Radiographs (x-rays) showed that Felix had an enlarged stomach, even though he had not eaten recently. It looked like he had a 10-cm ball of fluid and air in his stomach. Food can look like this fluid/air mix, but it was fairly spherical.

His blood work looked good, but we started an IV to help with the electrolyte imbalance from vomiting. The glue can cause some issues when first eaten, but Felix was young enough and healthy enough to get through those on his own.

The next day’s fasting rads looked the same and Felix was taken to surgery. Surgery in person is much more exciting than a dry technical surgery description.

Basically, we cut into the abdomen, worked hard to safely get the stomach out, packed sponges to control leakage and then cut a really large hole in the stomach to pull out a very large ball of hardened Gorilla Glue. After flushing the area with sterile fluids, I carefully sutured everything back up.

Knowing that it was going to be more impressive than it sounded, we did use the GoPro camera in a surgery to record it.

To put things in perspective, last month, when we did surgery on Spartacus to remove more than two pounds of stuff, we used an incision that was a third the size of this for Felix.

Felix was able to continue to eat because he had food (and part of a Dalmatian squeaky toy) in his stomach. The

Gorilla Glue formed around the food and then a few chunks broke off and were passed through the intestines. This hole did allow for a very small amount of food to pass and digest.

All in all, Felix was lucky.

He did not eat enough to cause pressure necrosis of the stomach. His mom got him in when he was sick and authorized appropriate treatment. And Felix did well post op.

Two weeks later at the suture removal appointment, I took a photo with Felix and the Gorilla Glue mass. As it aged, it got smaller, but it was still an impressive mass for as small as Felix was. Immediately post op, I had a picture taken with me holding it.

Apparently quite a few people did not know about the dangers, because the photo was shared on Facebook 55 times and over 6,655 people saw it. That is almost viral! (Someone even blocked me because of it.)
Gorilla Glue and the other polyurethane adhesives are great for what they are intended, but if you are going to keep it in the house, it needs to be somewhere safe. Not in a cabinet where it might fall off a shelf. It should be stored in a sturdy toolbox on a stable, elevated shelf or secure drawer is a good idea.

The garage, where the pet does not go, is a better idea.

Clean up any spills immediately and don’t allow pets to be in the area when you are using it.

Make sure any contractors or workmen are aware of your pets during any construction, plumbing, boating or industrial projects. And spread the word.

Felix’s mom had no idea there was Gorilla Glue in the house. His dad admitted to having it in a box while moving.

And while Felix looked pretty good when he came in and would have died without treatment, he looked absolutely great when he left and he did finally get his vaccinations.

His mom did make his dad pay half of the bill.

And my husband now understands why he had to take his Gorilla Glue to the garage.

MJ Wixsom, DVM MS is a best-selling Amazon author who practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky. GuardianAnimal.com 606-928-6566.