Sat, 01/22/2022 - 7:42pm

Hazards Ahead

The perils of ibuprofen and expanding glues


Is ibuprofen toxic to dogs?


Ibuprofen is the generic name of a commonly used, over-the counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) taken by humans to treat fever, pain, inflammation and swelling. Brand names of ibuprofen include Advil, Motrin, Midol, Menadol, PediaCare and Nuprin. Other human NSAIDs include aspirin and naproxen (brand name Aleve or Naprosyn). NSAIDs treat pain and inflammation by blocking certain processes in the body.

Dogs can take NSAIDs, too, but these drugs tend to have different mechanisms of action than the most common human NSAID varieties. NSAIDs for canines include carprofen (Rimadyl), meloxicam (Metacam), deracoxib (Deramax) and firocoxib (Previcox), among others.

Very few human-approved NSAIDs are considered safe for use in dogs, and some can be deadly if consumed. The sweet candy coating of ibuprofen makes it attractive to dogs. Poison Control Hotline call records show it is one of the most common toxicities reported in dogs. Some well-meaning owners attempt to treat their dog’s aches and pains with ibuprofen without understanding how dangerous the drug can be.

Prostaglandins are hormone-like chemicals in the body that contribute to inflammation, pain and fever by raising the body’s temperature and dilating blood vessels. This causes redness and swelling in the place they are released. Ibuprofen, and other NSAIDs, block a specific enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX) used by the body to make prostaglandins. By reducing the production of prostaglandins, NSAIDs help relieve the discomfort of fever, reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Unfortunately, the chemical processes of prostaglandins are also important in maintaining normal gastrointestinal, kidney, liver and blood-clotting functions. Blocking these functions can lead to serious problems.

When ibuprofen is ingested, it is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. Instead of being removed from the body, ibuprofen is released from the liver and reabsorbed in the intestines repeatedly. This recycling prolongs the poisoning effects. Toxicity may occur from a single large dose or repeated smaller doses. Puppies and older dogs have a higher risk of being poisoned. Other current medical conditions, such as kidney or liver disease, and medications, including corticosteroids, increase the risk.


What are the signs of ibuprofen toxicity?


The severity of the symptoms depends on the amount of ibuprofen the dog has taken. The most common effect is damage to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, particularly the esophagus and stomach. Bleeding may develop, and the blood loss may be fatal if a large enough dose is ingested.

Kidney failure, liver failure and neurologic signs may also be present. Other signs of ibuprofen toxicity are weakness, vomiting, tarry diarrhea, depression, pale gums, loss of appetite, seizures, collapse and sudden death.

The diagnosis of ibuprofen toxicity tends to rely on signs that the dog has eaten it. Usually, the chewed-up plastic container is evidence. Bloodwork to evaluate organ function and blood-cell counts is performed, along with testing of the urine. Ibuprofen levels in the blood can be measured at a human hospital or specialized laboratory.


Can ibuprofen toxicity be treated?


If the dog is taken to the veterinarian within a few hours of ingestion, vomiting may be induced to remove the ibuprofen. Once the vomiting is controlled, activated charcoal is administered to decrease absorption of any remaining ibuprofen by the gastrointestinal tract. Antacids, anti-nausea medications and gastrointestinal protectants are then given.

There is no antidote to ibuprofen. Depending upon the dose ingested, hospitalization for intravenous fluid therapy may be required. Repeated bloodwork to monitor the liver and kidney function, as well as the red-blood-cell count, may be needed for several days to months. Blood transfusions can restore low red-blood-cell levels.

Sadly, some dogs will die in spite of aggressive treatment. Keep all medications well out of the reach of your dogs. Remember, even a few pills found in a gym bag or purse can be fatal to a small dog. Never assume that human drugs, even the over-the-counter ones, are safe for your dog, and do not give your dog any medication without first checking with your veterinarian.


How is Gorilla Glue harmful to my dog?


Gorilla Glue, as well as Elmer’s Glue-All Max, contains methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI). Both are polyurethane-based glue products that expand significantly and harden when exposed to moisture. If swallowed in liquid form, these products will expand and harden once in the stomach. This creates a life-threatening blockage.

If your dog swallows this type of glue, the warm, moist environment of the stomach causes the glue to foam and enlarge into a solid mass. The glue appears to harden within a few minutes of ingestion. It effectively becomes a foreign body and blocks the passage of food either in or out of the stomach. When a large amount of glue is eaten, it hardens in the shape of the stomach. The expansion can reach up to eight times the size of the initial volume of the glue ingested. This hardened material usually cannot be vomited up because it is too big to go back through the esophagus.

Even if you see your dog swallow the glue, it is not advisable to induce vomiting. This could cause the expanding glue to get stuck in the throat or be inhaled into the lungs. Ingestion of as little as half an ounce has been documented to form a foreign body large enough to cause blockage of the stomach and intestines.

Signs that your dog has eaten this glue can be seen anywhere from 15 minutes to 20 hours after ingestion. Symptoms include vomiting (sometimes it is bloody), distended stomach, painful abdomen, lack of appetite and lethargy.

If you did not witness your dog eating the glue, but found remnants of destroyed glue bottles or glue residue on your dog’s fur, radiographs of the abdomen or endoscopy of the esophagus and stomach are typically necessary to confirm a diagnosis. I remember passing a stomach tube on a dog that showed a full stomach on the X-rays. The tube kept “bouncing back” when it reached the stomach.

Surgery is the only possible treatment since the foam is not digestible. This is a surgical emergency. The stomach can ulcerate, perforate and rupture if the glue is not removed soon after ingestion. Smaller balls of glue may be retrieved with an endoscope. A few drops of glue should not be a problem and likely just result in a mild upset stomach. If you are not sure how much glue your dog has swallowed, it is recommended that your dog see your veterinarian ASAP.

Because MDI is not always listed on the product label of the glue, you should consider any expanding adhesive as potentially containing it. To prevent your dog from eating these glues, store them properly and securely where there is no chance your dog can get to them.



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