Monday, June 01, 2009

Super Glue to Close Wounds

A repost from this blog, circa 2007.

Dog men, construction workers, and midwives know that common off-the-shelf Super Glue works well to close most small flesh wounds.

Super glue was first used by battle-field trauma surgeons in Vietnam to glue the edges of lacerated livers together (ever try to SEW a liver together?), and to stop bleeding in chest wounds that other wise could not be staunched.

Since then, it's been used in hospitals, dental offices and veterinary clinics around the world, and is now so common as to be unremarkable, though most just-plain-folks don't know about it.

Hospitals tend to use a butyl- or methyl-based version of super glue which is FDA-approved, rather than old-fashioned ethyl-based super glue, but I assure you there is no real difference between the stuff.

The only reason that regular old-fashioned super glue is not FDA-approved is that the chemistry for super glue is now off-patent, and so there is no money to made in going through the very expensive FDA-approval process. For a single dollar, you can get 5 decent tubes of super glue at the Dollar Store (more than enough for a year's worth of rips if you dig on your dogs twice a week all year long), while VetBond (on patent and therefore very expensive) will cost you $15 for a tiny blue squeeze bottle that will fix perhaps two small cuts. Go with the super glue -- it's fine, I assure you.

To glue a wound shut, it's not necessary that it be dry. In fact, super glue works a bit better if the edges are wet, as the goal here is to weld living tissue together so that it will mend. For that, you want clean fresh (i.e. wet and bleeding) edges.

To begin with, flush all dirt and grime out of the wound with fresh water in a squeeze bottle. Once the wound is clean and moist, pull or push the wound closed while you "spot weld" the edges together with super glue. You do not want to put the glue inside the wound -- you are closing up the top, not putting in deep sutures. Repeat your application of glue between the spot welds until the entire thing is closed up.

For deeper or longer gashes, you will will have to reapply the glue in about four days. After that, however, the wound should be sufficiently knitted together to stay closed on its own. Common "flap gashes" knit up very fast with super glue, and I have repaired a dog with 50 cents of super glue which a veterinarian otherwise wanted $1,000 to sew up. Obviously, very deep traumatic injuries to tendons, eyes, etc. cannot be fixed with glue, but if it's a simple flesh wound, and is not too deep, it probably can.

Super glue has some anti-microbial properties, and the scarring (if any) will be less than if it were sewn together. The bonding strength of super glue glue is equal to a 5-0 mono filament suture.


Melissa said...

Have you used EMT gel ( In what situations would you use EMT gel vs. super glue?


PBurns said...

I have not used EMT, but it seems to be a topical healing aid of which a wide variety exist. I have used Granulex in the past. See

SuperGlue is not a topical ointment or spray to go on the sutface of a wound, but a replacement for good old-fashioned stitches. This is REAL GLUE that will bind skin to skin. If a wound looks like it needs to be sewn up, I will go for SuperGlue instead unless I think it really needs to see a vet. If it's a case of a minor scrape, a rash, a rope burn, or a very minor cut that does not really need gluing, I would go for any one of the topical antibacterial ointments or sprays out there, of which EMT Gel and Granulex are just two.


Anonymous said...

You have some of the best articles on home vet care. Loved your post on the Pet Connection 'pain control' debate. I will have to try the superglue, I have been doing just enough sutures to help the wound heal faster, but the glue would be faster and easier in the field.

PBurns said...


Glad you liked this little post Nightmare. This tip (and a few others) is in the book "American Working Terriers," but I have outlined a new book with (hopefully) more commercial possibilities for ALL dog owners which I think will save folks many hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars over the lifetime of owning dogs.


Anonymous said...

Patrick -- Great stuff, as usual. You mention flushing a would to get rid of dirt and then closing it up. It is necessary or advisable to put some kind of anti-bacterial compound inside the would, or should it be left as is?

PBurns said...

Thanks C -

I never use anything more than proviodine -- no goops or greasy ointments. I just wash it out well, splash some proviodine up in there to wet it well, and close it up with glue. You want flesh to touch flesh and knit up. Any ointment inside is going to prevent that, and will have to first be absorbed before the muscle can knit. Proviodine is as thin as water, however, and disinfects without getting in the way of the muscle and flesh coming back together. The body can tackle a little contamination, and does so all the time. There is a place for antibiotics, but these are best given orally rather than topically. Deep punctures such as you might get on the top of the muzzle from a fox bite, have to be looked at individually. If it's not bleeding, and not going to rip (i.e. a true and pure puncture), I recommend a topical ointment and antibiotics, letting it close up from the inside out, rather than gluing. This will take a bit longer to heal, but there is less chance of an abscess and will heal solid. If it's a shallower rip, however, it can be closed and should be if it looks like it could rip more or if you want to get back into the field sooner. When rips are sutured, if they are any size, I recommend a weap hole for drainage, but with gluing, I do not do that, and have never had a problem. I think glue is simply more anti-microbial and creates a tighter bond which lets in less dirt and discourages more infection. See my antibiotic notes from a few days go, or on the web site, or in the book. A few days of preventive cephalexin after a fox or raccoon rip costs very little (less than a diet Coke) and can prevent a lot of problems in the future.


Anonymous said...

With animal bites at least in humans the general practice is to use as little suturing as possible as it helps prevent infections. I'm fairly certain that the same would apply with dogs.

But with rips of pads etc. using glue is a good option. We've used the medical glue in the past to patch up pads (we got them for free from an ambulance) with some success.

Steve Bodio said...

Good stuff for raptor injuries too-- and for "imping" broken feathers.

walter szymsky said...

Just came back from a coonhunt early because my little walker sally got a 3" gapping wound on her side from a coon. My wife seen the dog and lost it. Just relax I said we can fixit.
#1 Grabbed some betadine and flushed the wound.
#2 Shaved 1" of hair from around the wound site with my electric hair clipper.
#3 Ispect wound remove hair,dirt, etc, flush with beadine
#4 Dry with a paper towel the edge were you are going to glue
#5 from the top working down place a dot of glue on the edge of skin and press the two sides together hold for a minute and release. Continue till you have the wound sealed up I do leave a weep hole on the bottom but I do think you dont have to.
#6 Wash site again
#7 Cephalexin dose 1000 mg first 2 day than 500 after that.
I am not a vet but I do love my hounds and they get the best care. I give them there food, shots, worming, and yes glue stiches. They are happy,healthy,we are a team. I try to learn more about home vet care for them because I feel confident every time they need me I am there for them. After all the do deserve it.Thanks to this web site I have learned so much. I have become a better hunter and dog owner because of it. thnk you, Walt

PBurns said...

Glad this blog could help. Let me know if everything is still fine in four or five days -- by then the wound should have begun to knit up a little.


Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

Thanks for this info! I just krazy-glued my white shepherd foster dog together; he had a one-inch, very clean gash from an unfortunate fight with his foster brother. I love the way it just sealed that thing together!

In the past I have actually sewed up one of my dogs myself, but did not want to put this shy dog through that trauma. He is snoozing with his head on my lap now, and seems relieved to have his owie all sealed up. Sure beats a traumatic, stressful visit to the vet, especially since these things always happen on weekends. Thanks again.

Animal Lover said...

I used superglue on a 1 inch gash that my Weimeramer received from our Sibe on her snout. The gash was deep enought to see the underlying soft tissue however these two play ruff so we are kind of use to nasty cuts. Fortunately this doesn't happen often as even less as they get older. I cleaned the wound with hydrogen perioxide, super glued followed by liquid bandage, and then put the "cone of shame" on her so she could not rub it againsta anything. This happened around 7:30am when I went home to check on her at 11:30 it was still closed but oozing a little. My concern is that there is now a bump under the cut. Could this just be normal swelling? Could it be infected already? Could it just be blood stuck under the skin that will absorb on it's own? I'm concerned I have made it worse by trying to play vet at home.

PBurns said...

Since I have no idea whether you know how to clean a wound or follow directions on closing a wound, how would I know? Hydrogine peroxide is used often on wounns but is actually bad medicine most of the time as it kills tissue and does not sterilize. It can help to lift micro grit from a wound but that is generally not the issue in bite. Glue placed too deep will be absorbed by the dog, but noted, this is to weld the wound on the outside, not for internal use. For infections, see the section on antibiotics.

Dark Fairy said...

Thanks so much for this blog!! I just super glued my St.Bernard/Retriever's foot from a cut she obtained by stepping on broken glass. It is about 1 in deep (looks painful) it is on the far left paw pad and seems to be holding together for now. I will keep checking on it though. One question, is there some way to keep the dog's pain level down while applying the glue? She didn't do bad at all (wonderful dog) but I have a shepherd and if I ever had to do his ...well, it would be all out hysteria! lol He has issues. Anyway, the pain level? Any advice or simply use tylenol?

Dark Fairy said...

I want to apologize since I didn't realize this was a 'terrier' site. I simply googled about super glueing a wound and this site was what came up and I though it had good information. I do not own terriers, my dogs are quite large but even so... I thank you for posting the information. It was very helpful.

dbowles915 said...

I'm about to use some super glue on my lab's snout. She was snapped at by another lab. My dog likes to sniff butts, hence the snapping. Anyway, she has a pretty nasty gash on her snout. We are going to try this as opposed to going to the emergency vet and paying a lot of money.

Thanks for the helpful info!

lurcherjazz said...

Hi,my husbands lurcher,has been injured,his lower jaw skin is hanging down,he's given antibiotics,and it appears to have joined up again,but every time he takes jazz for a walk she comes back and the skin is half hanging down again.can u advise us of the best action to take...this happened 4wks ago now,she's happy enough but dunno how to get her wound healed..any help would be appreciated,thanks very much .

PBurns said...

The dog needs stitches -- no substitute for some places. Glue will not be enough and a staple will not hold if its what I think.

bowfam25 said...

Hi there. I have a follow up question concerning this blog and if someone could let me know asap, that would be extremely helpful. My dog got a pretty good cut on her rib cage area and we tried the super glue (that i thought was genius by the way)idea and she keeps ripping it open. This has happened twice now, and It's starting to heal without being closed up. We covered it with an ace bandage as well as left it open. Someone pleas help! Thank you!

PBurns said...

I cannot give advice on a dog I have not seen. If Superglue does not hold, a vet may be called for unless you have a veterinary staple gun and removed and know how to use it. Sounds like it's healing, but if the dog is in distress, see a vet. If this was your cut would you have it stitched up? Same for the dog as for you.

Anonymous said...

Upon this and others' advice, I used some super glue to close a hole the size of a nickel maybe after my dog managed to get half her staples out. I didn't want to put her through the long drive to and from the vet again + shell out more money for more staples. The wound is very clean, not red, just some regular clear weeping. I'm wondering about the glue "scab" that formed on top of the gash, is it a good idea to try and remove this after a few days? My concern is when she's due to have her remaining staples removed the glue will get in the way.

PBurns said...

Leave it. It will fall off on its own after 4-5 days.


Unknown said...

My dog cut his paw on glass about 1 inch and half inch deep its a little swollen I put gauze and tape since I can't afford the vet should I use glue on a wound like this

Jacoba Charles said...

Thanks for this great blog; I've found it has some of the best information since I got my first dogs two months ago. Since the information in this post is about fresh wounds, can you comment on the use of super glue on partially healed wounds? One of my dogs has pulled out all the stitches from his neutering 6 days ago. The wound is partially healed, with the flesh beginning to knit together, but it looks as if it could easily rip open. Since it's such a sensitive area, I'm tempted to glue it for extra stability, but I don't want to make matters worse...

PBurns said...

Glue will help, not hurt. I think vet should stich and glue to prevent exactly what happened. But gluing now will not hurt.

Labella said...

I docked the tails of a litter using the clamp and twist method. The tail of the biggest puppy opened up after a couple days.. He had a really fat tail and this was a short rottie type dock so I kind of thought it would.
I just pinched the open tail area closed and super glued it in place.
His dock actually looks the nicest of the whole litter.
I will say this, super glue can burn. If you've ever gotten it on yourself, you'll see that it produces heat as it sets.
Because of that, I'll probably put out the vet bond the next tmie I do tails.

pmabz said...

Just fixed a cut on our puppy's paw (broken glass?) with superglue. He squealed doe about three seconds but calm straight after.
I had used glue on myself a couple times - always healed perfectly without scars. Nice to find your article to reassure our kids that what we were doing was OK though. Now reading the rest of your site - love it. Very informative and very entertaining! Thanks. Pete. And Coco.

awesomejess said...

Dog blog I know, but very relevant to superglue first aid.

Cat launched herself through a window trying to get at the outdoor cats...I'm seriously proud of her! However, several cuts - one on nose and a few in right forelimb, one pretty deep (through the muscle, about 1.5").

Tried to stitch her up (towel burrito, local anesthetic) and that did NOT work, so took her to the vet for $400...that cat has about spent her vet money.

The vet was Wednesday. They gave her about 10 stitches in 4 cuts + cone. She managed to pop them all out by the following Tuesday, and the big gash on the forelimb wasn't fully closed yet, but the deeper layers had closed.

So...since I definitely don't have another $400 for the vet treatment that wasn't effective anyway, I got some superglue. Commence cat towel burrito. Leather gloves definitely necessary. She did NOT enjoy the superglue treatment and two of us were barely able to hold her down long enough to apply/dry (and this is a very nice, chill, kitty), but I think its going to work better than the stitches.

My concern is this. Squirmy/angry cat = superglue job not as tidy as I'd like. There isn't much I can do about it now, just wondering if you think it will heal if a) the skin isn't perfectly touching on both sides (1/4" gap in some places) and b) there is dry glue in the wound 'blocking' the skin reknitting.

curiousjorge said...

I have to super glue my boxer puppy (7mos) paw pad slice. Is giving a small dose of sleeping pill advised to keep him calm and not wanting to play all the time?! If not what would you recommend? Great blog. Thanks!

JRich said...

For a tail amputation, would superglue be alright? My pit recently broke his tail and the vet ended up having to amputate. So now I have a 1 yr old docked pit. However, he hasn't quite given up the puppy power and is still rough. The vet kept him 3 nights because he kept bleeding. He's been home almost a week and it's still not scabbed up/sealed. Tonight it looks like he busted the middle stitch in his tail. It's not gushing. It's dripping. We jumped into action and gently cleaned his tail. For extra measure, I put Infect Away essential oil on his wound. It's done wonders the past couple days in getting it to stop draining. I have a loose piece of cotton gauze over the end and joint tape around the outside so he will leave it be again. I'm hoping that I could just pinch together where the stitch was and superglue that spot. Any advice?

PBurns said...

Adan of glue should do it.