Toxicity associated with ingestion of a polyacrylic acid hydrogel dog pad

J Vet Diagn Invest. 2018 Sep;30(5):708-714. doi: 10.1177/1040638718782583. Epub 2018 Jun 11.


Superabsorbent sodium polyacrylate polymeric hydrogels that retain large amounts of liquids are used in disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, and other applications. These polymers are generally considered "nontoxic" with acute oral median lethal doses (LD50) >5 g/kg. Despite this favorable toxicity profile, we identified a novel toxic syndrome in dogs and rats following the ingestion of a commercial dog pad composed primarily of a polyacrylic acid hydrogel. Inappropriate mentation, cerebellar ataxia, vomiting, and intention tremors were observed within 24 h after the ingestion of up to 15.7 g/kg of the hydrogel by an adult, castrated male Australian Shepherd mix. These observations prompted an experimental study in rats to further characterize the toxicity of the hydrogel. Adult, female Sprague Dawley rats ( n = 9) were assessed before and after hydrogel ingestion (2.6-19.2 g/kg over 4 h) using a functional observation battery and spontaneous motor activity. Clinical signs consistent with neurotoxicity emerged in rats as early as 2 h after the end of hydrogel exposure, including decreased activity in an open field, hunched posture, gait changes, reduced reaction to handling, decreased muscle tone, and abnormal surface righting. Hydrogel-exposed rats also had reduced motor activity when compared with pre-exposure baseline data. Rats that ingested the hydrogel did not develop nervous system lesions. These findings support the conclusion that some pet pad hydrogel products can induce acute neurotoxicity in animals under high-dose exposure conditions.

Keywords: Dogs; hydrogel; neurotoxicity; poisoning; sodium polyacrylate..

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acrylic Resins / poisoning
  • Acrylic Resins / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases / chemically induced
  • Dogs
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Hydrogels / poisoning
  • Hydrogels / toxicity*
  • Male
  • North Carolina
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Acrylic Resins
  • Hydrogels
  • polyacrylamide gels
  • carbopol 940