Winter Danger: Antifreeze

Dog_Hlth_AntifrzePsn_99737194Did you know that Antifreeze poisoning is one of the most common types of poisoning in pets? Dogs are especially interested in the taste of antifreeze and it can usually be found right in your driveway or garage, where it leaks from your car radiator.

Quality, Not Quantity
The “quality” of the main ingredient in antifreeze is what makes it so toxic, even in small doses. A single tablespoon of the toxic in Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol) can cause acute kidney failure in dogs (or be fatal to cats) and 5 tablespoons could be enough to kill a medium sized dog. These small doses could even be picked up on the pads of your dogs feet by walking through a puddle and licking their feet.

The stages of antifreeze poisoning

  • Stage 1: 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion. Symptoms include difficulty walking, staggering (“walking drunk”), delirium, seizures and excessive thirst and urination.
  • Stage 2: 12 to 24 hours after ingestion. Clinical signs can appear to resolve but are actually doing severe internal damage.
  • Stage 3: 36 to 72 hours after ingestion. Severe acute kidney failure is taking place, symptoms can include loss of appetite, lethargy, drooling, foul breath, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, depression, seizures, fainting and coma.

Diagnosis of Ethylene Glycol Poisoning

Blood and urine tests are used to diagnose antifreeze poisoning. If kidney failure has already begun, some of the tests that would have been positive at an earlier stage could become negative.

Preventing Antifreeze Poisoning

  • Look for products that contain propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol.
  • Keep antifreeze containers tightly closed and out of reach of pets
  • Dispose of empty or used antifreeze containers properly
  • Be careful not to spill antifreeze and clean it up thoroughly and right away if you do
  • Don’t let your pet roam unsupervised in places where they may have access to antifreeze (including puddles you may find during walks!)

Manufacturers have recently begun adding bittering agents to the products to discourage pets, kids and wildlife from unnecessary interest in antifreeze.

*Information in this article courtesy of Check out their site for more information on pet poisoning and health.


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