The Dangers of Antifreeze

Ingestion of antifreeze by pets may result in kidney failure or even death.

Veterinarians agree that antifreeze (ethylene glycol) poses a serious danger to dogs and cats.  Unfortunately, it has a somewhat sweet taste that is attractive to pets, and just a very small amount can be lethal.

Why is antifreeze dangerous?

Ethylene glycol, when ingested, is converted to calcium oxalic acid where it forms crystals in the kidneys.  This causes damage to the kidneys and may result in kidney failure or even death, if treatment is not received in time.

What if my pet has ingested antifreeze?

The first signs of antifreeze ingestion include lethargy, lack of coordination, weakness, or depression. In later stages, your pet may experience vomiting, diarrhea, inability to urinate and gastric ulcers.  Pets who have ingested antifreeze must receive treatment immediately as there is a very short window for treatment to be most effective. Treatment may include inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal to your pet to absorb the ethylene glycol. Your vet will administer IV drugs to stop the metabolism of the ethylene glycol into its toxic form.

How can I keep my pets safe?

Prevention is key; look for some of the newer antifreeze products on the market which use the less toxic propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Also, look for newer versions of anti-freeze which have an added taste-deterrent to make them unattractive to pets.  Keep your pets away from antifreeze – areas where you store antifreeze, and also areas under and around cars where antifreeze may have leaked.

Make sure your pet has plenty of access to fresh water, because a thirsty dog or cat is more likely to drink contaminated water or antifreeze.  Also, keep your dog on a leash when outdoors so you can keep him away from hazards.

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Erin

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