Beware the antifreeze

By January 20, 2018 Uncategorized


Winter is definitely here – and along with it, bitterly cold temperatures. That means that many of our pets will have increased exposure to automobile antifreeze. The antifreeze in your car or truck is composed of water, mixed with various proprietary blends of chemicals. The main ingredient in most of these chemical blends is typically ethylene glycol.

Products containing ethylene glycol are often green or yellow in color. They apparently taste sweet to our pets and are especially enticing when they are warm and the weather is cold outside.

Pet problems occur when leaking radiators drip warm antifreeze (containing Ethylene Glycol) onto the ground and a passing dog or cat licks it up. As little as one teaspoonful can lead to severe kidney damage and even death in a small dog or cat.

Ethylene Glycol Toxicity or Antifreeze Toxicity typically progresses through three stages:

Stage I

The first symptoms are usually apparent within 30 minutes to twelve hours. Symptoms seen are depression or lethargy and begin drinking and urinating an awful lot, they may develop incoordination, weakness, stumbling and excessive sleepiness. Still others may continue on into convulsions, coma and death.

Stage II – 12-24 hours after ingestion

Palpitations, racing heart, panting heavily and difficulty breathing and coughing may occur.

Stage III – 48-72 hours after ingestion

These pets completely quit eating and develop severe depression, lethargy and frequent urination with little or no water consumption.

The good news is that there are several effective treatments for antifreeze poisoning. However nothing is guaranteed. This is a serious life threatening disease. For the best chance of success, treatments must be administered within a few hours of the pet’s ingestion of the poison. Minutes count! Once a pet starts to display symptoms, the prognosis is guarded to grave, even with intensive treatment.

One simple preventive step you can take is to make sure none of your own cars are leaking antifreeze. Preventing ingestion is FAR better than having to treat a poisoning.

If you know or suspect that your pet has gotten into to antifreeze or ethylene glycol, seek veterinary care at once. Minutes do count! Cats and smaller dogs are at higher risk than bigger dogs. 

Call us immediately or if we aren’t open call the Hamilton Regional Emergency Veterinary Clinic at 905-529-1004.