Protecting Your Pet from Antifreeze Poisoning

antifreezeAt this point during the Pennsylvania winter, many of us are wondering if the cold, snow, and ice will ever end. Logically, we know that spring will come eventually, but there is still a good chunk of winter to go, and no reason to start packing up the snow boots anytime soon.

With such cold temperatures, our cars rely on antifreeze to keep them running smoothly, but this chemical can pose a serious risk to our pets. Learn all about this dangerous compound and what you can do to keep your pet safe from antifreeze poisoning.

The Danger Is Real

Most brands of antifreeze contain high levels of a compound called ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic to dogs and cats. The sweet odor and taste of antifreeze is irresistible to many animals, but even small amounts can be lethal.

Antifreeze is used in car engines to keep them running well and to keep fluids from freezing in cold temperatures. Antifreeze may also be present in hydraulic brake fluid.

Know the Signs

The symptoms of antifreeze poisoning can vary, depending on how much a pet has ingested and how much time has elapsed. Some signs include:

  • Staggering
  • Lethargy
  • Drooling
  • Excessive thirst and urination

About 12-24 hours after ingestion, the symptoms may appear to go away, but as the ethylene glycol is metabolized in your pet’s body, irreversible damage to the kidneys begins. At this point a pet may experience additional lethargy, foul breath, vomiting, depression, seizures, and coma.

Protecting Your Pet from Antifreeze Poisoning

The best course of action, when it comes to antifreeze poisoning, is to prevent your pet from ever coming into contact with the compound in the first place.

  • Make sure leftover antifreeze containers are tightly sealed and stored in a secure cabinet.
  • Clean up any antifreeze spills immediately.
  • Supervise your pet while outdoors, and don’t allow them to investigate or drink from any puddles or liquids.
  • Switch to a safer antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol (still toxic to pets, but the toxicity is less severe).

Don’t Delay!

If caught within a few hours of ingestion, we may be able to help reverse the effects of antifreeze poisoning. If you know or suspect that your pet has consumed antifreeze, bring them in to see us at Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital immediately. Our veterinarians are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for emergency situations.