Refilling the windshield washer system antifreezeAs pet owners, most of us will do everything we can to protect our pets from the dangers of everyday life; we may keep our cats indoors, walk our dogs on leashes, have our pets vaccinated, and keep them away from toxic foods to name a few. Now that winter is firmly in place (and not going anywhere for awhile) The Pet Experts would like to turn the focus toward a deadly, and unfortunately common, pet toxin: antifreeze.

Know Thy Enemy

Antifreeze, or ethylene glycol, is a bright green liquid used to keep the water in your car’s engine and radiator from freezing in cold temperatures. Ethylene glycol can also be found in motor oils, windshield deicing agents, paints, solvents, and other commonly used chemicals.

Dogs and cats generally find antifreeze irresistible, some will even go out of their way to lick it off the ground. Unfortunately, even a small amount of antifreeze can cause fatal kidney failure in pets.

  • 5 tablespoons of antifreeze is enough kill a medium sized dog.
  • A cat can ingest a fatal amount of antifreeze by merely walking through a puddle of the stuff licking it off their paws.

Signs Of Antifreeze Poisoning

If you suspect that your pet has ingested antifreeze, it’s imperative that you get him or her to the vet immediately. The first few hours are critical for the treatment of antifreeze poisoning.

The symptoms of antifreeze poisoning can vary based on the time of ingestion:

  • 30 minutes – 1 hour after ingestion: Pet typically seems groggy, disoriented, uncoordinated, and/or lethargic. These symptoms can last for several hours. Don’t hesitate to give us a call if you observe any of these symptoms in your pet.
  • The second phase of symptoms, which include vomiting, oral and gastric ulcers, and kidney failure, can last up to 3 days.

Protecting Pets From Antifreeze

  • Keep new and used antifreeze in a sealed, leak proof container
  • Check driveways and garage floors for antifreeze puddles that may have leaked from the car
  • Don’t allow your pet to roam unsupervised near driveways, garages, urban areas, or any place where he or she could come into contact with antifreeze.
  • Never pour used antifreeze on the ground, instead bring it to a service station where it can be disposed of properly.
  • Consider using an alternative antifreeze product contains propylene glycol, which is less toxic to pets.
  • Know your pet’s health and behavior norms and be on the lookout for changes. If you think your pet may have ingested antifreeze or another toxin, bring him or her to the veterinarian immediately.

With careful observation and conscientious decision-making, you can protect your pet and the pets around you from the dangers of antifreeze this, and every, winter.