By: Dr. Katie Cox – Fairgrounds Animal Hospital
Antifreeze or ethylene glycol is a common winter necessity for many people in the fall and winter months. While it helps keep pipes and cars from freezing, it is a toxic and sometimes lethal fluid for many animals, including dogs, cats, poultry and cattle. Due to the sweet taste and the fact that it remains in a liquid form in the cold temperatures, many animals (mostly dogs and cats) ingest the liquid or walk through it and then later lick their paws. A small amount of this liquid can be deadly to our furry friends. As little as ½ of a teaspoon is toxic to an 8-pound cat. A toxic dose for a 60-pound dog is 1.3 teaspoons.
Ethylene glycol is broken down into several components in the body that cause severe kidney damage which can quickly progress to kidney failure. Many times, dogs and cats will show clinical signs within hours of ingestion of the liquid. It has also been shown that absorption of the fluid through the skin can be poisonous in cats. The most common signs that dogs and cats exhibit are very similar to those of an intoxicated person. Pets may vomit, walk around as though they are drunk, drink and urinate excessively and become dehydrated very quickly. Within 12-24 hours in cats and 36-72 hours in dogs, animals may stop urinating, exhibit vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, have difficulty breathing and even experience seizures or become comatose. Any animal that is seen drinking antifreeze or is suspected of drinking it needs immediate veterinary care. There is not an over the counter treatment that owners can administer at home. If you see or suspect that your animal has ingested antifreeze, call your veterinary office right away. Please be candid about the possible ingestion. Our job as a veterinary clinic is not to make assumptions, but to treat your pets to the best of our ability. The best way we can do that is by knowing what we are treating.
To prevent antifreeze ingestion in your animals, keep it high on a shelf and away from any place they can jump to. If the garage is a warm place for your animals to stay, make sure they cannot reach it or knock it over. Check frequently for any leaks in the bottle or areas where it is used in the household. We care for your animals and want everyone to have a safe and happy winter!