Antifreeze poisoning in pets
Antifreeze and pets
Just before and during the winter months lots of people are preparing for the cold days that will be upon us. Antifreeze is used commonly in radiators and some screen washes but did you know that it is extremely toxic to dogs?
Dogs and cats are prone to drinking from puddles, ponds and standing water which makes the susceptible to drinking contaminated water. In addition it is very sweet, so they like the taste. The lethal dose is only the equivalent of a 6ml teaspoon full.
So, why is Antifreeze poisonous to dogs and cats?
The active ingredient in antifreeze (and other products) is ethylene glycol and once drunk is rapidly absorbed into the body. Within hours it causes severe kidney damage which is very difficult to treat and in one report involving 25 cases, 96% died.
What can I do to protect my dog from antifreeze poisoning?
With such a lethal product the key is prevention. If you are using antifreeze or any product containing Ethylene Glycol please be very careful where you store it and if you spill any, please clear this away. If you have an ornamental garden pond, please don’t add antifreeze to it in the winter time. It may keep your fountains running in a cold snap, but would you risk your dogs health?
What should I do if I suspect my dog or cat has drunk antifreeze?
If you do suspect your dog or cat has drunk antifreeze then you should call a vet straight away. If the dog or cat is treated immediately after exposure it may be treated successfully. The first sign you see may be wobbliness or falling over (as if drunk). The back and kidney area can be very painful, there may be vomiting and your dog may be very very thirsty. This is all secondary to kidney failure which ultimately leads to the tragic outcome of death. Your dog will need intensive treatment, but unfortunately the survival rate is very low if the kidneys have been damaged and dogs or cats are often put to sleep on presentation at the vets.
Is there an alternative to antifreeze?
Antifreeze is one of the most life threatening poisonings that vets see, but there is some hope as there is a safer alternative. Propylene Glycol antifreeze is more expensive but safe for pets and other wildlife, so please if you have a dog or cat, consider using this instead.