It’s hard to imagine life without antifreeze. It keeps your car running on cold winter days, acts as a deicing agent for windshields, and is a primary ingredient in hydraulic brake fluid. Antifreeze can also be found in things unrelated to vehicles, such as paint solvent and developing solutions for photography. As helpful as it is, antifreeze is also toxic or deadly to dogs and cats because it contains ethylene glycol. Ingesting less than a teaspoon of antifreeze can cause severe acute kidney failure in cats. For dogs, a tablespoon has the same effect.

Preventing Antifreeze Poisoning

To a thirsty dog or cat, antifreeze on the driveway looks just like water. Since you can’t always stop your car from dripping the fluid, be certain to clean up spills immediately. Also, keep your pet in the house or secured in another part of the yard if you’re going to be working on your car. You should store paint solvents and other commercial products containing ethylene glycol high on a garage shelf out of your pet’s reach.

Symptoms and Stages of Antifreeze Poisoning
Sometimes pets get into things they shouldn’t despite your best efforts. If you know or suspect that your pet drank antifreeze, look for the following symptoms and stages: 

  • Stage 1: This can occur anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours after your pet ingested ethylene glycol. His or her behavior may resemble a human with alcohol poisoning. Symptoms to watch for include excessive thirst, excessive urination, drooling, vomiting, and seizures. 
  • Stage 2: Dogs and cats who have ingested antifreeze progress to this stage within 12 to 24 hours. It may appear that your pet’s symptoms have resolved when they are getting worse instead. 
  • Stage 3: This occurs in cats within 12-24 hours and dogs within 36-72 hours. In addition to Stage 1 and Stage 2 symptoms, look for lethargy, lack of appetite, bad breath, coma, and depression.
Immediate Treatment is Essential
Please contact Battletown Animal Clinic at 540-955-2171 immediately during business hours. We must administer treatment within the first several hours to ensure your pet’s survival. When our clinic is closed, call Valley Veterinary Emergency and Referral Service at 540-662-7811. Valley Veterinary treats pets on an emergency basis 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is located in Winchester, Virginia. 

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