Each year, someone’s beloved pet ingests the dangerous liquid known as Antifreeze.  As an engine coolant, antifreeze contains an ingredient that is poisonous to both dogs and cats.  This agent, ethylene glycol, is greenish in color and sweet-tasting.  Just a minuscule amount will poison a cat or dog.  This is an extremely dangerous and often lethal common household item.

Antifreeze poisoning typically occurs when antifreeze drips from a car radiator and is licked off the ground and ingested by a pet. Dogs and cats may also come into contact with antifreeze that has been added to a toilet bowl when owners are trying to “winterize” their pipes during the cold months.

It is important to know what types of symptoms to look for if you suspect antifreeze poisoning.  These can include:

  • Intoxicated and confused behavior
  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Faster heart rate and rapid breathing
  • Weakness
  • Coma

Some of these symptoms can continue for up to six hours.  Vomiting and diarrhea are to be expected and will cause your pet to urinate frequently.  Kidney and liver problems along with central nervous system damage can occur.  If you see any of these signs or suspect your cat or dog has ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately. 

Your veterinarian can  tell you what steps to take.  You will want to induce vomiting as quickly as possible and can do so by giving your pet 1 teaspoon full of hydrogen peroxide per five pounds of your pet’s body weight.  Don’t give more than three teaspoons full at one time.  Do not induce vomiting if your pet is having trouble breathing, or is unconscious. 

Once you have quickly reached your veterinarian’s office, blood work will be performed to see how your pet’s liver and kidneys are doing.  The vet may administer an antidote to stop the further absorption of the poison.  Time will tell you and your vet how adversely affected your pet will be from the antifreeze consumption. 

Monitor your pet closely for signs of other problems.  If detected early, dogs and cats can survive from antifreeze poisoning. Unfortunately, your dog or cat may experience long-term kidney failure as a result of the poisoning.

 Preventing poisoning is easier than you think.  Below are some actions you can take to prevent your pet from coming into contact with antifreeze.

  • Check for antifreeze leaks in your car
  • Clean up any antifreeze spills
  • Keep antifreeze in a tight container and a high location
  • Dispose of antifreeze properly.
  • Do not allow your cat or dog to wander unattended near antifreeze