Pet Care Advice

Antifreeze Poisoning

With all the recent cold weather, we often need to top up or change the antifreeze or screen wash in our cars, or use de-icers on the windscreen. However, we need to be aware of the danger to our pets!

These products contain Ethylene Glycol, a colourless, odourless, sweet tasting chemical that attracts cats and dogs alike. Even a tiny amount can prove fatal to our pets if ingested.

What It Does

Ethylene Glycol is metabolised by the liver and travels in the blood stream to the kidneys where it forms crystals. If not treated immediately, these crystals can cause renal failure and thereby prove fatal.

If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, it is vital to contact your vet immediately. For treatment to be successful, it must be given as soon as possible after ingestion.

The Signs

The first signs of Ethylene Glycol poisoning are similar to alcohol consumption… lethargy, grogginess and stumbling, increased thirst and vomiting. However, this rapidly progresses into more serious signs such as breathing difficulties, cyanosis (blue tinge to the mucous membranes), reduced urine production, blood in the urine and abdominal pain.

The Treatment

One of the most important things is supportive fluid therapy, better known as a drip. This helps to flush the kidneys through. The other main treatment is rather unusual as it involves intravenous alcohol! This helps to dissolve the crystals that have formed. The dosage is obviously rather important to get right.