iStock_000027491203_LargeWhile we’re lucky to have such lovely temperate weather, some winter temperatures feel oh-so-chilly, especially in the fog or early morning hours. The mercury hovering somewhere in the 40s may not warrant indiscriminate use of winterizing chemicals, but many SF residents find their way to higher altitudes for the best in winter sports.

To prepare for a trip, it’s likely that you’ll flush your car with a healthy dose of antifreeze, right? While this is good for your car, it can be absolutely toxic to your sweet, curious pet. Antifreeze pet poisoning is dangerous throughout the year, but right now it’s vital to increase vigilance and prevention.

What Is Antifreeze?

Ethylene Glycol, the active chemical in antifreeze, is responsible for keeping a vehicle’s coolant running in cold weather and helps keep the engine clean and running well. Antifreeze is an alcohol-based, odorless syrup, but is known to have a somewhat sweet taste that appeals to animals.

While antifreeze is the most common culprit, ethylene glycol is just another common chemical

in some motor oils, photography chemicals, paints, solvents, hydraulic brake fluid, and de-icing windshield products.

Indirect Dangers

The reason why antifreeze pet poisoning is so dangerous is because of the way the body breaks down the the ethylene glycol. After consumed, the liver metabolizes it with an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, which results in glycolic acid and later into oxalic acid. When combined with a pet’s calcium in the blood, calcium oxalate is created and responsible for the deleterious effects on the kidneys.

Red Flags

Antifreeze pet poisoning is known for certain tell-tale warning signs, and we urge you to read up on poison control. The following symptoms are generally separated into three stages. Please let us know immediately if you see:

  • Apparent tipsiness within 30 minutes to 12 hours of antifreeze ingestion; you may also see vomiting, seizures, drunkenness, drooling, excessive thirst and urination
  • After 12-24 hours, you could see symptoms start to go away, but the worst of the damage (after the ethylene glycol is metabolized) is yet to come
  • Depending on your pet’s breed and size, kidney failure will begin anywhere between 12-72 hours after consuming ethylene glycol. Additionally, lethargy, halitosis, depression, vomiting, and coma are part of this third stage.

Effective Treatment

If you catch the incident within a couple of hours, we may be able to assist in an antifreeze pet poisoning. There are available treatments and aggressive therapies, but they are most effective if your pet is seen immediately.

Preventing Antifreeze Pet Poisoning

The best course of action is to prevent your pet from experiencing a dangerous, and even life-threatening, poisoning. Make sure to stow any tightly closed bottles off the floor, and in a sealed, or locked, cabinet. Clean up any leaks or spills on your garage floor. Lastly, do not allow your pet to wander, and inhibit him or her from lapping up a drink from a puddle in which antifreeze may have pooled up.

24 Hour Care

Your partners in your pet’s health and care are always here to help. Animal Internal Medicine and Speciality Services is here around the clock  to assist in accidental antifreeze pet poisoning, and hope you’ll contact us with any questions. Stay warm, stay safe!