It’s that time of the year in Texas when weather can literally change in an instant. It is important that we remember that with the changes in seasons come many new hazards for our pets. As people prepare their automobiles for the cold weather, antifreeze toxicity should be a great concern to all pet parents.
Ethylene glycol (antifreeze) is a liquid used to prevent liquids from freezing. Most of us are familiar with the “antifreeze” that is in our automobile’s radiators; However, did you know that is can be found in many other types of products (brake fluid, paints, cleaners and solvents). Many of these products are less likely to cause a problem, because these products usually contain less than 10% of Ethylene glycol.
Antifreeze for our cars radiator is 95% ethylene glycol. Because antifreeze tastes sweet, it is very likely that your pet will find it to be enticing and tasty. The minimal lethal dosage for dogs is about a tablespoon of antifreeze for every 10 lbs of weight and about one teaspoon for the average sized cat.
Signs of intoxication can start as early as 30 minutes and last for up to 12 hours post-ingestion. The signs include nausea, vomiting, lethargy, ataxia (unable to walk correctly, as if they were drunk). Dogs may appear to be very thirsty and have increased urination. Cats are more likely to be lethargic.
It is extremely important not to ignore these signs. In order to have a chance of saving your pets life, your pet must receive the antidotes within 4-8 hours after intoxication. Failure to recognize and start treatment in this time frame is almost certain to lead to irreversible kidney failure and death of your pet.
So, be aware of any spills of antifreeze if you change or add antifreeze to your cars radiator. Make sure that bottles are stored properly and away from your pets, and that the bottles are not leaking. It is not uncommon for cracks to develop in the bottles if they are dropped or sat down too hard. Also remember, older cars can develop leaks so check them regularly.