Antifreeze (ethylene glycol) is a product added to car windshield wiper reservoirs and in car radiators to prevent freezing. Antifreeze poisoning occurs when pets lick or drink any of the substance that may have spilled or leaked onto driveways, garage floors or parking lots. You can usually recognize it by the bright green color.
While it may not seem logical that a pet would want to lick a chemical substance, antifreeze actually has a sweet taste. Dogs are a bit more at risk because cats don’t generally have a sweet tooth but if outdoor water sources have frozen over, a pet may resort to drinking from a puddle of antifreeze. Cats who have acquired a sweet tooth from being fed table food will also be at higher risk.
A small amount of antifreeze is all it takes to cause poisoning and the substance is absorbed rapidly by the body.
Signs of Poisoning
A common sign of antifreeze poisoning is that your pet will appear drunk and perhaps have a wobbly gait. There may also be rapid breathing, depression, twitching muscles, diarrhea and increased thirst and increased urination. These symptoms usually then disappear which may lead you to believe your pet is better but the poison is advancing toward causing kidney failure at this point.
The most important step is to get to the veterinarian right away. If poisoning occurs during off-hours and your veterinary clinic doesn’t have emergency services, it’s crucial that you know where an emergency clinic is located or know of another veterinary clinic that does have off-hours emergency care.