Finding The Right Veterinarian

Be On The Lookout For Antifreeze Poisoning

While many dogs and cats do enjoy being outdoors during winter, it can be a deadly time of year for them, and not just because of the cold. Wintertime is when most homes are more likely to have antifreeze lying around, which can be extremely harmful to your pets if they ingest it. If your pets start exhibiting the following symptoms, it's critical to take them to an animal hospital for treatment right away.

Signs of Antifreeze Poisoning

Antifreeze poisoning symptoms typically appear right away, usually within 30 minutes to 12 hours of the animal ingesting the substance. Your pet may

  • Be nauseated or actually vomit
  • Appear to be depressed
  • Develop ataxia; he or she may appear drunk and uncoordinated
  • Display rapid eye movements and twitching muscles
  • Have head tremors
  • Have to pee more
  • Have increased thirst

If the poisoning goes untreated for more than 12 hours, your pet will typically enter a second stage where the symptoms get more severe and include

  • Low body temperature
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Development of ulcers and/or sores in the mouth
  • Dehydration as a result of drinking less and peeing more

The longer treatment is postponed, the more severe your pet's condition will become. Eventually, his or her kidneys will fail and the animal will fall into a coma and/or die. Thus, it's important to pay close attention to your pet's behavior after it has been outside and to take him or her to the vet as soon as you notice a problem. The antidote, fomepizole, is only effective within a short window of time (about 3 to 12 hours after poisoning), so treatment needs to take place right away.

Preventing Antifreeze Poisoning

There are things you can do to keep your pets from coming into contact with antifreeze or being poisoned by the substance. The first thing you want to do is consider purchasing a pet-friendly brand of antifreeze. The active ingredient in antifreeze, ethylene glycol, is what causes the animal's body to systematically shut down. However, there are antifreeze brands made with propylene glycol instead that's not as harmful (but still toxic). Keep the bottle sealed when it's not in use, and place it in an area that's not accessible by pets or kids.

Clean up any antifreeze spills immediately. This includes any leaks from your vehicle. Additionally, be mindful when walking your pet and keep him or her away from other people's driveways and parking spots that may have puddles for antifreeze on the ground from leaking vehicles.

For more information about antifreeze poisoning or to get treatment for your pet, contact a local animal hospital, such as Norwin Veterinary Hospital.