poisoning inpetsWinter is in full effect, and pet owners are taking precautions to protect their pets from the elements. Keeping pets indoors and warm, putting on protective coats and sweaters, and keeping winter grooming in mind are all important, but for many of us, antifreeze poisoning in pets isn’t as big of a concern as it should be.

Here in Brooklyn, where many people rely solely on public transportation, the dangers of antifreeze poisoning in pets may not seem urgent. However, pets can be exposed to antifreeze, whether or not you own a car, so making sure your pet is safe, along with spreading the word to other pet owners, is critical in protecting our furry best friends.

Antifreeze 101

Antifreeze is typically found inside a car’s engine to protect against temperature extremes. It can also be present in hydraulic brake fluid. The risk to pets come when antifreeze leaks from a vehicle, or when it is spilled on the ground or other surface accessible to pets. The sweet odor and taste of ethylene glycol, a highly toxic compound used in antifreeze, makes it irresistible to many pets. Even a small amount of antifreeze can cause kidney failure and death if ingested.

Signs of Antifreeze Poisoning in Pets

Signs that a pet has ingested antifreeze generally occur 30 minutes to an hour after ingestion, and can last for several hours or longer. Pets exposed to antifreeze can recover completely if they are treated promptly, so it’s vital for pet owners to understand the symptoms of antifreeze poisoning in pets:

  • Vomiting
  • Stumbling, lack of coordination
  • Depression
  • Twitching of the muscles and eyes
  • Tremors
  • Increased urination and decreased thirst

Preventing a Tragedy

There are a variety of ways pet owners can safeguard their pets against the dangers of antifreeze ingestion, including:

  • Only use antifreeze that contains propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Although propylene glycol is less toxic to pets, it should still be kept away from them.
  • Clean up antifreeze spills immediately.
  • Keep antifreeze bottles tightly capped and store them out of reach of pets.
  • Pay close attention to your pets while outdoors, especially on the streets and in alleys, where the chances of coming into contact with spilled antifreeze are higher.
  • Keep other products that contain ethylene glycol, such as paint and decorative snow globes, out of reach of pets.

As always, your team at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital is here for you! Please give us a call or stop by with your questions about antifreeze poisoning in pets, or any other question regarding your four-legged friends.