Antifreeze and Dogs

Q: What’s the big deal about antifreeze being bad for dogs? Is it really that harmful?

A: Anti-freeze is extremely toxic to dogs and cats. unfortunately, anti-freeze is also sweet-tasting and pets will lap it up if they find even a few drops in the driveway or on the garage floor.

One-half teaspoon of anti-freeze per pound of dog body weight is enough to cause the clinical signs of poisoning. The poison attacks the nervous system and the kidneys; the symptoms are depression, lack of coordination, vomiting and diarrhea, increased thirst, and seizures. The toxin is rapidly absorbed; symptoms can begin within an hour of exposure.

The toxic ingredient in most anti-freeze is ethylene glycol. If you suspect your dog has ingested anti-freeze, call your veterinarian immediately. There is an antidote available, but time is of the essence; the poison can be fatal if the kidneys are damaged. Antizol-vet is available as a prescription drug to be given intravenously if anti-freeze poisoning is suspected or confirmed. There is a new anti-freeze on the market made from propylene glycol that appears to be safer. However, propylene glycol is also toxic; although it does not attack the kidneys, it does affect the nervous system and may cause lack of coordination and seizures.

The best bet is to carefully cap all containers of anti-freeze and keep them out of the reach of pets. If small amounts do drip when the anti-freeze is being added to the car radiator, clean them up and flush the area with water.

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