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Anti Freeze Poisoning in Dogs
(Ethylene Glycol Poisoning)



Anti Freeze Poisoning in Dogs
(Ethylene Glycol Poisoning)

 

 

Every year thousands of dogs and cats are accidentally poisoned with Ethylene Glycol. Antifreeze, also called coolant, is the colored fluid (usually green or red) found in your car's radiator. Ethylene Glycol is an ingredient found in antifreeze, radiator coolants, brake fluid, liquid rust inhibitors and hydraulic fluids.

The taste is sweet and dogs are attracted to it. Dogs may find containers that have been used to drain radiators etc and lick the residue or they may find a small puddle leaked from a faulty cooling system on the garage floor.

How much Anti Freeze is toxic to dogs?

Any amount of ethylene glycol is dangerous. Three tablespoons or about 50ml can kill a small dog of 10 kilos (22 pounds). The minimum lethal dose of undiluted Ethylene Glycol in dogs is  4.4 mL/per kilogram body weight.


Symptoms of Antifreeze Poisoning (Ethylene Glycol) in the first 12 Hours

There are two main stages involved in antifreeze poisoning. The short term symptoms and the long term effects. The first stage involves the immediate symptoms after drinking the antifreeze. Your dog may seem to recover from the immediate symptoms after about 12 hours but the effects of the ethylene glycol will continue to cause serious damage to your dog's kidneys. The kidney damage is irreparable.

The time it takes for symptoms to appear and the severity of the symptoms can vary depending on the amount of antifreeze the dog has drunk. Ethylene glycol poisoning can cause symptoms as early as thirty minutes after ingestion. Peak blood concentrations occur 3 hours after ingestion. Early symptoms are similar to alcohol intoxication. The dog may display the following initial symptoms:

  • Staggering Drunken Appearance (this is the most common symptom)

  • Excessive Thirst

  • Excessive Urination

  • Panting

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of Coordination

  • Seizures or Tremors

If you suspect your dog has ingested antifreeze it is of utmost importance to seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you get your dog to the vet the better are it's chances of survival.

Symptoms of Antifreeze Poisoning (Ethylene Glycol) over the next few days

Ethylene glycol causes metabolic changes in the body which destroy parts of the kidneys. Crystals form in the kidneys and the damage cannot be repaired. Unfortunately death results.

Symptoms of kidney damage usually show up 36 to 72 hours after ingestion of the antifreeze.

  • Lethargy

  • Inability to Urinate

  • Loss of Appetite

  • Mouth ulcers

  • Dehydration

  • Excessive salivation

  • Painful swollen Kidneys
     

 
 

Treatment of Antifreeze Poisoning

Dogs caught in the act of drinking antifreeze have the best chance of survival because your vet will know 100% what he is treating and medical attention can be administered immediately.

If you suspect your dog has ingested antifreeze it is of utmost importance to seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you get your dog to the vet the better are it's chances of survival.

The prognosis depends on the time elapsed between ingestion and the initiation of treatment.  Obtaining treatment from your vet in the first few hours is critical. Treatment may be successful within 9 to 12 hours after ingestion or before crystals begin developing in the kidneys. 

 

 

Initial treatment involves reducing the absorption of glycol ethylene from the stomach and intestines and increasing the output of the substance through the urine. Your vet may give your dog medication to make him vomit and then administer a gastric lavage (stomach pump) where water is pumped into the stomach and then drained out to wash the stomach of toxins.  Charcoal is often given to lessen absorption into the dog's system. IV fluids are also initiated to flush the toxins through the kidneys.

Fomepizole may be given intravenously. Fomepizole, a synthetic alcohol, is a specific pharmacological antidote indicated for the treatment of ethylene glycol poisoning.

Prevention

Ethylene glycol poisoning can cause an awful death where the dog suffers greatly. Although some dogs may be saved if caught in the early stages prevention is certainly better than cure.

Instead of using a ethylene glycol antifreeze you could switch to a less toxic alternative. Many pet owners prefer to use a propylene glycol based product. Always be on the look out for any evidence of leaks under your car and always dispose of antifreeze containers immediately. Keep your dog secure on your own property to lessen the risk of encountering exposure to the toxin in your neighborhood.

 

 


This article has not been written by a veterinarian & should not be considered a replacement for a veterinarian visit. Articles are provided for informative purposes only. While great care has been made in the creation of this article, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or omissions on this page. If in any doubt whatsoever, seek professional medical advice from your veterinarian.

 

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