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.
Any amount of ethylene glycol is dangerous. Three tablespoons or about 50ml can kill a small dog of 10 kilos (22 pounds).
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:
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.
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.
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.