Phone: 718-704-6821



·     This article describes how Fatal Antifreeze Poisoning can be to our pets and what precautions you should take to avoid this from happening.


Antifreeze poisoning is one of the most common forms of poisoning in small animals and this is because it is so commonly found in households. 

Ethylene glycol (EG) the main ingredient in most antifreeze brands has an inviting aroma and a sweet flavor. Its appealing smell and taste often tempt animals and children to drink the highly poisonous substance. Very small amounts of antifreeze can be fatal.  If a dog or cat walks through a puddle of antifreeze and then licks its paws it can ingest enough antifreeze to cause death!

It is the toxin, Ethylene Glycol that makes antifreeze lethal. Because of this dogs and cats will consume great quantities of ethylene glycol before being repulsed by its aftertaste. By then it is too late. As little as a tablespoon can result in severe acute kidney failure in dogs while as little as 1 teaspoon can be fatal to cats. When dogs or cats are exposed to ethylene glycol immediate treatment is necessary. Antifreeze poisoning affects the brain, liver and kidneys.

Keep antifreeze out of the reach of animals and know the signs of antifreeze poisoning. It only takes a few tablespoons of highly toxic antifreeze to seriously jeopardize an animal's life. Families can help save their own pets from an encounter with antifreeze by closely watching the animals in areas where antifreeze may be accessible such as roads, driveways, basements or your garage.



Some common signs of antifreeze poisoning in dogs and cats include:

Ø  Staggering Drunken Appearance

Ø  Wobbly or Uncoordinated Movement

Ø  Panting

Ø  Vomiting

Ø  Excessive urination

Ø  Diarrhea

Ø  Loss of Coordination

Ø  Rapid Heart Beat

Ø  Depression

Ø  Weakness

Ø  Seizures, Shakes or Tremors

Ø  Fainting


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


Three Stages of Poisoning Can Be Seen with Ethylene Glycol:

Stage 1: This occurs within 30 minutes to 12 hours and looks similar to alcohol poisoning. Signs of walking drunk, drooling, vomiting, seizuring, excessive thirst and urination may be seen.

Stage 2: This occurs within 12-24 hours post-exposure and clinical signs seen to “resolve” when in fact more severe internal injury is still occurring.

Stage 3: In cats this stage occurs 12-24 hours after ethylene glycol exposure. In dogs this stage occurs 36-72 hours post-ingestion. During this stage severe acute kidney failure is occurring. Signs of inappetence, lethargy, drooling, bad breath (secondary to kidney failure), coma, depression, vomiting and seizures may be seen.

Treatment for ethylene glycol poisoning includes the antidote fomepizole (also known as 4-MP) or ethanol. The antidote, fomepizole (also known as 4-MP), is expensive but life-saving when administered to dogs within the first 8-12 hours of ingestion. In cats, the antidote must be administered within 3 hours of ingestion to be effective; after this time period ethylene glycol poisoning is almost 100% fatal without hemodialysis. Aggressive therapy is necessary to survive.

The diagnosis of antifreeze poisoning is made by blood and urine tests although some of these tests become negative by the time kidney failure develops. The treatment for antifreeze poisoning needs to start as soon as possible after ingestion. The earlier treatment is started the greater the chance of survival.  Once kidney failure develops most animals will die.



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


 Antifreeze Poisoning Can Be Avoided by Following a Few Simple Precautions:

·         Instead of using ethylene glycol antifreeze you could switch to a less toxic alternative. (Many pet owners prefer to use a “propylene glycol” based product.)

·         Keep antifreeze containers tightly closed and stored out of the reach of pets.

·         Check the radiator of your car regularly and repair leaks immediately.

·         Take opened and used antifreeze containers to a service station for disposal.

·         Check your driveway for puddles of antifreeze that may have leaked from your car 

·         Do not let your dog or cat wander around unattended where there is access to antifreeze (e.g., roads, gutters, garages and driveways).

·         The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have labeled “propylene glycol” safe and it is now used for antifreeze.

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



Kimberly Dillon

Confident K9 Education 
La Bella Pooch
8001 17th Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 
Phone: (347) 312-2856 or (718) 704-6821
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