Antifreeze Poisoning

As we move into December and embrace the frosty mornings, people may be inclined to stock up on antifreeze for their cars and outdoor pipes. However antifreeze is a potent poison to most animals, therefore care should be taken regarding its storage and accessibility to small animals.

The primary ingredient in antifreeze is a chemical called ethylene glycol. It has a sweet aroma and taste, thus animals may be inclined to drink it if they come into contact with it. Once ingested, ethylene glycol is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream from the gastrointestinal tract (gut) and is metabolized by the liver and kidneys. If left untreated, the metabolites of ethylene glycol cause damage to the tubules of the kidneys, leading to acute renal failure and ultimately death.

The signs of antifreeze ingestion may vary from animal to animal, and be dependent on when the toxin was ingested. Common symptoms include:

  • Vomiting (due to irritation of the gut lining)
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Neurological signs such as lack of coordination
  • Weakness
  • Convulsions and Collapse
  • Kidney Failure

It is important that if you suspect that your pet may have been exposed to antifreeze poisoning that you seek veterinary attention AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Treatments can be given to decrease the absorption of the toxin from the gut, as well as medications to prevent the metabolism of ethylene glycol and intravenous fluid therapy to support kidney function.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call our 24 hour emergency service on 01483 414747