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Preventing Antifreeze Poisoning in Pets


Chemicals, many of them toxic, are a way of life in our modern world. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a home that doesn’t contain at least a few hazardous substances for use in the yard, garage, or indoors. Of the many chemicals that could attract a curious pet, antifreeze is arguably one of the most dangerous.

Dogs and cats tend to be exposed to this engine additive during summer and winter, when we flush out the engines in our cars. Antifreeze poisoning in pets is often fatal, making education and prevention critical to the safety of our furry companions.


What Is Antifreeze?

Ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze, is responsible for keeping the engine coolant from freezing in cold weather and supporting the overall maintenance of the engine. Ethylene glycol has a sweet taste and odor that appeals to many pets.

Other common sources of ethylene glycol include windshield deicing fluids, hydraulic brake fluid, paints, solvents, photography chemicals, and some motor oils.

Antifreeze Poisoning in Pets

It doesn’t take much antifreeze to kill a pet. Roughly 5 tablespoons is all that is needed to kill a medium-sized dog, and a cat merely has to walk through a spilled puddle and lick its paws in order to receive a fatal dose.

The symptoms of antifreeze poisoning in pets typically occur in three stages. Give us a call immediately if you saw your pet ingesting antifreeze or you observe any of the following signs of antifreeze toxicity:

  • Within 30 minutes to 12 hours after exposure – Disorientation, stumbling, vomiting, drooling, tremors, excessive urination and thirst.
  • 12-24 hours after exposure – Symptoms may disappear, but the worst is yet to come as ethylene glycol is metabolized by your pet’s body.
  • 12-72 hours after exposure – Lethargy, depression, halitosis, vomiting, coma, and kidney failure (time varies depending on your pet’s size, breed, and amount ingested).

Preventing a Tragedy

Although pets can recover from antifreeze poisoning if treated within the first few hours, preventing the occurrence is always the best course of action. Clean up any antifreeze spills right away, and keep unused portions tightly closed and stored off the floor and in a high or locked cupboard. Always supervise pets while outdoors and don’t allow them to investigate any puddles on the streets, sidewalks, or in driveways.

24/7 Care

Your team at Heart of Texas is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to meet your pet’s emergency needs. We hope you’ll contact us with any questions or concerns about antifreeze poisoning in pets, and that you won’t hesitate to bring your pet in to see us immediately if you suspect poisoning.

Contact Us

Heart of Texas Veterinary Specialty Center & 24 Hour Emergency Center


115 E Old Settlers Blvd Round Rock, TX 78664

Clinic Hours

24 Hour Emergency Center