7 Things You Need to Know About Antifreeze

 |  Jun 1st 2009  |   288 Contributions


Working at Dogster is like being one of the people who runs the dog park - the hilarious times are many and the lessons learned are valuable. But sadly enough, it's not always just fun and games. Those days do roll around when you show up and one of the dog park regulars is not there.

Last week, there wasn't just one dog who didn't show up to play. There were three. Dogster dogs Jake, Joey, and Nari had to be put to sleep last week, after having ingested antifreeze.

It is said that antifreeze is responsible for the poisoning of over 10,000 dogs and cats every year. The toxic ingredient to blame is ethylene glycol, a substance that is found not only in antifreeze, but in radiator coolant, brake fluid, hydraulic fluid, and other automotive liquids. Its sweet-smelling and tasting properties make it attractive to pets, and it doesn't take much to cause damage. One to two teaspoons can poison a cat, three tablespoons can kill a medium-sized dog.

Because it's a substance that is readily available at auto supply stores and is used in nearly every motor vehicle on the road, it's important that pet owners know a few things about antifreeze and its effect on small animals. Here are seven things that you should be aware of:

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  • Symptoms vary, depending on how long it has been since the dog drank the antifreeze. They will also depend on how much of the poison they drank.
  • Initial symptoms mirror those of intoxication.
  • The ethylene glycol can cause an irritating effect on a dog's stomach, which may cause vomiting.
  • Dogs will urinate and drink excessively. They may be depressed and exhibit signs of poor balance.
  • Dogs drink more because the thirst centers of the brain are stimulated in response to the poison ingestion.
  • While some dogs may appear to look and feel better 12 hours later, it is only because the liver and kidneys are working to metabolize the ethylene glycol. It is common, however, that symptoms return in 24 hours, and are much worse. Things to look for are dehydration, weakness, depression, diarrhea, rapid breathing, mouth ulcers and seizures.
  • If you are certain that your dog has consumed antifreeze, you should attempt to induce vomiting and get him or her to a medical professional immediately.

A tribute to these dogs and additional information about antifreeze poisoning can be found over on the For the Love of Dog Blog. And feel free to stop by Jake's, Joey's, and Nari's profile pages to leave a message.

Take special care and make extra sure that your poisonous household and automotive substances are inaccessible to any of your little furry friends. We want every dog to stick around as long as is caninely possible.

*Top image, from left to right: Nari, Joey and Jake. The image shown in the tips box is a space-filling model of the ethylene glycol molecule.

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