Antifreeze Warning

As the weather changes in the northern hemisphere, many people start preparing for freezing temperatures by using antifreeze to protect their cars and plumbing in seasonal cabins. Spills and leaks of antifreeze pose problems for our curious pets, who like to investigate and taste interesting materials.

There are basically three kinds of antifreeze available:

  1. Methanol
    It is primarily found in windshield washer fluid, gas line antifreeze, solvents, paint removers and varnishes.
    Ingestion can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, central nervous system depression and metabolic acidosis.
    It is rapidly absorbed from the stomach, and clinical signs occur quickly.
  2. Propylene glycol
    This is the primary ingredient in the ‘safe for pets’ version of antifreeze. It is also found in ice packs, lubricants, preservatives and hydraulic oils.
    It is thought to be three times safer than ethylene glycol, but when enough is ingested, it can still cause problems.
    Clinical signs of toxicity include weakness, central nervous system depression, seizures, and lactic acidosis.
    It is rapidly absorbed from the stomach, and clinical signs occur quickly.
  3. Ethylene glycol
    This is the most common form of antifreeze, and is the most toxic. It is also found in brake fluids.
    It has a sweet smell and taste and pets are usually attracted to it.
    Clinical signs include vomiting, increased urination, increased thirst, weakness, seizures, coma, kidney failure and death.
    It is rapidly absorbed from the stomach, and clinical signs occur quickly.

Prognosis for ingestion of any of these can be good if aggressive treatment is rapidly instituted. If your pet ingests any of the above products, please call immediately.

Animal Medical Center of Chicago
773.525.3353

After Hours

Chicago Veterinary Emergency Services (Chicago)
773.281.7110

Animal Emergency and Referral Care (Northbrook)
847.564.5775

Animal 911 (Skokie)
847.673.9110

Pet Poison Helpline
800.213.6680

ASPCA Poison Control Center
888.426.4435

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