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Antifreeze

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Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Severe to fatal

Common signs to watch for:

  • Drunkenness
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Sedation
  • Halitosis
  • Lethargy
  • Coma
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Death

Antifreeze, which contains ethylene glycol (EG), is extremely dangerous to dogs and cats. Sources of ethylene glycol include automotive antifreeze (radiator coolant, which typically contains 95% ethylene glycol), windshield deicing agents, motor oils, hydraulic brake fluid, developing solutions for photography, paints, solvents, etc. 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. 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, and 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 occuring. Signs of inappetance, lethargy, drooling, halitosis (secondary to kidney failure), coma, depression, vomiting, and seizures may be seen.

Treatment for ethylene glycol poisoning includes the antidote fompeizole (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.

Poison type: Garage Items

Alternate names: ethylene glycol

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