Antifreeze is a liquid used in vehicles to prevent engines from freezing in the winter and overheating in the summer. However, this substance poses a significant risk to our pets. Antifreeze contains a toxic chemical called ethylene glycol, which can be harmful to both animals and humans. Shockingly, many animals are attracted to the sweet taste of antifreeze and may consume it if given the opportunity. Even a tiny amount of antifreeze is dangerous and potentially deadly for our pets. Read below to explore the dangers of antifreeze and what to do if your pet accidentally ingests it.
Assessing the Harmful Risks of Antifreeze
After ingestion, there are three significant stages of poisoning that can be seen with antifreeze. Below are the stages and what to expect during each one:
Stage 1: Symptoms develop within 30 minutes to 12 hours following ingestion and imitate alcohol poisoning. Signs include incoordination, drooling, vomiting, seizures, and excessive thirst and urination.
Stage 2: Within 12-24 hours after exposure, the second stage begins. Although the initial symptoms of the first stage may seem to have diminished, significant internal damage is ongoing.
Stage 3: Cats experience this stage 12-24 hours after exposure, while dogs experience it 36-72 hours after exposure. In this stage, there is a severe and sudden onset of kidney failure. Symptoms include lack of appetite, lethargy, excessive drooling, vomiting, seizures, and coma.
In the event that your pet has consumed antifreeze, it is crucial to immediately contact your veterinarian and Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661. This is considered an emergency and prompt action must be taken to increase the chances of survival. Treatment involves the administration of either the antidote fomepizole or ethanol. It is important to note that fomepizole can be costly, but it is a life-saving option. Dogs should receive this treatment within 8-12 hours after ingesting the antifreeze, while cats should receive it within 3 hours after exposure for it to be effective. Failure to administer treatment within these time frames significantly decreases the chances of survival, therefore aggressive therapy is essential for your pet’s survival.