Is Antifreeze Toxic to Pets? 

Antifreeze is a liquid used on cars, trucks, and tractors to prevent engines from freezing in the winter and overheating in the summer. It’s important to consider the risks that this substance can have on pet safety. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, a chemical that is highly toxic to both animals and humans. Many animals enjoy the sweet taste of antifreeze and will unfortunately consume it if they can. Just a small amount of antifreeze can be very harmful and potentially lethal to your pet. We’ll look at the risks posed by antifreeze to your furry friends and what steps should be taken if they happen to ingest it. 

Understanding the Dangers of Antifreeze 

There are three significant stages of poisoning that can be seen with antifreeze. These stages include: 

  • Stage 1: Occurs within 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion and imitates alcohol poisoning. Signs include incoordination, drooling, vomiting, seizures, and excessive thirst and urination.  
  • Stage 2: Occurs within 12-24 hours after exposure. This is when stage 1 symptoms seem to have resolved themselves, although serious internal damage is still ongoing.  
  • Stage 3: For cats this stage occurs 12-24 hours after exposure. For dogs this stage occurs 36-27 hours after exposure. During this stage, severe acute kidney failure has set in. Signs include inappetence, lethargy, drooling, vomiting, seizures, and coma.  


If your pet has ingested antifreeze, you must contact your veterinarian and Pet Poison Helpline right away at (855) 764-7661. This is an emergency and immediate steps need to be taken for chances of survival. Treatment includes administration of the antidote fomepizole or ethanol. Fomepizole is expensive, but life-saving. Dogs need it within 8-12 hours after ingestion and cats need it within 3 hours post exposure for it to be effective.  If treatment has not been administered after this time frame, there’s a great chance of fatality in pets. Aggressive therapy is necessary for survival.  

Ways to Prevent Antifreeze Toxicity 

When it comes to our beloved furry friends, you’d always rather be safe than sorry. To avoid poisoning incidents, such as antifreeze toxicity, you must take the following steps:  

  • Clean up spills and dispose of antifreeze properly 
  • Do not pour antifreeze down the sink, toilet or on the ground 
  • Properly store away antifreeze where your pet cannot get to it  
  • Use pet-friendly antifreeze  

If you have further questions or concerns, give the experts at Pet Poison Helpline a call today!