German Shepherd Exposed to Deadly Industrial Coolant – Case Number Matches Pi

The Details

Pet Poison Helpline® Often Uses Math to Determine Treatment Recommendations

 When Nolan Jenkins took his eight-year-old German Shepherd Duke to work with him maintaining equipment used for natural gas compression, he had no idea that math would send him to the pet hospital later that day.

“I took him to work with me like I often do,” explained Jenkins, who lives in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada. “The other guys really miss him when I don’t bring him with me. That day we had a coolant line rupture, and a puddle had formed. It appeared that Duke had cruised right over the top of it, but I wasn’t sure if he had ingested any of the liquid.”

Jenkins was working three hours outside of town, so when he got home, he called Pet Poison Helpline® as a precaution. That’s when the math started.

“One of the first things our toxicology experts do in a case like Duke’s is to determine how much of the potential toxin would need to be ingested to be considered a lethal concern based on the type and size of pet we’re evaluating,” said Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline®. “Fortunately, Mr. Jenkins knew exactly what type of coolant Duke had encountered and we were able to calculate the amount he would have to ingest for it to be dangerous. With this coolant, the minimum lethal dose is a very small amount.”

“They told me that 2-3 tablespoons of the coolant would be enough to cause death in a dog his size,” said Jenkins. “Since I didn’t know how much, if any, he had ingested, the experts at Pet Poison Helpline® recommended I take him in for analysis and possible treatment.”

Industrial coolant, like consumer vehicle anti-freeze, contains ethylene glycol, which if ingested can cause gastrointestinal upset, renal failure, central nervous system damage and potentially death. Clinical signs are often seen as early as 30 minutes after ingestion but can be delayed for up to 12 hours.  Early and aggressive treatment is necessary to prevent the fatal effects of ethylene glycol. Once at Animal Medical Centre North, the veterinary team performed blood work which assessed Duke’s serum osmolality. Animals with ethylene glycol poisoning will have an elevated serum osmolality, but fortunately Duke’s results were within the normal range.  They also performed a urinalysis to determine if calcium oxalate crystals were present, a clinical sign consistent with ethylene glycol poisoning that often indicates a poor prognosis.

“Typically, a patient who ingests ethylene glycol will have a significant increase in serum osmolality within an hour post ingestion,” said Dr. Schmid. “Since Duke’s serum osmolality was within the normal reference range, and there was a lack of calcium oxalate crystals seen in the urinalysis, it was unlikely that Duke ingested a lethal amount of the coolant. The hospital team determined no immediate treatment was necessary and they sent him home for further monitoring.”

“Duke was lucky,” added Dr. Schmid. “If he had ingested an amount of concern, the outcome could have been very different. Mr. Jenkins did the right thing for his peace of mind and Duke’s health by calling us, and then following up with his local veterinary hospital.”

Each call received by the veterinary professionals at Pet Poison Helpline® is assigned a unique case number. Duke’s case number, 3141592, just happens to match the mathematical number of pi.

“Since National Pi Day is March 14, and our experts relied heavily on math to determine his risk of concern, we thought it was appropriate to highlight Duke as our March Toxin Tails case,” added Dr. Schmid.

Pet Poison Helpline® created Toxin Tails to educate the veterinary community and pet lovers on the many types of poisoning dangers facing pets, both in and out of the home. All the pets highlighted in Toxin Tails have been successfully treated for the poisoning and fully recovered.


About Pet Poison Helpline®

Pet Poison Helpline®, your trusted source for toxicology and pet health advice in times of potential emergency, is available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. We are an independent, nationally recognized animal poison control center triple licensed by the Boards of Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Pharmacy providing unmatched professional leadership and expertise. Our veterinarians and board-certified toxicologists provide treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic species. Pet Poison Helpline®’s fee of $85 per incident includes follow-up consultations for the duration of the case. Based in Minneapolis, Pet Poison Helpline® is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at