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Tips for Walking Cats & Dogs in the Winter

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Ethylene Glycol (Antifreeze) Poisoning

Another common winter practice is the changing of antifreeze/coolant in the car engine. There will always be unintentional spills to watch out for, and not everyone is conscientious about cleaning up the spills in the driveway or on the garage floor. While a lot of companies have changed the formula of their antifreeze products so that they do not have a sweet taste, there are still plenty of antifreeze products on the market that do have that tempting sweet smell and taste to them. Dogs and cats, of course, do not know any better, and they lap up spilled antifreeze solutions when they find them on the ground.

The main ingredient of most antifreeze solutions is ethylene glycol, an extremely toxic chemical that leads to a lot of accidental illnesses and deaths in pets every year. If there is no one around to witness the pet ingesting antifreeze and the symptoms are not treated immediately, the animal may suffer severe nervous system and kidney damage within a short period after ingestion. Even the newer pet-safe products have a degree of toxicity, and the only way to avoid accidental poisoning is keep the products out of reach of pets, and off of the ground.

All antifreeze products need to be carefully secured in an area that is out of reach for pets and children, for that matter. All spills should be cleaned immediately using a water hose or similar procedure. In addition, if you are out walking and see a puddle in the street or on a driveway, do not let your pet walk through it or drink from it.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested even a small amount of antifreeze, the best thing you can do is call your veterinarian or local emergency animal clinic immediately. Ethylene glycol is a fast acting chemical, and minutes can make a difference.

For even more winter safety tips for dogs and cats, click here.

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Read more: Cats, Dogs, Everyday Pet Care, Pet Health, Pets, Remedies & Treatments, Safety, , , , ,

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Nicolas, selected from petMD

petMD is a leading online resource focused solely on the health and well-being of pets. The site maintains the world's largest pet health library, written and approved by a network of trusted veterinarians. petMD was founded to inspire pet owners to provide an ever-increasing quality of life for their pets and to connect pet owners with pet experts and other animal lovers. For more information, visit


+ add your own
4:31PM PST on Dec 26, 2013

Thanks for Sharing.

7:09PM PST on Feb 7, 2013

thanks so much. Never even considered some of these

8:17AM PST on Jan 17, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

10:46PM PST on Nov 25, 2012

Thanks for this useful information, and thanks, too, to Blair for informing us about a previously unknown-to-me danger.

2:56PM PST on Nov 25, 2012

thanks for sharing :)

7:10PM PST on Nov 20, 2012

Thanks for the information

12:56AM PST on Nov 16, 2012


8:19AM PST on Nov 14, 2012

Thanks our gov. it is no longer legal to spread salt on the streets. Chemicals, I have even never heard of that before? Here that must have been before I was born if that was the case... :) And spiling stuff on the ground is just irresponsible. For 3 years of having a car, I have only once accidentally spilled some petrol when filling the car and that is an area where you do NOT walk your dogs .... The petrol station!

12:46AM PST on Nov 14, 2012

Really good advice. It made me think that I should check my dogs paws after a walk even on good days, because there could be gravel etc on her paws.

2:31PM PST on Nov 13, 2012

thanks for the information

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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