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.