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The Highcroft Blog

Antifreeze poisoning in cats and dogs

Monday, January 02, 2017

We've had a few frosty days recently so we’d like to remind you of the potential dangers of antifreeze poisoning.

Antifreeze poisoning typically happens when the liquid drips from a car’s radiator, creating puddles on driveways and roads, or mixing with existing water around the car.

Antifreeze contains a substance called ethylene glycol which is sweet to taste and very appealing to animals. Ingesting even very small amounts of antifreeze can make pets critically ill.

Poisoning in cats and dogs acts fast and should be treated urgently. Signs include:

  • 0-12 hours – depression, unsteadiness, lack of appetite, vomiting, increased drinking and urination. Signs are similar to ‘drunkenness’
  • 12-24 hours – increased heart rate and respiratory rate
  • 24-72 hours – the kidneys may now begin to fail; symptoms include severe depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration and eventually death

Antifreeze poisoning can be avoided by taking even a few precautions such as: keeping antifreeze containers firmly closed and kept completely out of reach, and making sure all antifreeze containers are properly disposed of (and still tightly closed). If you notice or suspect a spillage that could potentially contain antifreeze, clear it up immediately and check your car regularly for leaks.

 As you may be aware, there have been reports in the local news of suspected antifreeze poisonings in areas such as Blaise Castle, Ashton Court and Victoria Park in Bristol. Although we cannot confirm these occurrences, we still would advise pet owners to vigilant in recognising the above symptoms.

If you suspect that your pet has antifreeze poisoning, call your vet immediately. If it happens outside of usual opening hours, Highcroft’s Veterinary Hospital in Whitchurch has a vet on-site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year so that any emergencies can be treated straight away.


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