It’s good for your car this time of year. For your pets? Not so much. The ethylene glycol that is in most antifreezes is extremely fatal when ingested, even in small amounts. Some antifreeze is now being made with Propylene glycol instead. While not AS fatal, it can still BE fatal, and at the very least, will make your pet very ill. Ethylene glycol affects the kidneys, the liver, and the brain. Antifreeze is “sweet tasting” to pets. Although it has a terrible aftertaste, by the time the pet tastes the aftertaste, it is too late. The symptoms they get, and how bad the symptoms are, depends on the amount of antifreeze ingested. Again, just a little is still a problem. The first symptoms that appear from 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mild to severe depression
- Wobbly, uncoordinated, appearing drunk
- Twitching muscles or knuckling
- Rapid eye movement
- Head tremors
- Increased urination & thirst
From 36 to 72 hours after ingestion, add in things like lethargy or coma, low body temperatures, lack of appetite, oral ulcers, and seizures. It is important to get your pet to a Veterinarian quickly. If there are any signs, even if you suspect that ethylene glycol ingestion is a possibility, don’t hesitate, bring the pet to a Veterinarian.
After urinalysis, blood tests, and possibly an ultrasound, more information will be available to the Primary Caregiver. The ultrasonographer will be looking for swelling of the liver and/or kidneys, as well as looking for crystallization of the organs, which would be a sign of the organs starting to shut down. Symptoms can come on suddenly, so stay alert this time of year, and keep your antifreeze in your car, not on the floor! If you can get your pet to a Veterinary Hospital within 5 hours of the pet ingesting antifreeze, they have a much better chance of saving your pet. Either way, your Veterinarian, you, and your pet will have a lot of work to do, to get back to normal.