Dogs & Antifreeze: Should I Go To the Pet ER?

Posted Dec 16th, 2019

Antifreeze poisoning is one of the most common forms of poisoning in dogs because it is commonly found in households. Here, our Memphis emergency vets explain why you need to get the vet right away if you think your dog has ingested antifreeze, and how to help prevent if from happening in the first place. 

What should I do if my dog drinks antifreeze?

If you think your dog has ingested antifreeze, get to the veterinarian right away. Your veterinarian will be able to safely administer antidotes to the poison to prevent further absorption of the toxin.

Antifreeze poisoning can be treated effectively if given shortly after the consumption of the antifreeze. Your dog may need to be held in intensive care to prevent kidney failure.

How do dogs get antifreeze poisoning?

Antifreeze poisoning is one of the most common types of poisoning in pets, and typically occurs when the liquid leaks from car radiators. Dogs are attracted to the taste of the antifreeze and will lick it off the ground. Another way dogs may ingest the toxin is from the toilet bowl in homes where antifreeze is used to winterize pipes. 

Dogs & Antifreeze

Why is antifreeze lethal?

The toxin, ethylene glycol, is what makes antifreeze lethal. Dogs can consume great quantities of ethylene glycol before being repulsed by its aftertaste, and by then, it's too late.

It only takes a small amount ethylene glycol to cause fatal damage to the brain, liver and kidneys. In fact, less than three ounces of antifreeze is enough to poison a medium-sized dog. 

How can I prevent antifreeze poisoning?

The best way to avoid antifreeze poisoning in your dog, is to follow a few simple precautions:

  • Keep antifreeze containers tightly closed and stored out of the reach of pets.
  • Take care not to spill antifreeze, and if it is spilled, ensure that it is immediately and thoroughly cleaned up.
  • Dispose of used antifreeze containers properly.
  • Check the radiator of your car regularly, and repair leaks immediately.
  • Do not allow your dog to wander unattended where there is access to antifreeze (e.g. roads, gutters, garages, and driveways).

If you think your dog may have ingested antifreeze, contact our Memphis emergency vets right away.

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