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Antifreeze's Danger to Pets

Sometimes, we can’t control what our pets eat, especially when walking around. Antifreeze poisoning is actually a common cause of death for cats and dogs every year. Your pet only needs to consume three ounces of antifreeze to be poisoned – that’s roughly five tablespoons. Read on to learn more about how antifreeze works and how you can prevent poisoning.

What is Antifreeze?

Antifreeze is a popular car cooling system and home plumbing system that prevents pipes from freezing. It’s also used on sidewalks and outdoor decor to prevent freezing.

How Can My Pet Be Exposed?

Most people will use antifreeze in their cars. However, as the car gets warm, some antifreeze liquid will leak through the radiator. If your pet licks the surface, they can ingest antifreeze. It’s unlikely they’ll eat enough.

Another, more likely way they’ll ingest antifreeze is by drinking toilet water. Dogs and cats are likely to drink water from the toilet, and the antifreeze residue is more than enough to cause poisoning.

How Dangerous Is Antifreeze for Pets?

Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, a chemical toxic to dogs and cats. It can affect their kidneys and their central nervous system. It usually takes between 30 minutes to 12 hours for symptoms to appear. If you notice any of these symptoms, immediately take your pet to the emergency room.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of antifreeze poisoning:

  • Confusion

  • Vomiting

  • Increase in thirst and urination

  • Lethargy

  • Sore in their mouths

  • Bad breath

How to Prevent Antifreeze Poisoning

During winter, it’s essential to take a few measures to prevent exposure to antifreeze. Here are some tips to prepare your home:

  • Dispose of used antifreeze containers and rags in a garbage can pets can’t access or open.

  • After returning home from a walk, wash your pet’s paws in warm, soapy water in case he was unknowingly exposed to antifreeze while outside.

  • Regularly check your vehicle(s) for antifreeze leaks.

  • Switch to a brand of antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol. Propylene glycol is not as toxic as ethylene glycol.

While antifreeze can be a tremendous winterizing tool to keep your car and home protected, it can also be dangerous for your pets. Ensure you wash all surfaces and keep an eye on your pets whenever they’re playing outdoors. If you notice any of the poisoning symptoms, give your pet plenty of water and rush them to the emergency room for a vet’s check-up.

Geraldine Orentas is a writer from Happy Writers, Co. in partnership with pet mobility specialists Walkin’ Pets.

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