Pet Antifreeze Poisoning

When the winter season makes its debut to the East Coast, snow flakes, frigid air and blustery winds accompany it’s unveiling. As a necessary precaution to prepare their cars for the cold weather ahead, people use antifreeze (ethylene glycol) to help keep their radiators from freezing.

Ethylene glycol is an odorless, colorless, sweet liquid that makes up nearly 95% of car antifreeze. This type of poisoning typically occurs when antifreeze drips from a car radiator or if it is spilled onto the ground when being transferred into the car engine. Your pet may then lick the spillage off of the floor or lick their paws off after running through the antifreeze puddle, ingesting the toxin into their bodies. There is a very small range of margin of toxicity when it comes to ethylene glycol ingestion, in other words, a small dosage of this organic compound can result in fatal toxicity.

When dogs and cats are exposed to antifreeze, it is crucial that they immediately receive treatment.

Signs of Ethylene Glycol Poisoning:

Stage 1: Within 30 minutes of ingestion, animals can exhibit symptoms that look similar to that of alcohol poisoning. Signs of walking drunk, lethargy, vomiting, excessive urination, seizing and excessive thirst are all initial symptoms of ethylene glycol poisoning.

Stage 2: This stage occurs within 12-24 hours after exposure to the toxin, where symptoms seem to have resolved, causing owners to feel that their pet is improving, This type of visual improvement is only a pretense to what is actually occurring in your pet’s bodies, in fact, severe internal damage is occurring.

Stage 3:
12-72 hours after ingestion, the kidneys start failing. Symptoms include diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, depression followed by death.


It is crucial that your pet seeks immediate treatment from an Emergency Veterinary Center for quick ethylene glycol testing and treatment with a special antidote. If you believe your pet has been exposed to antifreeze please call your veterinarian immediately, for assistance in finding an emergency facility.