Pet Antifreeze Poisoning

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

Ethylene glycol is an odorless, colorless, sweet liquid that makes up nearly 95% of car antifreeze and can cause poisoning in pets. This type of poisoning typically occurs when antifreeze drips from a car radiator or if it is spilled onto the ground when being transferred to 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 in the case of ethylene glycol ingestion; in other words, a tiny dosage of this organic compound can result in fatal toxicity.

When dogs and cats are exposed to antifreeze, it is essential 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 those of alcohol poisoning. Signs of walking drunk, lethargy, vomiting, excessive urination, seizing, and excessive thirst are all initial ethylene glycol poisoning symptoms.

Stage 2: This stage occurs within 12-24 hours after exposure to the toxin, where symptoms seem to have resolved, giving owners the impression that their pet is improving. This form of apparent improvement is only a pretense that hides what is occurring in your pet’s body; in fact, severe internal damage is occurring.

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


Your pet must seek 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 help in finding an emergency facility.