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My Dog Drank Antifreeze Should I Go to the Pet ER?

Antifreeze is extremely harmful to dogs, and even a tiny amount of it can be deadly. Our veterinarians in Woburn have listed the symptoms of antifreeze poisoning in dogs and are guided on what to do if your furry friend has consumed any.

Antifreeze Poisoning

Unfortunately, many pets die every year due to antifreeze poisoning, which is a common hazard for dogs. Your dog might accidentally consume it by licking a few drops of antifreeze from your driveway after it has leaked from your car. 

The lethal antifreeze chemical is ethylene glycol, which dogs can consume in large quantities before experiencing any aftertaste. Unfortunately, it is usually too late by the time the aftertaste starts. Even less than three ounces (88 ml) of this liquid is enough to poison a medium-sized dog and cause fatal damage to their system, including the liver, brain, and kidneys.

It's worth noting that ethylene glycol is also used in hydraulic brake fluids. Sometimes, homeowners add antifreeze to their toilet bowls to protect their pipes during winter. If you are visiting other homes with your pet, be mindful of this.

Symptoms of Antifreeze Poisoning

Here are some common symptoms of antifreeze poisoning in dogs:

  • Weakness/Fainting
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Coma
  • Excessive urination

Diagnosing Antifreeze Poisoning in Dogs

If you suspect your dog has antifreeze poisoning, taking them to a veterinarian for a physical examination is crucial. During the visit, the vet will ask you about the symptoms your dog has been experiencing and how the poisoning might have occurred.

To diagnose the poisoning, the vet will conduct diagnostic testing. If possible, they may analyze your dog's stool or vomit and perform a urinalysis and chemical blood profile. These tests can help the vet to diagnose the poisoning and expedite treatment.

The course of treatment will depend on your dog's medical history, which you must recount to the vet as thoroughly as possible. Therefore, it is important to be able to provide as much information as you can.

Treating Antifreeze Poisoning in Dogs

Because antifreeze poisoning can easily be fatal, immediate first aid needs to be administered extremely carefully. Only induce vomiting if you are positive your dog has ingested antifreeze. We recommend calling your veterinarian before inducing vomiting since this can be dangerous in some instances of poisoning, as some substances can seriously damage the esophagus.

A simple hydrogen peroxide solution can be used to do this - only if the poisoning has occurred in the previous two hours. Give one teaspoon for every five pounds of body weight, with a maximum of three teaspoons at once. The teaspoons should be spaced 10 minutes apart.

If your dog has already vomited, do not try to induce more vomiting. If vomiting does not occur after your dog has had three doses of hydrogen peroxide, seek emergency veterinary care.

It is not recommended to induce vomiting in dogs that are having breathing difficulties, are in severe shock or distress, or are unconscious. Regardless of whether your dog vomits or not, it is important to immediately take them to the veterinarian, who can safely administer antidotes.

Antidotes for antifreeze poisoning may include activated charcoal, which will stop the further absorption of ethylene glycol, or 4-methyl pyrazole, which can effectively treat antifreeze poisoning if given quickly enough after ingestion. However, there is still a possibility of kidney failure, which may require intensive care for the dog.

Dogs that have consumed antifreeze in small amounts may survive, but they may develop kidney failure within days of ingestion. Unfortunately, kidney damage kills many dogs who have been poisoned by antifreeze.

Preventing Antifreeze Poisoning

Antifreeze is toxic to dogs and can cause serious harm, but poisoning is preventable. Here are some steps to take to protect your furry friend:

  • Close antifreeze containers tightly, and keep them out of reach of your dog’s curious nose.
  • Propylene glycol is safe, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Look for antifreeze with this ingredient, which can keep your pet safer from ingesting ethylene glycol.
  • Please do not allow your dog to wander where they may have easy access to antifreeze, such as in driveways, garages, streets, etc.
  • Inspect your car’s radiator regularly, and have leaks repaired immediately.
  • Ensure any antifreeze spills are immediately and thoroughly cleaned.
  • Dispose of used antifreeze containers properly.

Is your dog showing signs of antifreeze poisoning? Contact our Woburn vets to get your pup back on their feet.

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