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

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

Antifreeze poses a danger to dogs, and even a tiny bit can harm them fatally. Today, our veterinarians in Ankeny will explain the signs of antifreeze poisoning in dogs and what actions to take if your dog has ingested any.

Antifreeze Poisoning

Sadly, many pets die each year because they accidentally consume antifreeze, which is a common danger for dogs. It can happen as easily as your dog licking a few drops of it from your driveway after it has dripped from your car.

The dangerous substance in antifreeze is called ethylene glycol, and dogs can ingest a lot of it before they start feeling the harmful effects. However, it's already too late by the time those effects kick in. It takes less than three ounces (or 88 ml) of this liquid to poison a medium-sized dog and cause severe damage to their kidneys, brain, and liver.

Ethylene glycol is also found in hydraulic brake fluids. Sometimes, people put antifreeze in their toilet bowls to protect their pipes during the winter. So, if you're visiting someone else's home with your pet, be cautious about this potential hazard.

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 your dog gets sick from antifreeze, you should take them to the vet for a checkup. The vet will talk to you about the signs you've seen and how it happened.

They will run some tests on your dog's poop or throw up if they can. They'll also check their pee and do a blood test. These tests will help the vet figure out what's wrong and how to help your dog. Make sure to tell the vet everything about your dog's health so they can give the right treatment.

Treating Antifreeze Poisoning in Dogs

Antifreeze poisoning can be very dangerous for dogs, and it's important to act quickly if you suspect your dog has ingested it. Only induce vomiting if you're certain they've swallowed antifreeze. It's a good idea to call your vet before trying to make your dog vomit, as it can sometimes be harmful.

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 one time. The teaspoons should be spaced 10 minutes apart.

If your dog has already vomited on its own, do not try to make it vomit again. If they haven't vomited after three doses of hydrogen peroxide, seek emergency veterinary care.

Vomiting should also not be induced if your dog is having problems breathing, is in serious shock or distress, or is unconscious. Also, whether he vomits or not, your dog must be immediately rushed to your vet, who can safely administer antidotes.

Antidotes, like activated charcoal, can be given by a vet to stop the antifreeze from being absorbed further. Another option is 4-methyl pyrazole if administered quickly after ingestion. There's still a risk of kidney damage, so your dog may require intensive care.

Dogs who have consumed antifreeze in very small amounts may survive but will develop kidney failure within days of ingestion. Kidney damage kills many dogs who have been poisoned by antifreeze.

Preventing Antifreeze Poisoning

While antifreeze can do devastating damage to your dog's system, poisoning is preventable. Here are some steps to take today:

  • 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.
  • 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 Ankeny vets to get your pup back on their feet.

New Patients Welcome

Creature Comforts Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our Ankeny vets take the time to get to know our clients and treat every pet as if it were our own. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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