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This time of year, keeping sufficient antifreeze in your car is important to prevent problems. If you’re not careful though, you could create serious problems for your pets or other animals in your neighborhood. We sadly have already seen one fatality this year in a pet from antifreeze poisoning.
Antifreeze is usually described as having a sweet taste, something many animals will readily consume. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze is a lethal amount for an average sized cat. Dogs are susceptible as well, the smaller the dog, the less it needs to ingest. If you are adding antifreeze to your radiator and spill some, your pet may lap it up off the ground, or could be poisoned by walking through it and then licking the antifreeze off its paws later.
The signs seen with antifreeze poisoning vary depending on how much time has passed since your pet consumed it. Shortly after ingesting it, your pet may appear as if it’s inebriated or drunk, or it may seem depressed or lethargic. It is not uncommon for pets to become thirsty and drink and urinate more than is usual for them. They may also start vomiting. After this stage, your pet can appear to be feeling better, the antifreeze however is being metabolized in your pet’s body and will eventually lead to kidney failure, usually within one to two days.
The sooner treatment is started, the better your pet’s chances. If it’s not caught until after it’s already started to damage the kidneys, the prognosis is quite poor, so if you at all suspect that your pet has gotten into antifreeze it’s important that you get them in as soon as possible so that treatment can be started before permanent damage occurs. Waiting even more than a few hours can lead to a greatly decreased chance of survival.
If you do spill antifreeze, be sure to clean it up properly. Sprinkle kitty litter or sand over it to absorb the spill. Wear gloves when cleaning to avoid any chance of it being absorbed by your skin and use disposable towels to scoop it into a garbage bag. Use soapy water to clean up the area where it spilled and then be sure to rinse it well afterwards. You should check your local ordinances to see if you can throw the antifreeze soaked litter out with your regular trash or if you need to take it elsewhere for proper disposal.