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Take Your Dog To The Vet Immediately If He Shows Any Of These 7 Signs Of Antifreeze Poisoning

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

Between sledding, skating, and crackling fires, there are a lot of wonderful things to enjoy about wintertime!

Most years, we love every cozy moment — a good winter can feel like an endless parade of snowball fights and tasty, all-for-me chocolate mug cakes.

Of course, the winter season might be merry, but it also hides plenty of dangerous hazards.

We aren’t just talking big, dramatic dangers like snowstorms; wintertime chores like shoveling are also associated with back injuries and even heart attacks.

The cold months may also have a surprising, scary hazard in store for the family pet — antifreeze.

If you live in a cold, snowy state, you can’t get by without antifreeze for your car and for winterized pipes, but you should be extra careful with it if you have a dog.

Dogs can take in antifreeze by licking up run-off from the car, or drinking it from a toilet in a building with winterized pipes.

That’s because this ordinary household product can pose a huge health risk to dogs (and other animals) if they accidentally get into it.

Scroll through the list below to learn more.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Flickr / Puneet Hyanki

Why Do Dogs Eat Antifreeze?

Why Do Dogs Eat Antifreeze?
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About 90,000 animals — including household pets — ingest antifreeze every single year, making it a leading cause of poisoning in animals. So what drives them to eat such a toxic substance?

When it comes to poisons, most animals have a strong instinct for avoiding foods that will make them sick, but, unfortunately, this instinct doesn’t apply to antifreeze.

 

That’s because the active ingredient in antifreeze is ethylene glycol, a sweet syrup derived from alcohol.

Far from tasting bad, ethylene glycol attracts animals with its sugary flavor, and just a couple of ounces can be lethal.

Sign #1: Drunken Behavior

Sign #1: Drunken Behavior
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Ethylene glycol is a chemical cousin to ordinary alcohol, so some of the symptoms might mimic someone who has had way too much to drink.

If your dog is usually agile, and suddenly begins to stumble and sway, it may be cause for concern.

Antifreeze affects balance and perception, which means that pooches might have trouble walking a straight line or staying upright.

Sign #2: Delirium

Sign #2: Delirium

We all know that dogs sometimes see things a little differently — “That’s not a trash can, it’s an intruder!” — but this will look different.

If your dog is clearly seeing things that aren’t there, and showing it by barking, cowering, or attacking something that isn’t there, your pup might be hallucinating or in a delirious state.

Your dog may also be afraid and have trouble recognizing you and other people he normally loves.

Sign #3: Vomiting & Diarrhea

Sign #3: Vomiting & Diarrhea
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Dogs are eating machines, and they throw-up pretty often, usually when they accidentally eat something that doesn’t agree with them.

In the case of antifreeze poisoning, it’s not likely to be just a little bit of gagging; your dog will vomit repeatedly to try to get the poison out of his system.

Once the chemicals get into their digestive system, they may also have bouts of diarrhea as the body tries to clear all the bad stuff out of the body.

If the dog just ate antifreeze, vomiting may be enough to prevent the poison from spreading, but it’s still important to go to the vet to get him checked out.

Sign #4: Peeing Too Often

Sign #4: Peeing Too Often
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A dog with ethylene glycol poisoning might suddenly start peeing every couple of minutes, or might develop urinary incontinence and have trouble “holding it.”

That’s because the chemicals in antifreeze cause damage to the kidneys, which are responsible for getting rid of toxins through the bladder.

The high volume of toxins will cause the kidneys to go into overdrive trying to excrete the bad stuff.

Sign #5: Sudden Depression

Sign #5: Sudden Depression
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Dogs are usually happy-go-lucky animals that can be pulled out of any funk with the promise of a walk or a cuddle.

If your dog doesn’t seem just a little bit glum, but is downright lethargic and unresponsive to stimulus, you may be dealing with something more serious.

A dog experiencing antifreeze poisoning may also cry or whimper, or may become anti-social and retreat away from people.

Sign #6: Lapsing In And Out

Sign #6: Lapsing In And Out
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A dog with antifreeze poisoning may appear to lapse in and out of consciousness.

A sick dog will usually lie down to conserve energy, and a dog with ethylene glycol in his system is likely to have trouble staying conscious.

If your pooch is alert one minute, and passes out or swoons the next, you should go straight to the vet.

Sign #7: Shaking, Shivering, And Seizures

Sign #7: Shaking, Shivering, And Seizures
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If your dog has already started digesting the antifreeze, you may see more advanced symptoms emerge.

Your dog may shake or shiver violently as he gets sicker and his system goes into shock.

These shakes and shivers might progress into full-blown seizures as the poison begins to effect the brain.

What To Do

What To Do
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If you suspect your dog has antifreeze poisoning, you need to get help right away; even a small amount can be lethal.

You can give your dog a few spoonfuls of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting if the dog is conscious, and you know that the dog has consumed antifreeze in the past two hours.

As soon as possible, call the ASPCA Poison Control center, or contact the emergency line for your vet. If you can bring your dog straight to a vet or animal hospital, they may be able to remove the poison, or protect your dog’s kidneys.

Even if your dog seems fine, there is usually substantial kidney damage that will require treatment.

Please be sure to SHARE this guide with any dog lovers you know, especially in cold climates.