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Poisoning, Antifreeze View In Cats

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Poisoning by antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol is one of the most common small animal toxicities. Less than 3 ounces (88ml) is enough to poison a medium size dog.


The poison primarily affects the brain and the kidneys. Signs of toxicity are dose-related and occur within 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion. These include depression, vomiting, an uncoordinated (drunken gait), and seizures. Coma and death can occur in a matter of hours. Dogs who recover from acute intoxication frequently develop kidney failure 1 - 3 days later. Death is common.


Antifreeze has a sweet taste that appeals to dogs. Exposure typically occurs when antifreeze drips from a car radiator and is lapped up by the pet. Dogs may also drink may also drink from the toilet bowl in vacation homes that have been winterized by pouring antifreeze into the bowl.


Diagnosis can be made by evaluating symptoms and also by veterinary examination.


If you see or suspect that your pet has ingested even a small amount of antifreeze, immediately induce vomiting and take your dog to the veterinarian.

To induce vomiting to prevent poison absorption give the dog hydrogen peroxide. A 3% solution is most effective. Give 1 teaspoon (5ml) per 10 pounds (4.5kg) of body weight. Repeat every 15 - 20 minutes, up to 3 times, until the dog vomits. Walking the dog after each dose may help stimulate vomiting.

If treatment will be delayed, administer activated charcoal to prevent further absorption of ethylene glycol. Once the poison has been cleared from the pet's stomach, give him activated charcoal to bind any remaining poison and prevent further absorption. The most effective and easily administered home oral charcoal product is compressed activated charcoal, which comes in 5 gram tablets (recommended for a home emergency kit). The dose is 1/4 tablet per 10 pounds (4.5kg) of body weight. Products that some in a liquid or as a powder made into a slurry are extremely difficult to administer at home with a syringe or medicine bottle. The slurry is dense and gooey, and few pets will swallow it voluntarily. These products are best administered by stomach tube. This is routinely done by your veterinarian after flushing out the stomach.

If activated charcoal is not available, coat the intestines with milk and egg whites using 1/4 cup (60ml) egg whites and 1/4 cup milk per 10 pounds (4.5kg) of body weight. Administer into the dogs cheek pouch using a plastic syringe.

A specific antidote (4-methylpyrazole) is available to treat poisoning. It is most effective when given shortly after ingestion and early in the course of treatment. Intensive care in an animal hospital may prevent kidney failure.


This common cause of pet and child poisoning can be prevented by keeping all antifreeze containers tightly closed and properly stored, preventing spills, and properly disposing used antifreeze. A new generation of antifreeze products contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has labeled propylene glycol as "generally recognized as safe", which means it can be added to foods in small amounts. Ingesting propylene glycol antifreeze can cause lack of coordination and possibly seizures, but is unlikely to be fatal.


  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 (fee)
  • Angell Animal Poison Control Hotline 1-877-226-4355
  • Animal Poison Hotline operated by the North Shore Animal League and PROSAR International Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-232-8870

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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