One of the most common situations that some owners find themselves facing, is coming home to an ill pet and a puddle of discolored fluid near the car. Dogs and cats frequently will find their way to this antifreeze fluid and consume it, displaying a number of different signs, which should be taken very seriously. This month’s main focus is a condition known as ‘Ethylene Glycol Toxicity’.

Sources for which dogs and cats alike can contract such a toxicity, are: the fore-mentioned leaked fluid from the car’s engine; paint; windshield wiper fluid; photography developer solutions; portable basketball ports; and many other examples. Pets are often attracted towards drinking antifreeze, due to its sweetened taste. Signs come in three different phases, hence veterinarians refer to the presentation as ‘Triphasic Clinical Signs’. The first stage will occur within 30 minutes to 12 hours of consumption: disorientation, vomiting, lethargy, low body temperature, and possible seizures or comatose. In the second stage, which is labelled to be within 12 to 24 hours of consumption, you will witness your pet to slightly improve their current state and become more depressed and quiet. Excessive amounts of drinking and passing urine may also occur during this phase. In the third stage, which occurs between 24 to 72 hours of consumption, your dog or cat may become progressively weak, depressed, anorexic and have an increase in their breathing rate or feel difficulty in breathing properly. It is very important that as soon as you feel suspicious of this condition being present for your pet, that you bring them to your local veterinarian right away.

Once you are at your vet, he or she may wish to conduct a few tests to confirm that this is a case of ethylene glycol toxicity. Once confirmed, it is essential that immediate treatment be administered to your pet, since this is a very critical condition. Your veterinarian, based on each individual case, may wish to induce vomiting for clearing your dog or cat’s system. Other options of treatment may be suggested based on your pet’s specific condition. According to the AVMA guidelines, it is recommended that a good prognosis is seen for dogs who are treated within 5 hours and cats who are treated within 3 hours of consuming ethylene glycol.

In order to prevent such an occurrence from happening to your beloved pet, there are three key pieces of advice that we can pass to you. Try to avoid keeping your pets in your garage. The garage is a great source for harbouring this fluid in different locations that your pet can get into. Therefore, we also recommend that it may be a good idea to keep any products containing antifreeze, locked away safely in a closet, where your dog or cat cannot access. However, if you do find a spill or leak of this fluid present, the best way to clean it properly is by using cat litter. This is a special hack we like to suggest to our owners in ensuring that the fluid is immediately dealt with.

Dr. H. Bhullar DVM

Dr. Sifti Bhullar, DVM


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