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D2002-07

Dear Daisy Dog

My friend’s dog died of anti-freeze poisoning. Why is anti-freeze so toxic?

Daisy Responds

Most anti-freeze products contain ethylene glycol, which imparts a sweet taste and yellow-green hue attractive to dogs, cats, and youngsters.

Ethylene glycol is so toxic to the kidneys that even tiny amounts can be fatal. A dose as small as 3 tablespoons is lethal to a 25-lb dog, while a cat can die simply from licking anti-freeze off her coat.

Ethylene glycol so quickly damages the kidneys that once a pet shows signs of kidney failure (vomiting, increased drinking, or even lack of urination), treatment is usually unsuccessful.

To prevent ethylene glycol poisoning:

  • check your vehicle’s radiator and hoses monthly for leaks;
  • clean up any anti-freeze spills with cat litter (to absorb the liquid) and rags;
  • the next time you change your anti-freeze, use a less toxic propylene glycol anti-freeze like Sierra;
  • don’t let your pet run free;
  • if you suspect anti-freeze ingestion, call your vet immediately. Don’t delay until you see signs of illness. A blood test will show whether your pet ingested anti-freeze, and treatment can be initiated before kidney damage becomes irreversible.

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