Acute cases of antifreeze toxicity (when an animal consumes antifreeze) often show like as if the animal is intoxicated with alcohol. The kidneys from the pets are the target organ from antifreez; antifreeze destroys the kidney tissue.
This is an emergency situation and life-threatening within a few hours. Please see your veterinarian immediately, as the success of treatment depends on how quickly your pet can get medical care.
More About Antifreeze and What It Is Used For
Antifreeze is a syrupy liquid that is usually brightly colored; neon green or neon pink.
It may be found leaking under cars in the heat of summer or after engine maintenance. Spills of this liquid are also common in winter months as car owners perform seasonal engine maintenance.
Antifreeze is used in the plumbing systems of cabins and other vacation homes in extreme climates to prevent broken pipes in winter. Antifreeze can also be used to weigh down portable basketball hoops.
This chemical is an ingredient of de-icers, hydraulic brake fluids, and photograph-developing chemicals. Antifreeze is odorless and has a sweet taste, which can be attractive to curious and thirsty animals and children.
Early Stage of Antifreeze Toxicity
Acute cases of antifreeze toxicity (within 12 hours of ingestion) often present as if the animal was intoxicated with alcohol, exhibiting an unsteady gait.
Signs may include:
Stumbling, unsteady gait
Increased urination initially (in later stages, urinary output is decreased)
Antifreeze Toxic Effects on Kidneys
The kidneys are most severely affected, and even if the pet seems to improve initially with treatment and medication, they may succumb shortly after to kidney failure (3-5 days post ingestion). The kidneys then shut down, and the animal is unable to produce urine.
This sort of kidney failure usually happens 12-24 hours after ingestion in felines, and 36-72 hours post ingestion in dogs.
Again, success of treatment is dependent upon quick treatment. If antifreeze ingestion is known or even suspected, do not delay — contact your veterinarian immediately. This is not a “wait-and-see” situation; kidney damage will be more severe as time (hours) go by.
A Safer Antifreeze Alternative
A more secure option to traditional antifreeze (ethylene glycol) is propylene glycol. Like ethylene glycol, propylene glycol is odor-free but varies because it is practically unappetizing and does not cause kidney damage like conventional antifreeze.
Propylene glycol has been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as a food additive. It is categorized as “normally acknowledged as safe” for human consumption, however not for cats so watch out.
Please note: This article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet ingests (known or suspected) antifreeze, or is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.