Ethylene Glycol or Antifreeze Ingestion

By: Jackie Pulver

Ethylene glycol or most commonly known as antifreeze, is a serious health hazard to pets. Exposure to small amounts of the substance can be  fatal to both cats and dogs. Ethylene glycol is present year round, but exposure is most common during winter. The substance has a sweet taste, so pets are often attracted to it. After ingestion of the ethylene glycol, an animal will often appear “drunk” within 1-2 hours. They may stumble, vomit, and be in a stupor. As the “stupor” phase subsides, the animal may become more quiet and depressed, and an owner may notice the animal drinking and urinating more. Animals ingesting ethylene glycol can develop irreversible kidney damage that is often fatal. Animals with suspected antifreeze ingestion need to have immediate medical attention.

Treatment for ethylene glycol includes the induction of vomiting if it has been within 60 minutes of ingestion. These patients also need supportive care with intravenous fluids. Due to the kidney damage caused by  ethylene glycol, these patients need to have their kidney function monitored closely after recovery. Antifreeze is a substance that is present in almost every household. A small amount is deadly. If you have any concern that your pet may have ingested this substance, please seek medical attention immediately.