Shelter Dog Meal Donation Count:

Learn More

Ask A Vet: What Does Antifreeze Poisoning Look Like?

| Published on January 17, 2016

 Everyone is afraid of antifreeze poisoning and their pets. The horrible reputation of this toxic compound is well deserved. Would you know what the signs are if your dog was poisoned? Antifreeze is frequently spilled or available in areas where curious pets can reach it. It is somewhat enticing to drink and vets all over the country see and treat this toxicity every year. Many times with a poor outcome, depending on the speed with which treatment is sought.


The actual ethylene glycol molecule itself does not directly cause the worst toxicity. The lethal effects are caused when the body metabolizes the ethylene glycol molecules into its more toxic metabolites. Once an animal drinks the ethylene glycol, it can rapidly be found within the bloodstream. These animals will seem depressed and not interested in their usual activities. They might stagger and appear intoxicated. Most will begin to vomit. Excessive thirst and urination can also be warning signs.

The worst effects happen when the toxic portion causes profound kidney damage. The damage becomes a vicious cycle. The kidneys are damaged and they are less able to filter out the metabolites so the kidney damage worsens. Because the seriousness worsens over time and the cycle becomes more and more vicious, any animal that is suspected of ingesting ethylene glycol should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Remember the signs:
– Depression
– Ataxia  (staggering)
– Vomiting
– Excessive thirst
– Excessive Urination

These signs are serious and although they can be caused by antifreeze poisoning, they are linked to several other serious issues and should not be ignored. Let your veterinarian help you figure it out to save your dog. Know that the the quicker you see a vet, the better the prognosis is likely to be. Make sure that your pet is supervised and all the areas that he has access to are pet safe. Antifreeze manufacturers have begun adding a bitter agent to discourage pets and children from drinking antifreeze, but the compound itself is still a hazard. There are pet friendlier options as well, but this hazard is still out there, so be aware of the signs and get help.

Join the conversation! Connect with me and other dog lovers on Facebook by clicking here.

Recent Articles

Interested in learning even more about all things dogs? Get your paws on more great content from iHeartDogs!

Read the Blog

Leave a Comment