Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Dogs & Antifreeze: Should I go to the pet ER?

Even the smallest amounts of antifreeze can have devastating effects on your dog and their vital organs if swallowed. Today, our vets at Marcello Veterinary Hospital share the signs of antifreeze poisoning in dogs and what steps you should take if you believe that your pup ingested this chemical.

The Dangers of Antifreeze For Puppies & Dogs

Tragically, antifreeze poisoning happens to both puppies and dogs across North America It can happen as easily as your dog licking a few drops of this from your driveway after it has dripped from your car.

The lethal chemical in antifreeze is ethylene glycol, and dogs can consume a lot of it before its aftertaste starts to take effect. But by then, it’s too late; it only takes less than three ounces (or 88 ml) of this liquid to poison a medium-sized dog and cause fatal damage to their system, including the kidneys, brain, and liver.

Ethylene glycol is not only found in antifreeze, it is also in other chemical compounds like brake fluid. Antifreeze can even be used to help prevent pipes from freezing so it may be present in toilet bowls when visiting other people's houses.

What are the symptoms of antifreeze poisoning?

If your dog drinks antifreeze you may notice symptoms such as:

  • Weakness/fainting
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Coma
  • Excessive urination

Diagnosing Antifreeze Poisoning in Dogs

If dogs and puppies are suspected of drinking antifreeze, they will need to be assessed as soon as possible by your vet. They will complete a physical exam and ask about which symptoms you’ve been noticing and how the poisoning may have happened.

We will use diagnostic testing to analyze their stool or vomit if possible, and complete urinalysis and chemical blood profile. These tests can help the veterinarian to diagnose the poisoning and expedite treatment. This treatment will be based on your dog’s medical history as recounted to the vet, so you will need to be as thorough here as possible.

What can I do if my dog drinks antifreeze?

Because antifreeze poisoning can easily be fatal, immediate first aid needs to be administered extremely carefully.

Note: Vomiting should only be induced if you are sure that it was antifreeze and only under direct instructions from your vet to do so. You should call your vet at the first sign that your dog has ingested something they shouldn't have.

If your vet recommended inducing vomiting then a simple hydrogen peroxide solution can be used to do this as long as the poisoning has occurred in the previous two hours. Give one teaspoon for every five pounds of body weight, with a maximum of three teaspoons at one time. The teaspoons should be spaced 10 minutes apart.

If your dog has vomited since ingesting the antifreeze, do not try to induce more vomiting. If vomiting does not occur after your dog has had three doses of hydrogen peroxide, seek emergency veterinary care.

Vomiting should also not be induced if your dog is having problems breathing, is in serious shock or distress, or is unconscious. Also, whether he vomits or not, your dog must be immediately rushed to your vet, who can safely administer antidotes.

Antidotes may include activated charcoal, which will stop further absorption of ethylene glycol. 4-methyl pyrazole can also be used to effectively treat antifreeze poisoning if given quickly enough after your dog has ingested it. There is still a possibility of kidney failure, so your dog may need to be in intensive care.

Dogs who have consumed antifreeze in very small amounts may survive but will develop kidney failure within days of ingestion. Kidney damage kills many dogs who have been poisoned by antifreeze.

How can you prevent antifreeze poisoning in dogs?

While antifreeze can devastate your dog’s system, poisoning is preventable. Here are some steps to take today:

  • Close antifreeze containers tightly, and keep them out of reach of your dog’s curious nose.
  • Propylene glycol is safe, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Look for antifreeze with this ingredient, which can keep your pet safer from ingesting ethylene glycol.
  • Please do not allow your dog to wander where they may have easy access to antifreeze, such as in driveways, garages, streets, etc.
  • Inspect your car’s radiator regularly, and have leaks repaired immediately.
  • Ensure any antifreeze spills are immediately and thoroughly cleaned.
  • Dispose of used antifreeze containers properly.

Emergency Veterinary Care at Marcello Veterinary Hospital

Our reliable and compassionate veterinary teams at each of Marcello Veterinary Hospital's two locations in Houma and Raceland, offer veterinary care for pets in most emergencies. We have advanced emergency training, trauma-based and critical care protocols. When the unpredictable happens, we want to make sure your pet receives the quality medical care he or she needs.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Did your dog drink antifreeze or are they showing signs that they might have? Contact our vets at Marcello Veterinary Hospital for urgent care.

New Patients Welcome

Marcello Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Louisiana companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us