Antifreeze Poisoning in My Cat: What I Should Know

Cat on car

Antifreeze and the dangers it presents to our beloved pets when they are exposed to it are well-documented on the internet. One teaspoon of antifreeze is incredibly harmful to our feline pals, and if left untreated, can be fatal. Understanding how your cat may be impacted if they are exposed to antifreeze is critical since early detection leads to rapid treatment of this potentially fatal illness.

Warning

If you suspect your cat has ingested antifreeze, this is a life-threatening emergency! Seek veterinary attention immediately.

What Is Antifreeze Poisoning?

The major element in antifreeze is ethylene glycol, which is hazardous to cats. Ethylene glycol accounts for nearly all of the antifreeze component. Antifreeze used to have a pleasant flavor, which was supposed to be one of the reasons cats were drawn to it. To assist limit their interest in it, most antifreeze products now have a harsh taste. Another reason cats are drawn to antifreeze is dehydration. They will seek out a means to hydrate if they are thirsty. Finally, some cats may be oblivious that they have trodden in the toxic chemical and have already licked the toxin off their paws before the owner realizes it.

It's worth noting that ethylene glycol isn't exclusively found in antifreeze. Brake fluid, ballpoint pen and ink, printers and stamp pad ink, eye masks, and even snow globes contain it. To do considerable damage, a cat just has to get a modest amount from any of these objects.

Symptoms of Antifreeze Toxicity:

  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Ataxia (Drunken Walk)
  • Increased Drinking
  • Increased Urination
  • Metabolic and Electrolyte Disturbances
  • Crystalluria (Crystals in the Urine)
  • Dehydration
  • Kidney Failure
  • Death

The neurological system and the kidneys are both affected by antifreeze poisoning. Vomiting, sadness, ataxia (drunken walk), increased drinking, and urination (PU/PD) are common clinical indications that appear during the first few hours of intake. There will be metabolic and electrolyte problems, crystals in the urine, severe dehydration, renal failure, and death as the situation develops.

This is a medical emergency if you feel your pet has been exposed to antifreeze, even in little doses. Please take your animal to your veterinarian for treatment. It will be good if you can bring the antifreeze container and estimate the quantity they may have consumed. To offer cats the best chance of survival, treatment should begin within the first hour.

Warning

Do not try to induce vomiting at home unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian or animal poison control.

Treatment for Antifreeze Toxicity

Cats will almost certainly require hospitalization for many days. The purpose of therapy is to prevent ethylene glycol from being absorbed further and to aid in the elimination of the poisonous material from the body. The treatment consists of vigorous intravenous fluid therapy followed by medicines to assist rectify any metabolic problems that may arise. Only when the poison is consumed within 30 minutes is induction of vomiting and gastric lavage indicated. Do not induce vomiting at home unless your veterinarian or animal poison control tells you to. When it comes to treating this illness, time is of the essential. The better the outlook, the sooner therapy begins. If left untreated, renal failure will develop, followed by death.

Preventing Antifreeze Toxicity

  • If you have antifreeze products in your home, make sure they are placed in an area that your cat cannot access and that the lids are on tightly.
  • Look for products that have a bitter additive. Having a bitter additive will hopefully deter cats from drinking the substance or licking it off of their paws.
  • Consider using antifreeze options that contain propylene glycol, a safer alternative to ethylene glycol. It does not cause kidney damage, however, it is not free of toxic effects if ingested.
  • Check your car’s radiator for any leaks. This will help prevent exposure to the toxic substance.
  • Make sure your cat is well hydrated, so they aren’t seeking out ways to hydrate themselves.
  • Make sure you store items containing ethylene glycol, like ink pens and snow globes, out of a cat's reach.

References

  • "Ethylene Glycol Sources, Signs And Treatment". ASPCA Professional, https://www.aspcapro.org/resource/ethylene-glycol-sources-signs-and-treatment.
  • "Overview Of Ethylene Glycol Toxicity - Toxicology - Veterinary Manual". Veterinary Manual, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/toxicology/ethylene-glycol-toxicity/overview-of-ethylene-glycol-toxicity.
  • Bellows, Jan, DVM, DADVC. "Antifreeze Additives That Are Taste Aversive To Protect Dogs And Cats - Veterinary Partner - VIN". Veterinarypartner.Vin.Com, 2013, https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?&id="6047934".
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.

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