Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol) Poisoning in Dogs
Definition of Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol) Poisoning
Ethylene glycol is a colorless, odorless, sweet-tasting liquid. It is a common ingredient in antifreeze, because it lowers the freezing point of water. Ethylene glycol is also found in paint, solvents, radiator fluid, brake fluid, motor oil, aircraft and runway de-icing products, automobile windshield de-icers, ink, home solar units and wood stains. It is tasty enough that dogs (and cats) will lap it up in large quantities if they can get to it. Unfortunately, it is highly toxic. A dog’s liver will metabolize ethylene glycol within a matter of hours. This creates a substance called oxalic acid, which binds to calcium in the blood and forms calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals eventually lodge inside the dog’s kidneys, leading to renal failure and sometimes sudden death. Owners should be sure that antifreeze and all other substances that contain ethylene glycol are securely stored somewhere out of their pets’ reach.
Ethylene glycol (EG) poisoning in dogs (and in cats) is almost always caused by voluntary ingestion of automotive antifreeze products, which usually contain about 95% EG. Cases of malicious poisoning with antifreeze have also been reported. When water sources are limited because they are frozen, antifreeze typically remains in its liquid form due to its lower freezing point. Leaks of antifreeze from automobile engines and radiators are the main source of antifreeze poisoning in pets.
Once ethylene glycol (EG) is metabolized into oxalic acid and binds with calcium in the blood, it forms calcium oxalate crystals that are deposited in the kidneys. At this point, the dog will become very, very ill. Its symptoms will include depression, vomiting, convulsions, gastric irritation (upset stomach) and extreme pain. Seizures, coma and death are common. Obviously, these are highly unpleasant and potentially catastrophic consequences for the dog.Ingestion of antifreeze can cause a myriad
Antifreeze poisoning is diagnosed based upon the dog’s history, presenting symptoms and specific blood testing. Sometimes, the owner will have seen his dog licking antifreeze from spills or puddles under leaking automobile radiators. Less commonly, the dog may have been observed licking antifreeze straight from an open or leaky container. These ingestions are usually witnessed in a driveway or garage, during the fall or winter months, especially in very cold climates. However, most of the
The goals of treating a dog with antifreeze poisoning are to try and prevent absorption of ethylene glycol (EG) from the gastrointestinal tract, prevent the conversion of EG to its toxic metabolites, increase the excretion of EG and its metabolites and prevent the development of acute renal failure. Treatment must be implemented very quickly after a dog ingests antifreeze for the outcome to have even a remote chance of being successful.If a dog is presented