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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Unfortunately dogs are attracted to the smell and taste  of antifreeze which is used in car radiators and car windscreen washes. They will often lick up spillages and unfortunately it contains ethylene glycol which can be fatal.

Ethylene glycol (a form of alcohol) is an unpleasant poison which is converted in the body into oxalic acid which is deposited in a variety of body tissues including :

  • Brain
  • Kidneys

Signs of ethylene glycol poisoning include :

  • Severe breathing problems 
  • Cyanosis - lips and mucous membranes appear blue
  • Increased thirst
  • Reduced urine production
  • Blood in urine
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Death (due to heart failure)

There is an effective antidote - ethanol - which must be given intravenously. But treatment is only likely to be successful if administered in the early stages of the disease.

Later calcium oxalate crystals may appear in the urine and form sharp surfaced stones (called uroliths). These can cause inflammation in the urinary bladder resulting in signs of lower urinary tract disease , including

  • blood in the urine
  • increased frequency of urination
  • increased thirst
  • difficulty urinating

Owners should clear up spillages of antifreeze or windscreen wash as soon as possible and prevent access by pets. If a dog is seen drinking antifreeze it should be taken to the veterinarian  so that treatment can be started as soon as possible.

Last updated : September 2013