Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Toxicology Tuesday

In a shameless attempt to encourage comments, I am instituting a weekly contest called "Toxicology Tuesday." There are no prizes, unless you count the knowledge you will gain about potential poisons in your home. Each week, I will post a photo of a common household item that may or may not pose a risk to your pets. Post your answers to the question "Toxic or Not?" in the Comments section, and I will complete the post when you have had a chance to reply.

This week's Toxicology Tuesday is an easy one, to get you started.

Toxic or Not?

Answer: Extremely toxic to both dogs and cats.

I would hope no one would get this one wrong. The active ingredient in antifreeze, ethylene glycol, breaks down into chemicals that cause permanent kidney failure by binding to the renal tubules. If detected early enough, there is an antidote, but once the signs of kidney failure are apparent, it is universally fatal.

If you see your pet licking at spilled antifreeze, don’t wait, take it immediately to your veterinarian or the local veterinary emergency service. It only takes ½ tablespoon of antifreeze to kill a 10 lb. cat or 2 to 4 tablespoons for a 20 lb. dog. The same advice holds true even if you only suspect your pet may have ingested this toxin, particularly if it acts “drunk,” since staggering and disorientation are early symptoms, as are increased thirst and increased urination.

Antifreeze has a sweet taste that dogs and children find appealing. Currently in Ohio, there is proposed legislation requiring that a bittering agent be added to antifreeze to help reduce the number of accidental poisonings. Always store antifreeze away from your pets, and if you spill any, rinse it thoroughly with plenty of water to dilute this tasty toxin. There is a way to minimize the risk to your pets by using a less toxic antifreeze, one based on propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol. Ask your mechanic about using pet-safe antifreeze in your car or read package labels when you buy antifreeze.


nina said...


Lynne said...

Hell's bells- YES! Toxic.

Liza Lee Miller said...

Totally toxic and, if I remember correctly, sweet to the taste so a real danger to animals and probably kids who aren't going to taste and say, "Blech!"

Susan Gets Native said...

I know this one too well. Had a cat a long time ago, who got locked in the garage overnight, and got into some.
It causes kidney failure, doesn't it?

NatureWoman said...

Toxic for sure.
This is a great idea Katdoc!

littleorangeguy said...


Your Joey is like a pale shadow of my... littleorangeguy.


KatDoc said...

Boy, you guys are good! I was going to wait until Wed to put up the answer, but you are all so fast and so well-informed. Everyone wins! Bonus points go to Liza Lee for knowing antifreeze is sweet, and to Susan for knowing it causes kidney failure.

Special note to you moms out there: Because antifreeze IS sweet, little kids may drink it. (Kinda looks like Mt. Dew, don't you think?) I don't have the stats in front of me, but I believe it is a common poison in pediatrics as well as in vet med.

Next week, I'll have to try for something harder!


LauraHinNJ said...

This was an easy one - look forward to the tough questions!

Holly said...

Well I agreed with everyone else even though the answer was already posted.

BTW, speaking of toxic, Libby ate a Raid ant bait the other day. Not all of it, but chewed it up and got a small bit of the bait. We panicked for a bit but she's fine. Didn't even get sick. Now Robbie is calling her 'Ant' (aunt) Libby.

Michelle said...

Thanks sooooo much for your comment about the Raid Ant Bait. I left my husband alone with the baby and 2 dogs and all hell's breaking loose!

This was my fourth phone call about what's happening at home. Now he thinks that the dogs are poisoned because of a chewed up ant trap.
I couldn't find anything conclusive from Raid.

Thank you, Thank you!!