Antifreeze poisoning risks for cats

January 7, 2024

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Antifreeze is something that many pet owners will have around their house in the winter. However, ingestion of even the smallest amount can be very dangerous for your cat. The primary danger comes from ethylene glycol which is toxic to cats.

This substance is highly dangerous for dogs too.

If you suspect your pet could have ingested antifreeze then contact Clarendon Street Vets immediately on 01223 359021.

Why cats like to lick antifreeze

The reason antifreeze is so appealing to pets is the sugary taste. They tend to try and lick it off the driveway and once ingested, ethylene glycol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Once your cat’s liver metabolises the toxin, the by-products produced, which include oxalate crystals and acids, cause severe damage to the kidneys and other organs. Acute kidney failure in cats due to antifreeze poisoning can be painful and potentially fatal, so prompt treatment is important to provide your pet with the best chance of a full recovery.

Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning in cats

The symptoms of antifreeze poisoning can occur within 24 – 72 hours of ingestion. Symptoms to look for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Signs of kidney failure including increased thirst and urination

If your cat is admitted with suspected antifreeze poisoning, treatments can include induced vomiting, administering activated charcoal and providing intravenous fluids to support kidney function. It is important to contact us if your pet shows the above symptoms even if you do not have antifreeze in the house, as they may have encountered it out and about or come into contact with another toxin.

Protect your cat

To protect your pets, be diligent about keeping antifreeze containers securely closed and stored out of reach. Clean up any spills immediately, and consider using antifreeze products that contain propylene glycol, which is less toxic (but still not entirely safe if ingested in large quantities.) Contact Clarendon Street Vets immediately if you are concerned about your pet or if you know they have been exposed to antifreeze.

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