I worry about using antifreeze around my pets. What can I do?
The big problem with antifreeze is that it tastes sweet, so it is a poison that pets WANT to drink.
The minimum lethal dose for dogs is just a teaspoon per kg – that means a couple of tablespoons is enough to kill a small (6 kg ie 13 lb) dog. Cats are even more sensitive – 1 teaspoon could kill a cat.
The first stage of poisoning is vomiting, followed by a sort of “drunken” effect within 1-6 hours. If the pet is treated within this time window, it may still be saved. By 18-36 hours later, though, the antifreeze has been changed into crystals that destroy the kidneys – treatment at this stage is too late to help. So:
- Clean up any antifreeze spills immediately
- Check where your car parks regularly for green or blue puddles or snow spots – that colour means antifreeze!
If you can find it, get pet-safe antifreeze: it is either made of propylene glycol, which is less toxic and does not destroy the kidneys; or, it has a bitter taste added (in 2009, BC made the addition of a bittering agent a legal requirement for coolant/antifreeze! I hope Ontario decides to do that, for the sake of animals AND children!)