Every year thousands of dogs and cats are accidentally poisoned by automobile antifreeze, most often around the pet’s own home. It only takes a very small amount (just a sip of antifreeze) to poison your pet. Less than three tablespoons is a toxic amount to a medium-sized dog.
Cats are much more sensitive to the ingredients (ethylene glycol) in antifreeze. One teaspoon is deadly to a large adult cat. Dogs, particularly, are attracted to antifreeze because of it’s sweet taste, but both dogs as well as cats like the smell. They will seek it out. Children are also at risk for poisoning. Pets sometimes get into the empty discarded coolant containers or find it leaking from a car’s cooling system.
Often, antifreeze poisoning happens in the fall when car owners replace old antifreeze with fresh antifreeze in their car radiators. Take the following simple precautions to keep your pets (and children) safe from accidental antifreeze poisoning:
- Never leave an open container or bucket of antifreeze (new or used) around the garage, car or house. Also, never leave an open container or bucket of antifreeze unattended; not even for a moment!
- Discard old coolant and coolant containers properly so your pets and children don’t have access to them.
- Clean up antifreeze spills and puddles immediately. Hose off any areas near your car where even a little has dripped or spilled.
- Store antifreeze in clearly-marked containers out of your pet’s and children’s reach.
- Have your car’s cooling system checked regularly for leaks. Have any leaks fixed without delay.
- Don’t allow your pets to roam freely in your neighborhood and never allow your pet to drink from puddles because during freezing weather, many times the only water that’s not frozen contains antifreeze. Also, don’t confine your pets to a garage without plenty of fresh drinking water; making sure the garage is antifreeze-free.
- Consider switching to a brand of antifreeze that does not contain ethylene glycol. Propylene glycol-based antifreeze is less toxic. Be sure to specifically ask for this when taking your car to a mechanic for winter preparation.