Antifreeze Poisoning in cats
With the recent cold snap many of us will be putting antifreeze in our cars. Antifreeze can be found in brake fluid, hydraulic fluids and even in decorative snow globes. Occasionally gardeners may also add it to their water features.
Ethylene Glycol is a common component of antifreeze. Ingestion in cats, of even small amounts, as little as a single teaspoon, or even from grooming contaminated fur, can be damaging.
Every year thousands of pets are accidentally poisoned with antifreeze. Onset of irreversible renal damage is rapid, requiring early aggressive treatment, but even then may not be successful in preventing problems.
Initial signs of antifreeze poisoning are depression and lethargy, with animals often appearing uncoordinated or drunk. These signs can last for a few hours. The next stages of poisoning are characterised by excessive thirst, vomiting, oral and gastric ulcers, and renal failure, followed ultimately by death.
If your cat has ingested antifreeze they must be taken to the veterinary surgery immediately. The main aim of treatment is to decrease the absorption of ethylene glycol from the stomach and intestine and to increase its excretion through the kidneys. Unfortunately the prognosis is extremely guarded, even with treatment.
*Use a less toxic alternative: Propylene Glycol antifreeze is more expensive but less toxic for pets and other wildlife, so if you have a cat, consider using this instead.
* Always keep antifreeze in a clearly labelled and sealed container, away from pets and their environment.
* Clear up any spillage immediately and make sure that your cat can’t access that area until it is completely clean.
* Always dispose of antifreeze safely and responsibly.
If you are concerned that your cat may have been exposed to antifreeze then please contact your veterinary surgery immediately. The sooner veterinary treatment is received, the better their chances of survival.
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