Avoid Antifreeze Poisoning with Your Pet This Winter

It's hard to imagine getting through a Minnesota winter without antifreeze, especially this season of 2017 to 2018 that has been especially cold. As helpful as antifreeze is to get a cold engine to start, it can be toxic or fatal to your pets. Unfortunately, the clear color and sweet smell attracts pets to antifreeze and they may lap it up thinking that it’s water. A dog or cat only has to ingest a tiny amount to experience immediate toxic effects.

While drinking antifreeze spilled on a driveway is a common way for pets to become ill, your dog or cat could also get into antifreeze you have stored in the garage. It’s especially important to keep it in a tightly sealed container and to place it on a high shelf where your pet won’t be able to access it. Better yet, just don’t let your pet go into the garage.

If you notice a spill anywhere in the driveway or garage, clean it immediately. This is important to do even if your pet isn’t right by your side. She could find it later and become ill after consuming just a small amount.

Anti Freeze Poisoning

How to Determine Antifreeze Poisoning in Companion Animals

A cat only needs to drink one teaspoon of antifreeze to become seriously ill while a dog will show effects after one tablespoon. Most symptoms appear within half an hour, although it can take up to 12 hours. Symptoms become most severe in cats 12 to 24 hours later and in dogs 24 to 72 hours later.

The most common indications of antifreeze poisoning include excessive thirst and urination, vomiting, drooling, seizures, lethargy, lack of appetite, and depression. It’s essential that you seek immediate help for your pet if you notice any of these symptoms, even if you’re not sure that consuming antifreeze is the reason for them.

Treatment of Antifreeze Poisoning

Please contact Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo at 651-770-3250 for an emergency during office hours. When our office is closed, you may contact one of the following emergency veterinary providers:
  • After Hours Veterinary Care, St. Paul, 651-487-1941
  • Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, Oakdale, 651-501-3766
  • Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, St. Paul, 651-293-1800

Treatment for antifreeze poisoning in dogs and cats typically involves inducing vomiting, providing hydration via IV fluids and sodium bicarbonate, oxygen therapy if necessary, and kidney dialysis if necessary. We may also provide your pet with prescription medication depending on the active ingredients in the antifreeze that she consumed. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with additional questions about wintertime poison prevention strategies for your pet.

Image credit: Jovanmandic /iStock / Getty Images Plus

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128


Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)