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Warning - antifreeze poisoning

As our thoughts turn to cooler days and preparing our cars for winter, we want to alert everyone to the danger Ethylene glycol (antifreeze) poses for our pets. Sadly we are aware of three cases recently. When the weather gets cold there are always reports of animals suffering from this type of poisoning. The actual incidence of poisonings that occur is probably under-reported as the effects of this type of poison are rapid and almost always fatal.

Ethylene Glycol is found predominantly in antifreeze and is quite palatable to animals, especially cats, as it has a sweet taste. It causes various symptoms, although often we miss the initial neurological phase as this occurs very quickly after the poison has been ingested (eaten) and is only transient.

The main effect of ethylene glycol poisoning is overwhelming kidney failure. Crystals form within the kidneys very rapidly after the poison has been eaten and this causes the kidneys to stop working completely. Death usually occurs within a few days, even if aggressive treatment to support the kidneys is started. There is an antidote for ethylene glycol but this needs to be given immediately after the poison has been eaten to stand any chance of working, so if you have even the slightest suspicion that your animal has got hold of any antifreeze you need to contact us as soon as possible.

There have been reports of people using antifreeze in garden water features to prevent them from freezing – we would obviously advise against this! Also it is important to check your garage,( if you use antifreeze in your car windscreen wash), for any puddles that may be present from a leaking antifreeze container. Clean up any spills immediately - it could just save a life!

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