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The dangers of road grit and anti-freeze to our Dogs

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

When it’s blowing a gale and freezing outside, our first thoughts for protecting our dogs are to keep them warm but did you know about potentially lethal risks that lurk inside our own garages and driveways or a bit further afield on our local roads, pavements and puddles? We look at two common winter hazards pet owners should bear in mind.

Anti-freeze is toxic to pets

The first risk is most likely to be found in our garage or car. Ethylene glycol, more commonly known as anti-freeze, is also in the format of de-icer for windscreens and snow globes in the home.

This is an extremely toxic substance when ingested. Why would a dog lick up any spills of anti-freeze? Well, for the main reason that it smells and tastes sweet, so their curiosity is sparked. Whenever topping up anti-freeze, make sure no pets are about and wash away any spills (it’s vital that spills do not form puddles that an animal will drink from).

What happens when pets swallow anti-freeze?

When ingested, ethylene glycol converts to calcium oxalate crystals and these crystals build up in the heart, lungs and kidneys. This is a true emergency if you suspect your dog may have come across anti-freeze as the survival rate is low if the kidneys have been damaged. It only takes just a tablespoon or 2-3 ml per pound bodyweight to be fatal.

Signs of ethylene glycol poisoning:

· In the first half hour after ingestion the dog may start vomiting, be very thirsty with frequent urination and also become wobbly as if it were drunk.

· There will be pain developing around the lower back around the kidneys.

· After 36hrs acute kidney failure sets in. There will be diarrhoea, nausea, drooling, seizures and then collapse. The time taken to get to this stage will depend on how much has been ingested.

Treating ethylene glycol poisoning

The antidote to ethylene glycol poisoning is called Fomepizole, which is given intravenously. It is an expensive drug, but it will block the enzyme that converts the ethylene glycol to its toxic breakdown products and can be effective if given within the first 8-12 hrs.

If the dog is not unconscious and isn’t in serious distress, your vet may chemically induce vomiting and give activated charcoal orally to absorb the toxins. The dog will be put on an intravenous drip to support and flush through the kidneys to help dilute the effects of the toxin and treatment will be given to help manage their symptoms.