Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Be careful with antifreeze

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on December 8, 2008

‘Tis the season for a lot of things, probably including changing antifreeze. Almost a year ago, our cat died and a few days later our neighbor’s dog died. After a bit of research, we concluded that they had the typical symptoms of antifreeze poisoning. While it could have been deliberate, more likely it was accidental ingestion.

Antifreeze is a sweet-tasting liquid, which animals like. They are actually attracted to it. Since it is also usually brightly colored, small children could also accidentally ingest it and poison themselves. The amount needed for toxicity depends on the animal’s or child’s weight, with as little as a few tablespoons able to kill a cat or small dog. Don’t underestimate it.

All that is needed to prevent poisoning is to be on guard for antifreeze spills, so that you can wash off the excess antifreeze. Just turn on your hose and spray it off of the concrete and into the grass. If you see a puddle of it in the grass, spray that so that the water disperses as well as dilutes it.

While it is possible for an animal to recover from antifreeze poisoning, usually by the time the pet’s owner discovers the problem, it is too late. If the owner sees the animal drinking at a green puddle and takes it immediately to the vet, there is a reasonable chance of recovery (the vet may be able to pump its stomach or something). If, however, the owner does not realize that the animal had the opportunity to ingest antifreeze, and does not take steps until he sees symptoms, it is likely too late.

By the time I recognized that our cat, Jack, was sick, he was nearly dead. The day before he died, I had noticed that he stayed in one spot all day, but at the time just thought he had found a new favorite spot. The next morning, he was still alive but couldn’t move except to barely lift up his head or meow. I don’t think he even opened his eyes. So pitiful. Our neighbor’s dog acted like it was drunk; but it was in the middle of a tornado watch or warning late at night, so her owners had other things on their mind. By the morning, she was dead. Classic symptoms of antifreeze poisoning.

We’re still not sure where the animals got into it. Most likely, one of our neighbors had flushed a radiator on one of his vehicles, and our animals drank from that puddle. By the time we found out that we had both lost an animal within a couple of days of each other, too much time had passed to go looking for a puddle (it had rained many times — the night of the tornado would have probably eliminated an antifreeze puddle), but our neighbor may have made a passing reference to it to other neighbors.

Anyway, be careful with antifreeze. Don’t let kids or pets near it. It’s not a pleasant way to die.

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