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30 January 2015
We learnt just now that, tragically, a cat adopted from us a few years ago could not be saved from the effects of antifreeze poisoning and had to be euthanased. Our thoughts are with the owner.

Please familiarise yourself with the signs of antifreeze poisoning and look out for them in your pets.

With the cold weather, people are topping up the antifreeze coolant levels in their vehicles, and just a small amount from drips or leaks can cause serious harm to cats and dogs. Another, less familiar hazard is water from water features to which antifreeze has been added.

The dangerous toxin found commonly in antifreeze, ethylene glycol, has a sweet taste tempting animals to ingest the substance, should they find it on their paws or in an easily accessible place. Antifreeze poisoning is a serious condition affecting the kidneys, liver and brain and can quickly lead to the death of a pet if not treated urgently.

Key signs of antifreeze poisoning are:
  •     Vomiting
  •     Seizures (fits)
  •     Lack of co-ordination
  •     Heavy breathing/panting
  •     Increased urination
  •     Excessive drinking

If you suspect your pet has ingested any poisonous substance you should contact your vet as quickly as possible.  

We also encourage people to use the alternative propylene glycol antifreeze where possible. Whilst it is still poisonous to animals, it is a lot less harmful than the ethylene glycol version more regularly used.

To ensure you’re not responsible for antifreeze poisoning in animals, please keep your car checked regularly for leaks, clean up spills, and keep antifreeze bottles out of the reach of pets, dispose of them carefully, and ensure that water features are inaccessible.

Cats Protection is actively campaigning on this issue.

Here is a useful poster from the Animal Health Trust.