Thursday, April 4, 2013

A-Z Challenge: E is for Ethylene Glycol Poisoning

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Welcome to the A-Z Challenge! This year my theme is Pet Health - information for people about their furry, four-legged family members.

Ethylene Glycol Poisoning - in Antifreeze - should be a concern of any pet owner whose animals are ever outside. The reason this toxin is so dangerous is due to it's sweet smell and taste to our furry critters. This poison can and will affect the brain, liver, and kidneys in a short period of time.

If you're concerned that your pet has ingested any antifreeze, do not induce vomiting. Call your veterinarian immediately or a poison control center and do as instructed. And remember: time is of the essence!

There are three stages of poisoning:

Stage 1: 0-12 hours after ingestion. Nervous system signs including mild depression, lack of muscle control/staggering, knuckling, seizures, hyper-excitability, stupor, and rarely coma, and death. These signs are similar to acute alcohol intoxication and resemble drunkenness. Other symptoms may include lack of appetite, vomiting, drop in body temperature, and an increase in drinking and urination.

Stage 2: 12-24 hours after ingestion. Cardiopulmonary system signs are seen including increased heart rate and respiratory rate.

Stage 3: 12-72 hours after ingestion. Kidneys are affected. Symptoms include severe depression, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, kidney failure, and death.

 A veterinarian can look at your pet's urine for the presence of crystals, which is an indicator of antifreeze poisoning. Unfortunately, it can also mean other things, and can even show up in normal urine. A lab test is available, for dogs only, but that means you have to wait for the results. Most, if not all, veterinary labs will be 24 hours. The lab location I worked for was open 24 hours, as I was on night shift. As an FYI, ethylene glycol tests are considered "STAT" - meaning we have someone stop what they are doing and do it now and get the results out ASAP. I myself only had a couple of positives when I did the testing. The test is rather involved; we take the blood sample submitted, spin it down, and add various chemicals in various stages in different tubes. It takes almost half an hour to do the test properly. Even in the lab, we know that your pet is sick, and we want the test to be negative just as much as you do.

Always remember that your garage is full of toxins. If you even think your pet has ingested any toxin, call your veterinarian immediately. If it's late at night, either your vet's office will have a vet on call, or hopefully there will be a 24 hour emergency vet open. Larger cities usually have the latter option available to you, and if you're out in the country, country vet's will offer 24 hour service on an emergency basis.

My sources: Pet Health Network, Pet Education by Dr.'s Foster & Smith, as well as my own experience working in large/small animal practices and a veterinary laboratory.


  1. Since you know how I feel about my fur-baby, I LOVE this A-Z theme (the dental one particularly struck home). If I remember correctly transition fluid is another car fluid that smells and tastes appetizing to animals. I tell people that if they wouldn't leave something around where a small child could get into it, then it shouldn't be around a dog or cat either.

  2. Also? I was getting overwhelmed with spam too and had to change it to no anon comments. The spammers have really kicked it up fiercely in the past few month. Fuckers.

    1. Exactly, you pretty much should child-proof your home for pets as well.

      OMG, those damn spammers!! It's been SO nice the last two days, my phone/email inbox isn't beeping every 30 seconds. I wanna wack 'em with the toilet brush. lol

  3. I know this is a very serious post, but I've got to share an old family story. One day at work, my sister's boss said, "Sue, we almost lost our dog yesterday." "Oh, what happened?" She asked. "Well, I was mowing the grass, and ran out of gas. So I ran in the garage, got the gas can, but I must not have put the cap back on afterwards. When I got done, the dog was just running around in circles! I figured he must have drank some of the gas." Sue was aghast. "What did you do?" "Oh, nothing, " He said. "When he ran out of gas, he laid right down and was fine." You might guess my sister's next response.


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