Symptoms of Antifreeze Poisoning in Dogs

It only takes a couple of drops for a dog to suffer from antifreeze poisoning. To avoid it being fatal, you should know the symptoms to look for so your dog can receive immediate treatment.

What Antifreeze Does

Antifreeze has a sweet taste that is appealing to dogs and cats, and any little amount left lying around or spilled on the ground can be enough to harm or fatally injure a dog. Three tablespoons is enough to kill a medium sized dog. This amount is even less for cats.

Antifreeze, once entered into your dog's system, turns into a crystalline acid and attacks the liver and kidneys. The liver absorbs and breaks down the antifreeze quickly and so symptoms usually recede, however this does not mean your dog is in the clear. Antifreeze continues damaging beyond that unless treatment is administered.

Symptoms within the First Twelve Hours

The first twelve hours are the most crucial for the dog. The effects of antifreeze are irreversible, so it is important that treatment is administered immediately to avoid the effects in the first place.

Symptoms will appear about 30 minutes after ingestion. These symptoms include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Crystals in urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Paralysis
  • Depression
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Convulsions
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Nausea/vomiting

The excessive thirst is a result to stimulation of the thirst areas of the brain. Vomiting occurs due to the irritating effects of the antifreeze on the stomach.

Symptoms over the Next Few Days

After approximately 12 hours, the liver breaks down the ingredient causing these effects. However, further symptoms may not crop back up for a few days, and by then irreparable damage will have already occurred. These symptoms include:

  • Dehydration
  • Inability to urinate
  • Salivation/drooling
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Seizures
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Coma

If you take your dog into the vet at this point, the only form of treatment will be euthanasia as the kidneys are shutting down or have ceased functioning all together.

Reading the Symptoms

Some dogs display fewer symptoms than others, especially early on. Owners have reported noticing that something is "off" with their dog, such as a slightly drunken appearance where they wobbled and seemed a little out of it. When the dog improves 12 hours later, it is assumed they are feeling better. So when the dog gets drastically worse a few days later, it comes as a surprise and this is the stage many owners bring their dogs to the vet. By this time, it is too late.

If you notice your dog behaving strangely, you should call your vet immediately to explain the symptoms and see if it is a cause for concern.

Treatment for Antifreeze Poisoning in Dogs

Treatment is possible so long as it is administered within the first 12 (at the most) hours of ingestion. A vet will treat your dog by inducing vomiting with apomorphene or hydrogen peroxide to prevent the pet from digesting any more of the antifreeze left in their stomach. Once this is done, activated charcoal is used to bind with the remaining poison in the stomach. During this time, your dog is given large amounts of IV fluids to get urine production go ing, as another means of getting more of the antifreeze out of the system faster.