Home arrow Common Diseases arrow Anti-freeze - Ethylene glycol Poisoning
Anti-freeze - Ethylene glycol Poisoning PDF Print E-mail

Many commercial antifreeze products have a sweet taste that can be attractive to cats and dogs. Once ingested, antifreeze is metabolized in the liver to toxic byproducts. These byproducts damage the kidneys, sometimes resulting in death.



Early signs are due primarily to unmetabolized ethylene glycol and are similar to signs of alcohol intoxication.

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of balance
  •  Depression
  • Increased thirst
  • Muscle fasciculation

Late signs (24 to 72 hours) are caused by ethylene glycol metabolites and signs of acute renal failure.

  • Severe depression, coma
  • Seizures
  • Anorexia
  • Oral ulcers, salivation
  • Little to no urine production



  • Chemistry screen may show increased BUN, CREA, phosphorous, potassium, decreased calcium.
  • Urinalysis reveals dilute urine, acidic pH, calcium oxalate crystals, casts.
  • Urine will fluoresce when examined with a wood lamp because ethylene glycol contains fluorescein dye.
  • Radiographs may reveal radiodense kidneys due to the precipitation of calcium oxalate in the kidneys


  • Most effective within the first few hours after ingestion.
  • Induce vomiting or gastric lavage.
  • 4MP (non competitive inhibitor of alcohol dehydrogenase)
  • Administer ethanol IV.
  • Supportive care (IV fluids, sodium bicarbonate).



  • Clean up any anti-freeze spills immediately.
  • Store anti-freeze in sealed containers that pets cannot access.
  • Keep cats indoors and do not leave dogs outdoors unattended.