Monday, February 11, 2013

Antifreeze, Altering The Common Pet Toxin

The ingestion of antifreeze has long been a toxic substance that has claimed an estimated 10,000 pets a year.

Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol which is highly toxic but has a sweet taste. This sweet taste attracts children and pets to ingest it. Once even a small amount is ingested the agent can cause fatal changes to the liver, kidneys, and brain.

In December 2012 the manufacturers of all coolants and anti-freeze sold in the US voluntarily agreed to add a bittering agent to their products to lessen the attraction to this lethal substance. It is as huge victory for the pets of the U.S. and the result of years of battling between the coolant/anti-freeze manufacturers and the Consumer Specialty Products Association and the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Until this announcement was made only seventeen states had required the bittering agent to be added. In addition to the bittering agent new labeling with additional warnings about the dangers of ingestion will also be seen.

Anti-freeze is a brightly yellow-green colored liquid used in automobiles, equipment, and machinery. The toxic ingredient, ethylene glycol, can be found by pets when the coolant drips out of an engine, or if the container is left uncapped. It is also one of the most common intentional toxins placed by people who want to poison nuisance mammals. To avoid possible exposure areas of spilled liquids should be immediately diluted with water so that the substance no longer retains its sweet smell or level of toxicity. Additionally the toxin can be collected after being absorbed into litter or sand.

Any pet that is believed to have ingested or been exposed to this toxin should immediately seek veterinary care. A small amount can be toxic so any amount or suspicion of exposure should be treated immediately.

Signs of ethylene glycol ingestion will often occur within  a few hours. Nausea, vomiting, depression, difficulty standing, walking, falling over, muscle spasms, fast breathing, increased thirst, increased urination, seizures, vomiting, drooling from the mouth, and/or not eating.

Please seek veterinary care if you think a pet has ingested any anti-freeze.

And here's to hoping that this new bittering agent will be the needed ingredient to save our pets from accidental toxic exposure, a trip to the vet, and so many fatalities.

For the complete article see the February 15, 2013 JAVMA at the link below.

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