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Antifreeze a Sweet But Lethal Drink for Pets
Date:10/29/2010

By Maryann Mott
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- It's a fatal attraction: puddles of sweet-tasting antifreeze on driveways and garage floors are hard for thirsty pets to resist.

Just one teaspoon of ethylene glycol -- the toxic ingredient found in antifreeze -- is deadly to a 10-pound cat, and about five tablespoons will kill a Labrador retriever if the antidote isn't given in time, say veterinary toxicologists.

"The most important thing to know about antifreeze is you have a really narrow window for treatment," said veterinarian Dr. Justine Lee, associate director of Pet Poison Helpline, a call center staffed by animal health care professionals who provide treatment advice to owners nationwide.

The antidote must be given to dogs within eight hours after ingestion and cats within three hours, she said. Otherwise, the pet's chances of survival are slim.

The most common source of ethylene glycol is automotive engine antifreeze or coolant. The toxic substance is also found in some air conditioners, imported snow globes, paints, solvents, and color film processing solutions.

Cabin owners in colder regions of the country frequently put antifreeze in toilets to prevent the pipes from freezing while the vacation home is unoccupied. "We see a lot of toxicities here in Minnesota from dogs running into cabins and drinking out of the toilet," Lee said.

Initially, animals appear drunk after imbibing antifreeze. Warning signs include staggering, lethargy, increased thirst, vomiting and possible seizures, explained Dr. Camille DeClementi, a veterinarian and board-certified veterinary toxicologist who serves as a senior director for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Animal Poison Control Center.

However, that drunken state is short-lived, she noted, and it may appear as though the pet is recovering when he or she is actually in grave dange
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