Ethylene glycol (anti-freeze) is highly toxic to pets. Cats have an especially low tolerance. It has a sweet taste that pets love, so if it is available, they will drink it. Pets usually gain access to ethylene glycol through spills, leaks, or improperly sealed containers.
Early symptoms of toxicity (usually within 30 minutes to a few hours) include: vomiting, diarrhea, depression, a wobbly gait, head tremors, rapid eye movement, increased urination, and thirst.
Advanced symptoms include: severe depression, dehydration, coma, seizures, oral ulcers, and death.
Symptoms are dependent on amount of ethylene glycol consumed. The toxicity is caused by the metabolites that are released as the body tries to break down the ethylene glycol. These metabolites are toxic to the liver, nervous system, and kidneys. The sooner the animal is started on treatment the more likely the ethylene glycol can be filtered out of the body before causing damage. If you have any suspicion that your pet has consumed ethylene glycol, don’t wait! Get them to your veterinarian immediately. Once organ damage has occurred, treatment is much more intense and the chances of recovery are severely diminished.