Protecting Your Pet from Antifreeze Poisoning and Other Hidden Dangers at Home

Antifreeze – a Hidden Danger to Pets.

The PDSA has set out to teach pet owners how to protect and care for their pets, particularly against hidden dangers in and around the home.

As we approach the colder months, there are a whole range of new dangers that pet owners need to be aware of; including an increased risk of our feline friends coming into contact with antifreeze, which you might not know, is incredibly poisonous!

Antifreeze is very tempting for cats due to its sweet smell and taste; however it contains a substance called ethylene-glycol which, even in low doses, can cause irreversible damage to the kidneys, often leading to kidney failure and or even death.

PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said: “We always advise pet owners as well as motorists to be vigilant at this time of year, as antifreeze containing ethylene glycol can be very harmful to animals. Please keep all chemicals stored securely, clear up any spills immediately and buy pet safe alternatives where possible. Pet owners should also be aware of any signs to look out for.”

Signs of antifreeze poisoning can include increased thirst, vomiting and lack of appetite, diarrhoea, wobbliness when walking, and an increased breathing rate. In serious cases fits or collapsing into a coma may occur, and sadly cases of poisoning can often be fatal.

Olivia continued: “If you suspect your pet has consumed any toxic substance, you should contact your vet immediately for advice. The earlier that treatment begins, the better the outcome is likely to be.”

Antifreeze isn’t the only dangerous substance found around the home and garden, and it is always recommended to lock away potentially dangerous chemicals, such as slug pellets or insecticides, and bleach, to prevent your pet from coming into contact with them.

One surprisingly common source of cat poisoning is actually flea treatments intended for dogs. They can contain a family of substances called permethrins, which are highly toxic to cats and can be fatal without rapid treatment. Make sure you use a flea treatment specifically targeted for cats and check all household flea sprays for permethrins before you use them.

Check with your vet if you’re unsure.

Here’s PDSA’s guide of what to do in cases of suspected poisoning:

Do stay calm and contact your vet as soon as possible

Do keep any packaging or information about the substance that you suspect your pet has been exposed to – this can often speed up treatment

Do be careful to avoid accidentally contaminating yourself with any poisonous substances

Don’t attempt to treat your pet yourself – certain substances, such as human medications, may cause more harm

Don’t attempt to make your pet vomit at home as this can be very dangerous – for example, some substances can severely harm the throat if the pet is sick and homemade concoctions to induce vomiting can do more harm than good as well

Don’t ‘watch and wait’ – if you suspect your cat has come into contact with something poisonous then getting help sooner could mean the difference between life and death.

For more information about hidden poisons in the home visit www.pdsa.org.uk/poisons

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