emergency vet anti freeze poison

Emergency at the Vet – Anti-Freeze Poising

Last week our vets had to deal with a very serious case of poising when Rex, a gorgeous Labrador dog, arrived at our Foxrock vet clinic in a pretty bad way.

Rex’s Story…..

Rex a 4-year Labrador Retriever presented with vomiting and a slight weakness of its left for leg late one night as an emergency to the Pet Emergency Hospital based in UCD.

It was initially assumed he had gastroenteritis from eating something he should not have, however over the course of the night his vomiting persisted, and his weakness became more generalised.  The Vet on duty astutely diagnosed anti-freeze poisoning and transferred Rex back to us in Kill Lane Deansgrange for treatment where our Vet Tom Ruane and nursing team took over his care.

Anti-freeze and certain winter screen washes for cars contain a high concentration of a chemical called ethylene glycol which is very poisonous to pets. Initially the poison causes irritation to the stomach lining which causes vomiting. Then as it is toxic to the central nervous system it can cause weakness, wobbliness and even seizures. As it is broken down by the liver it produces oxalate which can cause crystals to form in the urine which in turn can cause the kidneys to fail. The aim of the treatment is to stop this from happening and to preserve the kidney function.

On blood tests performed on Rex it was found that his kidney parameters were elevated so treatment was deemed necessary. We use a 20% solution of ethanol for this purpose. Rex was hospitalised and received a constant intravenous infusion of this over 48 hrs which was equivalent to having a shot of alcohol every 2 hours!

Needless to say, Rex was not happy doggy during the 48 hours of his ethanol treatment and particularly did not enjoy the hangover thereafter but after regular checks of his urine and bloods and ongoing intravenous fluids it was deemed that his kidney function remained unaffected by the poison. Rex is expected to make a complete recovery.

Although this was a more frequent poisoning historically caused by leaking radiators in car engines it still does occur and, in some cases, concentrated screen washes can be the source so pet owners need to be aware and take precautions when storing these substances. If you suspect your pet has consumed antifreeze, please contact us immediately and if it is after hours please contact the Pet Emergency Hospital based in UCD. If possible, please bring the container or the label of the offending substance to the vet to allow prompt and appropriate treatment.