Cat Care: Understanding The Symptoms And Treatment For Antifreeze Poisoning

You may not think your cat would show much interest in antifreeze, but cats actually tend to enjoy the taste of it. It's thought that antifreeze tastes sweet to them, but the active ingredient in antifreeze, ethylene glycol, is actually poisonous to cats. It's easy for a little antifreeze to spill when topping up a car's reservoir tank, so you need to be vigilant during the colder months. Check regularly for spills around cars in your street, and consider making your neighbours aware of how dangerous antifreeze is for cats. It can cause neurological problems and even organ failure, so read on to learn about the symptoms of antifreeze poisoning and how it's treated.

Symptoms Of Antifreeze Poisoning

Soon after ingesting antifreeze, your cat will become extremely thirsty and will begin vomiting. Their coordination may also become impaired, which may cause them to bump into furniture. Sores around the mouth are another common symptom to look out for, and your cat will be lethargic. Neurological symptoms include twitching, head shaking and seizures. Cats experiencing antifreeze poisoning can quickly become dehydrated, and this can put strain on their organs.

Treating Antifreeze Poisoning

Your vet will confirm your cat has ingested antifreeze by carrying out blood and urine tests. These tests will also allow the vet to determine whether or not your cat is dehydrated and their kidneys are functioning as they process the poison.

Antifreeze poisoning needs to be treated quickly, and the goal of treatment is to purge your cat's body of the toxin before organ damage occurs. Your vet will administer intravenous fluids to hydrate your cat and help flush out toxins in their urine. They may also perform peritoneal dialysis, which involves inserting a thin tube into your cat's abdomen to flush out toxins using a saline solution. The tube is inserted through a keyhole incision, and although it may seem a little drastic, it can save your cat's life. If your cat does experience kidney failure, they will require regular kidney dialysis until a donor kidney is found.

Your cat will be treated as an inpatient until they are stable, and your vet will arrange a follow-up appointment to ensure they are recovering well. When you take your cat home, they will require a calm, quiet environment to recover in, and your vet may recommend a change in diet to support their kidneys as they recover.

Antifreeze poisoning is an emergency and should be treated immediately to prevent unnecessary suffering or loss of life. If you suspect your cat has antifreeze poisoning, have them examined right away.  

To learn more, contact an emergency vet clinic.