Every year as many as 10,000 pets and thousands of children are poisoned by ingesting antifreeze due to ignorance or accidentally in the United States. Dogs and cats are easily poisoned by small amounts of this coolant. Cats are affected four times more sensitive to coolant poisoning than dogs. It only takes 1 to 2 teaspoons to poison a cat. Only three teaspoons will poison a medium sized dog. In most cases this type of poisoning is fatal, but even if your pet does not die from an antifreeze poisoning, your pet’s health will be forever changed.
The toxic chemical with a sweet taste that is in antifreeze is ethylene glycol. The sweet taste is what attracts dogs, cats and children to it. There are states that are passing laws to require coolant makers to add denatoninol benzoate. Denatoninol benzoate is a bittering agent that is added during the manufacturing process. The bittering agent will not harm engines and is safe and biodegradable. It only costs pennies per gallon to add denatoninol benzoate. It seems like a small price to pay as a protective measure against pets and children being poisoned.
On April 15, 2010, Utah passed Senate Bill 218. This legislation was championed by Bill Breedlove, who sadly lost his dog “Freddy” to accidental antifreeze poisoning. Utah’s Governor Herbert signed this bill that states that as of January 1, 2011, any car coolant sold in the state of Utah must have denatonium benzoate added to it. This bill was passed to prevent children and pets from ingesting this poisonous substance.
Until every state passes its own form of legislation about adding a bittering agent to the car coolant it sells, it is better to take precautions to protect your pets and your children. If possible, switch the type of antifreeze that you currently use to one that is propylene glycol based. This type is less toxic than the typical kind with ethylene glycol. You can also keep your car coolant in a tight container, in high places away from areas that pets and children might play. You can also be sure to check for leaks in your car and clean up any coolant spills as soon as you notice them. And always be sure to dispose of antifreeze properly.
If you suspect that your cat or dog has been poisoned, it is imperative that you call your veterinarian immediately. You may notice the following symptoms in your pet if they have ingested coolant: vomiting, increased heart beat, rapid breathing, weakness, increased thirst, intoxication behavior, diarrhea, seizures or coma. Although you might want to make your pet vomit, do not induce vomiting if your pet is in shock, unconscious or having trouble breathing. The best thing you can do for your pet is to rush to the veterinarian.
Keep your pets and children safe from poisoning. Follow the preventative tips and, if possible, purchase your vehicle’s coolant with the bittering agent, denatonium benzoate, already in it. Your pets and children can be kept safe from antifreeze poisoning if you’ll follow safe handling practices.