How to Protect Your Pets from Antifreeze Poisoning
Though you’d never think of drinking sickly green radiator fluid, pets see the world differently. Poisonous antifreeze can seem like a sweet treat to dogs and cats — often with tragic results. Sadly, the Humane Society estimates that between 10,000 and 90,000 pets suffer from antifreeze poisoning every year. Don’t let your pet become one of them — consider these tips to protect your four-legged family members from antifreeze poisoning.
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Ways to prevent antifreeze poisoning
- Practice safe storage: Keep antifreeze — and other automotive fluids — out of reach of pets. If your pet likes to climb, consider storing these fluids inside of a cabinet.
- Keep it clean: When topping off your vehicle’s fluids, clean up any spills immediately. Use kitty litter or sawdust to absorb the bulk of it, then dispose of it in a lidded, pet-proof trash can. Add soap and water to the remaining antifreeze on the ground, then scrub with a nylon bristle brush. Rinse the area thoroughly afterward. Through cleanup is necessary — it doesn’t take much to poison a pet. Even licking antifreeze off paws can cause toxicity.
- Locate leaks: Check your vehicle for coolant leakage. If it’s leaking greenish fluid, have it serviced as soon as possible — and keep your pets safely away from it in the meantime.
- Know what contains antifreeze: You can find ethylene glycol in a bunch of unexpected places. Aside from engine coolant, ethylene glycol is used in hydraulic brake fluid, some windshield washer fluids, snow globes, decorative garden fountains, the bases of freestanding basketball hoops, and during winter months, toilets in northern parts of the country. If you take Fido to a ski cabin, be sure to close the toilet bowl lid.
- Consider less-toxic alternatives: If it’s compatible with your vehicle, consider buying antifreeze made with less-toxic propylene glycol. While propylene glycol is still harmful, it’s less lethal than traditional ethylene glycol-based antifreeze.
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Kimiko Kidd is a native Daytonian. She graduated from Wright State University with degrees in environmental science and sociology. She loves her trusty old Honda Civic, but dreams of owning a 1974 Ford Falcon XB with a custom paint job and a vintage Kawasaki Z1000. In her free time, Kimiko can be found watercolor-painting, baking muffins, collecting rocks, playing old-school Nintendo games, writing her novel, sewing stuffed animals, and cosplaying as her favorite Mad Max characters. See more articles by Kimiko.