Most people are unaware of the hidden dangers to pets from antifreeze poisoning.
Unfortunately many animals find the taste of antifreeze very attractive, and ingesting even the smallest amount can lead to kidney failure and death, especially in cats.
The RSPCA and Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB) would like to remind people to take care. Following our advice will help you to keep your pets safe.
Keep pets safe
Accidental poisonings due to spills and leaks from containers, as well as leaking water coolant from cars happen every year and result in the death of pets. However if you make regular checks of your car to ensure it is not leaking water coolant, and take care when storing, using and disposing of antifreeze and water coolant from cars, most accidental deaths can be avoided.
- Always keep antifreeze in clearly labelled, robust, sealed containers, away from pets and their environment.
- Clean up any spills immediately, no matter how small, and make sure pets cannot access the area until it is clean and safe.
- Always dispose of antifreeze and water coolant safely and responsibly. Contact your local authority for advice. You can find out who this is and how to contact them by going to www.direct.gov.uk and using the ‘search for your local council in England’ section on the home page.
If you suspect antifreeze poisoning
There are times however, no matter how careful you are, when accidents can still happen. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with antifreeze, leaked water coolant or if they show any of the following signs get them to a vet immediately:
- Seeming depressed or sleepy
- Appearing drunk and uncoordinated
- Seizures (fits)
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
Signs of antifreeze poisoning can start to show as soon as 30 minutes after ingestion, though it can be two or three days before signs of kidney failure are seen.
The sooner your pet receives veterinary treatment, the better their chances of survival.
If left untreated, antifreeze poisoning can cause animals pain, suffering and distress, and will lead to the death of your pet.
Recent antifreeze poisonings of cats
The RSPCA and FAB are deeply concerned and extremely saddened by the recent spates of antifreeze poisonings in cats across the country.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind the public that antifreeze poisoning can cause animals pain, suffering and distress, ultimately resulting in their death. The poisoning of a cat can constitute a criminal offence. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 the maximum penalty for anyone found guilty of this offence is up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine of £20,000.
Rock salt advice
Rock salt (used to grit roads in cold weather) can be toxic to cats, dogs and other animals. For more information please read our factsheet: Rock salt poisoning in pets (pdf 101KB).