Let’s Talk About the Alcohols

With our unusual temperature dips and the holidays right around the corner there a few alcohol-based products we need to talk about. These compounds can become deadly to our pets in a hurry and may seem harmless on the outside.

To start, let’s discuss the classic killer, Ethylene Glycol. Ethylene glycol is the deadly compound found most often in antifreeze that can lead to death of your pet. Ethylene glycol is absorbed very quickly, within the first one to four hours, after ingestion and treatment needs to be started within the first twelve hours. Bittering agents are commonly added to antifreeze products to deter consumption, especially by children, but that may not stop our dogs and cats. Affected animals can appear drowsy and stagger when walking. They experience rapid kidney failure and metabolic disturbances.

Next, we hear about methanol, an alcohol-based compound commonly seen in winter windshield washer fluids. Although much less potent than ethylene glycol, these compounds can still lead to significant damage like their cousin above but require an animal to drink a lot more. At smaller volumes, methanol can lead to serious vomiting and metabolic issues and just like ethylene glycol, immediate medical attention is needed.

Finally, we talk about propylene glycol. Another cousin to the two alcohols above, propylene glycol is considered the “safe” form of alcohol used in antifreeze. Although not completely safe, animals would need to ingest three times more than ethylene glycol to see poisoning effects.

Overall, none of these alcohol-based chemicals are good for our pets and if you witness or suspect your pet has ingested any amount of any of these products a call to your veterinarian is warranted. Although treatment may be effective, especially early on, but prevention is much easier. I recommend you keep any product containing these chemicals away from you pets, keep your pets out of your garage or space involving vehicles and chemicals and considering using only products with methanol or propylene glycol and not ethylene glycol.

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