Pet Health Cat Drinking Antifreeze

Published on December 5th, 2018 | by Debbie Martin


Its not all about Presents, Winter & Christmas Dangers to our Pets

Its not all presents, mistletoe and wine at Christmas, this time of year can pose any number of threats to our pets. Every year we see pets that have suffered through one of the Christmas Dangers listed below, so please have a read and share and avoid any of these problems so everyone can have a great time during the festive season.


Antifreeze is a common household item in winter, used in cars and other vehicles to keep liquids from freezing in sub-zero temperatures.

This is all thanks to an alcohol derivative known as ethylene glycol. Unfortunately, this active ingredient is not only highly toxic if ingested by pets but also high palatable.

The ethylene glycol makes the liquid extremely sweet to taste, therefore cats and dogs will happily drink the substance.

Antifreeze poisoning can lead to severe kidney damage within just a few hours, therefore early detection is key. Symptoms include falling over and loss of balance as if drunk, vomiting and excessive thirst.

If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact your vet immediately.

Prevention, as is so often the case, better than cure. Minimise the risk of antifreeze poisoning by storing any containers in a secure place, clearing up any spills immediately and periodically checking your car for leaks.

Cold Weather

Cold weather, snow, ice and sleet can all pose a threat to our pets, especially the young and old.Rabbit in straw

Dogs with short coats, older dogs and puppies may need extra protection against the elements when outside in winter time. Coats and jackets, which are breathable, and waterproof are ideal to use on walks.

In icy conditions, wiping your pet’s paws after they have been outside is highly recommended. Grit and salt used on roads can result in high blood sodium concentrations when accidently ingested.

Don’t forget small animals too. Rabbits and Guinea-pigs kept outdoors should be provided with extra bedding and kept in sheltered spots, to avoid damp and draft free conditions.

Festive Food

Christmas is full of edible delights – but did you know that many of our favourite festive treats are potentially dangerous to our four-legged friends:

  • Cooked turkey bones can splinter and result in perforations
  • Chocolate (especially dark chocolate) contains theobromine which is toxic to dogs and can cause kidney failure
  • Alcohol has a huge impact on cats and dogs in even small doses. Symptoms to look out for include sickness and diarrhoea
  • Sultanas, raisins, currants and grapes are in many of the foods we love at Christmas including Christmas cake and mince pies. The cause of toxicity is unknown, however just a small amount can cause severe liver and kidney damage

If you suspect your pet may have eaten any of the above items, contact your vet immediately.

Festive Decorations & Plants

At Christmas time we introduce a host of decorative items into our homes. From trees to decorations it is important to understand the potentialchristmas kitty hazards.

Festive plants such as poinsettia, holly and mistletoe are of low toxicity, however ingestion can lead to irritation of both the mouth and stomach.

Decorations both on the Christmas tree and on presents can be extremely tempting to our pet’s. Plastic baubles and ornaments are less dangerous, however remain mindful as if swallowed can cause blockages. Similarly ribbons and bows accidently ingested may led to digestive upset and obstruction in extreme cases.

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About the Author

Debbie has worked for Beeston Animal Health for a number of years and although generally involved with the marketing these days she has a great deal of knowledge on many things to do with small animals.

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