VPIS - Veterinary Poisons Information Service

Ethylene glycol poisoning in dogs

Ethylene glycol poisoning is very serious in cats; unless treatment is started within a few hours the prognosis is considered very grave. Indeed, even a very small amount (around a teaspoon of concentrated antifreeze) can cause kidney failure and death. Many cats present too late for effective treatment and either die or are put to sleep.

VPIS also receives calls about ethylene glycol poisoning in dogs. In 2015, we handled 26 cases of antifreeze ingestion in dogs; out of the 9 cases with a known outcome, 2 cases reported that the dog was euthanased and in 1 case the dog died of renal failure.

Although clinical signs are the same in cats and dogs, cats are more susceptible to ethylene glycol poisoning than dogs due to a more rapid progression of clinical signs and a lower toxic dose.

Another key difference worth noting is that dogs are more likely to be observed ingesting antifreeze and/or noticed to be unwell, unlike cats who tend to disappear overnight. Dogs are therefore more likely to receive prompt treatment.