Pet Newsletter - Cat and Dog Newsletter
Click Here to Sign Up FREE!


There are a few causes of kidney failure due to toxic substances. The longest and best known one is antifreeze with the ingredient ethylene glycol. When people change this in their radiators or even if a radiator is leaking, this toxic substance can get on the ground. It supposedly has a sweet taste and animals will drink it.

This is unfortunate as once ingested the animal quickly becomes intoxicated with it. The first signs might be mental and neurological. Later as the toxin passes through the liver it is changed into a compound that will form crystals when it passes out of the body through the kidneys. This causes damage to the kidneys and can make them fail completely.

Of course prevention of exposure to ethylene glycol is best. If you see your pet consume antifreeze take them IMMEDIATELY to a veterinarian for treatment as the toxic effects are very rapid, Even if there is any suspicion this has occurred, see a veterinarian. Within the first 1 to 72 hours blood and urine levels of ethylene glycol can be measured to verify exposure. Other blood and urine tests can indicate it as well, especially finding the crystals in the urine that form from the metabolism of the antifreeze.

The treatment is to stop the liver from transforming the ethylene glycol by use of, usually, ethanol. This works by competing for the substance in the liver that converts it. Ethanol will be metabolized by it as well and spare the kidneys, by keeping the liver busy with it, instead of allowing the antifreeze to be altered to it's crystal forming substance. For dogs only, there is a specific antidote (4-MP) that does the same thing, if you can get ahold of it.

Of course supportive care is necessary too. Fluids dilute the toxins out and maintain hydration. Sometimes other things are needed as well to adjust blood sugar and the pH of the body.

This is an emergency and intensive care type situation.

Those pets who are treated very early (cats within 3 hours and dogs within 5 hours) usually do well. Later diagnosis and treatment will still help some but not necessarily save the full renal function or even the pet's life.

So again, best is prevention. If you must change your own antifreeze, do not let any spill. If you have a leak, get it fixed. Also, there are nontoxic antifreeze options these days so consider those.

UPDATE ON FOOD RECALL-MELAMINE AND CYANURIC ACID: The FDA had been doing everything possible to check out what caused these tainted pet foods. If was found that it was not actually gluten, which is high in protein, that was in the products. When analyzed, plain flour was found to be the ingredient. It is much cheaper and can have a falsely high protein count if melamine or cyanuric acid is in it. The factory in China responsible for this was completely empty and shut down when investigators when to look it over. Hmmmmmm.

Needless to say, all products are now being carefully evaluated before being imported and used in our pet's or our foods.

RECOMMENDED ENTERTAINMENT: The movie "Evan Almighty" is very entertaining and has incredible animals in it. Enjoy.

Until next time.

Dr. Jan

Pet Newsletter - Cat and Dog Newsletter
Click Here to Sign Up FREE!

Keep Your Pets Happy and Healthy

This Site is owned and operated by Dr. Jan Becker, DVM