sick little dog laying in partner arms

What Happens if My Dog is Exposed to Antifreeze

Q: I hear conflicting stories about whether antifreeze is toxic to animals. It's time for me to change my car's coolant, and I have two dogs who like to "help" with my projects. How careful must I be? 

A: Standard antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, or EG, which is extremely toxic. Every year, EG poisons 10,000 dogs and cats, untold numbers of wild animals—and 5,000 humans, including hundreds of children. 

EG tastes sweet, so your dogs will be attracted to it. Keep them away from the area when you are changing your antifreeze, because just 3 tablespoons can kill a 25-pound dog. A cat can die after walking through a puddle of EG and licking it from her paws. 

Even dilute antifreeze is toxic, so if you spill it or see the telltale yellow-green puddle on the ground, don't hose down the area. Instead, sop up the antifreeze with paper towels, rags or cat litter. Seal the contaminated material in plastic bags, and discard them in a secure trash can. 

EG causes kidney failure. Clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, increased drinking and urination, disorientation, loss of coordination, rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing, seizures and coma. Without immediate treatment, EG poisoning is fatal. 

A safer alternative is propylene glycol, or PG, antifreeze. Popular brands are Sierra and Prestone LowTox. PG is added to foods, medications, artificial tears and cosmetics, although at very high doses, even PG can cause problems. So remember that while it's quite safe, it is still a chemical that should be handled cautiously. 

To keep your dogs and others safe, be very careful when you drain and dispose of your EG antifreeze, and consider replacing it with a much safer PG antifreeze. 

Editor’s Note: Falling temps and severe weather can impact your pet. Dr. Lee shares winter weather safety tips to help prepare dog parents. 


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at vet@askthevet.pet

cute dog upside down smiling with teeth

As you watch the vet take a look over...

Dog sniffing plant on windsill

Many people think houseplants and dogs...

Dog, waiting, food, bowl, empty, hungry

Some people believe that a bowl of...

Small dog licking a child

As winter settles in, the number of...

Advertisement for pet insurance.

More From Figo Blog
Woman with two dogs checking her phone

Technology has changed almost every aspect...

Labrador Retriever retrieving a blue frisbee from the yard

One of the best things about owning a dog is...

Cat scratching on a cat post

You may have heard the phrase, “Cats can’t...

Puppy crate training in progress

There are many tools I utilize when training...

Dog and pet parent listening to music in front of speaker

Whether you’re rocking out to your favorite...

Woman drinking coffee and holding small cat near

On any given day, between 50 and 70 million...

Kristin Levine with dog

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

Mutts Cantina, pet friendly restaurant in Dallas, Texas

There’s something charming about cafés, pubs...