Although antifreeze can be a very useful substance for your vehicles and home in the colder months, it is extremely hazardous to animals. Even just licking up a few drops can result in your pets and wildlife becoming seriously ill or even dying.

Unfortunately, ethylene glycol, one of the main ingredients in anti-freeze is quite tasty to animals, despite it being extremely toxic. By the time the nasty aftertaste hits, it’s often too late to reverse the damage caused to their liver, kidneys and brain. That is why it is important to do all you can to prevent your pet from ingesting antifreeze.


Antifreeze poisoning is preventable by exercising caution when using toxic substances.

  • Store antifreeze safely and out of reach of pets
  • Ensure antifreeze containers are tightly fastened
  • Regularly inspect your car’s radiator and have leaks repaired immediately
  • Dispose of used antifreeze containers correctly and responsibly
  • Where possible, do not allow your pets to roam in areas where they could have easy access to antifreeze
  • In the event of an antifreeze spill, clean the area immediately and thoroughly

It is possible to buy antifreeze without the toxic chemical – it will be substituted for propylene glycol, so keep a lookout for ingredients on labels.

Poisoning cats can constitute a criminal offence; under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the maximum penalty for anyone found guilty is up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a £20,000 fine. If you suspect someone is intentionally poisoning animals, you should report it to the relevant authorities immediately. To avoid your pet becoming a victim, it is recommended that you keep them indoors where possible, or otherwise monitor their whereabouts.


Symptoms will change throughout the period of ingestion.

Soon after (30 minutes)

  • Appear lethargic and weak
  • Have difficulty walking – staggering
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Experience seizures
  • Fainting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Drinking a large quantity of water
  • Urinating frequently and in large amounts

A few hours later

Your pet may appear to be feeling better, but don’t be fooled!

A couple of days later

  • Kidney failure
  • Rapidly declining health
  • Appear ‘under the weather’ – depression
  • Vomiting
  • Sharply decreased amounts of urine


If you witness your pet consuming antifreeze or displaying any of the above symptoms, you should contact your vet immediately. It is essential to begin prompt treatment to maximise your pet’s chance of survival. Sadly, once kidney failure develops, the chances of them recovering are very slim. Your vet will then advise you on the best treatment for your pet. It is important to only follow your vet's advice as what works for one animal may not work for your animal – treatment is individual and dependent on medical history.