ANIMAL experts have issued a warning to pet owners over the dangers of anti-freeze which can prove life-threatening to cats and dogs.

Vets often see a significant increase in the number of pets, particularly cats, falling victim to anti-freeze poisonings in the winter.

Any pet that has consumed anti-freeze can develop kidney failure and, if left untreated, can be fatal.

Cats Protection has recorded 189 suspected cases of anti-freeze poisonings in the first 10 months of this year.

Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Not many drivers or pet owners are aware that their pets are at a high risk of falling ill from anti-freeze.

“But it contains a toxin called mono ethylene glycol, which is very harmful when consumed by animals, and ingesting even the smallest amount is enough to be potentially fatal.

“Signs of anti-freeze poisoning can show within 30 minutes of ingestion, as mono ethylene glycol is very fast acting and, without treatment, a pet can die within 24 hours.

“Just one teaspoon can prove lethal for a cat and one tablespoon for a dog.”

Dr Stacey added:“Cats are particularly at risk because they tend to hide under cars for shelter and could lick up just a few drops of anti-freeze that drop down from the engine.”

Owners are being urged to look out for the following signs of poisoning in their pets: vomiting, incoordination, struggling to breathe, seizures, low mood and increased urination and thirst.

In September 2017, Rachel Osborne lost three of her young cats to anti-freeze poisoning within weeks of each other.

One Saturday morning Rachel’s fiancé, Evan, found their cat Pepper collapsed on the kitchen floor.

Rachel said: “Pepper wasn’t responding, so our local vet worked quickly as they knew something serious had happened.

“After some tests, our vet confirmed Pepper had severe renal failure caused by suspected anti-freeze poisoning, and her chance of recovery wasn’t looking likely, so we had to make the very tough decision to let her go.

“We were absolutely devastated and couldn’t believe how quickly she had fallen ill. We had seen her the night before and she was fine when we went to bed.”

Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy and Government Relations, said: “Tackling anti-freeze poisoning is not easy, however, we are keen that anti-freeze and other products containing ethanol glycol are labelled to warn consumers of the dangers to pets such as cats and dogs.

“Many labels already warn about the danger of anti-freeze to children if the product is consumed, but we’d like companies to add a warning regarding the danger to animals too. In the longer term we’d like to see anti-freeze manufacturers developing alternative non-toxic anti-freeze products. We’d also advise people to clear up any anti-freeze spills immediately and avoid using it in water features, to help prevent accidental poisonings.”

Dr Stacey added: “Antifreeze is sweet tasting for pets, which is why they are drawn to licking up spills or leaks from a car engine, or if a bottle spills in the household and it isn’t cleaned up thoroughly.

“It is also used in water features to prevent them from freezing over in the winter, so if a pet is out roaming in nearby gardens, they may come across a fountain and innocently drink the running water not knowing its poisonous effect.

“Antifreeze is helpful for our cars, but has detrimental effects on our beloved pets, so if an owner suspects their pet has ingested it, they need to take the pet to their local vet immediately.”

For more details on pet health in winter, visit: