Radiator Coolant

Radiator Coolant

Did you know that most radiator coolants contain a toxic substance called ethylene glycol? Ethylene glycol raises the boiling point of radiator fluid, and it (or similar compounds) may also be found in some brake fluids, window cleaners, carpet cleaners, printer inks, and spray marker dyes.

We have recently been contacted by a heartbroken pet owner who wanted to help raise awareness of the dangers of ethylene glycol. Ted, a 4-year-old Australian Kelpie cross, sadly passed away in March after licking up a small amount of engine coolant.

“Ted was a beautiful dog that came from Working Paws Dog Rescue and had a tough start to life. He settled nicely into life here in Jan Juc, which is a heaven on earth for dogs. In the short time we had Ted, he turned into the most loyal and loving dog that we could have ever hoped for.

Last week I had my mechanic at my home working on my car and Ted walked past a bucket containing old, diluted engine coolant. He thought it smelt good and was worth a quick lick. I have since found out that coolant is extremely enticing to dogs and cats. I saw this happen and told him that it’s no good and to get out of it, which he did.

I read the warning label on the container which stated if poisoning occurs, contact the poisons information line and to not induce vomiting. The label on methylated spirits says the same, so I thought I’d keep an eye on him which I did. The day went on as normal, and he went to sleep at night peacefully. He showed signs of something not right during the night, and I took him to the vet at first light. Ted died that afternoon.

As you can imagine we were and still are beyond devastation and don’t want this to happen to another poor dog. Our mission now is to make everyone aware of this deadly poison.”

When ingested, ethylene glycol is metabolised to a compound called oxalic acid. Oxalic acid binds to calcium in the blood, forming little crystal structures which get deposited throughout the kidneys and cause kidney failure. Ethylene glycol is a sweet tasting liquid, and even small ingestions can be life-threatening to dogs and particularly cats.

Animals that develop kidney failure have a very poor prognosis, and therefore preventing ingestion in the first place is incredibly important. Please keep your pets safe by storing engine coolant and other chemicals out of reach. Keep your pets away if draining or using engine coolant or brake fluid at home and ensure that any drained fluid is discarded as per local council recommendations as soon as possible. There are also ethylene glycol free engine coolants available and these should be considered if you maintain vehicles in the presence of pets. Last but not least, if you have any pet owning family or friends, please share this very important post to help raise awareness of the dangers of ethylene glycol.

☎️ If your pet has ingested something they should not have, please phone the Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738 (AU) or 0800 869 738 (NZ) for advice. The Animal Poisons Helpline provides a free service for all pet owners in Australia and New Zealand, and we can rapidly determine if your pet requires immediate veterinary assessment or can be observed at home.

📧 Don’t miss the next pet poisons alert. Visit animalpoisons.com.au/stay-up-to-date to subscribe to our mailing list and receive updates and alerts directly to your inbox.

This post has been made possible by a grant from Animal Welfare Victoria.