Saturday, December 5, 2009

Antifreeze Poisoning

The Humane society of the United States estimates that tens of thousands of companion animals and wildlife fall prey to ethylene glycol (EG) poisonings and death every year and claim it to be one of the most dangerous household hazards in America.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 2,372 accidental poisonings related to Ethylene Glycol (EG) antifreeze in 1987. 765 of these were children under six years of age. In 2003, The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that nearly 1,400 children were admitted to emergency rooms due to antifreeze poisoning.

Yearly around 10,000 dogs, cats and children fall victim to accidental poisoning by automobile antifreeze. It doesn't take much either. A few licks or a few ounces is all that has to be consumed to be fatal to a dog, cat or kid.

Antifreeze poisoning occurs in two phases. In the first phase, the animal typically appears groggy, lethargic, uncoordinated and disorientated. Symptoms usually appear about 30 minutes to one hour after ingestion and can last for several hours.

The second phase, which can last up to three days, is characterized by symptoms such as vomiting, oral and gastric ulcers, kidney failure, coma and death.

Veterinarians say that antifreeze is the number one cause of poisoning in pets; within a few hours of ingestion, byproducts of ethylene glycol produce crystals that cause severe and life-threatening liver and kidney damage as the body tries to remove them.

Cats are particularly sensitive, with as little as one teaspoon being fatal, and it barley takes an ounce to kill a 15 pound dog.

If you suspect your animal may have ingested antifreeze get your pet to an emergency veterinary facility immediately - Minutes can make a difference between life or and excruciating death!

The real tragedy is that this lethal substance can inexpensively and easily be made harmless at the time of manufacturing by adding a bittering agent called Denatonium Benzoate. Denatonium benzoate, is the worlds most bitter substance and is a harmless compound that, even in extremely small quantities, makes ingestion impossible. It is harmless to people, animals, plants and the environment. And at the addition of 30 parts per million it will make antifreeze totally unpalatable. We're not talking big bucks here either, one (1) teaspoon per 50 gallons of antifreeze at a cost of pennies per gallon - It comes to about 3 or 4 cents!

Way back in May of 2005 U.S. Senator George Allen and U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, respectively, requiring antifreeze to contain a bittering agent to render the substance unpalatable to pets and children. We wonder why, legislators and manufacturers still haven't pushed this one through?

Here's the good news, there's something we can all do to help right away. The first step is to begin by taking a look under your hood. What color is the liquid in the plastic coolant reservoir... Is it green? Is it red? If so your car's cooling system is more than likely filled with antifreeze containing the lethal chemical Ethylene Glycol. Technically at any moment, all it would take would be a minor traffic accident or a leaky hose, gasket, radiator or water pump to release a toxic spill into the environment or even just a drip onto your driveway that has an inviting aroma, a sweet flavor that will entice animals and children to taste or drink the highly poisonous substance. Most of which do not recover from its deadly effects.

HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO: replace the poison in your car with an essentially non-toxic product that works just as well and lasts much longer. Look for engine coolant products formulated with propylene glycol (PG). As compared to ethylene glycol (EG), propylene glycol (EG) is less toxic and safer for children, pets, and wildlife in the environment. Propylene glycol is used at specified levels in the formulation of many consumer products including cosmetics, pet food, and certain over-the-counter medications.

The non-toxic version works just as well in your car too. A recent General Motors service bulletin states, "It is our conclusion that propylene glycol engine coolants will perform adequately under most vehicle operating conditions" and that "... propylene glycol engine coolant may be used in GM vehicles and will not affect the warranty coverage."

We found the safer (containing propylene glycol) antifreeze coolant available at most automotive stores such as: Kragen, ACE, Schucks, Checker auto parts and NAPA.

Take Immediate Action

# 1. CALL - If you suspect antifreeze poisoning call an emergency veterinary clinic, your veterinarian or if you can't reach someone immediately call the ASPCA 24 hour poison hot line at (888) 426-4435. The animal must be treated within 3-4 hours of ingestion, before irreversible kidney damage is done.

# 2. INDUCE VOMITING - PURGE THE POISON. In cases of antifreeze poisoning, getting your pet to vomit is the most important thing that you can do. To induce vomiting, give hydrogen peroxide at 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs of body weight. If your pet doesn't vomit in 10 minutes, repeat again. NEVER do more than 2 treatments of peroxide. You can also try salt: dilute 1 teaspoon of salt in a tablespoon of water per every 10lbs of body weight.

NOTE: DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING if something caustic has been consumed (such as drain cleaner or bleach).

# 3. RACE TO VET - DELAY ABSORPTION. Activated charcoal is readily available at most pharmacies. It delays absorption of any toxin by binding to the toxic compound in the stomach. The easiest way is to give charcoal is in capsule form.

The veterinarian will give your dog 4-methylpyrazole or your cat ethanol to keep the antifreeze from breaking down into toxins.

Supportive Remedies

After professional veterinary care many holistic veterinarians recommend enzyme supplements, probiotics, and essential fatty acids, as well as taurine, which the kidneys contain and which plays an important role in your pet's kidney health.

Herbal formulas and nutritional supplements may help maximize kidney function, including those containing diuretics like carrot, dandelion, and sesame seed; antioxidants like blueberries and lactoferrin; anti-inflammatories like turmeric, wheat grass, and barley grass; desiccated sea plankton with electrolytes to help kidneys function better; and chlorella which could speed healing of damaged kidney tissue.

Homeopathic remedies to consider: If used early enough, Lycopodium 200c may help to limit the damage to the liver and the kidneys. If after giving Lycopodium there is kidney damage, think about Apocynum 200c.

For guidance and complete dosing instructions, we recommend using "Pet Remedy Charts" for the species specific modalities.

No comments:

Post a Comment